Explain the baptismal ceremony to a non-believer who will be attending?
June 20, 2010 2:13 AM   Subscribe

What can I, as an agnostic, expect from attending a baptism of two friends' baby during Sunday Mass? I want to celebrate with them but I know there are limitations due to my non-belief.

From what I've read, most baptisms are attended by the family and close friends. I'm certainly a friend, but I wouldn't count myself as a close friend and the invitation was issued fairly casually.

To compound the slight oddness of the invitation, I'm the agnostic child of two militant atheists born Catholic--and thus by design I have no idea what to do during Mass or the baptism. My friends limited who they invited to the actual wedding ceremony, and I was one of the few in the church who was not Catholic. I anticipate the baptism will be equally confusing, only worse because wedding guests often have a variety of beliefs but not so much Mass attendees.

I've never been to this church before (it's not our hometown parish, and it's not the church they were married in) and I'm not sure if I will know anyone there who might be able to help if I have questions. I'm really the most nervous about making a fool of myself during Mass.

So, you can see that I'm slightly ambivalent about going. I really do want to see the baby and friends, however, and I'm always drawn to Catholic ceremonies because they're part of my family history. Thus, I plan to go but need some guidance.

Here's my question, then: what can I expect the ceremony to be like (and, since it's taking place during Mass, what do I need to worry about there?) and are there any special points that might trip me up as a non-believer (I know that I can't accept Communion)?
posted by librarylis to Religion & Philosophy (34 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There will probably be a lot of standing up and sitting down, and maybe some kneeling. Given that it's a baptism, there will probably be a sheet given out that will explain what you need to do where, as the church minister should be expecting people to be there who are in your position.

The baptism itself will be pretty quick, and you will probably remain seated for that bit. It's parents + god-parents only for that bit.
posted by Solomon at 2:21 AM on June 20, 2010

Unless you have some special role in the baptism (which it doesn't sound like), just do what everyone else does. Kneel when everyone else kneels, stand when they do, etc. No one will notice if you aren't reciting the prayers and what not with the group, and it's fine to just be polite and listen. You can expect the mass to be around an hour, maybe hour and a half, with a few readings, a few songs, words by the priest, and of course the actual baptism part.

As far as your point on communion, you could either:
a) go up and accept communion the same as everyone else - I don't think anyone is going to care too much if you do this.

b) stay in your seat while others go up for communion - should be acceptable, Ive seen it done many times

c) go up for communion, but instead of getting communion you can cross your arms over your chest when you get to the priest - basically putting each hand on the opposite shoulder and making an X over your chest. The priest will then give you a short blessing instead of communion

Personally, I'm an atheist now, but I was raised Catholic (and went to Catholic school), so I think the above should be pretty accurate. You'll be fine, just be polite and try to do what everyone else is doing and no one is going to condemn you or anything.
posted by Diplodocus at 2:23 AM on June 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

Don't worry about it. For the Mass, there will be a program and a book with all the readings and songs, with plenty of directions as to when to stand or sit. Mostly, though, just copy what you see other people doing. There are a few prayers that are recited at every Mass-- practicing Catholics know these by heart, but they should be printed somewhere should you wish to follow along. No need for you to sing or pray. You can stay seated during communion without drawing any attention at all.

At some point the priest will tell everyone to turn to their neighbors and offer them the sign of the peace. This just means you shake the hands of people (including strangers) near you and say "peace be with you". Others may embrace family members or close friends. It's up to you, but it would probably be slightly awkward to not participate, since you'll have to deflect oncoming handshakes.
posted by acidic at 3:14 AM on June 20, 2010

Best answer: I wouldn't count on there being a program. It depends how formal or how big a celebration it is, and if it's part of a larger (public) mass I doubt everyone will have programs for the baptismal part of it. Anyway, here's my advice as a raised-Catholic, Catholic-schooled-turned-agnostic:

- For Mass, feel free to just sit and listen. There may be standing and kneeling. I usually stand but don't kneel, since to me it connotes more of an acknowledgment or submission of faith. So I just sit while others kneel. Singing is a nice way to participate as an agnostic, but there's no pressure and those tunes can wander in that singy-chanty way that's hard to predict. I wouldn't repeat any of the prayers or prayer-responses unless you honestly agree with them.

- For communion, I would NEVER accept communion as an agnostic. I consider it a lie to do so and strongly believe that the priest would not want to give communion to someone who isn't Catholic. I mean, you don't even receive communion as a long-standing member of a Catholic community until your first communion. And I've never seen anyone go up for communion but cross their arms. I'm curious because maybe this is done, but if I saw that I would interpret it as a rejection of communion. I grew up in a fairly conservative Catholic community so maybe things have loosened up in the last decade. I don't think you can go wrong by just sitting in your seat while others go up for communion.

- For the baptism, there may be a few different stages, again depending on how formal. The most obvious parts will probably be as the baby enters the nave (up near the altar/front of the church), and another at the baptismal font. Upon entering the nave, I think there's a brief Q&A to the entire gathering about whether you reject satan and all his works, etc., etc. I usually answer these questions honestly as part of the group (so, yeah, I'm agnostic, but I reject hatred, evil, those acts that diminish us as good people). If the Q&A is clearly aimed at a smaller group (the parents, godparents, etc.), then feel free to watch. There may be clapping and general clucks of approval after the baptism with water.

- The Sign of Peace, either after the baptism or towards the end of mass, is usually turning to those on all four sides of you and shaking hands. You can say, "Peace," "Peace be with you," or "Good morning." It would be odd to avoid this gesture even as an agnostic, both because it's not tattooed on your head so people don't know to not offer it to you, and because peace is something even Catholics and agnostics are often able agree on. (On preview, what acidic said.)
posted by cocoagirl at 3:49 AM on June 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

Skip communion. Stand when people stand, kneel when they kneel. People will kneel after they receive communion, but feel free to be seated while they go
up, and during the time when they kneel afterward.

Other than that, it should be similar to the wedding. Don't sit up front, and no one will notice or care. It isn't too uncommon for non Catholics or those who don't atten much to be at weddings and baptisms.
posted by backwards guitar at 4:07 AM on June 20, 2010

You're overthinking this. Maybe you're hypersensitive about religion because of the Catholic → atheist thing with your parents. It's just a baptism. You go into a church, which is a building in which people engage in social activity and esoteric rituals. People smile a lot, and everyone makes a fuss of the baby. It's supposed to be fun. It's summer! You can wear pretty clothes. Just think of it as one more type of social situation you haven't experienced yet, make sure not to wear a symbol saying 'God might exist', and give your friends the opportunity to see that you can appreciate aspects of their religion.

Diplodocus—it's Catholic. Someone (like the Priest) might well care if the OP takes communion, and he doesn't need to. I've never taken communion in Catholic rituals out of respect for the rules of that ritual. It's normal to stay in your seat, and it's normal to go up for a blessing. (It ought to say in the handouts what gesture you make to indicate this.)

Christians like agnostics attending this sort of event. It gives them an opportunity to demostrate what a nice community they are. They're used to people who're not precisely sure what to do.
posted by westerly at 4:14 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

I agree with Acidic, Cocoagirl and Backwards Guitar. Remain seated during communion, that's what I do when I'm dragged to mass by my family. If I recall, you're not supposed to go unless you've confessed your sins to the priest (and haven't committed any new ones since confession).

Other than that as long as you're quiet and respectful, there shouldn't be any problems. People have friends of all religions, and no religions, who are invited to big rites of passage like baptisms, bar mitzvahs, and marriages. It's unlikely that anyone would be shocked that you're not Catholic.

Just go, be bored for an hour and enjoy seeing your friends and their baby.
posted by Caravantea at 4:22 AM on June 20, 2010

Best answer: Have a look at the book "How to be a perfect stranger" ( your library should have it). It is a guide to respectfully attending other people's religious ceremonies. And try not to roll your eyes when they start in on the medieval cast out Satan talk - that shocked me during my children's baptism.
posted by saucysault at 4:35 AM on June 20, 2010

It's not uncommon for non-believers to show up for baptisms. My sister married a Catholic with the result that fully half the people at my niece's ceremony had no idea what to expect. The church put out little instructional booklets explaining the ceremony and it all went fine.

If the church you're going to doesn't stretch to booklets, just dress smartly, show up a little early and make polite conversation outside, until you find a regular churchgoer who you can sit by. If you let them know you're a non-Catholic who's nervous about being disrespectful by accident, they will most likely bend over backwards to help you out.
posted by the latin mouse at 4:56 AM on June 20, 2010

go up and accept communion the same as everyone else - I don't think anyone is going to care too much if you do this.

Don't do this. It's contrary to Catholic theological rules, and thus offensive to catholics who take those rules seriously.
posted by orthogonality at 5:18 AM on June 20, 2010 [8 favorites]

You may be in a quandary if it is a group baptism. (several children at once) The priest or deacon will often ask the entire congregation to 'speak for the children', when asking if he believes in Christ, the Church, etc.

Think of the baptism scene in The Godfather. Michael is speaking for his son, securing his status as a Catholic, and a chance at heaven, while intercuts of mayhem and violence secure his own position in The Family. Greatest scene in the history of film. You don't want to be Michael Corleone.

So stand, sit, and, unless you really feel you believe, don't respond when these questions are asked of the congregation. No one will notice anyway.
posted by Gungho at 5:24 AM on June 20, 2010

If this is a Catholic Church you will be expected to abstain from communion. You can go up and get a blessing if you want but given your lack of belief it is probably better to just stay in your pew. No one will be freaked by this. It is what most of the non-Catholics do. Otherwise just follow along with the rest of the service if you would like and bring along a few dollars for the plate. If any of the prayers, hymn etc. offend your non-belief it is perfectly acceptable to follow along in silence. The peace is the best part of the service - peace be with you.
posted by caddis at 5:40 AM on June 20, 2010

Follow the crowd, except for communion, and generally try not to fall asleep. It'll be the most boring hour of your life.
posted by fso at 5:42 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

I was raised Presbyterian, and went to a Catholic mass once. There was a lot of sitting, standing, kneeling, but I just followed what everyone else was doing. The only thing that made me stand out was the suit I put on only to find everyone at the mass in shorts and Polo shirts.

You have nothing to worry about. The baptism isn't about you, and you won't have a flashing "athiest!" sign floating above your head. If pressed to say something, say what you would say if everyone were at a barbecue instead of church.
posted by zardoz at 5:43 AM on June 20, 2010

And I've never seen anyone go up for communion but cross their arms. I'm curious because maybe this is done, but if I saw that I would interpret it as a rejection of communion.

This is completely normal. People who are studying to be baptized, people who have been baptized but are not Roman Catholics, and people who have already received communion at another mass the same day (and are therefore ineligible to receive again) do this all the time.

Receiving a blessing is a wonderful way to participate in communion without disrespecting the folks you're worshiping with. Just make sure that when you get in a line to approach the altar, you have a clergyman facing you (he'll have the fancy clothes on) rather than a lay person who's up there helping out -- only a priest or a deacon has the power to bless, or will know what you want!
posted by lucy.verdad at 5:43 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

My only warning about going up to receive a blessing is this:

The last time I tried this, I did the arms-crossed-over-my-chest thing, because I thought that was standard sign language for "I'm not receiving, but I want a blessing." Instead, in that particular church, the priest thought I wanted him to place the host directly in my mouth rather than on my hands. I ended up receiving without intending to (which wasn't a huge issue -- I was a lapsed Catholic, not a non-Catholic). You don't want this to happen!

I find that in Catholic churches, it is uncommon for non-Catholics to go up to receive a blessing during communion. Most non-Catholics, as well as those who are in the process of converting but haven't finished the process, will stay in the pew. (Heck, I know Catholics who stay in the pew during Communion if they have some reason to.) So I would say just stay in your pew -- you will not be the only one sitting during Communion.

If you don't have anyone to sit with, I would suggest asking an usher when you arrive (there will be ushers) where the font is (this should be a big, free-standing bowl of some kind -- like a very large goblet -- and it may have a cover on it before the service, but you may not recognize it). Tell him or her that you're there for the baptism and you'd like to be able to see and ask where a good seat will be for you.

Otherwise, just relax. You will not be the only person there who doesn't know what's going on. Participate as much or as little as you wish. Be respectful.
posted by devinemissk at 6:05 AM on June 20, 2010

Nthing do not go up for communion.

I think crossing ones arms for a blessing at Communion may a regional practice because here in NE USA I've never seen that done at any of the Catholic churches I've been to. Many Catholics don't take Communion every week forvarious reasons, so they'll just stay seated and pray/reflect/meditate.

The service might open with a song, then there'll be an introduction to the service. There will most likely be two readings and recitations, then the Gospel, which all stand up for. Perhaps a sermon (commonly called a Homily) if the celebrant wants to make it extra long. Then the cute baby part (anointing with oil, pouring water on the head - no full-body dunking here) , then the LOOOONG windup to Communion. Once everyone's seated after Communion, there are some words, the closing prayer and the welcomed "Go in Peace to love and serve the Lord!" which means after the celebrants leave, it's over!

Sit when they sit, stand when they stand. If you don't feel like kneeling when they kneel, then sit. Don't recite anything you don't believe in.

You'll be fine!
posted by ladygypsy at 6:06 AM on June 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: "I'm really the most nervous about making a fool of myself during Mass."

Don't be. There are PLENTY of non-believers at any Mass (I was married in a diocese where 75% of the weddings they performed were "mixed cult") -- mixed marriages, teenagers who don't believe anymore, friends tagging along, etc. There will be PLENTY of people not doing the physical actions (the elderly, non-believers, athletes with knee injuries) and really nobody's going to be paying any attention to you.

You should stand and sit when everyone else does (and trust me, there are lifelong Catholics watching some old lady in the front row to see when everyone else goes, because they either forget or because they're spacing out; if you're a beat behind, nobody will care). You are not required to kneel, which is a posture of worship, and there are many people who will choose not to kneel (again, either because they don't believe or because it is physically difficult). (Not all churches do the kneeling these days anyway.) You CAN kneel if you want but aren't required to. If you prefer to just sit and watch the whole Mass (not even standing), you can do that too.

You can go up to communion and cross your arms for the blessing if you want, or stay in your pew if you want. Both are normal. If you stay put, you may want to watch how the couple pews in front of you empty out so you can step out to the aisle and let others out behind you, then sit back down (or let them back in, as the case may be). (It's easiest to sit on the end if you'll be staying put.)

For the actual baptism, the priest usually gives instructions about anything the congregation should be doing (and this is the only part of the service you're obligated to pay attention during! And again, trust me, plenty of people there are just spacing out in their happy place for 99% of the Mass.) since it's not part of the weekly ritual.

I had atheists, agnostics, UUs, Jews, and assorted Protestants at my son's Catholic baptism about a year ago. (In fact, his "godmother" is Jewish.) It was seriously no big deal. Masses are open events that ANYONE can attend at any time for any reason -- even to sit and take notes for an anthropology class! Seriously nobody will be offended.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:08 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Skip communion. Don't worry. You won't be the only one. Especially at a Baptism where non-Catholic friends and family (like you) will be in attendance. A Catholic communion carries with it certain...implied understandings...that you definitely don't share. Transubstantiation, anyone?

As for the kneeling, standing, sitting stuff...What you do is up to you. Catholics are used to having non-Catholic guests at mass, and it's a general point of humor to watch them try and keep up with the rituals. It's usually a good laugh between the Catholics and non-Catholics after mass. We know it gives people fits. Most non-Catholics I know end up opting to just do the sitting and standing. The kneeling is a bit more penitent.

And don't even attempt crossing yourself.

Relax. It's cool that you're going to support your friends during a very important ceremony. We don't burn big pentagrams on the foreheads of non-believers to identify them. God already told us who you are.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:12 AM on June 20, 2010

Sit there quietly. Don't go for communion, but it's nice if you get up to let others back into your pew as they come back from it. (Also as non-believers something my husband and I have given as baptismal gifts to the Catholic nieces and nephews is a copy of The Giving Tree. It's a good book. It's meaningful without being Christian.)
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 6:56 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Seconding the recommendation of "How to Be a Perfect Stranger: A Guide to Etiquette in Other People's Religious Ceremonies."
posted by bentley at 7:44 AM on June 20, 2010

Best answer: Most Catholics will be more worried about you having a positive mass experience than watching you for correctness. Your initial statement not to get communion is on point - if for no other reason than it will keep your friends out of the uncomfortable decision of asking you not to go up vs. letting you participate.

Not sure I can generalize here, but I'd say that approaching newcomers is not something you'll see much at a Catholic church. It's more about waiting for the interested to ask, since there are a lot of ways that Catholicism can and does alienate people, and pushiness is not what most people need (though it may come off as unwelcoming). That said, if you approach someone - anyone - chances are they'd be happy to whisper what's going on as the mass progresses. These are people anxious to explain the good stuff, if you ask.

The mass is really boring if you don't know what's going on. A lot of it is internal so it just looks like a bunch of people sitting around.

Here's an overview. First is entrance stuff then bible reading - old testament, a psalm (sung), new testament letters, and a gospel reading. They all tie in like a puzzle, so you can figure out the puzzle if you're looking to keep your mind busy. Then the priest speaks for 5 -10 minutes. Not very long, might be awful. The middle part is getting ready for communion (getting your heart right - calling to mind the things you wish you hadn't done or thought, and the things you wish you had done, then being happy together. You'll shake hands with all the people around you and they'll say "Peace be with you". Hand sanitizer!), then communion is an abbreviated version of the Last Supper, which was a Passover Seder. But Jesus is, ya know, the lamb, and all that entails. Communion is the spiritual peak and will be reverent. There will be songs mixed throughout, probably moody. Stand up means praise/joy, kneel means honor/deference. You'll blend if you mimic, but you'll see plenty of, for example, non-religious spouses just sitting and it's no big deal to just sit. Most of this stuff is narrated, so there's context clues there. People will murmur things that are a memorized part of the ritual - it'll be hard to understand but if you're interested, someone can help you find the printed version in the missal (the book about the mass at your seat). The baptism will push the mass a little over an hour. But it's happy.

What you describe as ambivalence, plus nervousness, plus an odd draw - is all very much part of Catholicism. I wish I could articulate it better, but it's a thing. "Catholic Imagination"?

Every person there will have a close connection to someone (including possibly themselves at one time) who left the faith with hurt or anger, or drifted away with lukewarmness, or left for another faith tradition that better met their needs. I guess I bring this up because the things you cite as sources of awkwardness really place you in a pretty standard Catholic experience, non-believer and all.
posted by degrees_of_freedom at 8:08 AM on June 20, 2010

Response by poster: You're overthinking this.

I totally am, based on the answers here. That's just as good to know, though! The regular Mass sounds a lot like the wedding, and obviously there will be some unique stuff for the baptism but it doesn't sound too distinct (if a bit Medieval, yes).

Thankfully, accepting Communion was an issue I settled with myself at the wedding and I have no plans to go up with the arms crossed in an X or not. I am interested to hear that the X arms thing isn't standard practice; it was definitely mentioned at the wedding, and we're a pretty conservative diocese.

So, thank you for relieving my mind everyone. I'm off to the actual Mass and then a party to celebrate afterwards.
posted by librarylis at 8:25 AM on June 20, 2010

Just a few notes about the crossed arms blessing:
Maybe it is regional; I'm in Texas and it's very common in my parish.
The trick is to cross you arms and bow your head. This avoids the possibility of them thinking that you are receiving communion.
In my parish, it's not just the priest - any person giving communion will give a blessing instead. If you are carrying a small child they will get a blessing too.

Staying in your seat is perfectly acceptable as well.
posted by CathyG at 8:26 AM on June 20, 2010

--Yes, absolutely skip the Rite of Holy Communion. In fact, all the order of worship/bulletins I've seen have printed on the front inside cover something to the effect of, We welcome you to our celebration, look forward to the day when we are all one big happy Catholic family, but until then, those who are not Catholic [or Eastern Orthodox] should not partake. (Protestants view communion as symbolic, not the true presence of Christ, and therefore are usually much more inclusive.)

--You don't even have to kneel. Or sing, or repeat prayers in unison. (There's a lot of highly orchestrated call and response in your average mass.) Failing to do these things will not make you stand out or call judgment upon you. My parents had a mixed Catholic-atheist marriage, and when my father would be trotted out to join us on major holidays, no one looked askance when he only sat and stood (no kneeling, no prayers). Because Catholicism IS so regimented and exclusive to actual believers, non participation by those who do not believe is actually a sign of mutual respect, I think.
posted by availablelight at 8:55 AM on June 20, 2010

PS I have never seen ANYONE go up for a blessing at Communion, so I'm guessing it's quite rare---I'd recommend keeping it simple and not doing this.
posted by availablelight at 8:56 AM on June 20, 2010

One remaining possible wild card: the sermon. Some priests are quite gifted and engaging, some are not. I've seen some take the passive aggressive-seeming route of looking onto a crowd of fresh faces and going into a sermon on some of the....touchier....aspects of the church's public positions: pro-life, "pro-family" (code for a number of things, which may or may not be mentioned explicitly), etc. Hopefully you'll draw lucky on this.
posted by availablelight at 9:02 AM on June 20, 2010

A couple practical things:

Sit at one end or the other of your row, to make it easier when to allow others out and then back in during communion.

If you're not kneeling (I don't think I would in your situation), you should still scoot forward in your seat a bit during the kneeling times so the person behind you has room to kneel.

Also, if you know the date, you should be able to look up the readings ahead of time. They are planned out far in advance, with the entirety of the global Catholic church using the same readings for that week. This certainly isn't necessary, but you seem to want to be prepared.
posted by NortonDC at 9:19 AM on June 20, 2010

The one bit of advice left: make absolutely certain to tell the mother how beautiful her child is. In the case of a flub, it will smooth over any awkwardness.
posted by Sara Anne at 2:10 PM on June 20, 2010

I was born Roman Catholic and did 12 years of Catholic school and I've never heard of going up to receive a blessing during Communion.

When it's time for the Eucharist to be distributed, not every Catholic will get up to receive it. For example, those who have committed a mortal sin and have not been to Confession are to opt out. For a celebration like a Christening, though, it's expected that many people from a variety of faiths and agnostics and atheists may attend. No one will look at you funny.

You don't have to kneel during the kneeling parts of the Mass. Some Catholics don't due to bad knees and whatnot...so again, no one will say anything. Besides, they'll be too preoccupied by the service to much notice beyond a 1 person radius.
posted by inturnaround at 3:39 PM on June 20, 2010

Good advice above. Don't go up for Communion. Stand and sit when the people around you do. You don't need to kneel, but do lean forward if there's someone kneeling behind you. There will usually be a book in the pews that lists the bulk of the prayers and responses, but it's pretty hard to follow and probably not worth the trouble in your situation. Baptisms during mass are only an occasional occurrence, so most Catholics will need prompting for that part as well. I've never seen any kind of program or handout for a Baptism, but the priests are usually good about guiding people through the ceremony. That's their job.

One more potentially uncomfortable thing I don't see mentioned yet. At some point before Communion (while everyone is standing, the priest or a deacon will say something to the effect of "Let us offer each other some sign of peace" and the people around you will start turning around and shaking each other's hands. Sometimes they say "Peace be with you," or "Peace," sometimes they mumble something, and sometimes they don't say anything. If someone gives you their hand, just shake it. Or you can just nod and smile. There's no required response, and i's not a big deal.
posted by Dojie at 4:03 PM on June 20, 2010

Response by poster: Ok, baptism (and party) attended and again much thanks to you all!

A few notes, if you're curious:

-There was no program or helpful thing like that (though there was a Missal, I found it confusing)
-The church was fairly small and incredibly diverse, and nearly everyone took Communion (to my surprise) and so I don't think there were very many non-Catholics at all
-I did kneel at the appropriate times, and hopefully that's not offensive to the Catholics reading this, but I found it a good way to focus my thoughts on what the priest was saying
-It wasn't boring, but then again, Mass wasn't that long (I guess the priest skipped the homily due to the baptismal speech stuff. Friends were surprised but grateful)
-I did not take Communion and no one gossiped (trust me, they would have noticed if I'd tried to take Communion, because I don't know what to do! Open mouth, not open mouth, hand, what? It's one of those little things that's not as obvious as it looks)
-They didn't mention the arms crossed thing for Communion so this church may not do it
-That How to be a Perfect Stranger book was on my reading list but I didn't finish it before I had to return it to the library. Think I'll try it again.
-I enjoyed the ceremony very much and am grateful I went
posted by librarylis at 4:10 PM on June 20, 2010

"I did kneel at the appropriate times, and hopefully that's not offensive to the Catholics reading this"

Not at all. You just aren't REQUIRED to kneel to be polite, but if you want to kneel that's always fine!

"They didn't mention the arms crossed thing for Communion so this church may not do it"

It's usually not mentioned, it's sort-of an "in the know" thing.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:34 PM on June 20, 2010

BTW, thanks for being respectful and asking. That is all.

(Also, a Baptism is pretty quick compared to some Sacraments. It slipstreams right into the Mass, but parishes ilke mine with a lot of families have to stack up four or six Baptisms in a row after the last Sunday Mass, once per month!)
posted by wenestvedt at 8:19 AM on June 21, 2010

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