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What to Expect at Mass

Not Catholic?  We’d love to have you join us!

Though, due to the symbolic rituals (that could use some explaining!) and lack of spontaneous interaction with us during Mass, you might find a Church picnic or a Bible study a more helpful way to explore Catholic faith with us.  We’d love to get to know you. 

Here are a few things you should know before attending Catholic Mass.​

  • Mass lasts about an hour.

  • To reflect the sacredness of the service, appropriate attire ranges from business/dressy casual to a little dressier for a special occasion like a wedding or Christmas.  (Some Catholics do dress on the casual side for Sunday Mass.)

  • No gum, food, or drink, please.  Silence your phone.  Step out if making/receiving an urgent call. Non-flash, discreetly taken photos are okay at milestone celebrations. 

  • Catholics acknowledge God’s presence in the church by making a half bow toward the front or genuflecting (going down on one knee) before entering their pew, and by observing relative quiet.

  • The congregation prays and sings many prayers/responses in unison.  Most churches have hymnals or prayer cards in the pews (or digital screens up front) so you can join in.  There are also specific moments to sit, stand, and kneel.  Just follow the cue of those around you. (See this Mass response printable for more).  As our guest, participate (or not) as you feel comfortable.

  • An especially holy moment is when Catholics go forward to receive Communion.  This is a sign of unity and faith for Catholics.  If you are not Catholic, feel free to stay in your pew or you’re welcome to go forward with everyone, but cross your arms over your chest so the minister will know to give you a blessing instead of Communion.

  • Children are always welcome.  They should stay in the pew with an adult, though standing in the back with a fussy baby or squarely toddler is fine. (Quiet toys/books or even snacks for the smallest are okay.  No screen time inside the main part of the church.)

Learn the "why" behind what Catholics do at Mass with this infographic.

Find a Catholic Church near you with the interactive tool below!

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