Questions people of other faiths ask at a Catholic Mass

Whether it’s non-Catholics who attend Mass with their Catholic significant others or folks who are inquiring about the faith; if you weren’t brought up with Mass, your first (and second and third…) time can be very confusing—making people feel like they’re, “in on a secret that I’m not in on.”

Here are some answers to some of the really excellent, frequently asked questions that newbies bring with them.

1. What’s with all of the sitting, standing and kneeling?

We call it “Catholic Aerobics.” It’s how we stay fit. Just kidding!

Each posture during Mass has function and meaning. When we sit, we are engaged in active listening, giving our attention to the readings, the homily and some of the prayers.

We stand for a couple of reasons—to listen to the Gospel (we sit for the other Bible readings) to acknowledge that we are in the presence of Christ. The Gospel is the Word of God speaking to us in the present. We hear stories about Jesus and the words that He spoke and so we stand in honor of this.

Sometimes our standing together shows our unity in prayer (like when we pray the Creed or the General Intercessions) as the Body of Christ, and we stand together as a community preparing to receive the Body of Christ in the Eucharist (see #4).

Kneeling is a penitential/reverential posture. We acknowledge our sinfulness and need for God’s healing, so we kneel in God’s Presence (mostly while the prayers regarding the Eucharist are being prayed) asking for that healing.

2. What’s that squiggly motion everybody does in front of their faces before the Gospel is read? Continue reading

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