What do I need to understand at Mass?


Recently, this has been very problematic to me. I go to a Mass of a different language since my family speaks that language, but I’m not very fluent in that language so I have a problem with it. Therefore, at the Mass, I usually don’t understand any of the prayers and have trouble understanding the homily.

When I asked my brother and family if I can go to an English Mass, they said that the purpose of Mass is family and that family company is more important than understanding the worship of God – I think they’re completely wrong.

My brother also said that going to Mass is about “being there” rather than “understanding it,” and the only thing I need to understand is the homily.

My question is, do I need to know what the priest is saying at Mass? And if I do, can you tell me what I should do to convince my family of allowing me to go to English Mass?


From the manner in which you have posed your question, I assume that you are a minor under the guardianship of your brother and his family. It is also possible that you are an adult who is dependent for some reason upon the care of your family. In either case, it appears that for some reason you are unable to go to Mass alone. (If you are able to go to Mass alone, then that is what you should do.)

The purpose of attending Mass is to be present for the sacramental re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary. Strictly speaking, it is true that you don’t need to understand the language of the Mass in order to profit from it; but it is also true that such understanding helps you to grow in the faith and facilitates your ability to worship God. That is one of the reasons that the Church allowed the Mass to be celebrated in the languages of the people, rather than in just the traditional Latin, following the Second Vatican Council.

If you are a disabled adult who is not under the parental-like authority of a guardian, I recommend calling your local parish and asking if there is a program in which parishioners give rides to Mass to disabled adults. If you are a minor under your brother’s guardianship, while under his authority you may have to continue to attend the Mass that his family attends; but you might ask him if you could also sometimes attend a weekday Mass offered in English.

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