Going Catholic

I’m looking for some advice:
I attend a residential (by which I mean I live here, in a dorm)high school on the Ball State campus. I attended church every Sunday of my own choice back home. I had arrangements with a church here to pick me up, but that got screwed up, and will probably never get straightened out. The only church within walking distance is St. Mary’s.

I wouldn’t really mind attending a Catholic church; the change would probably do me good. And it certainly beats no church at all. (from my standpoint) But will the Church mind me?

Specifically, would they object to me being there, since I’m not Catholic and don’t intend to become one? (I insist calling myself nondenominational, or when I can get away with it, a member of a messianic cult of Judaism.) I don’t agree with the Church on some points, but I’m not going to argue from the pews. Obviously, they can’t force me to stay out, but I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable.

What do you think? Would I be unwelcome? And what exactly would going to Catholic services involve, anyway?


Leaving my beliefs, or lack thereof, out of this, you can go and listen, but you can’t go to communion.

Ah, what would I have done without 12 years of catholic school? (Probably would’ve had fun.)

White Wolf

“Honesty is the best policy, but insanity is a better defense.”

“Half the world is composed of idiots, the other half of people clever enough to take indecent advantage of them.”

There’s no signing in to a Catholic church, so don’t worry about feeling unwelcome. All you do in mass is either sit, stand, or kneel (they’ll tell you which to do at certain times) and listen to what the priest is saying.

One word of advice though: Don’t fall asleep during mass, the services tend to be a little on the boring side. Otherwise, you’ll be fine.

And don’t go to communion. I’ll explain it if you want.

Thanks, Wally, that’s exactly the sort of answer I was hoping to get:

a) Answers the questions.
b) Positive. (I may even go tomorrow)

Not taking communion isn’t a big deal and I can see the inherent logic.

Now my thread can die, and I won’t see my mailbox fill up as the thread goes to Cuba.


Wally!? My brain somehow saw WallyM7 instead of White Wolf. I need slepp, I think.

Thanks to Louie, too, who posted while I was composing the last one.

ha ha
That’s ok, I need “slepp” too.
Just look at time, what the heck! it’s still early.

White Wolf

“Honesty is the best policy, but insanity is a better defense.”

“Half the world is composed of idiots, the other half of people clever enough to take indecent advantage of them.”

I’ve been to Catholic services, even taken communion (oops–I was young, as far as I knew it was a mid-mass snack); as far as I know White Wolf is right. I don’t think Catholics are keen on non-Catholics taking communion. It seems pretty much the same as other churches I’ve been to: sit, kneel, stand, sing, greet, pray, give money, etc. No one’s going to shun you since they don’t know who you are (after all, they let me in), but you might run into some elitist types who will ostracize you if they know.

If you don’t mind the digression, what do religious sorts think about nonbelievers attending services? What should we do? I know the words to the hymns, should I sing along or is it rude since I don’t mean it? OTOH, I don’t necessarily mean “I want to f*** you like an animal” or “Damn I wish I was you lover” and I sing along with that, too.

“Happiness is nonetheless true happiness because it must come to an end, nor do thought and love lose their value because they are not everlasting.”

  • Bertrand Russell

Gaudere, if you don’t mind, could you make a new thread? I set up to be emailed when it was replied to, hoping the questions would be answered soon and then the thread would die.

Your trip to Cuba, as interesting as it sounds, will send G-d knows how many mails to my box every day.


I used to sing in church at school in 5th grade 'cause they threatened to take away our recess. We didn’t mean it then 'cause we didn’t know what any of it meant. Now I only go when forced by high school (then I sit with the other “terrible” atheists) or parents (if they force me to sing, I’ll sing, but just because I say it, doesn’t mean I mean it).

BTW, the catholic church doesn’t want non-catholics to go to communion at their mass b/c catholics believe that bread & wine actually become jesus, and other religions only believe it’s a symbol of jesus.

Wow, I actually learned something; I guess it’s hard not to, after 12 years of it being drilled into me. Anyone else ever notice how much the responses resemble zombie-like drones? (No offence if you believe this, it’s just an observation on my part.)

White Wolf

“Honesty is the best policy, but insanity is a better defense.”

“Half the world is composed of idiots, the other half of people clever enough to take indecent advantage of them.”

Oh, damn, John, my apologies. I will start a new thread, but it will doubtless sink to the botton of the list because no one wuvs me (besides, it’s nearly 1 in the morning).

You could put a link to the new thread in here, that way people can find it as a logical continuation and it won’t matter if it sinks.


Here ya go. http://www.straightdope.com/ubb/Forum4/HTML/002007.html

…and you get another notification, John. :wink: heh heh. I quit doing that after my first post; I got tired of all the emails.

Since my name was mentioned, and since I’m a Catholic, here’s my advice, John:

Go. They don’t check at the door. Pull up a pew and do what eveybody else does.

Post back and tell us what you thought of it.

This space for rent.

Catholics do not mind respectful visitors. Actually, my brothers girlfriend frequently goes with us to church and she’s still technically a Jehova’s Witness (she’s planning to convert next year). The pastor knows she is, and so do many of my moms friends, but we welcome her with open arms.

As has been said don’t go up for communion if you aren’t Catholic. However, we do not check if you go up for communion, if you forget, you wont be run out of the church. At least in my parish, if you are not Catholic, you can still go up to the front with everyone else and recieve a blessing (if the parish you plan to attend does this, the pastor will usually give directions)

Also, be sure to kneel, sit and stand when everyone else does. Also, don’t feel compelled to do the sign of the cross, often people who are visiting do it with the wrong hand or in the wrong order :). Another thing is, when the gospel is read you will notice people doing small signs of the cross with their thumbs, on their forhead,lips, and over their hearts. The meaning is to keep the gospel on our minds, on our lips and in our hearts. Catholics also look down when prayers are said, we do not look up and raise our hands like many fundamentalists do :).

Louie: What do you mean Catholics do not sing ? Every single mass I have been to included singing. In fact, the music director at my church was raised Baptist so she often does pretty rousing songs at masses (as far as church music for Catholic churches go :)).

Lastly, about midway through mass we do a greeting with our neighbors where you shake hands with other parishoners during mass. So don’t be afraid to shake other peoples hands.

Tomndebb can give you a more in-depth guide to Catholic masses (yes I am ashamed to admit, i forget the proper terms, most of this stuff is just second nature to me! :))

‘The beginning calls for courage; the end demands care’

Doobieous- Many thanks for that response. I didn’t manage to get everything together to go today (service times, etc.) but I’m definitely going next week.

Your post was really heartening. My church to, features a midservice handshake time. Of course, my pastor (a woman, FTR) attended a Catholic Church for several years. She didn’t think it would be fair to pastor an interdenominational church if she didn’t understand Catholicism.

This is the same woman who told her church last time I was home that there would eventually be homosexuals who would attend and if we ** didn’t ** make them welcome it would go against God’s will. :slight_smile: I love my home church.


Actually, about the only thing I’d add (since my name has been invoked–speak of tomdebb and he shall appear), is that you do not have to stand and kneel (if they do) when everyone else does. You will look a little out of place, but I doubt anyone would actually say anything about it. (Sit next to the prettiest girl you can spot and they’ll just think you’re her non-Catholic boyfriend.)


As a Protestant who has attended Catholic services, I would only add that in the Catholic churches I have been in, the Lord’s Prayer ends at …deliver us from evil. You can tell the Protestants in the congregation because we’re the ones on automatic pilot continuing For thine- then suddenly stopping.

Singing is not an integral part of mass. When I lived in NYC we used go to St. Patrick’s for mass. It was the quickest mass I’ve ever been to, about 1/2 hour, because there was no singing at all. It was too bad, too, because St. Pat’s is such a beautiful church you could just admire the architecture for hours…

Quite right – there’s no singing at daily Mass, and only two readings rather than three. But on Sunday (or Saturday vigil for Sunday) there will be at least two songs, and more often three or four.


If you do decide to take communion, remember that when the priest says “Body of Christ” the appropriate response is “Amen,” not “Thank you,” “Sure thing, Pops,” or “Got any salsa to go with this?”

“My hovercraft is full of eels.”