Father Answers Your Questions

Question Is there such a thing a good Mass manners?

Answer:  I'm very glad you asked that question.  In this day and age of tattoos, body piercing, casual Fridays, cable television, and instant gratification, many of us have forgotten or ignored proper behavior during Mass.  Each of us should strive for good “Mass Manners.”  Parents, in particular, need to model proper Mass manner for their children and to teach their children what is and isn't appropriate during Mass. 

First, let us start at how we prepare for Mass.  People should dress appropriately.    We should be neat, clean, and properly clothed.  In deciding what to wear, we should be thinking, “I am dressing to meet my Lord and to participate in the mystery of my salvation.”

Before Mass begins, parents should make sure their children go to the bathroom.  A person going in and out of the pews during Mass for the bathroom is distracting.  Granted, there are legitimate reasons for having to use the bathroom during Mass.  However, some children have just gotten into a routine:  during the homily, go to the bathroom; during Communion, get the drink of water, etc.

Next, leave home in enough time to arrive at church before Mass begins, preferably about five or 10 minutes.  Doing so allows everyone to have a few moments for prayer and to be ready to participate in the Mass.  Granted, circumstances arise which will delay a family.  Such a situation is different from the perpetually late parishioners. 

When you enter the chapel, cross yourself with Holy Water and thank God for the grace given to you at Baptism; this gesture reminds us of our Baptism and does dispel evil.

Before entering the pew, be sure to bow, an important act of reverence to the presence of our Lord.  You would genuflect if the Eucharist were stored in the tabernacle.  Because the Eucharist is stored in the Blessed Sacrament room, at Moody AFB, you bow to the altar.

Turn off the cell phones and beepers so you can give your undivided attention to God. 

Keep sacred silence in the church.  Avoid unnecessary conversation and keep necessary conversation to a very low whisper.

In worshiping, participate in the songs and prayers, follow the readings and listen attentively to the homily.  Parents should help their children.  For example, parents can help children follow the readings with a finger.  In all, everyone should joyfully and reverently participate in the Mass. 

Parents need to supervise their children.  Jesus loves and welcomes children, but they do need our help.  If a child is fussy, then the parent should quickly take the child out of the chapel and let the child calm down before returning.  If necessary, use the quiet room at the back of the chapel.  Children should not be allowed to rattle keys, drop toys, kick the pews or run in the aisles.  These behaviors are distracting to the other people and especially to a priest who is trying to give a homily.   

When receiving Holy Communion, always do so reverently.  We should be very conscious that we are receiving our Lord.  If receiving on the hand, the hands must be clean and held like a throne for the Lord.  Holy Communion must not be reminiscent of a cafeteria line experience, but rather of an encounter with the Lord. 

After Communion, give thanks for the precious gift received and allow the grace to fill our souls

Finally, after the Mass is concluded with the blessing, wait until Father Tom or Father Marv has proceeded down the aisle before leaving the pew.  The congregation should disperse only after the recessional hymn has concluded.  However, before leaving the pew, be sure to put the hymnal back in its holder and pick up used tissues, bulletins, or other items.

Make newcomers feel welcome; learn their names.  Give them eye contact, a warm handshake, a friendly pat on the back.  Introduce them to Father Tom, in the lobby or social hall.  Let them know they are welcome and wanted.  Go out of your way to make them feel at home

While outside the issue of “Mass manners,” you are to fast one hour before receiving the Eucharist, and are to refrain from receiving the Eucharist if you are in a state of mortal sin or have accidentally ingested anything but plain water.

We live in a very casual world where many people have forgotten proper manners and discipline.  Manners, whether at Mass or in other situations, reveal the value we place on each other and God.

St. Patrick's Church at Moody Air Force Base