Ten Signs You’re a Catholic Introvert

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introvertI’m an introvert. I’m not shy, I just like books, quiet get-togethers and lots of alone time. I do not like too much noise, attention and worst of all: small talk. Of course, God always likes to stretch our hearts, so he called me to an order where I am constantly doing public speaking, talking to people who come to our bookcenter and wearing a novice getup that usually makes me the most interesting thing on the street any time I go outside.

How personalities differ has become clearer to me after living in community with my sisters. Recreation night ideas from extroverts (roller skating in the basement, disco parties, etc) are very different from the recreation ideas of introverts (sit and watch a movie so we don’t have to talk to each other). Noticing how my sisters are each unique has led me to hold a little theory about division in the Church.

I think much of the discord in the Church is due more to personality differences than to real ideological differences. I sometimes wish we could lighten up a bit and appreciate the diversity of thought and personality among the faithful as a sign of the way God made us. We all see the world differently. Separate we see narrowly, but together we begin to see the world more like God.

Anyway, on a somewhat related note, to amuse myself I recently compiled a list of possible signs of a Catholic introvert.

Check the symptoms. If six or more apply to you, chances are you’re a Catholic introvert too.

10 Signs You’re a Catholic Introvert

  1. You like the Extraordinary Form of the Mass because prayer is easier for you when it involves zero eye contact with other people. The priest faces the altar, no sign of peace … equals introvert bliss.
  1. Liturgical dance generally horrifies you, even when it is liturgically and culturally appropriate. The only major exception to this rule is when Stephen Colbert does it.
  1. When you attend a parish where newcomers are asked to stand up and introduce themselves, or Happy Birthday is sung at the end of Mass, you mentally check the church off your list of possible places to attend Mass.
  1. The Lord of the Rings characters that correspond to your personality type are definitely the most awesome.
  1. The utterance of the word “mingle” at a Knights of Columbus pancake breakfast strikes terror in your heart.
  1. You are pretty sure Jesus was an extrovert, how else could a person stand those kinds of crowds?
  1. Your stomach turns over when you attend a parish and hear these words at the beginning of Mass: “Turn and welcome those around you.”
  1. Sometimes you go to pray, not because you are pious but because you need to escape other people.
  1. Your idea of a light conversation with fellow Catholics involves questions like, “What do you think of the filioque controversy?”
  1. When Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI resigned, you were completely unsurprised. Who wouldn’t want to resign from a job that requires attending so many parties? Now Pope Francis? He’s another story.

Have any signs of your own?

Add them in the comments!

Theresa Noble

Theresa Noble

Sr. Theresa Noble is a novice, aka nun in training, with a religious congregation of sisters in the US. She left her job in California with eBay to follow God four years ago. She currently lives in a convent in Boston where she prays, evangelizes, bakes bread and blogs at Pursued by Truth (http://pursuedbytruth.blogspot.com/).

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43 thoughts on “Ten Signs You’re a Catholic Introvert”

  1. Avatar

    I’m a Catholic Introvert! But some of these don’t apply to me. Mostly cause I’ve never attended an Extraordinary form of the Mass nor are there Knight of Columbus in my parish. But I can still relate to the others. Here are a few of mine:

    1. You friend wants to invite her several other religious friends to your First Friday Mass and dinner and you’re not sure whether to agree because the thought of that many people you barely know scares you.
    2. When you attend a social action event, you are amazed at people who can spend hours teaching and entertaining the kids or community, while you quietly do you own work in small corner somewhere.
    3. You would spend hours in the adoration chapel if you could.
    4. You don’t mind sharing some of your reflections and prayers with close friends or online. But don’t like sharing them with a large prayer group.

    1. Avatar

      ^^ Your number 1 makes me guilty regarding the times I didn’t make it on some dates, Leia :)))) Number 3 is <3 and number 4 is why we became friends :)))

      Here's some of mine:
      1. You freeze when you are asked by someone to pray out loud in a group.
      2. It took you some time to be able to say "peace be with you" properly to people you didn't know at Mass (or even to people you already know).
      3. When volunteering for a Catholic seminar/event, you choose activities that require little or no interaction. i.e. arranging seats, preparing meals, preparing handouts or handling registration files.

      1. Avatar

        No worries! No prob! Just get overwhelmed when someone invites too many people sometimes. You know who I mean. :)) Then again, she is the only extrovert among us huh? 🙂
        For number 1 yup! And number 3, yeah arranging seats.

  2. Avatar

    Cute, but the divisions you speak of (at least liturgically, 1-3 &7) might have more to do with understanding the Mass as a community celebration vs understanding the Mass as worship of God, as the re-presentation of the Sacrifice of Calvary. If Mass is primarily about the people of God, then sing happy birthday or introducing yourself before hand are great ideas. If Mass is about transcending community, is about worshipping God, then such things are highly inappropriate and distracting. You can love mixing it up with people (extrovert) and still understand the Mass isn’t a social hour. Likewise, you can be uncomfortable around people (introvert) and still think Mass is mostly about social interaction. The division, at least to me, seems to run much deeper than personality type. Very interesting article, though.

    1. Avatar
      Sr. Theresa Noble

      Nathan, sure particular understandings of ecclesiology will encourage people to see the Mass one way or another but don’t you think personality might push some people to see the Mass along the theological lines they are comfortable with? Models of the Church by Cardinal Avery Dulles (one of my faves) describes how models of the Church are both and, not either or. But so often we stick with what we prefer, sometimes to a fault, rather than appreciating the different ways of looking at the Church – that in balance can all be true.

      1. Avatar

        If a person’s liturgical theology is based on personal preferences then it is already wrong no matter what conclusions follow. That goes for an introvert going to the EF to avoid people as much as an extrovert going to the OF in order to socialize. The Mass simply isn’t about US at all. In fact it is so little about us that a priest, by himself, can say a Mass worth every bit as much as a Papal WYD Mass. And a football stadium full of lay Catholics can sing and shake hands all day long, but w/out a priest no Mass can come of it. The Mass is what it is regardless of us, our culture, or what we like. Can personality type shape the way a person sees the Mass? It can, but it mustn’t. I love making Catholic friends. I strongly support social outreach and attend theology on tap, donut socials after Mass, KofC breakfasts, teach CCD, attend Bible studies, etc in order to make those friends, but I understand that the Mass simply isn’t the place for such behavior. The Mass is one of those times we are supposed to Transcend ourselves, our petty likes and dislikes, AND our personality types and enter into worship of God. What happens at Mass can only be judged on whether it aids or distracts from the worship of the Almighty, from the knowledge that we stand on hallowed ground, at the very foot of the Cross on Calvary. Anything that takes away from that needs to go.

      2. Avatar

        I liked this last part, ‘at the very foot of the Cross on Calvary’. For at least 1500 years the Church has had the Mass without hand shaking, happy birthday songs, etc. Why? Can we picture Saint Mary and Saint John introducing themselves and shaking hands with those at the foot of the Cross, ‘Hi, my name is Mary and this is my son hanging up here. He just died for all the worlds sins. What is your email address so we can share recipes.’

        Not quite the picture I have. I am certainly not an introvert and the folks at the Latin Mass parish that brought me back to the Catholic church was by far the most friendly parish I have ever attended. They weren’t shaking hands because it was part of the Mass, they welcomed me after Mass in the Narthex because they loved me with the love of Jesus Christ.

        It seemed that the more ‘community’ in the Mass, the faster the parking lot clears at the end of Mass (partially before it is even over).

        (I checked out every parish within about a hundred miles of my home on my journey back. My emotions wanted community, my spirit wanted holiness and I found both.)

      3. Avatar

        Perhaps an example will better illustrate what I’m getting at. Suppose I’m an extrovert who loves socializing. I decide to take in a Broadway show. During the show, I decide (b/c of my personality type) to get up, walk around the theater, intro myself to and talk to other people in the audience and even (when I discover someone whose husband has taken her to see the show as a birthday gift) break into a rendition of Happy Birthday. Is this appropriate behavior? Is it justified b/c I’m an extrovert? Of course the answer is no because a Broadway show isn’t the appropriate place to socialize thus. In fact my behavior is rude and distracting to the people who came to watch the show (the whole point after all of going). We need to ask the same question of the Mass – is this action Appropriate or Inappropriate for the Mass because of what the Mass IS.

      4. Avatar
        Sr. Theresa Noble

        Nathan, I get what you are saying and I agree to some extent. I just think that Mass is about worshiping God (vertical) as well as doing so in community (horizontal). Both are important, both are key. Does this mean singing Happy Birthday at the end of Mass is appropriate? I don’t think so. But perhaps it makes sense to examine our conscience (as a Church) to ask ourselves, do we harp on these things because we are more in love with our preferences than with the Church?

      5. Avatar

        Sister, I couldn’t agree with your last sentiment more. If we are insisting on something in the liturgy b/c of a personal preference, we’re on the wrong track. Whether that is singing a Matt Maher song b/c we like it or chanting the Dies Irae b/c we like – both are wrong. The question can only be “what is appropriate for the Mass.” When we reframe the question thus, we can have an intelligent conversation with those who disagree with us. When it is just “I like incense” vs. “I don’t like incense” there is no possible resolution. God bless you and thanks for your vocation and your blog! It’s always nice to see a young, joyful, orthodox novice.

      6. Avatar

        “Does this mean singing Happy Birthday at the end of Mass is appropriate? I don’t think so.”
        So if I just witnessed the brutal torture and murder of the person I love most in the world (and out of it) it would not be odd for me to start singing happy birthday?

    2. Avatar

      After reading this very interesting article, I think that “understanding the Mass” is as much a function of formation as it is personality types.

  3. Avatar

    I’m a Catholic introvert,and here’s one that is unrelated to what happens at mass: You are both excited and repelled by the New Evangelization. On the one hand, you see the need and want to be part of it. On the other hand, when you get to the part about sharing, out loud, with others, the story of Your Personal Relationship with Jesus, you get a little queasy, and wonder if it’s okay to participate in the New Evangelization by writing a blog or a book rather than by talking.

    1. Avatar
      Sr. Theresa Noble

      Totally there with you Daria. I think we all do our part in our own way, but sometimes God will call us out of our comfort zones because well, that’s just what God likes to do…

      1. Avatar

        Sister, sometimes your “Comfort Zone” is your well ordered conscience trying to direct you.

    2. Avatar

      The New Evangelization is about evangelizing the folks with tamborines, dancing liturgically and singing happy birthday in chruch. It is about teaching the faith to those who have been duped by people who have hijacked vatican II to destroy the liturgy. When the OF Mass is said in Latin and Gregorian chant is sung during Mass (as prescribed by Vatican II) then you will begin to see the fruits of the New Evangelization.

  4. Avatar

    “happy birthday is sung a the end of Mass”

    This is a thing? I’m thinking back to when I was _six_ and my parents bought me an ice cream float at Farrell’s and that was fine but the guy playing trombone was not. Oh my _gosh_ I wanted to fall under the table and just die.

  5. Avatar

    I’m a Catholic (catechumen – Tiber Swim Team 2014!) Extrovert, but I smiled and appreciated this. I also learned I have the personality-type of Arwen (ENFP, often considered the most “introverted” of the E’s), so that’s a bonus!

  6. Avatar

    “When you attend a parish where newcomers are asked to stand up and introduce themselves . . .”
    Show me where that is in the rubrics, and I’m in. Otherwise, I’m out (of that parish, anyhow). In either case I’m wondering what they’re going to do next . . . and why I didn’t just go to the TLM as I’d thought about doing.
    Stuff like this, or liturgical dance, or clowns, or whatever novelty for novelty’s sake, just gives me the creeps. I don’t think that makes me an introvert.

  7. Avatar
    Deacon Jason Schalow

    If I get 10 out of 10 do I get a prize? Seriously though Sister, I think your comment about the relationship between divisions in the Church and personality is insightful. I noticed something similar during my ministry formation: when we did Myers-Briggs tests a few years in, I realized that those classmates with whom I often disagreed were polar opposites from me. It made me really think about how to better relate and minister to and with people who saw the world in a different way.

    1. Avatar
      Sr. Theresa Noble

      LOL, I’ll pray a rosary for you Deacon! I’m glad you have seen the same thing, I really think a lot of things play on us and divide us (often subconsciously) in the Church (personality, past experience, culture, etc). If only we could learn to take ourselves (and our opinions) a bit less seriously! It doesn’t mean we are any less passionate about good liturgy, just perhaps a bit more charitable and open to the idea that we might not be seeing something completely accurately.

  8. Avatar

    Sister, you are my clone. I am an introvert too. I have gone to a Mass or two where I was supposed to meet and greet the people around me before Mass and i was overcome with shyness. I also HATE holding hands at the Our Father and I sit next to a pillar so I won’t have to. I am perfectly friendly and will happily chat after Mass, but during it, I want to be left alone so I can pray.
    I went to a low Mass in Latin about a year ago – bliss, sheer bliss.

  9. Avatar

    When you’re at Mass and the Priest mentions sin, or even worse, the intrinsic evil of contraception, from the pulpit and you just stand there as people have heart attacks and others storm out of the Church. Sorry, I’m just not in a good mood today. Your article was well done. God Bless. John

  10. Avatar

    As much as you love our Lady, and as often as you pray the Rosary, and as grateful as you are for the Magnificat… you still kind of suspect you’d have spent most of the Visitation in the back room with Joseph and Zechariah.

    1. Avatar

      Zechariah’s a temple priest who’s been mute and Joseph’s been communing in his dreams with celestial beings. We can read about that Visitation between the mothers in the Gospel — THIS is one game of charades I do *not* want to miss!

  11. Avatar

    Pope Francis’ new Apostolic Exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium”, will make introverts nervous with it’s call to go forth and preach the Gospel. Can introverts suck it up and evangelize or will we ask:’Can I do something else?” Sister Theresa, I want to give you encouragement with your novitiate. Is it with the Daughters of St. Paul? There is a Pauline Bookstore here in Honolulu that I visit monthly to make a purchase and donation. The sisters there are wonderful ambassadors for Christ.

  12. Avatar

    Sister has misjudged cause and effect in each of her self-made categories.

    1. Sister’s understanding of the Latin Mass is seriously flawed. Prayer is “easier” when it is directed to God and not the lady in the polyester suit next to you. Prayer makes more sense when the priest and people both face God rather than each other.

    2. Liturgical dance??? I have never in my life seen a time when liturgical dance was appropriate. Goofy yes, but never appropriate. I don’t believe it is allowed in the rubrics, but that is a small matter when one is putting together a do-it-yourself Mass Lite.

    3. Why would we sing happy birthday be at Mass? In the course of a year a parish of 1000 would be singing their faces blue. Of course the fact that the Mass is the sacrifice of Christ to the Father might be considered too.

    4. Huh?

    Skipping to seven:

    7. Why not greet Christ instead? Let’s reserve this faux gesture for the proper place in the Mass. Yeah well, of course except during flu season when father suspends the act to the great relief of the people who no longer feel compelled to shake the hand of the guy with juice running from his nose.

    8. I remember Christ going a stone throw away from his companions to prayer to the Father. Follow the Master, sister.

    1. Avatar

      Probably far better put than I would have done in the same number of words.

      During the silly 1970s, dismissal and patronization of those uncomfortable with liturgical abuses occurred with some frequency. One suspects that few were saved amid the gimmickry and the repartee. It would be a shame to revert to those days with tricked-out worship and labels like “introvert.”

    2. Avatar
      Sr. Theresa Noble

      Allan, I was being lighthearted in this post….

      Angels can fly because they can take themselves lightly. – GK Chesterton

  13. Avatar

    I’m with you on many of your items. I’ve been studying temperaments since the mid-1980’s. I’m a Mel/Phleg in the 4 Temperament Style, and High C/S in the D-I-S-C System. Temperament study has turned out to be a wonderful tool for understanding others for better ways of getting along well, and especially for me in managing my limited energies.

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  15. Avatar

    Oh,my! Every one of your points applies to me – even though I’m a high school teacher and mother of 6 children and 7 grandchildren. Just today, when one of them told me they were postponing the drive across 4 snowy states until Christmas rather than Thanksgiving, the first (guilty) thought I had was “peace and quiet!!”

    1. Avatar

      “To the Prayer Cave, Robin!” [/slides down Bat-crozier]

      It makes me kind of sad, as a third order Dominican postulant and a Catholic introvert, that I won’t get one of those nifty habits with a capuce to use as my own prayer cave… 😉

  16. Avatar

    I liked your article and it made me think. I also want to thank you for your dedication of your life to our Lord Jesus Christ.

    I guess I am a bit of a exception to your rule. I am a extrovert who loves the Extraordinary form of the mass.

    I have no problem with folks who want to have a mass with hand shaking, birthday songs, liturgical dance, and so forth as long as they keep the Mass sacred and follow the disciplines of the Catholic Church. My problem is that those of us who love the Extraordinary Form Mass, are vilified for being narrow minded. Yet, in fact, it appears to me that the most narrow minded are those of the more ‘liberal’ bent in the Church.

    Why this is not obvious is amazing to me. They will do anything they can to ban the availability of the Extraordinary Form Mass to those who love it. For example, in my city of 10 Catholic parishes with 30 or 40 Sunday masses, there is not one Extraordinary Form Mass available. In most medium and many large cities in the US, despite the requirement to allow the Extraordinary Form Mass, due to the complaints and pressure of the loving and accepting liberal Catholics, bishops have banned it.

    I agree with you, we all need to love each other enough to accept each others preferences. BOTH SIDES, not just one.

    1. Avatar
      Sr. Theresa Noble

      Gary, I think narrow mindedness comes in all shapes and sizes, and is unfortunately present in every corner of the Church. I agree with you though that the EF of the Mass should be available for those who love it and desire to worship in that manner. It is our heritage and it is a beautiful one.

  17. Avatar

    One must see the beauty in whatever church or mass it attends. I’m catholic but went off the path bigtime :P, until recently. I just think that people focus to much on the small details of the church, no one will know whos right and whos wrong. We should simply see the beauty in the message its trying to say. Ignore the happy birthdays and the hand-shakes, if it bothers you. Look at the overall beauty of what the mass is trying to give you. I’m a big-time introvert and never would i dance or sing out loud or hold hands. I would feel so akward. I try to get out of those situations by standing in the back or far from the crowd; but i still see the beauty in it. Everyone is different thats how god made us, but we are all of gods image, so we each have a little something from him. Its to look past those issues and to see the real beauty in someone or something that trully will make the guy above proud. You think he cares if someone sings or doesnt sing happy birthday. We should see the happiness of a community for one of their members by that song not judge if its right or wrong. Some apostles probably loved to just be by themselves and pray to the father while others rather be together and pray and sing to god. Just like they were different then but all from god so are we now.

    Anyways Great Article

    Engineering Student

    Recently back on the path (right path, the narrow and really hard one haha)

  18. Avatar

    I’m becoming an introvert. Does that even make sense? I increasing find myself not wanting to talk to, greet or hug (yes people do) anyone at mass. I don’t enjoy discussing or defending my religion at all anymore. I just watch the volley’s of religious discussions go back and forth with no desire to say a word. I wouldn’t say I’m fearful of speaking or interacting in these situations- I just really don’t want to. Not maliciously or anything. I no longer proclaim my Catholicism. If you ask me my faith I’ll mumble something about being Christian and hope you move on. Now if you ask me if I support abortion, I’ll tell you no and move on. I no longer spend 50 hours trying to explain my beliefs unless I feel a real yearning to understand then I might give you 5 sentences. At which point further defense of abortion might lead to a smile from me then me turning to my phone to check my ‘Words with Friends’ score.

    1. Avatar

      If I ever stop praying for the end of abortion or deny the opportunity to defend human life or the faith that contains the fullness of truth, that’s me losing my faith. You are not commanded to hug people and enjoy arguing. Jesus commissioned Christians to spread the Gospel and not hide our light under a bushel. Jonah didn’t want to be a messenger to non-believers either. He probably would have been checking his phone a lot too.

  19. Avatar

    Where in Scripture or in Church teachings I am specifically encouraged/discouraged to be an introvert/extrovert? If I hate seeing someone spinning around in sheer P.J.s during Holy Mass, it’s a distraction. Sr. Noble, please refrain from mind-reading peoples’ heart-felt intentions from their behavior. The 10 things list is naive and irrelevant to our salvation.

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