2 Questions from a non-Roman Catholic

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mango_2003

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Most of my friends at school (University of Iowa) are Catholic. Very few of them practice while at school, but they hit up the big holidays and such…and try to make Mass every now and then.

On Ash Wedneday, 3 or 4 of my closer friends were going to one of 4 Masses held on that day at the Catholic Student Center. Since they usually don’t talk about anything “spiritual”, I was excited and wanted to go with them. To my surprise, their attitude was somewhat negative. They told me that I really couldn’t “do” anything anyways.

So, about half-way through the day, another one of my good Catholic friends said that she wanted to go before we went to Bio Lab and that she wanted me to come with her. I told her that I would like to get the Ash blessing. She thought it was a good idea. My other friends told me that they would be offended if I did. I was unsure of what I was going to do, so I went to Mass. It was only the second Mass I’ve ever been to (the other being my Grandma’s funeral when I was about 8). It was my friend’s first time to the Student Center Mass. She said that she was very surprised at how thing were done. There was no kneeling and nobody did the little “kneel and cross” thingy before entering the seats. She said that it was very odd. At the Mass, I decided receive the Ashes.

So onto my questions.

First: Is this normal in Student Centers? What is required to be a “normal Mass”?

Secondly: Was I wrong in taking the Ashes? In other words, would you have been offended?

~mango~
 
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mango_2003:
First: Is this normal in Student Centers? What is required to be a “normal Mass”?

Secondly: Was I wrong in taking the Ashes? In other words, would you have been offended?

~mango~
On your second question, I would not have been offended about you receiving ashes, however, there may be a liturgical reason for a non-Catholic to avoid this of which I am unaware. It is not appropriate at all for a non-Catholic to receive the Eucharist because it is a matter of our Faith that the Eucharist is the literal body and blood of Christ. Someone who does not share that faith would be, as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians, sinning against more than mere bread and wine. But as to the ashes, that is a penitential act that I think would be appropriate for a non-catholic to participate in.

As to your first question, there does seem to be a misguided impression at many Catholic Churches, including but not limited to student centers, that the way to “pack 'em in” is to make the service as un-catholic looking as possible. I vehemently disagree with the rationalizations I’ve heard for watering down our mass, sometimes to the point of very serious liturgical abuses, but it does happen.

If you are interested in exploring the Catholic Church more seriously or have more questions, ask here or look around for a non-university parish where you can enroll in RCIA classes (adult education). In any case you’ll be under no obligation to convert, but you might just learn that the Church has a lot to offer! God bless!
 
While I’m not expert (actually a former Evangelical currently seeking full communion with the Catholic Church), a Mass that leaves out kneeling and the sign of the cross completely is violating liturgical guidelines. Perhaps someone else can get the quotes from official soruces.

You were not wrong to take the ashes. The blessed ashes are not a sacrament, it is no more wrong to take blessed ashes than to receive a blessing from a priest (as a non-Catholic). My priest has blessed me several times, including on Ash Wednesday with the ashes (and I am not yet confirmed as a Catholic).

The Eucharist, however, is limited only to Catholics. Those who partake of the Eucharist, enter into a very close spiritual and visible unity, as they partake of the one bread of life (Christ), a unity that, unfortauntly, does not yet exist b/w Catholics and Protestants (though we are united by virtue of our baptisms, but it is not a perfection communion). As well, St. Paul tells us, 1 Cor. 11, that one must not partake of the Blessed Sacrament without discerning the body of the Lord. If you are not in full communion with the Church, and in a state of grace, it is not proper to partake. The Eucharist, being the true body and blood of Christ, is so holy, that you must understand and appreciate what you are doing to partake of this gift. (I mean no offense to Protestants, but they do not believe that Christ is truly present in the Eucharist, generally speaking). Sacramentals (blessed objects, the sign of the cross, Holy Water, etc) are open to everyone, on the other hand.

God bless!
And you are welcome to Mass any time!
 
Hi!

The kneel and sign of the cross thingy is called genuflecting. They’re showing reverence to the Eucharist which is usually behind the altar. At our Newman Center on campus, the Tabernacle (where the body of Christ is held; it’s usually really ornate) used to be in a side chapel, so instead of genuflecting when going to your chair or pew, you just bowed to the altar (since there was nothing to kneel to). It just depends on where the Tabernacle is situated. If the Tabernacle isn’t there, you bow towards the altar. If it is, genuflect.

The Tabernacle got moved to the front and center of the Newman Center, so now people do the “kneel and sign of the cross thingy” 🙂

The same thing goes for churches. In most churches the Tabernacle is at the front behind the altar (where it should be). Unfortunately, many churches also keep the Eucharist hidden in a side chapel, which is something I am not okay with :mad: … but again, the same principal goes for churches, not just the Newman Centers.

Also, there is absolutely nothing wrong with you receiving the holy ashes, so you shouldn’t be offending anyone. The ashes just remind us of our mortality and Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. Hope I helped!
 
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mango_2003:
There was no kneeling and nobody did the little “kneel and cross” thingy before entering the seats. She said that it was very odd. At the Mass, I decided receive the Ashes.

So onto my questions.

First: Is this normal in Student Centers? What is required to be a “normal Mass”?

Secondly: Was I wrong in taking the Ashes? In other words, would you have been offended?
Mango:

I’m not sure if there is a norm for student centers. I’m not an expert, but genuflecting toward the tabernacle before entering the seat is a sign of reverence to the real physical presence of Our Lord. There may not be a tabernacle in the average student center. If this is a chapel, there may be one. It may be centrally located, or not. There will be a sanctuary lamp lit close by if there is one.

As far as kneeling, it is the norm to kneel out of reverence at certain parts of the Mass. I’ve been places where there were no pads to kneel on, and most folks didn’t kneel at the usual parts of the Mass there. Again, if this is some sort of multi-purpose room, maybe the norm is to stand.

Taking ashes is an act of piety. The whole sack cloth and ashes thing is all over the Old Testament. Its a sign of repentance for sins and also recalls the original sin of our first parents in Genesis…“remember that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return.” It’s a good way to begin our preparations for the 40 days leading up to the passion and resurrection of our Lord. We recall His 40 days of fasting and prayer in the desert in preparation for His public ministry.

I can’t imagine anything wrong with your taking ashes, and would certainly not have been offended.
 
It looks as if you questions have already been answered. I just wanted to add that I just found a book “How Christ Said The First Mass” by Fr James Meagher, copyright 1906 from Tan Publishers.
I have just started it but it discusses how all of the symbolism in the Mass and Church are related to the Jewish Temple. An example would be the layout of the church and the colors used. An obvious one would be the Tabernacle representing the Ark of the Covenant.
 
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mango_2003:
Most of my friends at school (University of Iowa) are Catholic. Very few of them practice while at school, but they hit up the big holidays and such…and try to make Mass every now and then.

On Ash Wedneday, 3 or 4 of my closer friends were going to one of 4 Masses held on that day at the Catholic Student Center. Since they usually don’t talk about anything “spiritual”, I was excited and wanted to go with them. To my surprise, their attitude was somewhat negative. They told me that I really couldn’t “do” anything anyways.

So, about half-way through the day, another one of my good Catholic friends said that she wanted to go before we went to Bio Lab and that she wanted me to come with her. I told her that I would like to get the Ash blessing. She thought it was a good idea. My other friends told me that they would be offended if I did. I was unsure of what I was going to do, so I went to Mass. It was only the second Mass I’ve ever been to (the other being my Grandma’s funeral when I was about 8). It was my friend’s first time to the Student Center Mass. She said that she was very surprised at how thing were done. There was no kneeling and nobody did the little “kneel and cross” thingy before entering the seats. She said that it was very odd. At the Mass, I decided receive the Ashes.

So onto my questions.

First: Is this normal in Student Centers? What is required to be a “normal Mass”?

Secondly: Was I wrong in taking the Ashes? In other words, would you have been offended?

~mango~
  1. Ashes are what is called a sacramental-- like holy water-- and anyone may receive a blessing and ashes on their forehead.
  2. It is not appropriate for the liturgy to be held in the way you describe, perhaps going to a regular parish instead of a “student center” would be a better idea.
  3. Why your friends who rarely go to church would be offended by you receiving ashes is beyond me. That just smells like a guilty conscience on their part to me… or perhaps ignorance of their own faith. Either way you seem smarter than the whole pack of them.
  4. Your friends are wrong about you not being able to participate. The only thing you should refrain from is the reception of the Eucharist, because only those who hold and profess the Catholic faith should approach and receive the Eucharist. Your friends should also NOT receive the Eucharist until they go to Confession first and start attending mass regularly. (Missing Mass is a mortal sin and one should not receive the Eucharist in such a state).
 
Mango,

I haven’t seen anyone say this, so I’ll add a brief note:

It is wonderful that you were moved to go to Mass and receive a blessing with ashes on Ash Wednesday. This is a very holy day and the ashes, besides being a sign of our mortality, are also a sign of our repentance from sin.

The fact that you were drawn to Mass on that day makes me think the Lord is calling to you. Something in your heart responded to Him and His call to repent of your sins and follow Him. Jesus is speaking to your heart.

I hope you will attend Mass again and listen to what the Lord is saying to you when you are there. If you feel His call, I hope you will seek out a priest or a deacon and talk with them about your interest in God and the Catholic faith. They will welcome your visit and can guide you as to the next steps to take.

For now, why don’t you just talk to God in prayer, tell Him you want to know Him, and ask Him to guide you? He will hear and respond.

Blessings to you in the Lord Jesus!

Charles
 
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Charles53:
Mango,

I haven’t seen anyone say this, so I’ll add a brief note:

It is wonderful that you were moved to go to Mass and receive a blessing with ashes on Ash Wednesday. This is a very holy day and the ashes, besides being a sign of our mortality, are also a sign of our repentance from sin.

The fact that you were drawn to Mass on that day makes me think the Lord is calling to you. Something in your heart responded to Him and His call to repent of your sins and follow Him. Jesus is speaking to your heart.

I hope you will attend Mass again and listen to what the Lord is saying to you when you are there. If you feel His call, I hope you will seek out a priest or a deacon and talk with them about your interest in God and the Catholic faith. They will welcome your visit and can guide you as to the next steps to take.

For now, why don’t you just talk to God in prayer, tell Him you want to know Him, and ask Him to guide you? He will hear and respond.

Blessings to you in the Lord Jesus!

Charles
Thank you for that. To be quite honest, I AM interested in the RCC. However, I must say that I am very interested in all denominations. I find them fascinating. Researching sundry Christian and pseudo-Christian denominations has been a hobby of mine for about a year now.

As for now, I’m unaffiliated. I have been searching for where I want to be and, although it would be nice to have a “home church”, it is of little importance to me as long as my personal relationship with Jesus Christ, my Lord and my God, is going strong.

I appreciate your (name removed by moderator)ut and prayers.

~mango~
 
mango,

Im not offended at all.

I think its fantastic that you wanted too receive the ashes.

Keep researching, and you will find the Truth.

Love Kellie
 
Also, encourage your friends to come on board and learn about their faith 👍 (I mean this board, by ‘on board’ by the way 🙂 ).
 
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