When in Rome…

Are you acquainted with the comportment and customs in a Catholic Church?

Churches are houses of worship used for prayer, communion and meditation, so this makes them different from museums made for sight seeing.  There is something profound and ageless going on!

All are welcome. Catholic means “universal.” Feel welcome to visit, whatever your faith.

In order to feel comfortable exploring these sacred spaces, and to help you to respect the active faith of generations, noting a few points may help.

Respect: A Catholic church asks for a deep respect because of the belief that the Son of God, Jesus is present, “body, blood, soul, and divinity” in the tabernacle. A visitor’s conduct (low talking and slow walking) shows respect for that belief. Here are some other ways you can communicate respect while on a Catholic Church Tour.

Do give children adult supervision.

Food, Drink, Gum, Cigarettes:
Discard gum and cigarettes before entering.
Eating and drinking is reserved for infants.

What to Wear When Touring:
Attire should be comfortable, neat, clean, and not distracting to others. Different places, such as the beach and the ball park, have different purposes with appropriate attire for each. What one wears for a church tour, is not as casual as a tour of a park. Though large, old, Catholic churches often do not have air conditioning, clothes appropriate for the hottest weather–casual shorts, tank tops, or short skirts–are not appropriate for church.

Silence is Important
Silence cell phones and other electronic devises.
Please use a quiet voice or whisper to share insights or ask questions. This maintains an atmosphere of contemplation and respects others’ experience of the sacred.

You may observe or participate in some of these actions:

  1. Use of Holy Water: When entering the church, one wets his fingers with holy water and, touching his forehead, chest, and each shoulder, makes a sign of the cross. This gesture reminds one of baptism and dispels evil.
  2. Genuflection: When passing in front of the Tabernacle where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved, one genuflects or bows. Often this occurs when entering a pew. That is, one looks at what he is genuflecting towards, bends the right knee to the ground for a moment, and then stands. This is an act of reverence to the presence of the Lord in the holy Eucharist.
  3. Bowing: A bow signifies reverence and honor shown to the persons themselves or to the signs that represent them. There are two kinds of bows. A bow of the head is made when the three Divine Persons are named together and at the names of Jesus, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of the Saint who is being honored. A bow of the body, that is to say a profound bow, is made to the altar; and during certain prayers of the Mass.
  4. Kneeling: Lowering oneself onto both knees shows adoration and humility. One of several common prayer positions, one kneels at mass, during private prayer, any time the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, during Confession, and when receiving a priestly blessing.