1. Before you even get to Mass… dress yourself up!
Every Mass, we say a short and simple prayer to God that although we are not worthy that He should enter under our roof, we ask that He only say the Word that our souls may be healed. If the Heavenly Father were truly to enter under the roof of your home, you’d no doubt hope to be showered, primped and wearing your finest. If He decided to show up unannounced, He may not be offended to find you in jeans or, Heaven forbid, a housecoat, but if you actually had a heads up that He was coming, you’d make certain to dress accordingly. Your plan to attend Mass each week, or each day, is that “heads up” …because guess what? Jesus Christ will be there, fully present in the Holy Eucharist! Give Him glory in your dress – in modesty and in class.
2. Altar Servers: No girls allowed
As the very awesome Father Lankeit of my home Diocese of Phoenix Cathedral put it, ““The connection between serving at the altar and priesthood is historic. It is part of the differentiation between boys and girls, as Christ established the priesthood by choosing men. Serving at the altar is a specifically priestly act.” Encourage young men to serve the altar. Don’t perpetuate the confusion among young women in the Church. It’s done enough damage.
3. Keep your hands to yourself – Part I
During Mass, before you even begin praying the words of the Our Father, you probably start reaching for the hands of your neighbors. It’s an act that’s become instinctive to most, though it never should have earned such precedence. It’s well known (or should be) that the Mass cannot be changed or added to on a whim, but holding hands was permitted for families specifically to take up the practice among themselves, if they choose. Of course now, you may be hard pressed to find families whose hands aren’t connected with strangers’. The truth is that the Church actually discourages holding hands during the Our Father. Lifting hands during prayer should be specifically reserved for the priest during the Holy Mass. Leave it to Father!
4. Keep your hands to yourself – Part II
The Church specifically requests that the sign of peace be conducted in a sober manner, without anyone crossing aisles, and to be limited to those standing within one’s close proximity. Leave the peace signs to the hippies and guard your temptation to socialize. Remember you are at the solemn sacrifice of the Mass and if you so choose, no handshakin’ required! Better to keep your mind on the consecrated Host anyway. Speaking of which…
5. Kneel during the consecration… even if there are (dun dun dun) no kneelers!
It should seem a no-brainer for most Mass-attending Catholics that to kneel during the consecration is imperative, for this time when Christ is made truly present in the Holy Eucharist demands absolute reverence. If Jesus Christ were literally to walk into a room, nobody in their right mind would stay seated. To stay standing would hardly do the King of Kings justice either. We are called to kneel before our King, specifically during the Eucharistic sacrifice!
6. Leave the Eucharistic Prayer to the priest
You can pray the Hail Mary in the shower. You can pray the Our Father in bed. You can pray a lot of prayers just about anywhere you choose. But at Mass, you cannot pray the Eucharistic Prayer along with the priest, even if, Heaven forbid, he invites you. “It is the ordained priest who, acting in the person of Christ, brings about the Eucharistic sacrifice and offers it to God in the name of all the people.” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia)
7. Receive Holy Communion on the tongue
Although it is allowed (not encouraged) to receive the Body of Christ in the hand, there are so many reasons why receiving on the tongue is plainly-and-simply better! Receiving on the tongue avoids not only physical abuses of the Sacrament – say, if your hands are dirty, positioned improperly, or you mistakenly drop the host (Yikes! Paten, please!) – it also better forms your conscience to prevent spiritual abuse of the Sacrament, by strengthening your humility before God. Important to note, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI only offers Holy Communion on the tongue.
8. Don’t applaud
While you might be tempted to recognize the choir for a truly epic performance or express your enamor over Father’s riveting homily, it is never appropriate to applaud during Mass. The Holy Mass does not take place for our sake, but for God’s. When we clap or cheer to express our satisfaction, entertainment, or approval, we flip the orientation of the Mass and make it about us. And that just isn’t right.
9. “Actively participate” in your pew
Unfortunately it’s a huge misconception that unless you are serving as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, Lector, Altar Server, Gift Bearer, Usher, Candle Holder, Liturgical Dancer, illicit Homily Giver, or otherwise… you are somehow less present and less engaged in the Holy Mass. But that’s just not the case. You can be a powerful demonstration of prayerful participation by quietly following steps 1-8 throughout Mass.
10. See something? Say something!
“It is not possible to be silent about the abuses, even quite grave ones, against the nature of the liturgy and the sacraments as well as the tradition and the authority of the Church, which in our day not infrequently plague liturgical celebrations in one ecclesial environment or another. In some places the perpetration of liturgical abuses has become almost habitual, a fact that obviously cannot be allowed and must cease.” (Redemptionis Sacramentum) Be courageous and speak up to your Catholic brothers and sisters, your priest, your bishop, or the Congregation for Divine Worship to restore the Sacred Mass to its due glory!