Opening (or Entrance) Procession

At the very beginning of Mass everyone will stand and sign a hymn, while the priest and altar servers process to the altar. Most often the ministers will process down the main aisle, while on occasion they will process from a side entrance in the sanctuary.


After the opening prayer, everyone will sit down and listen to the first and second reading, along with a passage from the Psalms. (At a daily Mass, there may only be one reading and a Psalm.)


The priest or deacon will often stand up after the second reading or Psalm and process to the pulpit with the book of the Gospels. This signals everyone else to stand in attention to hear the words of Jesus Christ.


When the Gospel is completed, the congregation will sit down for the priest or deacon to deliver a homily.

Creed and Petitions

Once the homily is completed, all will stand and the priest or deacon will lead the congregation in the recitation of the Creed, followed by various petitions read by a lector. (At a daily Mass, the Creed is not prayed. All stand for the prayers.)

Preparation of the Altar

Once the final petition is read and a prayer is recited by the priest, everyone will sit while the altar is prepared by the servers or the deacon.

Holy, Holy

After the altar is set up, the priest will address the congregation and all stand for the singing or recitation of the Preface by the priest, followed by the recitation or singing by all of the "Holy, Holy."

Eucharistic Prayer

In most dioceses in the United States, following the "Holy, Holy," all will kneel during the Eucharistic prayer when the bread and wine are consecrated into Jesus' body and blood. This gesture is meant to profess one's belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. If you are not comfortable with this posture, you may sit instead.

Communion Procession

The sign of peace is followed by the hymn "Lamb of God," and everyone kneels to prepare themselves for the reception of communion. All Catholics who are properly disposed form a line and process to the front of church for communion. Anyone unable to receive can either join the procession and cross their hands over their chests for a blessing, or remain seated for this part of the Mass. (In some U.S. dioceses, the congregation stands from the "Lamb of God" through the completion of communion.)

Final Blessing and Dismissal

The reception of communion is followed by a period of time when the altar is cleared. Those in the congregation can either sit or kneel in prayer. The priest will then say a final prayer and blessing, signaling everyone to stand. All present are then dismissed and stand until the ministers leave and the final hymn is concluded.