What to do during the eucharist? (as a non-catholic)

Hi everyone. Long time reader, first time poster. I am a protestant who for the last 5 years or so have been studying the Catholic church. I have started attending Mass and we’re really enjoying it! I’m sure there are a ton of threads on this, but I’d like some personal responses. I feel very awkward during communion. It’s not that I mind not receiving the Eucharist, I completely understand that aspect. It’s the looks and the fact that we (I bring my 5 kids) are the only people who don’t go up. Should we go up for a blessing? How do you do that again? Just embrace the feeling weird? lol. I almost wish we could wear signs…“we’re new here!”

Thanks for listening. :slight_smile:

Hi and welcome back. It is recommended that those not receiving communion stay back and quietly pray. While maybe you and your family feel that you are the only ones not going up, no one there feels the worst of you. I am not sure where you are sitting but maybe if you sit more in the back, you might not feel as obvious as if you sit more towards the front. God Bless

thank you. Yes, we try to sit in the back. I’m very interested in starting RCIA this fall and maybe I’ll meet some other converts there. There should be a newbie pew. We’re new and have no idea what we’re doing! Come talk to us! :wink:

Welcome home. Yes, just sit back or kneel and pray. You will not be the only one not going up to communion. By all means, ask the priest about RCIA. In some parishes, when you are in RCIA you usually attend Mass in a group with an instructor, then you will go to class after Mass and discuss the Mass along with your lesson of the day. God bless you on your future RCIA process.

At our parish it is customary to go up and simply cross one’s arms over the chest and receive a blessing. We also use the communion rail and receive on the tongue.
You shouldn’t feel uncomfortable, because it is ALSO likely that many go up to receive who SHOULD NOT, because they haven’t been to confession and are not in a state of grace. Our priests get so frustrated at times, because they have preached that message over and over again…to no avail. :shrug: :confused:
It is wonderful that you are wanting to join the Church! I think many of us cradle-Catholics, myself included, tend to at times, take our faith for granted. It is refreshing to see the enthusiasm of those newly converted, and I think it helps to make us appreciate our Holy Mother Church more than ever! It truly is a wonderful “family” as I am sure you have discovered on this forum. God Bless You! :thumbsup:

I feel very awkward during communion. It’s not that I mind not receiving the Eucharist, I completely understand that aspect. It’s the looks and the fact that we (I bring my 5 kids) are the only people who don’t go up. Should we go up for a blessing? How do you do that again? Just embrace the feeling weird? lol. I almost wish we could wear signs…“we’re new here!”

I suggest that you do all you can to focus on Jesus (not on other people) and pray during the distribution of Holy Communion, and encourage your children to pray.

Jesus is present to us in many ways, but most intimately present in the Holy Eucharist – He IS the Sacrament. “Encounter” Him through fervent prayer during this time. Express your longing to Him, offer any and all prayers to Him, including prayers for others. Pray and meditate on the Act of Spiritual Communion. If/when spontaneous prayer becomes difficult, use the Missalette in the pews to help you pray. Pray and meditate on the Eucharistic Prayer, or the readings, or flip through the songs and pray a song or two, whether the melodies are familiar or not. You can also assist in the singing, which of course is also prayer!

Depending on the ages of your children, you can teach them to do the same, all in reverence, whether they believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist yet or not. Maybe you can print out an age-appropriate prayer or two for them to read during Communion. Maybe they can write prayers during the week and use them to meditate ad pray during Communion. Begin to teach them about the saints and about praying to the saints (to ask for their intercessory prayers).

Most importantly, give joyful thanks to our Lord! :slight_smile:




The recommendation by the US Conference of Bishops for non Catholics attending Mass is to not go up for Communion but to stay back and join in with prayer. Going up with crossed arms is usually done by children in Catholic families that have not received their first communion. They may be too young to stay back in the pews by themselves and crossing their arms lets the EMCH know they are not to receive. Only a priest could give a blessing, an EMCH cannot. The recommendations of the US conference of Bishops can usually be found in either the back or front flap of the missel.

It’s the communion line not the communion/blessings line. I wonder about the genesis of blessings done during communion!!

A blessing by the celebrant is done at the conclusion of mass.

Yes, exactly c:

The “going up with arms crossed to receive a blessing from the priest” thing varies from parish to parish. Some accept it, some don’t (and I’m not aware of any law either way). Ask the priest before you do that, if that’s what you wish. Otherwise, just stay back and pray.

My :twocents: : One of the things I really grew to love in Paris was how everyone went up to Communion whenever they wished (as long as it was still within the allotted time of course! :smiley: ). It wasn’t “go up pew by pew” where it becomes obvious who is and who isn’t choosing to receive that Mass. It seemed a bit hectic and crazy to me at first, but I grew to love it. I wish we could do that here. It’s true that we shouldn’t judge others by whether or not they go up, but why not take steps to limit the occasion of sin in this particular area?

I am Catholic, and sometimes unfortunatelly I can’t go to communion as well. I take the time to reflect on how I want to reconcilate with God in order to go to communion in following masses. If there are chants during communion then I’ll be very busy supporting the choir.

And don’t mistake staying back with sitting in the back pews. When you are comfortable, even before being Catholic, don’t exitate occupying the front pews.

Bear in mind that while feeling awkward (and that is understandable of course), you are focusing on yourself rather than God.

As an RCIA candidate in England, our priest invited us at our first meeting to go up for a blessing (arms crossed over the chest) when we attend Mass. I have done this ever since, making sure I sit on the side of the church where the priest always stands, rather than the other side where Communion is given by one of the Eucharistic Ministers.

This morning, the blessing I received was for Jesus would envelop me in His care. It’s a lovely thing to receive a blessing, especially when like me you have been used to receiving Communion in the Church of England for many years.

Usually the missal (inside the front cover) has a recommendation to say a spiritual prayer of communion. Saying this prayer will help to focus on Jesus and not who is staring at you.

An Act of Spiritual Communion

My Jesus, I believe that Thou art present in the Blessed Sacrament. I love Thee above all
things and I desire Thee in my soul. Since I cannot now receive Thee sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart. As though thou wert already there, I embrace
Thee and unite myself wholly to Thee; permit not that I should ever be separated from

Honestly, I never notice who is or isn’t going up for communion.

It’s a different situation here in England. The Bishops of England and Wales have made the decision that blessings in the Communion line are the pastoral and loving thing to do, as they say that Communion is not to be a cause of division and hurt.

It doesn’t seem that such a national announcement has been made in the US, hence all the discussion and disagreement.

Whether the difference in approach is due to the UK being a small and crowded country of many different cultures, and more emphasis is placed on tolerance and having to get along together, I don’t know.

If the Superior General of the Fathers of Mercy says it is okay, and has told our Pastor to do so, then perhaps you are mistaken. Our Parish does not use Eucharistic Ministers, nor female servers.

I just pray for spiritual communion. :slight_smile:

It’s fine to just sit or kneel in the pew and pray. And you need not sit in the back!

(Historically, it’s a fairly recent thing for nearly the whole congregation to go forward for communion. Even in my youth, ushers did not go row by row letting people up for communion. People just came forward from wherever they were in a random access sort of fashion.)

My girlfriend and I got some Polish Oplatki Christmas wafers. They are unleavened bread, identical in substance to communion wafers. I go up for communion and she takes a small piece of Oplatiki and has her own little “Lord’s supper” in the pew and prays. She understands Catholic beliefs about the Eucharist, why she cannot receive Catholic communion, and that the Oplatki is not the Body of Christ. She is very discreet so as not to cause scandal.

Oplatki Christmas Wafers



You are in a totally different situation than probably what OP is in which is a standard parish which would have EMCH’s and all the rest. Some of the posters are from England are going by what guidelines given by their respective Bishop’s conferences. Going up of a blessing with cross arms by an adult is controversial. She should ask the priest in the parish she goes to for clarification. I stand by what the US Bishops conference has stated which is that if one isn’t receiving communion, to join in prayer (sitting or kneeling) during that time. That does not mean that states coming up for a blessing which is given to everyone at the end of Mass.

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