Catholic worship and the Mass

Hymns are sung throughout the service and people respond to the prayers by following the missal.

A priest leads the service, but ordinary church members - including children - serve on the altar and deliver some of the readings and prayers.

Some Masses - particularly for young people - include multimedia, modern music and dance. More traditional services may use Latin and Greek for some of the prayers and will have traditional hymns accompanied by an organ and choir.

Catholic churches have a crucifix on the altar and candles that are lit during the Mass. One candle, the sanctuary lamp, is always kept lit as a sign that Jesus is present in the bread that remains in the tabernacle between Masses.

Other services may include penitential services, saying the Divine Office together, and ecumenical services with other Christians.

Catholics may also gather to say the rosary together. This consists of the following prayers: an ‘Our Father’, ten ‘Hail Marys’ and a ‘Glory Be to the Father’ repeated five times.

Catholics are expected to attend Mass each week as a way of offering themselves to God. The Mass recalls the Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples before his death when he gave them bread and wine and told them to do this in remembrance of him (1 Corinthians 11:24).

As well as a memorial of past events, the Mass is also a sacrifice. This is because Catholics believe that during the Mass the sacrifice of Jesus is represented and re-enacted.