Monday, September 16, 2019

Mass Etiquette: Most Frequently Asked Questions

Lots of people are confused by the Do’s and Don’ts during Mass. Here are a few questions with answers that might be of some help.

1- Are Catholics supposed to hold hands during Our Father? Answer

2- Are Catholics supposed to shake hands during the sign of peace? General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 82: "As for the sign of peace to be given, the manner is to be established by Conferences of Bishops in accordance with the culture and customs of the peoples. It is, however, appropriate that each person offer the sign of peace only to those who are nearest and in a sober manner."

3- Do Catholics have to go to Confession first before they receive Holy Communion? The 1983 Code of Canon Law indicates that the same requirement applies today. “A person who is conscious of a grave sin (mortal) is not to . . . receive the body of the Lord without prior sacramental confession unless a grave reason is present and there is no opportunity of confessing; in this case the person is to be mindful of the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition, including the intention of confessing as soon as possible” (CIC 916).

4- How long must a Catholic fast before Holy Communion? Are there any exceptions? One who is to receive the Most Holy Eucharist is to abstain from any food or drink, with the exception only of water and medicine, for at least the period of one hour before Holy Communion. Those who are advanced in age or who suffer from any infirmity, as well as those who take care of them, can receive the Most Holy Eucharist even if they have taken something during the previous hour.

5- Does chewing gum break the fast before Holy Communion? Chewing gum as such would not break the fast but swallowing the juices and flavors released by the chewing process would do so.

6- Can Non-Catholic Christians be admitted to sacramental communion in the Roman Catholic Church? Answer

7- Can the Eucharist be carried on their person, in a pocket or purse or even reserved in the home? Canon 935. No one is permitted to keep the Eucharist on one’s person or to carry it around, unless pastoral necessity urges it and the prescripts of the diocesan bishop are observed.

8- Is talking in Church when not demanded by necessity wrong? Answer

9- If people arrive to Mass late due to culpable negligence, and especially if they do so habitually, is it considered a sin? Answer

10- What should one do if they drop the Body of Christ or the Blood of Christ? What should one do if they spill the Blood of Christ on their clothes? Answer

11- Does the Body of Christ need to be consumed immediately? Communion should not be received on the run, as you’re walking back to your place; it should be consumed before you leave the area below the altar. The Eucharist must be consumed immediately and before the priest, deacon or extraordinary minister of Holy Communion.

12- Is it a sin to leave Mass right after receiving communion before the closing prayers? Answer Answer Answer

13- If a Catholic comes late to Mass can they receive Holy Communion? Answer

14- Why must we kneel on our knees during Mass without leaning back on the pew? Are there any exceptions? Respect for the Eucharist demands that we kneel on our knees without leaning back on the pew. If you are ill or disabled, it is acceptable to sit instead of kneeling.

15- Is it considered a sin if we do not go to Mass? The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor. Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin (CCC 2181).

16- Do I commit a mortal sin if I do not attend Mass on Holy Days of obligation? Yes. On Holy Days of obligation Catholics are obliged to go to Mass as on Sundays. The Holy Days of obligation which fall on days other than Sunday are Christmas, New Years, The Immaculate Conception (Dec. 8) the Ascension Thursday (though many Bishops have transferred it to Sunday), the Assumption of Mary into heaven (Aug. 15).

Given how precious the Mass is plus the Old Testament precedent which was rightly adapted by the Church, the Code of Canon Law (#1246) proscribes, "Sunday is the day on which the paschal mystery is celebrated in light of the apostolic tradition and is to be observed as the foremost holy day of obligation in the universal Church." Moreover, "On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass..." (#1247). Therefore, the Catechism teaches, "Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit grave sin" (#2181), and grave sin is indeed mortal sin. Recently, our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, repeated this precept in his apostolic letter Dies Domini (Observing and Celebrating the Day of the Lord, #47, 1998).

Are there any other questions that you can think of that I could add to this list?

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