CATHOLIC CHURCH ETIQUETTE
By Rev Fr Philip Chinedu Okwarachukwu, OSJ
When we talk about the word “Etiquette”, etymologically it is not only applied to behavior at a party, dining table or formal meetings. There is also Church Etiquette which is neglected at Holy Mass as follows:
One must fast for at least 1 hour before receiving the Holy Eucharist. The only exceptions are medicine, water or unless someone is ill and needs to eat.
Dress modestly; the Holy Mass is not a fashion show. The Holy Mass is not a part of Fashion display. Dress in a way that gives witness to your faith as a Christian and not to seduce anyone.
Go early to Holy Mass, at list 30 to 15 minutes before the Holy Mass begins. And be as close to the altar as possible in order to pray silently and meditate before the Holy Mass begins.
Before entering the Church (that is when there is no exposition of the Blessed Eucharist), make a single genuflection by your right knee and also make a deep bow towards the Tabernacle. Christ is present for our sake at the Tabernacle, in His soul, body and divinity: By allowing our right knee to hit the floor, we are acknowledging that Christ Jesus is our Lord and God. If someone is physically unable to genuflect, then either a simple or a deep bow is sufficient. More so, during the Holy Mass, if you are passing across the altar or tabernacle, bow reverently.
Cross yourself with Holy Water on entering and leaving the Church. This is a reminder of our Baptism, which made us the beloved adopted sons and daughters of God. More so, the Holy Water do also defend us against evil forces.
When you go to Church for Holy Mass, don’t stand outside the Church. Enter the Church and don’t let the blessings of the Holy Mass pass you by.
Cell phones should never be used during Holy Mass for checking messages, making calls, chatting or texting. Keep them on silent mode. No call is more important than the Holy Mass, unless it’s a matter of life and death.
At Holy Masses, don’t be shaking your legs, don’t be jiggling with your hair; all these are distractions.
Furthermore, don’t go for Holy Mass to check out who puts on the latest or the most expensive wears. All these things do not necessary count before the eyes of God. Rather our faith, love and hope in God are what ultimately count. Don’t talk or comment on what others wear. You don’t go there to judge anyone’s dressing style, make-up or accessories. You are there to commune with God alongside other faithfuls.
When you notice a pregnant mother, a sick person or an aged person standing at the Holy Mass without a sit; always be ever ready to offer them your seat. Charity begins at home.
Before the Holy Mass begins and when the Holy Mass is going on, sit quietly in Church and compose yourself sanctimoniously.
Sometimes babies can be restless and distractive. Parents with young kids should sit at the end of a pew, so that they can take their kids outside quickly. Don’t be playing with your babies unnecessary while the Holy Mass is going on, for it can be a very big source of distraction to you and others. In fact, when you come along with your children for Holy Mass; make sure they are also focus. Stop them from playing with bulletins, hymn books, Missal. Don’t joke or play with toddlers during mass.
Prepare your offering before the Mass begins. Christ tells us not to let our left hand know what our right hand is doing when you are make your offering. More so, digging the offertory box for change is wrong, for that can be quite a scene. Come to Holy Mass with your offering prepared.
No sleeping, day-dreaming or saying the rosary during Holy Mass. The Holy Mass is the highest form of prayer, be actively involved in all the responses, prayers and sing the songs. Please note that the choir members are not the only ones to be singing at the Holy Mass, the entire congregation ought to also sing actively.
More so, while the first, the psalms, the second and the Gospel readings are going on; pay attention to God’s Word. While the readings are being proclaimed, be following the readings from your bulletins, Missals or Holy Bible. Pay undivided attention to the readings being proclaimed by the lectors and the Priest. Your bulletins and Missals are to be used to follow the readings of that particular day also privately and contemplatively before and after the Holy Mass; Please take this seriously.
Behave authentically and reverently during the Holy Mass: And unless one is not physically strong; stand when it is time to stand, kneel when it is time to kneel and sit when it is time to sit. The only exceptions are for the sick, people with knee problems, aged and those with infants.
Kneel before receiving the Holy Communion, you are before God.
Say Amen always before receiving the Holy Eucharist. And do not play with the Holy Eucharist in your tongue, it is not a biscuit rather it is the Body of Christ.
Do not leave before the Holy Mass ends, unless it is a matter of life and death. We should stay to the end of the final blessing and the end of the recessional hymn. Remember how Judas ended for leaving before the end of the Last Super.
Pray after Mass privately, thank God for His abundant blessings.
When the Holy Mass is ended; leave quietly for there might be others who might stay behind for prayers.
You and I may have not always behaved well during the Holy Mass, but it’s never too late to learn. Please take corrections and also correct others. God bless you!!!
Kindly Help me pass this to all Catholics, Thank you