Catholic Mass in Korea

It’s crazy how something can be so familiar and yet so foreign. (To my non-Catholic readers, bear with me on this post. Or skip it!)

I went to Mass today at the church my co-teacher showed me this week. Of course, Mass is Mass anywhere you go in the world, so the prayers and everything were all the same except for the fact that they were in Korean. But it’s comforting that I can still follow along just by knowing the order of Mass. And by the end of it, I at least had one response in Korean down: 하나님 감사합니다 (hananim kamsahamnida), which is the equivalent of “Thanks be to God.” Baby steps.

Differences I noted in the Korean Mass compared to a Western Mass:

– Most of the women still wear lace veils.

– There is no genuflecting or kneeling (there aren’t any kneelers); instead, you bow before entering the pew and the congregation bows multiple times during the consecration and at the end of Mass. Similarly, instead of shaking hands at the sign of peace, everyone bows to each other with their palms together. Also, where we would shake hands with the priest after Mass as everyone is leaving, Koreans bow to the priest. (No surprise there.)

– Instead of ushers taking the collection or passing around baskets, everyone files up to the front of church to drop their money offering in a basket. I learned this the hard way – I had no idea why everyone was going up there, but I went along with the crowd and then realized too late what it was for, and had to do the walk of shame back to my seat without having put any money in. Oops. Next time.

– They use some of the same music we do, only with Korean lyrics obviously. Today we sang the Korean version of “I Am the Bread of Life.”

Also, I was definitely the only non-Korean person in that church this morning, but surprisingly, I didn’t get too many stares (for which I was thankful).


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