Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Worship Faux Pas And How To Avoid Them

Dear RCIA candidates,

We know you RCIA candidates are learning all kinds of important doctrine. But there are the "little things" about Catholic worship you don't want to ask out loud, aren't there? Yes, yes, we know. We are here to help. We hope this list helps you in your journey to reception in the Catholic Church this Easter.

1. If you have your cell phone on, changing the ring tone to "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee" for Mass time doesn't cut it.

2. Invading the personal space of other members of the Body of Christ: Be sure to space yourself the exact same distance from the other parishioners as they do themselves. Observe carefully; this is a skill intuited after years of practice.

3. If you bring Cheerios to pacify your toddler, bring enough for the kids in the pew behind you as well. (UPDATE! Or you can bring "Churchos" instead!)

4. If you come to Mass tired, don't slump disrespectfully. Depend on the skills that got you through high school. At least hold your head in your hands in such a way that you look reverential.

5. If you are able-bodied, the reverential bow at the reception of the Eucharist shouldn't be confused for a body twitch.

6. When the collection basket comes around, never use the collected money to break change for your $100 bill.

7. Kneeling etiquette: once done, sit back S L O W L Y to avoid slamming your back into someone's folded hands.

8. Yes, the Holy Eucharist is a participation in the Heavenly liturgy, as we transcend time and space, singing with angels and saints. Ergo, it is politic not to look bored. However, if you are too enthusiastic, remember you will be accused of Pentecostalism. You are hereby challenged.

9. The crying room is a space of shared suffering, to be sure. But social networking crosses the line.

10. When all else fails, remember the secret Catholic motto: "I can sing quieter than you can sing."

--I.C.

(p.s. The Curt Jester has added some more, as well as UnMuted Mumblings, The Propaganda Machine, Causa Nostra Laetitiae, Happy Catholic and Christus Vincit. Thanks to Alive and Young for the "Churchos" in #3. And feel free to add your own....)

37 comments:

PraiseDivineMercy said...

I've one to add:
"You shall not leave your ash Wednesday ashes on for more than one day, or you shall be declared 'unclean'."

Literacy-chic said...

I'm not sure that RCIA candidates are the ones you should be addressing... Perhaps it should be offered as a general refresher course?

RobK said...

Oh my gosh! That was funny.

How about - pinching your toddler so that you can carry him/her out of a particularly long or boring sermon, no matter how tempting, is to be avoided.

The Ironic Catholic said...

Melody, Rob...very good!...the Curt Jester has added his own. We can put St Blog's on a roll!

Literacy-chic: yeah, you're right. But the ones who need to hear it won't come to a course, will they?

Paul Smith Jr. said...

6. When the collection basket comes around, never use the collected money to break change for your $100 bill.

I'm an usher and this one happened to me two Sundays agaon, except it was a $20.

Debbie said...

PLEASE! No food in church!!! Gasp and faint! ;-)

KJ said...

Well done IC. I have added a few more

Innocent said...

8. Yes, the Holy Eucharist is a participation in the Heavenly liturgy, as we transcend time and space, singing with angels and saints. Ergo, it is politic not to look bored. However, if you are too enthusiastic, remember you will be accused of Pentecostalism. You are hereby challenged.


Pentecostalism? Perhaps. I daresay a lot of Catholics might also conclude you are another mystic stigmatist ( a la Padre Pio ) in the making.

SLowboy said...

When you start to kneel learn to SLOWLY ease the kneeler to the floor with your toe tip. Do NOT let it drop with a sudden clash to the floor. Also note WARNING: if the kneeler wont go all the way to the floor look to see who's toes are under the kneeler before you actually kneel down and here the mornful wail of the person three spaces down from you.

Adoro Te Devote said...

When you stand up to go to Communion, check to be certain your skirt has not gotten stuck between the folded kneeler and the pew in front of you...

* blush *

Great post! And I'm with literacy-chic...I think this is a new GIRM for the average Catholic...

The Ironic Catholic said...

Oh, these are good. Who knew there were so many "hidden rules"?

KJ, which blog do you do? I can't access your profile.

Paul Cat said...

Ok, can the RCIA people bring Churchos instead of Cheerios for their toddlers?

The Ironic Catholic said...

Paul Cat--clever! I'm adding a link in teh main text.

People seem to be on a roll today!

Leticia said...

You're not kidding! I think you touched a nerve, Ironic Catholic!
Thanks for the link.

Joel said...

How about one I learned the embarrassing way the first time I attended a Mass: "The sign of peace is not a time for getting-acquainted small talk."


I'd also be curious how many other converts took a while to stop praying "Our Father, which art in heaven..."

class-factotum said...

Don't let anyone see your lips move as you count the non-Catholics who are taking *your* space during Midnight Mass. They're easy to identify because they're the ones who don't know what to do when the kneelers come down.

Sometimes, even if you have clenched your fists and chosen a seat way away from everyone else, you have to surrender gracefully and hold hands during the Our Father. Just suck it up and offer your suffering to Jesus.

cubeland Mystic said...

Can you beat your kids during Mass?

CMinor said...

A former pastor of mine once announced: "When you come up to communion, don't stick your gum under the pew. Stick it in your ear!"

My own pet peeve: Teenaged ushers at youth masses should refrain from wearing t-shirts with suggestive messages on them. Ditto lectors, cantors, and members of the choir.

Ellyn said...

I would suggest that one mind one's clothing lest it encroach upon another's space. My muffler dangled into the pew in front of me not too long ago. Before I realized what was happening the man in front of me sat back and I was unable to extricate myself. He had no idea what was happening and was sitting so soundly that I couldn't slide the offending fabric out - I had tap on his shoulder and pantomime strangulation. My mother used to warn me about Isadora Duncan's type of demise....I never anticipated an approximation of such during Mass.

The Ironic Catholic said...

Ellyn--glad you're still in the land of the living.

Cubeland-- um, no.

Therese Z said...

Running your fingers over and over through the fur collar of the coat of the lady sitting in front of you while you are kneeling is perfectly okay only if you are under ten or exceptionally cute.

I am still laughing at "I can sing quiet than you can...."

Anonymous said...

When you genuflect before entering your pew, your knee must hit the ground. Men would never be seen curtseying anywhere else, so why do it in church??

Mark

romanreb said...

Catholic Culture Reminder:

Be sure to schedule your monthly trip to Sam's right after Ashes on the 21st this year! That way, you can deeply disturb as many Protestants as possible!

Anonymous said...

Joel,

I'm a convert, received into the Church on April 10, 2004, and I STILL say "Our Father, which art in heaven"! For some reason, I cannot break the habit! Also, I find myself saying, "Lord, I am not worthy to receive You, but only SPEAK the word..." I've tried making myself come into conformity with the rest of my parish, but when I try to say it the right way, I get really confused and end up tongue-tied! I've just got to face up to the fact: my liturgical abuses will keep me from being sainted :-)

Anonymous said...

Ever notice? You can always find the Catholic church in town, because every car is parked backward for a quick getaway

Anonymous said...

The "GLORIA" is not just for the cantor in the choir loft or the folk crew up on the altar (?) but for ALL the children of God to SING up to Him in praise and thanksgiving... not just "lip service"...
Chanting would be better than the assorted "songs" chosen; men would not have to worry about the high notes or melody... therefore less lip service and more REAL participation... ;)

Joanna from Luke 8 said...

Thou shalt not give your toddler an ink pen to occupy him/herself during Mass (especially if the seats are upholstered)!

Winefred said...

Do your best to avoid any Catholic Church with upholstered seats. They don't 'get it.'

Bob Cavalcante Jr. said...

From my teenage years:

"Sitting near the center aisle to check out the pretty girls on their way back from receiving Communion is just not proper. The grace you receive from the Eucharist should last more than a minute."

For adults:
"If the grace you receive from the Eucharist doesn't make it out of the parking lot, you missed the point!"

@romanreb - Great idea, thanks!

Bob
http://catholicconservativeamerican.blogspot.com/

Micha Elyi said...

FYI, Kay Lynn Isca has written several advice books on the topic of Catholic etiquette that could supply a lot of grist for the I.C. humour mill.

Micha Elyi said...

Then there was the pastor's note in the church bulletin: "I ask everyone to sing louder. Those He has blessed with beautiful voices should sing loudly for His glory and the rest of us for our revenge." (Seen in the Reader's Digest.)

Andrea said...

haha good post! Here's another: If you cannot kneel for some reason then at least scooch up to the edge of the seat so as to avoid forcing the person behind you to do a painful and awkward backwards tilt. :)

Lisa Simmons said...

I agree with Literacy-chic that it's not only the RCIA that should receive these suggestions! As a cantor standing in the front of the church I've seen all manners of behavior. The most disturbing is the cell phone conversation on the way to receive Communion. Seriously?
And Ely your scarf story made me fall off my chair laughing!

Jes said...

Try not to look visibly startled when the youth group choir breaks into ...err...song.

Anonymous said...

Try not to look as disgusted as the youth choir looks when the congregation breaks into applause at the end of Mass for the youth choir. (They know they are awful ... they HAVE to be there to "qualify" for Confirmation.) Also, try not to get into a "AND ALSO WITH YOU!!!!" vs. "AND WITH YOUR SPIRIT!!!!!" shouting match with other members of the congregation.

Lisa Simmons said...

Serving as one of the "Ministers" of various ministries during Mass, i.e. cantor, choir, Extraordinary Minister,and Altar Server trainer there should be a list for those of us in the ministries of do's and don'ts also because I hate it when my servers cross their legs and pump them up and down as well as Lectors or Cantors who do the same. Do you not realize EVERYONE can see you?? "Mass 101-The Cradle Catholic Edition"

schrodinger said...

Regarding Rule Number 10-- 'When all else fails, remember the secret Catholic motto: "I can sing quieter than you can sing." ' However, this does NOT apply if you are in the choir, and is modified to one of the following at the discretion of the parishioner... Option A: "I can sing LOUDER than you can sing." or Option B: "I can sing worse than you can sing.". (Note that in all seriousness, our church is blessed with an excellent Traditional choir and I'm blessed to be a part of it, thanks be to God!)