When I slipped into Holy Spirit Parish in late February it was the second Sunday Mass I had ever attended, and the first one in which I was very observant. Here’s what I learned.
1) Expect to be confused. The “Our Sunday Visitor” cards are located somewhere in the pew and will help you respond for some of the liturgy. But there are many responses not included in the cards. I couldn’t believe all these crazy people had memorized so many short statements! Take it all in! Listen closely to the meaningful words and the scriptural references.
2) Enjoy Christ on the cross. As an evangelical I would say silly things about Catholics not understanding Jesus was no longer on the cross, as if they hadn’t heard of the resurrection (I wish someone would have asked me who came up with the Easter calendar). Yet my favorite hymns like the Old Rugged Cross and contemporary songs like How Deep the Father’s Love For Us are all about Christ on the cross. Here was a visual representation of the lyrics I had grown to love.
3) The hymn numbers are probably listed in block numbers up front.When I first saw them I thought they were leftover numbers from some Catholic bingo game (seriously!).
4) You can go up for communion. Don’t TAKE communion, but if you’re feeling adventurous you can cross your arms over your chest and the priest will give you a blessing. Make sure you go up on the side of the priest. Otherwise, just wait in the pew (that’s what I did).
5) When the priest says, “Go forth, the mass has ended,” he doesn’t mean “You’re dismissed.” He means “The mass is ended, now let’s sing one more song.” At Holy Spirit I picked up my stuff, look around confusedly, then set it back down and waited 🙂