What to expect when attending a Mass


Hi! I will be visiting a Catholic church for the first time when my Stepmom recovers from her surgery. So, is there anything specific I need to do? Again, this will be my first time ever going to a Catholic church (and I couldn’t be more excited) so I don’t really know what to ask because I really don’t know what to expect! :slight_smile:


Its good that you are excited. Do what everyone else does, just follow along. There are times when prayers are spoken aloud together. For the first time I would just listen. They should have a copy of those prayers that you can follow along with. But I feel it would be best if you just listen to the words.
Sometimes we stand and sometimes we sit. Sometimes we kneel together as well. That will be easy for you to do. There is also a point during the Our Father Prayer that we can hold hands together. If you feel uncomfortable with this at this time you do not have to do it. At my Parish about half of the congregation does this while the other half does not. If you decide not to do this just raise your hands towards your chest. Here is another choice for you. Because you are not Catholic, just visiting you are an honored guest and welcome beyond imagination. Keeping this in mind you can either stay where you are during the procession for Holy Communion or, and I highly suggest this. Follow your step mom. When you come to the front keep your arms folded across your chest and let the Priest or layperson give you a blessing. Communion is for those that believe every thing the Catholic Church professes. Mainly Baptized Catholics. I went up for a blessing after attending many Masses with my wife prior to my own Baptism. It was really neat. There was an older man in front of me who tripped right as he was going to receive communion. I grabbed him and kept him from falling. What a first time in that line! Again you can just stay seated or move to the aisle to get out of the way of those going up. Relax, most people are focused on the Mass, on Christ so you will not stand out at all. You will see others not going up as well.
In Christ


Thank you for your advice!! I will definitely take it to heart and keep it all in mind when I go! Currently, my Step Mom isn’t Catholic, but she is the only one in my family who is supportive of me becoming Catholic & believes it’s the one true church. She’s attended Mass with her friend who’s Catholic several times before.



You will be very welcome. Remember that the entire Mass is a prayer (except for the announcements). Keeping that in mind will allow you to keep you mind focused. Also, feel free to follow along with the Missal (might make sense to arrive early so you can figure out how to follow the Missal).

However, when it comes to Communion, its best to stay in your seat. Some Parishes are OK with non-communicants walking up with hands crossed, but most do not do this (this practice is a purely English thing, while some American Parishes follow English customs, most do not). Personally, I’m a Confirmed cradle Catholic, and I remain in my seat (my wedding is currently not licit). Since I cannot receive Communion until I “fix” my marriage, I keep kneeling and say some prayers while others are taking Communion (I also keep an eye out for the other people from the pew how are returning so I can get out of their way)

Good luck and I pray that your first Mass will not be your last one.

God Bless


Also, in a lot of churches, you will be able to find the readings/order of mass in printed form (different parishes give out this information in different ways). I found it helpful when I was first starting, to read along with the printed Rites. If this is something which might interest you, maybe you can ask the priest when you get to the church.

Good luck. If you let it, it will change your life!


I went online and did a search about what to expect on a first visit to a Catholic Church.

Here’s one response:


Good luck! :slight_smile:


Lots of great thoughts on this thread. Best wishes for a blessed First Mass.


And since the Roman Missal changed the wording of some prayers a couple years ago, a lot of cradle Catholics reach for the cheat sheets every time. You won’t look out of place even if you feel out of place! :slight_smile: Personally, I generally read along with the missal anyway, just because I like to.

As for proceeding up the aisle at Communion even when not receiving, I didn’t know that was a peculiarly English custom. Our parish priest has always encouraged visitors to follow that protocol.


Previously great advice: Don’t feel unwelcomed, ever. God will never turn you away so long as you always believe.

Most of what we Catholics believe will be contained in that short Mass. The sitting , standing and kneeling all have significance. We all do it together, there’s a unity we share, not just with the Blessed Trinity, but with each other, in prayer, belief and faith.

Much of what we believe you will read in the Nicene Creed. This will follow the Priests Homily, which is somewhat similar to your sermons. The Homily puts emphasis on the Gospel reading and the meaning and messages of the days Gospel as it relates to our lives today. Read the Creed, it goes way way back, to the 4th century at the Counsil of Nicaea.

Notice that yes, we Catholics do read the Bible, amazing :thumbsup: There will usually be 2 readings, 1 from the Old Testament, 1 from the New, and the Gospel that will be read by the Priest. The Gospel we stand, and we give special reverence. The Word of the Lord is above all and deserves the extra reverence.

The high point of the Mass will be the Holy Eucharist. We listen to what Jesus commanded us to do. Eat his flesh , drink his blood. When we Catholics receive Holy Communion, we become part of the Body of Christ, Again, unified in faith, beliefs, in how we conduct ourselves to reject sin so that we’re worthy of receiving what makes us part of Christ, and the Church he left us. Imagine the millions and millions around the world who are taking part just so we are one with Christ, imagine one day you’ll be part of that, I think that’s awesome

Hope your experience leads you closer to God. That’s what attending Mass is all about. To give thanks to God for our blessings, and to acknowledge what Jesus sacrificed so we could enjoy those very blessings.


I think it’s a little known fact, that if you are Baptized, you may be able to participate in the Holy Communion service, if you acknowledge that what you are receiving is the true body and blood of Jesus Christ. You should discuss this with the priest and obtain permission to do this, in advance – and I mean weeks ahead if possible.

This is called “discerning” the body and blood of Christ.

It may be a singular experience of your lifetime.

The ritual of the Mass is based on very ancient traditions. You should focus on what is happening, not sitting there waiting for something to happen – it is happening, right from the start.


Here’s a historical tidbit from St. Justin Martyr, but keep in mind that Mass isn’t limited to Sunday these days. :wink:

On the first day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together in one place to the memory of the Apostles or the writing of the prophets, which are read, as long as time permits. Then, when the reader has ceased, the presider verbally instructs and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. After, we all rise to pray, and as we said before, when our prayer is ended, bread, wine, and water are brought. The presider in a like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings according to his ability, and the people ascent by saying, ‘Amen.’ Then there is a distribution to each – a participation of that over which thanks has been given, and to those who are absent, a portion is sent over by the deacons. They who do well and are willing, give what each thinks fit and what is collected is deposited with the presider, who looks after the orphans and widows, and those who through sickness or other cause, or are in want or in stranger’s sojourning among us, and the Word takes care of all those in need.


Thank you! God bless you too!


Thank you! And yes, I hope it will! :slight_smile:


Thank you for this read!! It will be very helpful!!


Thank you!


We have read the Nicene Creed in our church. As a matter of fact, we read it this past Sunday in our Liturgy! :thumbsup: (and at the bottom of the page there is an star saying you can substitute the word Catholic for Christian, which is the word we use) And we actually have readings from the Old, New Testaments and a Gospel lesson before the sermon. (the Gospel lesson usually leads into the sermon). I’m Moravian and from what I’ve heard, we were the first to breakaway from the Catholic church because Jonn Hus didn’t like some of the teachings, but for me, I feel like we do a few things like the Catholic church but again (like I stated earlier about Nicene Creed, I was Christened as a baby), that’s just how I feel. I mean if it wasn’t for the Catholic church, we’d have no churches. I believe that it is the first & true church.


I was Christened when I was a baby. And I’ve never heard of that before. But I think I will just take it all in. :slight_smile:


I was nervous of standing out, not receiving Communion my first time too. I remember looking at those who stayed in their seats. Now, next Mass I attend, I don’t think I’ll worry about what others may think.


Good for you. :thumbsup:


A few little tidbits from a former protestant:

  • Catholics tend not to talk in the church itself, not just during the Mass but before and after. People will often be praying in the pews. Save conversations for the foyer or outside the church, and whisper if you do need to talk.

  • Many churches hold hands at the Lord’s Prayer. This isn’t in the official liturgical guides, but it’s a common enough practice in the united states. If you don’t feel comfortable, I’d recommend clasping your hands to your chest in a prayer position. Not all churches do this though.

  • The Lord’s Prayer is followed by the Sign of the Peace. The priest will say “let us offer each other the sign of Christ’s peace.” Shake hands with your neighbor and say “Peace be with you,” or just “Peace.”

  • When your row gets up for communion, step out of the pew and stand to the side. Also watch for people returning from communion.

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