Non-Catholics are welcome to witness the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. When they witness faithful Catholics experiencing this beautiful sacrament, it can encourage them to learn more about the Faith, and maybe even become Catholic themselves!
The Mass can be confusing for non-Catholics, however, especially if they have never been to one before. That’s why it’s so important to help guide our non-Catholic visitors through the Mass when they come with us, so they can have a better understanding of what happens at our parishes each Sunday!
A great way to help our friends feel more at ease is by showing them the proper responses. Various devotionals, such as the Daily Roman Missal, include a guide to the Mass that includes the prayers of the priest, such as “The Lord be with you,” and what we are supposed to say in response, such as “And with your spirit.”
Along the way, it is helpful to our non-Catholic friends by simply whispering to them what is going on as the Mass is offered. For instance, after the homily, you can explain that this is the part where the congregation rises and recites the Creed led by the priest. Your friend can observe you to know when to kneel, sit, or stand.
An important rule to keep in mind is that non-Catholics cannot receive Holy Communion. Be sure to give your friend a courteous heads’ up so that they know they can remain in the pew while you go up to receive. Before they actually attend the Mass, you can explain that the Eucharist is not a symbol—but the actual Body and Blood of Christ—and that to receive Jesus in Holy Communion requires preparation beforehand and total adherence to everything that the Catholic Church teaches. (Most people will readily understand that they don’t want to partake and demonstrate union with the Church and adherence to her teachings if they don’t fully believe in them!) Although non-Catholics are not supposed to receive Communion, you can tell your friends that the Church encourages them to use this time to pray for unity among all Christians.
Mike Aquilina’s book Understanding the Mass: 100 Questions, 100 Answers gives some incredible insight to many aspects of the Mass that we may not have thought about before and helps us increase our devotion to this Holy Sacrament. You can get your own copy here.