You Did What at Mass

Last Sunday’s 10:00 Mass kicked off Catholic School Week. Many of the students from the parish school were there with their parents. Before the Mass began I was watching the people who were coming in and I noticed a few things missing.

Let me begin by saying I am in no way judging anyone in any way. This will be clear when I discuss the reasons I believe are the cause of what I saw … or more accurately what I didn’t see.

When I was young and first began attending Mass, there were several things which were drilled into us from the very beginning. One was any time you passed in front of the tabernacle or the altar you would genuflect. Before you entered the pew you would genuflect again and make the Sign of the Cross. I may not have understood why (out of respect for the presence of our Lord) but we did it. The next thing we would do upon entering the pew would be to kneel and say at least one prayer. Sunday I noticed many people did not do any of this.

At first, it bothered me but as I thought about it and talked about it later in the RCIA session I realized this is probably because these people were never taught these things. Several of my RCIA participants who actually attended Catholic school said they had never been taught these things. I realize I was away from the Church for a long time and some of these things may have been changed, although I think some of them were not.

I began to research some of these traditions and came across several others I have forgotten about. For example, we always made the Sign of the Cross whenever we passed a Catholic Church. We never, ever, ever chewed gum in Church. We never held loud conversations in Church. We would never (well maybe sometimes) leave Mass before the Preist did. You did not chew the Host, we walked back to our pew with our hands crossed looking straight ahead, not saying “Hello” to people, and we would raise the kneelers before we went to receive the Eucharist so those behind us could easily get out of the pews. These are things I don’t see a lot of.

While I was researching these things I also found some other things I have noticed since I began attending Mass regularly that now seem accepted as common practice, things I have always thought weren’t correct.

  • Holding hands during the “Our Father” – Evidently, this is not a traditional Catholic practice, and I personally don’t like it. It is one thing if you are next to family, but when someone you don’t even know forces their hand into yours or gives you the “Stink Eye” because you aren’t reaching for them, well to me this is a problem.
  • Raising your hands when praying the “Our Father” – This actually has a name. It is called the orans position. This is not supposed to be done when at Mass other than by the priest (this is different from when we are asked to raise our hands to bless someone or a group like when we send off the RCIA candidates during Mass). We were always taught to fold our hands when you prayed. 
  • Applauding at Mass – This seems to occur more and more frequently. While I understand why it is done, and have even joined in on occasion, I have never thought it appropriate.

Again some of these things may have changed over the decades since I was a regular Mass attendee. I received this information mostly from this website and it could be dated, although I think it is mostly accurate.

As Catholics, we believe that our church is the dwelling place of Jesus. He is present in the tabernacle waiting for us. This is why we should always be respectful whenever we are in church, whether for Mass or just stopping in to be near Him.

It would nice to see all of these things happen again, but there are so many other things we need to teach our fellow Catholics first.

 I will instruct you and teach you
the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

Psalm 32:8 RSCVE

Want to learn more about why we do what we do?

Why We’re Catholic: Our Reasons for Faith, Hope, and LoveSigns of Life: 40 Catholic Customs and Their Biblical Roots

Please feel free to comment, we would love to hear from you

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.