BALTIMORE, Md. – When people are guests in someone’s home, they most likely practice their best manners and teach their children to do the same. If they were a guest in God’s house, their manners might increase tenfold.
It is easy to surmise how Jesus would behave in his Father’s house: he would dress appropriately, he would refrain from gossip and he would listen to God as a young child hangs onto his father’s every word. But what would God say about your manners after you left his house?
John and Joan Scornaienchi, parishioners of St. Louis, Clarksville, and Church of the Resurrection, Ellicott City, are etiquette and protocol consultants.
It’s their mission to raise awareness of personal behavior in social and professional interactions through their company, Ambassador Protocol.
“We view our mission to advance civility as a calling from God and welcome the opportunity to do his work,” said Mr. Scornaienchi.
They are in the planning stages of offering training to places of worship and other Catholic organizations that will include tips on Mass etiquette .
Although they witness many well-mannered families and well-behaved children in church, the Scornaienchis believe that more support and attention needs to be directed to the way things are supposed to be. Sometimes a Mass is filled with distractions: latecomers, talkers, misbehaved children and people leaving early.
“Everything in life has rules, including church,” said Mrs. Scornaienchi. “How can we pray if we are also watching children run up and down the aisle? We need to remind adults what we learned as children, and then teach our children to treat God with respect. If we do not teach children respect in God’s house, how can we expect them to behave at school, in sports or while driving?” As public speakers, the couple is familiar with distractions from an audience. They offer protocol and etiquette on-site training at corporate sites, schools, restaurants, civic meeting places and churches.
“Proper etiquette is about relationship building and can apply to all areas of your life,” said Mrs. Scornaienchi.
* * *
Pew protocol tips for Mass manners
These guidelines are offered by Ambassador Protocol, a company that offers etiquette training, part of which promotes increased awareness of manners during Mass.
The idea of “Sunday best” should be honored; churchgoers of all ages should dress conservatively. Coat and tie is appropriate for men, but not required. Women should wear modest dresses, skirts and slacks; no tank tops, short skirts or tight-fitting clothing.
Arrive at least 10 minutes before Mass begins. This helps reduce distractions and provides time to get settled. Latecomers should wait to be seated by ushers so as not to disrupt the service and the congregation.
Entering the church
It is optional to bless yourself with holy water, but as a sign of respect for the Blessed Sacrament, genuflect before taking your seat. Slide over to the center of the pew to accommodate others who arrive after you.
The liturgy is not the time to socialize with friends or prepare the offering envelope. Instead, sit quietly or pray. Turn off cell phones and pagers.
Respect for the Eucharist demands that we kneel on our knees without leaning back on the pew. Be careful not to drop or bang the kneelers.
If ill or disabled, it is acceptable to sit.
Sign of Peace
People usually shake hands or exchange a quick kiss, but if you have a cold or cough, you can politely say, “Peace be with you,” without shaking hands.
Receive the holy Eucharist with reverence, bow slightly and respond “Amen.” If receiving the host by hand, place the left hand over the right (or opposite if you are left handed) and raise your arms slightly.
Gum or candy should never be in your mouth when taking the host.
Sign of the Cross
Join your hands; touch the forehead with the tips of your three longest fingers on your right hand, to the center of your chest, then to your left and right shoulder (in that order).
Leaving the church
The final part of Mass is singing a closing hymn.
Leaving before the hymn ends is inappropriate.
Genuflect toward the altar before leaving the pew or at the end of the pew.
To customize a parish program to teach church etiquette , call 410-290 0436 or visit www.ambassadorprotocol.com.
Republished by Catholic Online with permission of The Catholic Review, the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Md. (www.catholicreview.org).
More Marriage & Family News