How to behave in a Catholic Church
By Fr. Daniel Pinheiro, IBP - A list of rules to help the lay people behave at the Church
Note from the translator: These are great general rules published by Father Daniel Pinheiro, pastor of Chapel Nossa Senhora das Dores, Brasília, DF, Brazil. Mind recommendation (rule) 21, which is very local to that chapel. The original can be read in portuguese here .
1. Upon entering the Church, holy water is taken and the sign of the cross is made with it.
2. Genuflects devoutly, bending the right knee to the ground, to the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle. If the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, genuflection is performed by bending both knees to the ground, and at the same time bowing the head deeply.
3. A deep bow without genuflection is made towards the high altar when the Blessed Sacrament is not preserved therein. No curtsy is done when passing in front of a side altar.
4. When arriving at the bench/pew, one should kneel at least a few moments (a time of two, three Hail Marys, for example) before sitting down.
5. In the Church, dress decently (see rules in the Booklet of the Ordinary of the Mass and on the posters on the doors of the Chapel) and with a formality corresponding to the sacred environment.
6. In the pews of the Church, when sitting, the posture must correspond to the sacred environment and not to the relaxation more typical of a hall or living room. You must sit with all composure and decency. Thus, you should not cross your legs, nor support/extend your arms on the backrest of the seat itself or keep your head on the other's shoulder, for example.
7. In the Church, one should not greet people or greet them, shaking hands, for example. Thought and attention must be focused solely on Our Lord Jesus Christ.
8. In the Church, the strictest silence must be observed (except for discreet explanation of the liturgy for children or for someone who is knowing the Mass in the Traditional Roman Rite, for example).
9. In the Church, cell phones and similar devices are not used, not even for messages. Also be avoided in confessions.
10. Avoid distractions, eyes wandering aimlessly, etc.
11. Collective attitudes in the Church must be accompanied during ceremonies: kneeling with everyone, rising with everyone, etc.
12. One should avoid anything that is singular, eccentric, or that may draw attention in the way of praying, behaving, bowing properly, beating the chest making noise... Let no one passing you be forced to think: how strange, how different, how singular
13. Also avoid disturbing others by praying aloud or even whispering when it is quiet in the Church, shaking the rosary and making noise with it (make sure the children do not shake the Rosary).
14. You do not eat inside the Church, nor do you drink liquids inside the Church (not even water). Children must also be fed outside of the Church (except bottle feeding, for example). Thus, cookies are not given inside the Church to children.
15. In the Church, parents do not let children loose in the hallways or playing with ecclesiastical furniture, entering the pulpit, side altars, pews, etc.
16. Avoid toys and objects that make noise. Also avoid random toys (dolls, cars, etc.), especially for older children, 3 or 4 years old. It will not help the child at all and will distract other children and even adults. The Children's Missal with the pictures is something good or another book that has the images of the Mass...
17. It is excellent for parents to bring little children to Mass. We promote and encourage this. Sometimes they will make a little more noise and you will have to leave the Church to calm them down. Not to leave with a single noise, but also not to take long to leave. Be agile and attentive. On the other hand, don't stay outside the Church with the children if you don't really need to.
18. One should not talk in the mother's room.
19. The material made available (booklets, leaflets, etc.) is not disposable and is not a toy for children.
20. Leave organized booklets and pamphlets as you leave the Chapel.
21. In the "Nossa Senhora das Dores Chapel", men sit on the epistle side (to the right of those looking at the altar), women on the gospel side (to the left of those looking at the altar) and families anywhere.
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