As someone looking to become Catholic, I wondered very early on in my journey about what I could and could not do. I wanted to participate as much as possible but, of course, follow the rules of the church. I thought I might not be the only one confused about what you can participate in as a non-Catholic going to Catholic Mass, so here’s what I’ve learned:
What You CAN Do:
- Make the sign of the cross with holy water when you enter the chapel IF you have been baptized. Making the sign of the cross with the holy water is a remembrance of your baptism.
- Genuflect or bow toward the altar as you enter the pew.
- Do everything at Mass, including kneeling, responding and singing EXCEPT take communion/accept the Eucharist.
- Instead, you CAN go up in line for communion, but simply cross your arms over your chest and the priest will give you a blessing instead of bread and wine (many people do this, including children too young to receive communion so you will be among many). I almost always go up for a blessing; I figure the more blessings the better! 🙂
- Attend daily Mass.
- Receive any form of blessing (including those for the sick).
- Attend Holy Adoration
- Visit the Blessed Sacrament
- I believe you can go to confession/reconciliation, but you might want to wait on that until you become Catholic so you’ll have a better idea of what to do. Someone correct me if I’m wrong!
- Pray, including the Rosary and the Liturgy of the Hours.
What You CAN’T Do (a short list!):
- Take the Eucharist
- Receive an anointing
- Help with various aspects of Mass, such as serving as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion.
This is certainly not an official list, but only an observation of what I’ve learned and asked thus far.
It’s amazing how short the CAN’T list is. I always wrongly assumed that I’d be excluded from most things as a non-Catholic, but once I bothered to look into it, I found I was completely wrong. Catholicism can seem closed to outsiders because there is so much ritual involved that newcomers may not know, but the truth is it’s incredibly open and inviting to anyone who truly wants to participate. You just have to make the effort to learn the ritual so you can join along.
What did I miss on the list those of you much more knowledgeable than me?!