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Switch to Forum Live View Help Me Go From No Religion To Catholicism
6 years ago  ::  Mar 25, 2008 - 2:01AM #1
HsiWangHu
Posts: 3
I hope I am not repeating a question that has already been answered.  I looked and looked and could not find a post that answered my question.  All the posts that resembled my question were about converting to Catholicism were from people with experiance with other religions or forms of Christianity. 

This may sound really pathetic but I have never been inside a church, not even for a wedding.  My niece, who lives with me is 6 soon to be 7, and she has been asking me to take her to a church on Sunday.  She has never been inside a church either.  Which left me a little speechless because this so out of my realm.  I asked her if there was a particular faith's church that she was interested in, thinking that maybe a friend from school went to a certain church and maybe she wanted to go to that church because of her friend.  She told me to decide.  Which also left me floundering.  So, I have been all over the internet, where I found beliefnet, researching different faiths.  I have decided on Catholicism but I am little intimidated by the whole thing because I do not know where to start.  I am also a little scared to go to a church where I do not know anyone and where the rituals / languages are totally foreign to me and end up making a fool of myself by committing some faux pas.

Does anyone have any advice that might help me get over this hurdle?
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6 years ago  ::  Mar 25, 2008 - 2:01AM #2
HsiWangHu
Posts: 3
I hope I am not repeating a question that has already been answered.  I looked and looked and could not find a post that answered my question.  All the posts that resembled my question were about converting to Catholicism were from people with experiance with other religions or forms of Christianity. 

This may sound really pathetic but I have never been inside a church, not even for a wedding.  My niece, who lives with me is 6 soon to be 7, and she has been asking me to take her to a church on Sunday.  She has never been inside a church either.  Which left me a little speechless because this so out of my realm.  I asked her if there was a particular faith's church that she was interested in, thinking that maybe a friend from school went to a certain church and maybe she wanted to go to that church because of her friend.  She told me to decide.  Which also left me floundering.  So, I have been all over the internet, where I found beliefnet, researching different faiths.  I have decided on Catholicism but I am little intimidated by the whole thing because I do not know where to start.  I am also a little scared to go to a church where I do not know anyone and where the rituals / languages are totally foreign to me and end up making a fool of myself by committing some faux pas.

Does anyone have any advice that might help me get over this hurdle?
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6 years ago  ::  Mar 25, 2008 - 5:23PM #3
marbleartgirl
Posts: 27
You and your niece will be very welcome to attend Mass!!  When you enter the church, look around to see if your parish has a Missal (which is a booklet usually found in the pews or by the door).  This book contains the order of Mass, as well as the readings for the service.  In it, you will find the Nicene Creed, which is recited at every Mass, as well as the prayers and responses.  If you don't see it, then ask someone because some parishes have all of the readings in the back of a hard bound book that also contains the songs.  The first time I attended Mass, the missal was a big help to me because it was kind of a "guide" as to what would be going on during the service.  You can also google the order of Mass on line- so you will know kind of what to expect.  You and your niece can participate fully in Mass with the exception of receiving Holy Communion.  In most parishes, you and your niece would be welcome to go down the aisle with everyone else and receive a special blessing.  When you get to the priest, cross your arms over your chest so he will know that you want a blessing instead of the Eucharist.  If you aren't comfortable doing that, then just stay in your seat or remain kneeling.  Totally not a big deal, as Catholics don't receive Holy Communion if they are aware of a need to attend the sacrament of reconciliation so you will probably see others who remain in their seat.  In order to learn about Catholicism, I suggest visiting the priest and beginning RCIA classes.  These classes teach you about the Catholic church and in no way obligate you to join, if you should decide that this isn't the place for you.  But I went through RCIA and found it to be very valuable.  And, most importantly, remember that God is your father, and you are always welcome in His house.  Enjoy Mass and listen for the sound of His voice as He welcomes you home.  I will keep you in my prayers!
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6 years ago  ::  Mar 25, 2008 - 6:22PM #4
angpuppy
Posts: 520
[QUOTE=HsiWangHu;380982]I hope I am not repeating a question that has already been answered.  I looked and looked and could not find a post that answered my question.  All the posts that resembled my question were about converting to Catholicism were from people with experiance with other religions or forms of Christianity. 

This may sound really pathetic but I have never been inside a church, not even for a wedding.  My niece, who lives with me is 6 soon to be 7, and she has been asking me to take her to a church on Sunday.  She has never been inside a church either.  Which left me a little speechless because this so out of my realm.  I asked her if there was a particular faith's church that she was interested in, thinking that maybe a friend from school went to a certain church and maybe she wanted to go to that church because of her friend.  She told me to decide.  Which also left me floundering.  So, I have been all over the internet, where I found beliefnet, researching different faiths.  I have decided on Catholicism but I am little intimidated by the whole thing because I do not know where to start.  I am also a little scared to go to a church where I do not know anyone and where the rituals / languages are totally foreign to me and end up making a fool of myself by committing some faux pas.

Does anyone have any advice that might help me get over this hurdle?[/QUOTE]

Well most parishes, the Mass is in English, so you have nothing to worry about with the language.  My advice would be to sit in the back and spend more time absorbing all that is going on.  Try to follow along in the missal, but begin by entering the prayer a bit with an active receptivity.  I don't recommend sitting in the back to exclude yourself.  I just recommend it at first so that you don't feel more self conscious that someone might notice you're unfamiliar with what is going on. 

The Mass is considered the highest form of prayer in the Catholic Church and as such its the most complicated.  Its primary purpose is not to be preached at.  Its primary purpose for the faithful to enter into a high form of prayerful worship of God.  At its center is the belief in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.  We genuflect before entering our pews in the chapel because we geneflect toward the tabernacle which is this golden box that houses the Eucharistic bread which we believe to be Christ's body as His soul/spirit has innate possession of it, just as our souls have innate possession of our bodies. 

The Mass it divided into two main parts:  the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.  Before we begin these two parts, we beginning with the penitential rite where we ask God for forgiveness of our sins in order to prepare us for the reception of the Eucharist.  The Liturgy of the  Word consists of 2 readings from either the epistles (the books of the new testament excluding the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), or from any of the Old Testament books, and a psalm which can be sung between them.  We then stand for the reading of the Gospel (a reading from one of the four Gospel accounts in the bible).  Before we begin reading it, there are some prayers and we mark our mind, lips, and heart with the sign of the cross, indicated our thoughts, our speech and the disposition of our hearts to be touched by God's Word.   We stand as a sign of prayerfully receiving it and to elevate an understanding of the Gospel's importance.

Afterward we sit for the Homily.  The intention of the homily is to explain the connection between the 2 readings, the psalm and the gospel reading.  Unfortunately, this is often not what the time is used for, but at least this is not the primary purpose of the Mass anyway.

Next comes the Nicene Creed which is to proclaim what we believe.  Afterward that are the general petitions, and from there we move into the Liturgy of the Eucharist.  Again we prepare for the consecration of the Eucharist where Christ's soul/spirit takes possession of the bread and wine offered by the priest.  We kneel during the consecration when this event takes place.  At the very end, everyone who is deposed (or who doesn't know any better) goes up in line to receive the Eucharist. 

Not all parishes endorse going up to Communion to receive a blessing. Receiving this blessing is not technically a part of the Mass, but its not an abuse either, and as such there is a lack of uniformity around the country.  Its the same with holding hands during the Our Father.  This is not a part of the Mass, but people picked it up somewhere and now in many parishes most people will look at you funny if you don't hold each other's hands.  Technically stretching our hands outwardly is a posture for the priest alone during the time.

How people go up to receive Communion can differ.  Technically the USCCB recommended people to bow before before the Eucharist is to be received, but people if they do bow, tend to bow not toward the Eucharist but back of the person in front of them.

Ultimately, I think the thing to understand is that people learn how to participate in the Mass by observing each other and following along.  In some ways this still leads to many laity not understanding what's going on in the Mass and thus people getting bored.  Thus, I think you'd get more out of the Mass if you don't worry so much about what people think of you, but rather follow along and observe a bit and try to first comprehend what is going on.  Its like learning how to dance.  You can either try to start dancing right away as other people dance, or you can sit back and watch how people are dancing the dance, observing each motion and picking it up eventually.  You won't be perfect, but you'll do better that way. 

But every Catholic still could get more out of the Mass themselves if they took the time to study the Mass first and gain instruction.  http://www.catholicmass.org/ is a pretty good resource.  The DVD's are expensive, but there are segments from the DVD that might be of good value.

God bless.  I hope you have a very positive experience with the Mass.
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6 years ago  ::  Mar 25, 2008 - 8:39PM #5
HsiWangHu
Posts: 3
Thank you both for helping me and answering my questions.  I really appreciate it.
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6 years ago  ::  Mar 27, 2008 - 3:57PM #6
BKW1
Posts: 120
As the other posters have said, don't be worried or afraid, the Catholic Church is open to everyone. 

If you're a little intimidated by the mass, here is the "Order of the Mass" online.  It describes what goes on in the mass including the prayers of the priest and the responses of the congragation: 

http://catholic-resources.org/ChurchDocs/Mass.htm

Here is a high-level article on what the mass is about:   

http://www.americancatholic.org/Newslet … ac0889.asp

Here is a good article to get you familiar with what you will see inside a Catholic church (e.g. holy water fonts, the stations of the cross) and what these things mean:

http://www.americancatholic.org/Newslet … ac0391.asp
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6 years ago  ::  May 11, 2008 - 9:37PM #7
friendofsaints&angels
Posts: 1,327
Hey Hsi, it's good that you are thinking about God and just maybe God is working through this little one, to bring you and her closer too Himself. God has bestowed a great gift of Himself on the catholic church in the Eucharist. I believe that Jesus is truly present in the most Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist in the Holy Catholic church. most catholic churches also have Eucharistic Adoration. this is where you can just be in the presence of the Eucharist and let God speak to you in the silence of your heart in Eucharistic Adoration. it's not a Mass and you can just go in there and get too know Jesus better through the Eucharist. I will also post a couple of websites where you can listen too a catholic radio station and where you can go get free copies of catholic prayers, and where you can also learn a few things about the teachings of the church and teachings of church fathers. good luck on your faith journey friend. welcome and God Bless.

www.relevantradio.com
www.padrepiodevotions.org
www.scripturecatholic.com
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