Mass Etiquette; Dos and Don’ts while at Mass


It doesn’t even really feel like a fast anymore since its just an hour. The Church requires every communicant to begin preparing to receive Jesus by observing an hour fast (from food) unless they’re aged or sick. Won’t really cost much to give this little to receive God into your soul would it?

Come early, recollect yourself:

Sometime ago i asked on our Facebook page “When is one late for Mass” some said with confidence “When they come later than the Sign of the Cross”. I disappointed them by reminding them that the Mass actually begins with the procession. I usually advise people to make effort to be in Church at least 10-15 minutes before the actual time in order to have some time to pray and recollect; to begin the Mass in the right spirit. When it becomes a habit to arrive late, it ceases to be a real celebration for the person, and if it becomes a habit (especially Sundays) it begins to become sinful.


It is inappropriate to find a grown person snacking or chewing gum in Church. We want to show God some seriousness and show our devotion by setting aside a perfect “God-time”. This means we’d try to devote all our attention to the act of worship, to make it as perfect as possible. The house of God is a place of prayer, let us try to keep it so. For Children? I still don’t buy the idea of snacks. If it can be discreet, and if the child is really troublesome, then its okay.


Be modest, don’t attract too much attention by putting on something open. We also love to think Sunday as a real celebration, keep this in mind and put on the best you have. God is holy, your body is his Temple, cover it, and adorn it moderately.

No Phones:

No cell phones; texting, chatting, calls etc. I have seen a number of people chatting over Facebook while at Mass. Then i wonder: So we really cannot give God little time anymore? What will it take to turn off our phones for an hour or two (Depending on where you live, some are as fast as 45 mins). The only justifiable case is big emergencies though, whatever it be, let it be serious and be discreet while attending to it. It is usually better to quietly leave the Church to attend to the emergency than text or receive calls inside.


Upon entering the Church, every informed Catholic remembers that Jesus is present in the Tabernacle (usually indicated by some light beside it). The problem usually is that only few remember to show some respect. Genuflecting (such that your knee hits the ground) is a sign of devotion and reverence to the Lord who for love waits for us in the Tabernacle with blessing and peace.

Active participation:

Some find it hard to follow all the routines over and over again; to stand, sit, speak when needed etc. However, active participation means exactly this. In order to be really part of a praying community, we must join the Body of Christ in its movements. We are supposed to try as much as possible to join in singing, praying, and in performing all appropriate gestures while at Mass for our participation to be perfect.

Receiving Communion:

It is customary to show some reverence before, during and after communion. Before receiving, one must recollect, pray and prepare themselves. Receiving, it is advised to bow or kneel (depending on what’s customary in your area). After receiving, kneel and pray to Jesus, don’t be in a hurry, he might also have a word or two for you. It shouldn’t be heard, it could be simple movements in your soul, inspirations etc. But pray and keep still for a while. Remember to be joyful as well, when you leave mass, share this joy with everyone !

Be Charitable:

If you’re sick, be sure not to receive from the chalice. Remember to respect people close to you, do not consider yourself alone. Your neighbor might not like to be held while at mass, or even be talked to, respect it. If your child is noisy either take them outside (if crying) or to be back. Do to others what you’d want done to you.

Don’t be in a hurry:

Do not leave the Church before the Presider (the minister), the Mass ends officially when the priest leaves the Church. Even then, it is usually advised you sit/kneel in silent prayer of thanksgiving or simply gaze at Jesus in the Tabernacle, smile at him and just be joyful. After which you should leave quietly in order not to distract others.


You should add any more you remember in the comment section, and do not forget to share.

God bless you !

This article was inspired by Marcel LeJeune’s post on the same subject.



  1. Fritzie Reply

    A lot of couples, mostly teenage to early thirties, do PDA inside the church wile Mass is ongoing. I mean, is at least an hour of not smooching or necking or “touching” too much? Not only is it distracting to other church-goers, it is disrespectful of the sacrament and the ceremony. I’ve been taught that in Mass, a true Catholic forgets the outside world. For those few minutes of ones day, all of us are supposed to be “married” to Christ

    1. Chika Maduabuchi Reply

      @Fritzie, thats true, its so distracting seeing some people necking during Mass.

    2. Sylvia Reply

      In my parish, I have seen these young adults doing this. It does bother me but what can you do? Politely tell them, please do it outside.

    3. christina Reply

      pls what do u mean by PDA?

      1. Karen Reply

        PDA means – public display of affection.

        1. Roger Fernandes Reply

          All this while I thot PDA was Personal Digital Assistant…………………My bad

          1. Karen

            That’s ok, it’s a term that came about in the early ’80’s, I think. At least that’s when I first heard of it from my daughter, when she was in high school. School rules: No PDA, as in holding hands. You’re thinking of terms used in today’s tech world. 🙂

          2. Simon

            I thought it was Prayer for the Divine Assistance…

    4. ROBERT SPINO Reply


      1. Woodrow Reply

        Instead of manhandling them and physically removing from the building, why not obey Matthew 18 on this issue?

        1. Clare N Reply

          In my church (Bugonga Catholic Parish, Entebbe) the priest always moves out of the the church through the same exit with parishioners to meet and greet us. The unfortunate bit is some people crowd the exit along with him i find that to be so rude and impatient.

          1. Smith .K. Leonard

            I also Pray from Seguku or Zana a long Enttebe road and times Christ the King Kampala.

      2. Pam Reply

        Why shouting (all caps) and such anger? If you wanted to become a priest, why didn’t you?

        1. Mary76 Reply

          Mr. Spino is obviously not a practicing Catholic and thinks that we believe that it’s the priest’s “job” to get us into heaven which is bunk. My guess is he’s an ignorant fundamentalist.

          1. mary

            Gee, how uncharitable.

        2. Bob Spino Reply


          1. Mary76

            You won’t be a very good one if you’re going to be that angry all the time.

          2. mary

            Good for you, Mr. Spino. We will pray for you.

          3. Mary76

            you are going to be an ignorant fundamentalist? Sounds odd. You seem to be one already.

      3. Monty Miller Reply

        \I see you have learned a lot by going to church all of these years. Throw them out? Yeah, I suppose in your world that’s the way Jesus would have handled it. I might ask you to leave for being a jerk.

        1. Monty Miller Reply

          Cancel my previous comment, please.

        2. Anonymous Reply

          I’m just going to leave this here… Matthew 21… ok bye 🙂

      4. Bob Jones Reply

        Bit angry there Robert? Might want to CHECK THAT AT THE DOOR TOO.

      5. sojo Reply

        Please reconsider becoming a priest or religious.

      6. John Raymond Reply

        Robert, I have never seen this. The Mass is a re-presentation of the Passion and Death of Our Lord. I try to imagine I am in the upper room…then at the Cross. Why do they have announcements about selling cookies or raffle tickets before Mass and after Communion? Or they have someone come up and talk about buying ads in the bulletin? Then the Priests will complain about people leaving Mass before it is over…My take is that it is over when these announcements start. I feel I am disrespecting Jesus by staying…it’s not a good choice either way.

        1. Mark p. Reply

          The mass is only one aspect of the church community. Parishioners don’t only need to be present at mass but should also be active participants in the church community and you should be giving of your time, talent and treasure. Sunday mass is a time to gather as a community, one of the reasons we have baptisms during mass: so we can share in each other’s joys and pains. Don’t be an “island”, God wants you to be a part of the community and to help evangelize!

        2. Kelly Reply

          I see your point, I do. But, I try to look at it as this is God’s house but it is also a community that we share with our other parishioners and God himself. I think it’s ok to make announcements at the very very end when all the parts of the Mass are complete. I just don’t think God would be angry or feel disrespected because the priest is informing the community of upcoming events or causes that we could benefit from or that could benefit a need. Or, to announce special things going on that we can spend time with others outside of the mass, but still under God’s guiding hand. I think people forget to understand that God doesn’t get angry for things like that because He knows the intent of their heart. Give God some credit, he knows why your doing something and wether He should be angry or not. AND, HE can take of it without our judgement or input. Think about this IF it’s something that truly offends God in His house don’t you think HE will take care of it the way HE sees fit with that individual? Do you really think He’ll just let it slide until John Doe in the back pew steps up? Give God some credit, He’ll take care of those He needs to.

      7. Karen Reply


    5. Sandi DiNicola Reply

      I have never seen anyone necking at Mass. I would have to say that is very inappropriate. However, I politely disagree about affection. My husband puts his arm around me and we listen to the homily together. It is just our way. What I have seen over the years is that our parish has become more loving and supportive of growing strong, sacramental marriages. I think that some forms of affection are appropriate, and can even be encouraging or inspiring to others.

      One thing that I teach as a catechist, and by example, is to remember to bow to my Lord whenever I pass in front of the tabernacle. Jesus is present there, and a lot of people (of all ages) are unaware of this sign of adoration and reverence for His true presence. It may be from a couple of generations of poor/questionable catechesis.

      I like to work on it gradually by setting a loving example for others and reminding my kids (when they were young), “Bow to your Lord as you pass before the tabernacle, honey…” A loving example is better than anger in my opinion. I want my family to be drawn to Christ, not in fear of bodily harm if they do not “act” drawn to Christ.

      I think that we do a good job of teaching others when to stand, and when to kneel, and when to bless ourselves with the sign of the cross – now we just have to quietly, and lovingly remember to take moment to explain the purpose of these actions of bodily worship, and promote a loving environment that is filled not only with actions of adoration, but one where the people know why we do this, and it moves their hearts when they do this. Without love, they are just actions. With love, they are pathways to deeper intimacy with God.

      I agree with the article about kneeling until your knee touches the ground (for all those who are physically able to do so). My kids used to ask me why we genuflect before we sit down in the pew. With a loving smile I would explain – “Oh honey, that’s because there isn’t room for all of us to prostrate (get down on our faces), but Jesus is worthy of that and so much more.” Now, when we genuflect, my kids often come back and tell me they kneel with their body, and prostrate their should before God when they greet Him in the tabernacle. That is the kind of formation we want to encourage – where people really understand why they are doing what they are doing. It isn’t a big gold box. It really is a throne and we must be aware of that at all times, lest we offend Him is all good, and deserving of all of our love. Would you agree?

      1. zea mays Reply

        a correction, you are supposedgenuflect before the tabernacle, not bow.

        1. Ana M. McBride Reply

          You genuflect if you can and bow deeply when you cannot!

        2. Ana M. McBride Reply

          I agree– it is our tradition at Holy Family as a gesture of inclusiveness not only for those who not disposed to receive but also for those non catholic spouses who have become part of the community.

        3. Cora Alfonso Knipfer Reply

          The people with disability can bow before the tabernacle 🙏

        4. Bonnie Mitchell Reply

          Because we are in a time of many having knee replacements it is often impossible to genuflect and necessary to bow. This is also true of kneeling. When you see people setting on the very edge of their seat and not kneeling it is out of necessity. It is important not to judge because God is the one who knows what is truly in the heart.

      2. Rose Morgan Reply

        I was always taught that you should kneel when passing the tabernacle, unless I was physically unable to do so. I have however noticed more fit people bowing instead, was never sure why this teaching was changed. Its the same with genuflecting. I was taught to do so when entering and leaving the pew, but also before exiting the door, I still do and feel bad if I don’t even if its busy at the exit and it mean I hold people up for the nanosecond it takes to do, nobody has ever to my knowledge had a problem with this and it is a final act of respect and thanks for the gift of the Mass

        1. Yvonne Reply

          How do you know that they are actually fit? Maybe they have bad knees, bad back, Severe Arthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis or Fibromyalgia. For the most part these people look very healthy. However they may be considered disabled. So please please do not look at how healthy someone looks for they can fool you. Thats why you see these people leaving these harsh messages about people parking in Disabled parking spaces. They are truly disabled but look very healthy.

      3. Frank Fox Reply

        Well, you seem to be missing the whole point: it is not about you and your husband. Its is about Christ and the others.
        Your public display of affection in the church can become a serious distraction for other or even cause other to entertain sinful thoughts, even if it would appears normal or harmless to you. Your husband and you have plenty of chances and time for showing love and attention to each other at home. It would be wise to avoid anything that could cause other to stumble or be distracted inside the church.
        The center of one’s attention inside the church should be the Lord alone.

      4. Jason W Reply

        My understanding. Genuflect when passing the tabernacle, bow when passing the crucifix.

    6. Sonya Lopez Reply

      I see nothing wrong with a married couple holding hands or having an arm around his wife. Necking? No way

    7. Cindi Reply

      My husband and I hold hands when we pray together at home. We feel it is only natural to hold hands while praying during Mass.

    8. Ann Reply

      Agreed. Glad to know that I’m not the only one who is bothered by this.

    9. Kevin Reply

      I follow the Mass on an IMIssal app. I am older and my eyesight is not like it nice was. However, I feel more engaged. I read along with the readings either in Magnificat or the Imissal. There are so many more tools available to engage oneself in the Catholic faith. I am very grateful. The Facebook feeds are absolutely wonderful reminders and on point discussions of what we need on a daily basis.

    10. Julie Reply

      Talking before Mass people are there to pray, mediate connect with God. Show done respect when you enter the house of the Lord it’s not d home week!

  2. Larry Watkins Reply

    Let me also add that one should not leave the church if the choir/congregation is still singing the sending hymn. Even if the priest has already processed out, it is extremely rude to leave before the singing stops!!!

    1. Matthew Glynn Reply

      Amen Larry!

      1. Cynthia Reply

        I like quiet to pray at church and our Parish has the choir laughing and practicing and people greeting and talking loudly over the choir…hard to say the rosary but as St Terese said it is a challenge that can bring me closer to God. I still wish it was quiet in church!

    2. Chuck Reply

      At St. Thomas Aquinas in new Port Richey Florida, many leave before the priest by exiting immediately after taking communion. Others leave during singing in the last hymn ahead of the priest. The priest has pleaded many times but to no avail. The only excuse is they want to get out a head of traffic. Disgracful!

      1. Tyron Reply

        Lets pray for them that they may understand the importance of the mass.i.e The root and center of our interior life.Also that they may respect the those who God has placed in our midst to serve us, i.e the priest.

      2. Adaora Reply

        hahhahahahhahhahaahaah really disgraceful

        1. rosemariemorgan Reply

          Yes it is. If you were visiting the White House to receive a medal would you leave before you were told you could go? You are visiting the home of the King of Kings. the house of God, and receiving His body and Blood, His salvation. and yet you think it’s funny that someone races out of the door as soon as they receive His Gifts. How would you feel if a friend came round because they knew you had a gift for them and they grabbed the gift and ran out without even saying goodbye?

          1. Nkem

            You are right dear,we neglect God and expect so much from him..

        2. Mick Reply

          please be more respectful to those dont act the way they should, we all make mistakes, “may the one who has never sinned be the first one to throw the stone” . and God told us to judge the sin not the sinner only He should, can, and will.

          1. rosemariemorgan

            I was responding to his thinking it a Joke, Mick as though showing respect for Jesus Christ and the Priest who has led the Mass is something comical, not for the mistake in thinking it is ok to leave before the end of the Mass, to be honest, people that do just make me sad at the thought that they are in such a hurry to leave rather than angry.

      3. Francis Reply

        So much pettiness here, I think. Instead, try worshiping in truth and spirit. I know that this is voluntary but surely it is a wonderful gesture of togetherness in the Lord by holding hands during the Our Father. These days, I only “habitually” hold hands with my family members (We taught our children and grandchildren early) but will gratefully accept a stranger’s hands if they are offered to me. When I’m with friends, we also hold hands. In the sign-of-peace offering, I will definitely turn 360° to smile, shake hands and/or bow in acknowledgment of my fellow Christians. At times, I will even wave at someone if necessary. My pastor (not the vicar priest though) is also so wonderful to tell everyone to greet each other (meaning, turn around, smile and say hello) before the beginning of the Mass. During Holy Communion, he instructs non-Catholics and children who have not received their first HC to come forward with arms crossed to receive a blessing in a spirit of inclusiveness. I wish this practice is more widespread. I traveled around the country recently. At Immaculate Conception Church in Albuquerque, it was so wonderful for the congregation to greet all visitors and newcomers at the beginning of the Mass. In El Paso at St. Pius X Church, a throng of warm good Christian people (unlike the obligatory “hospitality ministry” at some parishes) were there to greet and welcome everyone to Mass. My heart burn within (Lk 24:32).

        Mind you, everything is always done in a very dignified and orderly way. I think that those who think that everything should be introverted and unemotional in church to rethink what a church is in its essence. Can one imagine going to a wedding banquet but then refusing to smile and exchange some pleasantries with friends and other guests? Or to refuse to “eat and sup” with one another? BTW, while on the way out of church, also don’t forget to purposefully “seek out” some of the lonely elderly people. These are the widows and widowers or the forgotten ones whose grown children no longer Mass together with them. They are usually sitting silently in their pews. Stop to smile and say hello. Make some new friendship, and may be you can also help with transfer and transportation for those who are weak and disabled. The church cannot be just an austere and cold place. There’s much to be done. Yes, God knows and alone judges the hearts of those who hurried to leave the church before the conclusion rite … but we all know who also left hurriedly before the end of the Last Supper in the Upper Room.

        1. Victoria Songe Detiveaux Reply

          Well said! I must say that I like holding hands with my husband of 33 years during Mass. I feel as if we join together to come and worship. After all our marriage has always included God.

          1. Bruce & Patty

            We do too

          2. Cindi

            My husband and I hold hands when we pray together at home. We feel it is only natural to hold hands and pray during Mass.

          3. Mary76

            I don’t have a spouse. I don’t have children. My parents don’t like to do it either. Why must I hold hands when I’m praying to God? I very much resent it when people reach over and grab my hand as though I’m praying the “wrong” way. And yes, strangers can give you warts, colds, flus, and God knows what else. So can friends. I never held hands till my twenties and never needed to. I don’t need to now.

        2. susan Reply

          … but we all know who also left hurriedly before the end of the Last Supper in the Upper Room.
          I love it!!!

          1. James McDonald

            Doesn’t matter if you think it’s nice or not. We are not allowed to go beyond the GIRM.

        3. Beth Brown Reply

          Thank you! excellent reply and suggestions, especially to seek out and greet the elders or someone who is alone, or new to your church.

        4. RaeMarie Reply

          Some people are naturally introverted and turned off by all the hand holding. They believe that the Mass is an extremely solemn occasion where an encounter with God takes place so their priority will be on the prayer and worship aspect. They also come to contemplate our Lord being sacrificed on the altar and socializing really distracts them. It doesn’t mean they are cold and heartless, they just have a different spirituality type. We should respect them and not judge them for being different than us.

          1. Camille

            Thank you for saying this. It reflects how I feel and my personality exactly. I was baptized last year and at first, I was very involved in my new congregation. I socialized and went to many activities. However, it caused me to be burned out in my new faith. I converted from a cult, where everyone’s social life revolved around the church. It had left me exhausted and really bothered me. I started to have those same feelings because it was so social in my new Catholic faith, with so many extroverts and extrovert activities. Once I realized what was happening and that it was causing me to lose my joy in attending Mass, I cut out the extra church activities and just attended Mass for the sake of Mass and coming unto Christ. I felt at peace again and was able to find joy in my new faith again. My spirituality and connection to God and Jesus Christ is very quiet and introspective for me. I like to remain quiet and peaceful. I don’t like to socialize before, during or after Mass. I try to just keep it between God and myself. I know this sounds selfish, but it’s just how I’m at peace spirtually.

          2. RaeMarie

            It is like that for a lot of people spiritually. I usually socialize before or after Mass and hate it when attention is put on me during Mass.

          3. Paula

            RaeMarie and Camille, thank you both for saying this! I’m actually one of those people who’s very active and who enjoys many of the social aspects of my community in the Archdiocese of Chicago (yet I do still consider myself an introvert). Our parish has spent the past six months in a period of transformation, attempting as a group to listen to the Spirit and make changes that will make our community a more welcoming place and bring more Catholics back to Mass on a weekly basis. Overall, I’m happy with the work we have done, but I now see that we also need to remember that just because someone doesn’t want to participate in other activities and ministries our parish offers (scripture study, food pantry, homeless shelter, choir, and the like) doesn’t mean they aren’t completely fulfilled as a member of our parish simply by worshiping with us on Sundays. Thank you for the reminder, and God bless you both.

          4. Mary76

            Right on, RaeMarie. As an introvert from a family of introverts, I personally find it all disgusting and distracting. And, like I said, unhealthy. Keep your germs to yourself and let me focus on God.

          5. Debbie

            I agree with you. I am a quiet introvert. I come to mass to worship God and find it extremely distracting to have conversations going on all around me when I’m trying to pray. I know introverts are in the minority, but I do think mass attendees should be more reverent. Sometimes it seems like a circus to me.

        5. Emily Claire Oil Reply

          Francis, I go to St Pius X and the “throng” of people who greeted you as you entered church actually are members of the hospitality ministry.

        6. Harry Muler Reply

          Good observations and practices, Francis. I have trouble with those churches that expect everyone to be silent and solemn-faced before and after Mass and not recognize our fellow worshippers.

        7. Mark p.