Before Going to Mass
It is good to plan to arrive early for Mass. One of your reasons for selecting a particular Mass on the schedule, in fact, should be that you can get there without rushing, without being in danger of lateness, without having any compulsion to hasten away.
Arrive early but not so early that you find the parking lot filled with cars from an earlier Mass. And if you can walk to church rather than ride, you will be even better disposed to worship with fewer distractions. Getting there about ten minutes before Mass is about right.
You are probably accustomed to dipping your fingerzips in the holy water font and making the sign of the cross on yourself. This is a traditional reminder of your own baptism in Christ, and of the new sinless life in Christ that you are living and exercising today with the Church community.
If the Blessed Sacrament is kept in your church (the sign is the tabernacle and a special "tabernacle light"), then you should genuflect before entering a pew. This is a formal gesture of respect to the Eucharistic Lord. You should do this deliberately, to show reverence, and should bend the knee before (or in the direction of) the Blessed Sacrament. As you genuflect, say a prayer of adoration.
Many Catholics at the present time genuflect in hasty, improper fashion. For some this gesture means nothing. Others genuflect in the center, even when the Blessed Sacrament is to the side. Such individuals have need of a refresher course as to what the genuflection is, and how and why it is done. And if Mass is in an auditorium or location where the Blessed Sacrament is not present, you need only bow to the cross.
Where do you sit? Select a location which will give you the best opportunity for participation in the Mass. Usually the front quarter of the church is your best place for seeing, hearing and participating.
After entering the pew, kneel for a few minutes of prayer before sitting down. This is a valuable time for private prayer in the Lord's house. If you have not yet said morning prayers, this is an opportunity to express the familiar sequence of ideas: adoration, thanksgiving, acts of faith, hope and love, resolution to live in Christlike fashion and worship well.
Then it is time to prepare for the liturgy. Now you need help. A "missalette" may be in the pew, or a hand missal may be available. Usually these books explain the general theme or lesson of the day's Mass. Read the theme. If there is time, read the Scripture lessons starting with the Gospel and the prayers. This preparation will help you considerably to follow the Mass with attention and benefit.