The Archdiocese of Birmingham - The Parish of the Immaculate Conception

What to do when during Mass.

Beginning of Mass until the 1st Reading       


1st Reading until the Gospel Acclamation


During the Acclamation and the Gospel

Stand – turn to face the ambo

During the Homily


During the Creed to end of Intercessions


Presentation of Gifts until beginning of “Pray brethren”


Beginning of “Pray brethren…” until the “Holy, Holy”


From after the “Holy, Holy”, (the Eucharistic Prayer) until after the great Amen


From the Our Father until all on the sanctuary have received Holy Communion


During the distribution of Holy Communion to the people


From the end of Holy Communion until the end of Mass




STANDING When we stand we show respect and that we are paying attention to what is going on. It shows that we are ready to praise and serve God.

KNEELING signified penance in the early Church. In the Middle Ages kneeling came to signify the homage. More recently the posture signifies adoration.

SITTING is a posture of repose, of listening and of meditation.

BOWING signifies reverence and honour shown to the persons themselves or to the things that represent them. There are two kinds of bows.

A simple bow of the head is used when saying the name of Jesus. It is the chosen sign of reverence before receiving the Body and Blood. This should be slow and deliberate – not just a nod of the head.

A profound bow of the body, bending from the waist, is made to the altar during the opening and closing processions and during the Creed. Outside of Mass, it is appropriate to make a profound bow to the altar which represents Christ.

WALKING Walk with your back straight and your head held high. Keep your eyes looking straight ahead. Walk at a slower pace than ordinary and with a reverent and prayerful manner.

PROCESSIONS have been a part of liturgy since the early centuries of the Church. This movement demands involvement of one’s total being, particularly as the assembly approaches the altar to receive Communion.

GENUFLECTING signifies adoration and is reserved for the Most Blessed Sacrament, as well as for the Holy Cross on Good Friday. If there is a tabernacle in the sanctuary, the priest and others in the procession genuflect when they approach the altar and when they leave the sanctuary. The priest genuflects three times during Mass: after elevating the host, after elevating the chalice and before Communion. When genuflecting, your right knee should touch the floor next to the heel of your left shoe.

HANDS Unless you are sitting down or carrying something (like a candle), your hands should be kept joined in front of your chest: either locked together, or palm to palm, fingers pointing upward. Hold your hands the way the priest does. Keep your hands high up on your chest. If you are carrying something in one hand, hold the other hand flat on your chest.

EYES During Mass, always look towards the place where the action is happening; the celebrant’s chair, the lectern, or the altar or at the Master of Ceremonies. When the reader is reading the Scriptures, you should be looking at the reader. When you talk to someone, you want that person to look at you, right? The same is true at Mass. Look at the priest and the other ministers as they speak and act in the sanctuary. This tells the other people in church that you know they are there.

GENERAL APPEARANCE Know what you are to do while serving Mass and when you are to do it. Think ahead to your next task. Be relaxed and comfortable. Be yourself. Remember to listen, sing, and pray with the other people who have gathered to worship God. Remember what an important service you are giving to God and God’s people, and do you best.