As some of you know, I write the question-and-answer column for the Our Sunday Visitor weekly newspaper. Here’s a link to some of my back columns: OSV Q & A Columns.
Recently, a liturgical question came in from a Catholic in a Diocese that will remain nameless. Below is the question, along with my brief answer. I’m curious to get some feedback from you about the matter. So I’ll ask a few more questions after the quote from my column.
Q: Our archdiocese has decided that all receiving communion should remain standing until all have completed receiving. The rationale is a sign of unity. However, this does not seem very worshipful, and though we are permitted to be seated after the celebrant is seated, very little time is given for prayer. I’ve chosen not to remain standing, but to observe the traditional practice of returning to my pew, and kneeling in prayer. And I being disobedient?
A: The instructions in the Roman Missal are silent regarding the posture of the faithful during the Communion Rite, though after the Rite they may sit or kneel during the silence (# 43). A local Bishop does have some authority to request that certain norms that do not violate universal norms be followed in his diocese. Other things being equal, it would seem that the faithful should give due consideration, and strive to follow these norms.
However, the norm you have articulated does present a few practical issues. Most notably, it would seem that the elderly and others with issues of physical stamina might find it difficult to stand for so long. Also, as you point out, it does make prayer difficult at a time that is often very precious to people for a quiet moment with the Lord. Given the rather hurried nature of most American liturgies, it seems unlikely that significant time will be reserved for quiet prayer after all are seated.
Given that the local bishop does have the authority to request certain norms be observed, I might encourage you to strive to listen to what he’s teaching. Perhaps there is an issue in the local church he is trying to address. While prayer certainly pleases the Lord, obedience pleases him even more. Scripture says, Sacrifice or offering you wished not, but ears open to obedience you gave me” (Ps 40:4).
In terms of answering your question in an absolutely legal sense, while not a canonist, I suspect that this norm should be interpreted in the same way that the norm for receiving communion standing in this country is interpreted. While the norm requests, for the sake of unity, the faithful receive Communion standing, an exception is to be made for those who strongly prefer to receive kneeling (GIRM #160). So it seems allowance needs to be made for the faithful who strongly prefer kneeling in silent prayer.
As in all things, balance is required in understanding the nature of Holy Mass. Mass is essentially the communal act of Christ with all His people; it is not essentially a private devotion. However, times of silent prayer and reflection are often mentioned in the general norms. But frankly, with the rather hurried masses of modern times, periods of silent reflection are often nonexistent. In this sense, your concerns are understandable.
I surely encourage you to stay in communion with your bishop, and to continue to raise your concerns.
Of course you may or may not like the answer that I supplied, but I would ask you to recall that the column requires rather brief answers. Further, as a priest, I’m in the chain of command and you will not find me encouraging Catholics to disregard our bishops. That said, I do have some questions.
1. Is this practice of standing after receiving Communion until all have received something you have witnessed? Does it go on in your parish? Do you think it is becoming more widespread?
2. When I came to my current parish in 2007, it was the practice of the congregation to remain standing until all had received communion and the tabernacle door was closed. I had never seen this practice before and it puzzled me, but I did not seek to end it since, as I say above, the instructions are silent about the posture of the people during the Communion Rite after having received communion.
Within a few months of being here however, I received requests from parish leadership to remind the faithful that they should remiain standing, since some were not complying with the parish custom. But I was unwilling to issue this reminder since I did not think that I could require something of the people that the general instructions did not require.
Hence, there are some who currently remain standing after receiving communion and others who kneel. It may look a bit strange, but I see no need as a pastor to interfere with people’s freedom at this moment.
3. However, there is something of a different situation when the local Ordinary requests that all of his people adopt this posture. While I’m fairly certain that a bishop cannot absolutely require this of the faithful, I do suspect that he is within his rights to request strongly that they observe it—particularly if he has some reason to do so.
As a pastor, under the authority of a bishop, if I were asked to teach the faithful and request that they adopt a standing posture until all had received communion, I would do so. However, I doubt I would enforce discipline on those who felt strongly that they should kneel.
3. What do you think of the point above that the Sacred Liturgy, while not a private devotion, per se, nevertheless requires more silent periods than our usual rushed liturgies provide? Even if the people don’t stand, they are still encouraged by the norms to sing the communion hymn. How do we balance the communal nature of the Mass with moments for more private prayer? If there were a longer time for silence after communion, how long do you think it should be?
At any rate, I’m curious to know your thoughts about the practice. If you support it, why? If you do not, why not? Please avoid posting disrespectful comments about bishops. This blog does not exist to provide a forum for that, and I cannot post such comments. It is all right to disagree, or to express some wonderment at the practice, but please do so respectfully.
123 Replies to “Pondering a Puzzling Liturgical Posture: Standing until all have received Communion”
Thank you for this. My understanding was that we stay kneeling until the tabernacle is closed. It seems to make sense that we are reverent while the sacred host is exposed. That’s the way we practice in our parish in northern VA. However, when you frame it in the context of being in communion with the faithful, it provides a different perspective that I never thought about. I guess I’d prefer to kneel since it’s the only time able to spend with the blessed sacrament. (Need to find a church with adoration). I’m glad you posted this, so I’m not caught off guard in other parishes.
Here in Canada where I live we actually have parishes where kneeling is not allowed during Holy Mass at all. I have read Cardinal Ratzinger’s “The Theology of Kneeling” and he has something to say about this. I recommend this 6 page article from his book “The Spirit of the Liturgy” to all Catholics. Our GIRM may differ slightly from the US version, but it does instruct the faithful to kneel at the Consecration. The purpose of the GIRM is to instruct us how to worship in the Roman Rite, so to use the excuse that the Eastern Churches stand at the Consecration is ridiculous. I wonder at times if the people on all the various committees actually believe in the Real Presence. I know many people in the pews don’t. But we know we are in a spiritual battle and this is really what is going on. Cardinal Arinze addressed the issue of not being allowed to kneel after Holy Communion and said people are not to lose their freedom. Great videos on YouTube.
My old parish, St. Lawrence, in Franconia Rd, Alexandria has Adoration all day on Wednesdays with confessions and Holy Hour in the evening.
Perhaps 10-15 years ago I was visiting my husband’s hometown and we went to the cathedral for Mass. I was shocked that they made you stand up after communion and really not allow you to kneel at all. I knelt but felt so confused. Why can’t we kneel? Why would standing me more respectful? I just did not get it.
I have had the same question. Why is standing more respectful than kneeling? Why does standing together produce more unity than kneeling together? I have always had an issue with singing during the reception of Holy Communion because I feel that this is a very special time for private prayer with Our Lord. Why is such private prayer being discouraged during such an intimate moment? I feel it has contributed to a diminishing of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament.
I totally agree with this post !
Totally agree with Janet. I also think that kneeling before the Lord makes one feel more humble
in his presence. Its seems they are doing all they can for us to lose the respect and dignity that needs to be afforded to Jesus’s presence in the Blessed Sacrament. First we stand to received communion,
then communion in the hand comes along and now they want us to stand till everyone receives is
totally unnecessary. When do we have the time to be “quiet” & speak with our Lord? Stop the nonsense
I also live in Canada, and our bishop has made it clear that we are to remain standing after Holy Communion.
I obeyed for a while but after much soul searching and reflection, I felt I was neither honouring, nor respecting the greatest miracle that just happened at the Consecration of the Eucharist, at which point I decided to kneel until my prayers of Glorifying, Praising and thanking the Lord for leaving us a part of Him.
On the topic of Adoration which I practice 1-3 times a week, I cover my head with some sort of veil….again out of respect for His presence. It did not bother me when, at the beginning, people would look at me in wonder. This is me wanting to give honour, Glory, and respect to my Lord. Jesus was a Jew and when he prayed to His Father He always covered His head with the type of Cloth Jewish people still use today…..Am I bigger than Jesus? Clearly not….I’m a sinner and as such I humble before my Lord.
I do not believe that the diocesan bishop can order a particular posture during the distribution of Holy Communion, at least as far as after reception goes. Around 2006 and 2007, the archdiocese of Louisville issued a series of liturgical norms. One of these required everyone to stand after, “Domine, non sum dignus…” until Holy Communion has finished. Then the congregation kneels, until the celebrant returns to the chair. Since this is against the customs in the United States (and in fact this reverted to the universal norm..) and common liturgical sense (at least in a parish-my own, full disclosure- which is generally well-formed) many people wrote to the proper authorities. Cardinal Arinze and the CDW wrote to say that while he could make this change, he could not force it if it caused issues of conscience and IIRC the law could not make requirements for the time after the individual’s reception of Holy Communion.
The kneeling should be at the Sanctus, not after it. The movement of people and kneelers creates a strong amount of noise, so one misses the start of the Eucharistic Prayer (and since the prayer itself is no longer, sadly, silent we should encourage silence as much as possible). Bowing at the Credo is an unusual gesture. It’d be easier to simply genuflect every time it is prayed. The USCCB failed to adequately communicate the change in the GIRM for the congregation to stand after “Orate, Fratres,” is prayed in Masses without incense. In my experience the priest’s prayer is cut off, since people ignore it and the people’s prayer is said while standing up. (The interaction between priest and people at the Offertory is another change in the rites that is problematic.) The GIRM also leaves little room for local custom and organic development.
Monsignor, I am appalled at the idea of standing after the reception of our Lord. I am not going to pretend to know the various theological reasons why standing may be acceptable or non acceptable. I only know after I receive our Lord, I do not want distractions. I do not come to Mass to be entertained nor for it to be my social hour (although I believe the parish community is important in its proper context). I come to Mass to strictly to worship, adore and thank the Lord for all he has bestowed upon me. After reception of Jesus in the most reverent and humble posture,it is a time to thank, adore, love and ask for forgiveness for all my short comings and then present my petitions to him. It is the blood of a King… Jesus who suffered and died for me which runs in my veins. He was tortured and died so I might have life. Standing is not acceptable for a our King kneeling is the proper posture of one who is appreciative for the sacrifice he has made so I may have eternal life. Reverence towards the Eucharist is what is lacking and why so many people no longer believe in the true presence. I long for silence at Mass, singing and praising the Lord is good but Jesus speaks to us in the silence of our hearts, how can I hear him when we are bombarded with music constantly before during and after Communion. And many times the music is not conducive to meditation. Please, give the people time to reflect on who it is they have received and teach them the importance of a proper Thanksgiving to the Lord. Also once again let us look to the Saints and their posture after receiving the Lord, let them be our examples. I live in a diocese not immune to improvisation and novelty. However if any change occurs and I am asked to stand after receiving my God I will comply at that particular Mass but I will leave that parish and quite honestly I will probably begin to seek out either @ LTM or Byzantine Rite. I am frustrated at the lack of unification within the Church. Some parishes stand during the Consecration, some after the Reception of the Eucharist , some stand and some kneel during the Angus Dei. This is confusing, contradictory and not universal. Also was not the indult revoked in the cleansing of the sacred vessels and limited to only Priests, Deacons and acolytes for purification ? Then how is it this mandate is disregarded in many parishes. I am afraid hypocrisy has crept into our Church. Blessed John Paul II while he was Pope stated clearly “the time for experimentation ( in the Church) has ended” I fear we might be seeing a new wave of experimentation beginning. God help Us!
Totally 100% Agree!!!!
In our parish, and all parishes I have attended within our diocese, we kneel after receiving the Eucharist. Some choose to sit or will kneel for awhile and then sit. I’ve never seen anyone stand and would be very confused if they did. We also travel rather often and I have never seen standing in any of the parishes we have visited in 5 different states.
If this were to be introduced in our parish or diocese, I would fall among the “strongly kneel” category. I need that time to pray, to reflect on Christ’s sacrifice for me on the Cross and how I am using that gift. While one can certainly pray while standing, I feel our Lord deserves more reverence and respect than my (and my children’s!) fidgeting and bumping into neighbors.
I think you risk having more people fainting in church by having them stand until all have received communion from a physiological medical perspective. We are requested not to shake hands when giving the sign of peace during flu season at the church we are members of and sometimes we attend another church in the same diocese due to schedule demands where the congregation shakes hands at the beginning of mass and at the sign of peace flu season or not. Our church has the congregation go up to the communion rail and kneel for communion but doesn’t offer the blood of Christ from a chalice for the congregation while the other has us stand to receive communion and you can drink from the chalice if you choose to do so. Both have the congregation return to their pew and kneel until the tabernacle is closed. I seem to remember a time back before Vatican II whenever we went to mass be it different churches, there was standard protocol without any variations, but that’s another story and we’ve beat that dead horse over and over again in several blogs from the past.
I attend Mass at a few different churches due to my shifting daily schedule and long distance to work. And I’ve moved across town recently. So, I feel like an outsider/visitor at most every Mass.
My general habit is to observe and follow what everyone else is doing (“When in Rome…”), especially because I have no desire to draw attention to myself. But kneeling… it’s like I can’t help it! Immediately after the Agnus Dei, I feel compelled to my knees. And after communion, as soon as I get to my pew, I’m back on my knees. I usually choose a pew toward the front, so I can receive early and have a bit more time to pray while others are receiving.
What I noticed is that some parishes always kneel after Agnus Dei and upon returning from communion. Others remain standing until after communion. Still others remain standing until the last person has received from the chalice. I really did not like standing there, watching the lines, wondering who’d be last… so I could kneel for 8 seconds before the priest said “Let us pray” (typically, those parishes would do the purification after Mass). Standing there, watching others is NOT what I want to be doing after receiving Our Lord! So I gave up trying to blend in: I kneel after Agnus Dei and immediately after returning to my pew from communion. Even if I’m the only one who does it. (Admittedly, I sometimes feel a bit awkward, because it could draw attention. But I’m not trying to project a message to anyone except Our Lord. Sometimes, I wish I was invisible!)
After a couple of years of this, I heard the Bishop respond to this question, which was apparently bothering some people. He said that we should stand until everyone has received. He did not give a specific reason for this (at least, not at the time that I heard him say it). The parish where I’d seen that stand-and-wait done is one of the largest and richest parishes in the diocese. Those that seem to be the most reverent are small and poor. Maybe such things have no bearing at all, but I have seen where the stand-and-wait, large-and-rich parish also seems to have a higher number of complain-to-the-bishop folks. Just sayin’.
Anyway, I’ve decided to stick with my more reverent demeanor, even when attending Mass in the big, rich church, because I really do feel compelled to kneel when Our Lord is present on the altar.
I noticed that the writer had stated that “all receiving communion should remain standing until all have completed receiving.”
To me, this would also draw more attention to those who were not receiving Holy Communion–if those not receiving Holy Communion were seated or kneeling in prayer.
Fr Bob, you have hit a very important point.Along with that is the rule in almost all parishes that people go to communion row by row allowing everyone to see the people who do not receive.In my parish and diocese the bishop has ‘ruled’ that one stands until all have received. I agree with the writer who notes that this means watching what everyone is doing rather than being in prayer.
Though reception makes us one in Christ (the Body of Christ), Eucharist is impacted each person individually. Individually, at least venial sin is being removed from their souls and nourishment being granted for eternal life – for each person according to that person’s state. Also, each of us, when we die, have a particular judgment; we are individually responsible for our personal actions – our personal salvation. So, with this, we are individually responsible to our Judge who will judge us individually, true?
Saints go directly to heaven individually – they do not take the rest of us with them – they are not standing and waiting for us, or are they? Can they? Is this a new doctrine?
Is there a new doctrine which states that the Body of Christ, having received the Eucharist and standing together, will all be resurrected as the one Body of Christ? I’m trying to make the connection. I don’t think we have such a doctrine. So, how does the practice of standing together translate to an eternal reality tied to reception of the Eucharist?
We kneel at my parish, in my diocese. I know another diocese one state over where they also kneel.
All the while, we are in community at the Eucharist, whether we stand or kneel. But, when we are receiving the Lord into our persons, I believe there is a significant personal experience occurring there. This experience, while individual from our own perspectives, it is in unity from the perspective of Jesus Christ. We are all one in the Lord, but we are also individually one with the Lord in our private experiences with Him.
Until the recent change in the GIRM my diocese was a bit of a hodgepodge from parish to parish including some standing during the consecration. With the new GIRM the bishop requested that all stand until the last person received communion. I’m not a fan of it but I try to comply with my bishop’s request, sometimes praying in the orans position. Some priests at least make an effort to provide a few minutes of prayer unfortunately others move on to “let us pray” barely after the last person has received communion. I do know a few people who cannot bear the idea of remaining standing have approached the bishop for “special permission”, which he has given simply requesting that those involved do not make a big deal of it.
Being a convert (1982), the first thing that impressed me about the Catholic Mass was; these ca-ca-ca-Catholics are serious about the body, blood, soul and divinity — they kneel. Since then, I’ve always thought that the holiest part of the Mass was in Eucharistic adoration – both within and without. I will continue to kneel, in unity.
The standing posture in Dioceses where is has been encouraged/adopted is likely as opposed to sitting, not kneeling and done as a sign of respect for the Eucharist, and unity as mentioned. There are parishes without kneelers and parishes who don’t kneel, though kneeling to pray during Communion prayers and after reception has become far more widespread lately. Some parishes resist kneeling still, and standing may be seen as a sort of compromise, as awkward as it may be to have some standing, some kneeling, and even some sitting all at the same time. Just what I’ve seen, that’s all.
In our diocese the bishop’s instruction was that the congregation would stand from the Our Father till after communion. That was the norm in our parish until the new bishop was installed about 7 years ago. He issued instructions that the faithful could kneel, stand or sit during communion and that we were to kneel during the “Lord, I am not worthy..” The pastor said it was, “Standing in the Resurrection.” That never made sense to me because St John fell down on his face when he saw Jesus Resurrected in Revelation.
Finally, I told the pastor I could not stand because it deprived me of a very important prayer time and was a proximate occasion for sin since I caught myself looking around at what other people were doing instead of praying. The cantor still intones, “Please, Stand,” before the first communion song and there is rarely time for silence at all. By the way, I still think it is peculiar to stand during the Agnus Dei. In the Anglican Use they kneel and in many places, though not the US, kneeling is the customary posture.
Silence of about 2 minutes, stretching to 5 would I think be good. It would take some instruction and exercise to learn. At a previous parish in another diocese there were no kneelers (our former bishop and the pastor there were classmates). When I had occasion to go there to a funeral, recently, I knelt during the consecration and other appropriate places and I still kneel even when there are no kneelers. As a Benedictine told me, we are not supposed to be comfortable. We are in the Presence of the Living God.
GIRM 43 says that the faithful should kneel after the Agnus Dei, but gives the diocesan bishop the option to specify some other posture. It specifies “sit” or “kneel” (at the option of the faithful) during the so-called “sacred silence” after reception of Holy Communion but, at least the way I read it, does not give the diocesan bishop the option to make a variance (for the period after reception of Holy Communion). However, having said that, he *is* the diocesan bishop and in charge of his particular church…
Having said the above, I think there are a whole lot of things I would get up in arms about before episcopal direction to stand after the reception of Holy Communion. Liturgical dancers, clown / puppet masses, 15 minute-long “peace” where the celebrant makes sure to shake all the congregants’ hands, *enforced* *universal* holding of hands during the Pater Noster, lay people giving a “reflection” during the time for the homily, political and even outright heretical prayers being offered during the “prayer of the faithful” (one time when traveling I actually once heard a prayer offered for ‘God to enlighten the Holy Father to allow the ordination of women’), etc., etc., etc. Standing after reception of Holy Communion is way, way, way down my list of things to be upset about.
BTW, Msgr Pope, have you ever done a reflection / blog post on “sacred silence” during Mass? If not, I’d be interested to read your thoughts on the subject, especially since you celebrate both the Novus Ordo and Low Masses.
I think this is yet another example of people trying to make the Holy Mass about “us” (the “community”) instead of Him.
Msgr. This was good to ponder about. I am all for remaining silent during communion, so that the receivers can pray once they have received the body and blood of our Lord. I am a musician who plays the pipe organ under the direction of a younger music director. Sometimes, it seems as though we are singing, one song after another throughout the Mass. I am all for silence during communion OR soft. Reflective music, so the assembly can pray.
One aspect of Posture which was not mentioned, is whether ones eyes remain open during the prayers throughout Mass…… I have not felt like I’m respecting God in prayer during the Eucharistic Prayer if I’m keeping my eyes open, same as with the Lords Prayer and the prayers of the faithful. Keeping my head bowed and eyes closed is my time to focus on God through prayer.
I have noticed that before I bow my head for the Eucharistic prayers, the music director stands with one leg out and a non prayerful stance with eyes opened…..shocked to see this type of posture! Is she going to stand before God with her leg out and arms crossed or inside pockets?
Not only posture and how much we sing should be necessary, but what happened to veiling of women’s heads?
I’m a bit well traveled. Most parishes kneel. One had both those who stood and those who kneel. I thought it difficult to see the tabernacle if we all stood. Currently I’m in Canada which has its own flavor (including only using the apostle’s creed). I have no idea what the norms are but most stand until the tabernacle closes (and oddly sit before the priest does) and some forget to bow when approaching the altar. So I’m sure noone knows exactly any more than I do. I choose to kneel but I think I’m forgiven for adhering to my own cultural upbringing and they know because I also veil. That’s not something that’s as popular as it is in the states.
I do not think a Bishop should put more rules in place than Holy Mother Church. The Church gives freedom here. If the Bishop does not grant that freedom, there better be a very serious reason. I think it is preferable to put effort into those “rules” that do not allow for “freedom” such as the moral laws of the Ten Commandments.
Also, the American Catholic parishes put way too much importance on “regimentation”. That is, everyone doing the same thing at the same time. This is an abuse when it extends beyond the rubrics. Even Ushers are part of the problem, as either Pope Benedict XVI or JPII pointed out.
As an aside, I noticed in the calendar for your parish, Msgr., that there were practices for “liturgical dance”. Care to comment on your opinion of liturgical dance?
I’ve never seen this practice in my parish or any parish I’ve visited.
Try California. I saw it. We knelt.
In 2003 Cardinal George submitted this question, dubnium, to Rome and received the following reply from Cardinal Arinza, who at that time was Prefect of the CDW, responded to the question on June 5, 2003 (Prot. N. 855/03/L):
Responsum: Negative, et ad mensum [No, for this reason]. The mens [reasoning] is that the prescription of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani, no. 43, is intended, on the one hand, to ensure within broad limits a certain uniformity of posture within the congregation for the various parts of the celebration of Holy Mass, and on the other, to not regulate posture rigidly in such a way that those who wish to kneel or sit would no longer be free.
The BCL Newsletter continues: “In the implementation of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, therefore, posture should not be regulated so rigidly as to forbid individual communicants from kneeling or sitting when returning from having received Holy Communion” (p. 26. Emphasis added.)
– See more at: http://www.adoremus.org/Kneeling-CDW-response03.html#sthash.WXSwsKD5.dpuf
Personally, I feel that our focus should be on worship and adoration of our Lord in the Eucharist. Reverence and belief in the Real Presence has diminished greatly since these norms were adopted and the focus has been more on community and how we feel. Several years ago after leaving Sunday Mass I turned on the car radio to hear a mainline Protestant minister say, “Today, we will take communion. To make this as simple as possible, take a chunk of bread, dip in the grape juice and exit the church.” It struck me that even though they may not believe in the Real Presence they were so nonchalant and more concerned with what was expedient than Christ’s instruction, “Do this in memory of me”. While, this would not happen in a Catholic Church, it is a reminder to revere the Eucharist is in a time when “our” convenience and sensibilities seems to be a priority.
Kneel before our Lord and give Him glory and honor.
Excellent. Thank you
Msgr., in my view an issue like this always comes down to the issue of the Real Presence. Here are just a few recent experiences::
!.) The Deacon held the Host and the Priest held the chalice – My thought was each species is essentially the same with the form being different so, although not traditional, it is equivalent to the use of Eucharistic Ministers. It does, in my mind, diminish the role of the Priest, but if he is okay with this practice, well, “who am I to judge”.
2.) The Tabernacle, in some churches and Cathedrals is hidden off to the side or in a separate small chapel. It can be a real “where’s Waldo” experience when you expect the consecrated host to be the center of our faith. I often think what would happen if Jesus bodily descended down though the roof and landed on the altar . .. . would they get him a chair in the side chapel and carry on as normal? So, in my humble mind, this practice is a crisis in the belief of the Real Presence. Thankfully, I hear “they” may be changing this practice soon.
3.) Standing vs. knelling? Well, for me I will always bend my knee for Him. Local norms and Bishops come and go, but Jesus is always my lLord and Savior. I am so grateful and humbled to be in His presence I will fall to my knees out of respect and honor to Him.
In my 15 years at my current parish, I’ve never heard a directive from either our pastor or the bishop concerning posture after communion. At my parish we kneel after receiving holy communion. Those who are disabled tend to sit. At a neighboring parish the custom is to stand until all have received holy communion. Personally, I prefer to kneel. In part that preference is based on my personal comfort. For me, it’s harder to stand so long. On the other hand, I have no problem praying and offering thanksgiving to God, because posture doesn’t seem to interfere with that.
What does interfere with my post communion prayer is the singing. There is music and singing throughout the time for communion. I find it distracting. I prefer silence when I pray. One former pastor of ours allowed a significant amount of time for silence after he sat down. I liked that very much. My practice then was to join in the singing and meditate on the lyrics as I sang. Then at the silent time I could adore and thank the Lord as the Spirit moved me.
The Q&A answer quoted above asserts “As in all things, balance is required in understanding the nature of Holy Mass. Mass is essentially the communal act of Christ with all his people, it is not essentially a private devotion.”
I think this definition of the essential character of the Mass gives short shrift to the rich treasure of meaning in the Mass, and is not balanced in conveying what it is about. Before the Second Vatican Council, the predominant understanding of what was going on in the Mass was that it is, “the unbloody Sacrifice of the New Law in which the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ is offered to God under the species of bread and wine.” [Roman Missal (1962)] and according to Pope St. Pius X, “The Holy Mass is a prayer itself, even the highest prayer that exists. It is the Sacrifice, dedicated by our Redeemer at the Cross, and repeated every day at the Altar.”
The Missal describes a four-fold purpose to the Sacrifice of the Mass:
+ an offering of adoration—we honor and venerate God and acknowledge our dependence on God as the Ruler over life and death
+an offering of praise and thanksgiving—the meaning of “Eucharist” is “thanksgiving”—we express our gratitude to God for his mercy, blessings, and benefits he has provided us
+ an offering of atonement or reparation—for our sins and shortcomings
+ an offering of impetration—prayers of petition to God for our intentions—for the grace necessary for salvation—our prayers are most powerful when we offer them at the moment of consecration
All these suggest to me that the most appropriate posture during Mass is kneeling in adoration and prayer, especially when the Most Blessed Sacrament has been consecrated by the priest at the altar and is still really present, as an outward sign and acknowledgment that the Lord of the Universe is with us in a special way. When the Blessed Sacrament is placed in the monstrance at Adoration and exposed, we kneel.
Standing as a sign of “solidarity” with our brethren seems a secondary consideration given a fuller understanding of the context of the Mass and what it is really about and contributes to furthering the loss of our sense of reverence and outward signs of our understanding of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament. It a time where a majority of Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence of our Lord in the Eucharist, it does not make practical sense to eliminate a visible posture which can serve as a catechesis in itself.
So are you arguing then that balance is not required? Is your argument that mass is essentially a private devotion? I am puzzled, because I call for balance, I do not argue that mass is merely communal, but neither is it merely a private devotional. As for giving “short shrift”I do ask you to understand as I point out in the article, that my answers in the Sunday visitor must be brief. Your 850 word comment, would not fit into my 400 word limit. I suppose I would have preferred if you had begun your comment more amicably, by noting that you would like to place the emphasis more on the devotional side and then proceed to make your case as you have done well here. But why lead with division indicating that I give short shrift etc.? Perhaps you have not read this blog for long, or ever. As for the balance I seek, I think it is expressed very well by St. Thomas Aquinas Eucharistic theology and especially in his hymn o sacrum convivium.
My argument is not that Mass is a private devotion, but that the gathering in communion of the People of God to assist at the Sacrifice of the Mass should be united as one in their understanding of what is going on, and that in that unity of purpose would be moved to kneel in adoration and prayer when the Most Blessed Sacrament is present and exposed.
(It would be an even better sign of unity and an effective catechesis in the reverence due to Our Lord when in his Real Presence if communicants were kneeling when receiving the Sacrament on their tongues, but I offer that as a footnote.)
Click on the link above and you can read all you want about J. Glenn Murray, his ideology, his dismissal from the priesthood, and how he forced his liturgical novelties on the diocese of Cleveland–like standing all the way through communion. At least, after much debate, one of the churches, where I often attend mass and which is very liberal, the faithful actually kneel after communion. But most churches in the diocese stand.
I kneel and I would encourage everyone to kneel.no matter who is next to me. I’ve knelt on the floor when everyone else is standing. Don’t be ashamed to do it because there is absolutely no directive from anywhere that you must stand, and it shows respect to our Lord in the Tabernacle and in the Blessed Sacrament. Cardinal Arinze said you can kneel….period!
Stand up for what you believe and KNEEL! : )
I am reminded of the joke: “Q: What’s the difference between a liturgist and a terrorist? A: You can negotiate with a terrorist.” I imagine that the idea that everyone should remain standing came from some liturgist who suggested it to the bishop. I think that it’s a wrong idea. It becomes a major distraction for the entire congregation, many of whom get tired from being on their feet; it distracts people from praying after their reception of Communion because they are forced–forced–to watch everyone else in order to see when they may be allowed to sit. This idea is an “innovation” which did not come from the Catholic Church authorities, but from someone who arrogantly decided what is best for everyone else. It’s best to stick to the rubrics rather than impose such innovations on the people at Mass.
I remember visiting a parish in America where people stood until everyone received communion. I have lived all over the world and I have never seen this crazy custom anywhere else. Let the people alone-let them do what they feel is most reverent and comfortable for them.
I see no need for standing after receiving, because if we truly understand the Eucharist, it is ALREADY the fullest sign of unity with each other!
“Be Still and know that I am God” I am less likely to fall over and cause a ruckus if I am kneeling. The same can be said of my children.
In order to preserve the sanctity of the post communion moments, I think the faithful servant should be encouraged to show their respect and thanksgiving as the Spirit moves them to do so.
In the Diocese of Cleveland, norms were published under our previous bishop directing standing AND SINGING as well until all have received Communion. Thus, no time is given for one on one prayer with the Lord Jesus until that point! And since the priest can be up and standing for the final prayers in as little as 30 seconds, in practice virtually no time is given for silent prayer.
Under the previous bishop, clergy would go down the aisle at the cathedral hectoring that It is the custom of the Church of Cleveland to remain standing during Communion. Under our new bishop, that hectoring has ceased. But there has been no change of norms. Nothing has been said, and the practice in parishes goes on as before.
My own practice is to sit in the very last pew in the back and then kneel and pray, face in hand, when I return from receiving Our Lord. Thus, I avoid drawing particular attention to myself.
It is a shame that our priests give themselves so little time for prayer after receiving Communion.
Let us say it–our present Mass is too front loaded. And then suddenly Mass is over.
I am on a border parish in the Diocese of Orange. The Archdiocese of LA instituted those norms under Cardinal Mahony. It was part of a general remake of the liturgy he undertook. The current Archbishop, I believe, has remained silent on this. The issue is one, IMHO, of directing people to one another and not to the Eucharist, of making the Mass more “low church” but in a very controlling way. Cardinal Mahony, one may recall was very excited that Pope Francis is “Low Church” compared with Pope Benedict. Many of his moves in the Archdiocese (where I grew up) seemed aimed at changing tradition and replacing with innovation that did not make a whole lot of sense.
My experience is that it is controlling and distracting and not at all conducive to prayer. I am glad that I am in the neighboring diocese that does not do this. It is interesting, to see people who venture into our parish from neighboring parishes in LA diocese – they insist on standing in spite of the fact that we kneel (or sit if one can’t kneel or is moved to do so).
I attend a church at the beach in NC while on vacaton who practice this. I found it very annoying and I disregarded it. The music leader with her big guitar and head piece microphone had a podium Beside the altar for herself! They had another podium for the reader which was closer to the people. They also had the Eucharist ministers bring up the gifts and place the communion cloth down and set up the vessels on the Altar. At the end of Mass the music learder crosses Behind the Altar to run ouside during the last song to meet the people so she can sell her CD’s.
It was very disturbing.
I have a question is receiving the Host a full reception of Christ? Why are we receiving the chalice too? I was always taught that the Host is the living Christ, body, blood, soul and divinity. If this is a living total God that we are receiving in the Host why are we receiving His Blood separated? Is not the Blood also a total living, body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ? If we receive under both species are we receiving twiice? I’ve had enough of all these confusions and novelties. I look around and see our Catholic Churches, filled with old people, and you can count in one hand the children and often there aren’t any at all. The children represent the Church of the future. This should be a wake-up call to the clergy that what they’re doing is not producing good results.
OH and the tabernable was on the wall behind the last pews so I sat through the Mass with Jesus to my back!
I avoid all the “you must stand until the last man has received or you keel over” parishes and attend the only two in two counties (and I am being quite literal here) where kneeling is the norm. And even at those two, provision is made for those who prefer to stand, as they often make an announcement to that effect at the beginning of Mass.
I find that I naturally want to fall to my knees after Communion. I could also get into standing and raising my arms in praise and adoration. But standing there like I’m in queue for a burger and a side of fries seems to contradict the amazing action just completed, that of receiving the King of the Universe into my body. Strange, strange. The posture of standing is so very ordinary, and is so completely out of line with the extraordinary act of Holy Communion…
what about those who cannot receive? It doesn’t seem very unifying for them, but making them “stand” out because they cannot receive for whatever reason.
In my parish, most stand after receiving until the tabernacle is closed, but many also kneel. We have been instructed by the Bishop to stand. I feel kneeling is far more respectful as we kneel in reverence before our Lord’s presence just as before a King. Standing implies we have equality with God, to my mind. And singing during Communion is distracting for those who want to pray.
When I travel I encounter this innovation but I do not and will not follow it. My time of union with Christ is indeed personal. I will not sing some banal song either! In my former diocese the bishop ‘invited’ us to stand for the consecration, being a resurrection people no longer needing penance and everything. And I did until I could not any more. I fussed about obedience but one does not have to be obedient to a disobedience.
When I can, I attend the extraordinary form of the Mass where innovations are not foisted on the people but rather solemnity at this most holy Sacrifice and reverence where it is not ‘all about us’ but rather worshipping the Lord. You don’t have to hold hands or glad hand or hug everyone around you….that is for before or after Mass.
If the 24 elders in Revelations fall down before the Throne and cast off their crowns in worship of Our Lord in the Heavenly Mass, then who are we to remain standing?
In the Byzantine Catholic Church, one stands while all are receiving Holy Communion. In Orthodox churches, there aren’t even any pews except maybe along the side,, and so one would stand throughout the whole Liturgy (which could last several hours). In the Middle Ages and if one goes to some of the European churches even today, there might be no pews there either. One always stood… in those unheated churches! However, if one is ill or elderly, it is fine to sit. It is a matter of wisdom and common sense. In any case, be obedient to one’s bishop, who represents Christ.
Actually, in the middle ages, one brought one’s cloak or kneeling pad to the church and kneeled on the stone floor, at least in Europe.
I was at a Mass where all stood until all received. IT was disruptive, hard on the ill and elderly and made focusing on Jesus very difficult. What is this noncense about unity? What about reverence for Christ What about having that special personal time with Him after receiving Him in the Eucharist? The unity comes about with and thru Jesus. It is a spiritual connection not a standing together. People can be with each other after Church.
Why is the focus taken off of God and placed on people – people – people??
Have we forgotten God. Is it really all about us. Large numbers of Catholics don’t believe Christ is actually present in the Consecrated Host. He is there Body, Blood Soul and Divinity but as He told ST Faustina, He is often treated like “a dead object”. Does this behavior re-enforce doubt? We must pray for our Church If Jesus let HImself be seen in the Host, how many would be standing. We would all be on our knees or prostrate on the floor. That people are confused makes me sad. We need to speak up and defend the Mass.
Eastern Rite Catholic churches, the oldest liturgical form of which is the Maronite Celebration DOES STAND until all have received and, in fact, ALL STAND during the consecration. Pews and kneelers are a relative new-comer to the ritual. The proper and most ancient form of respect is to STAND when you are in the presence of Our God. The original complaint seems to suggest that the woman, while standing, was not able to be engaged fully in prayer as if by standing she was not “able” to pray. Please keep in mind, the very priest at the altar NEVER kneels, even during the consecration, but is literally standing the entire celebration (except for when the OT and NT readings are provided). There is no reason NOT to pray, no matter the position of ones body.
Yes, I hear what you are saying, but in those settings the “normal” posture for prayer is standing. In the western rites, the normal posture for praying is kneeling. Even if that wasn’t always the case in the past, it has been for quite some time and it says “prayer” to us. Standing does not, so it seems inappropriate for that time.
Just thought I’d click on this when skimming through the articles on SpiritDaily smiles. Monsignor, a very interesting post grin. I’m a convert to the faith, since age 18/19, not sure ( 1984) and didn’t even come across the “importance” ( for lack of a better word) of this issue to some until, I don’t know, the “first” time I saw it online? or maybe in an article in Nat.Catholic Register or Our Sunday Visitor ( haven’t subscribed to any papers for a few years now, mainly financial reasons). So I guess I’m “operating” from, or responding from my “personal feel” for receiving Jesus at Mass. It wasn’t until I read, online or in pamphlet about Eastern Orthodox ritual that for them it was normal and would be “disrespectful” to kneel, etc… for Communion, that I even had a notion that such an issue existed, grin, and I’ve been 48 for four months now lol. The idea of standing after Communion is quite repulsive to me. How long should the silence be after Communion? Would ten minutes kill people? A sister at my parish whom I commented on this “explained” that we are supposed to “participate” in the Mass. I wanted to retort with but where, because I don’t know, is it written that there has to be four to five Communion hymns “as” we are receiving” Communion. Isn’t praying from the heart “participating” also I ask myself? I can understand singing One hymn, but four and five, right one after another? I don’t sing them at all. I came up with the wonderful idea of putting earplugs and at least I get a chance to “participate” “quietly”. But I see that I’ve strayed from the subject.
I see what you’re saying when you say that as a priest, you wouldn’t be encouraging, or it wouldn’t be the right thing to do, to instruct the faithful to go against? what a bishop of a diocese has told them to do. Kind of makes things a bit sticky I guess. Just read the first two or three responses to this post. Will have to come back again later. I guess, standing after Communion, kneeling, looks like a lot like…how you were “raised”? Until later. Monsignor, as for the elderly, I think that’s irrelevant. Age, physical difficulties would make it “understandable” that a lot of them wouldn’t stand for any longer than they could. The standing until the tabernacle door is closed issue would concern “everyone else” I think….
If memory serves me correctly, several times in recent memory a pope and or vatican directive indicated kneeling after the Agnes Dei, during the consecration, when receiving communion (on the tongue) and after communion is the preferred posture. My question is, Is a bishop ordering other postures showing unity with the universal church?
I was born in the fifities so I have worshiped in the pre and post Vatican II Church. I am also currently DRE at my parish which is a more traditional Catholic Church with all the bells and smells. I am grateful God has allowed me to live long enough to see the Church beginning to be restored to some sense of meaningful worship where the people of God recognize they are in the Temple, where the Holy of Holies dwells.
Many people attend my Church specifically because they want to be able to kneel at the Communion rail and experience a quiet time of prayer after Holy Communion. Not everyone who attends Mass at my parish is conservative but they find the common gift of silence and the sense of the sacred which allows them to draw into intimacy with Christ.
Our holy Catholic Church is desperately in need of unity, however this unity cannot be brought about by “standing” after Holy Communion. It can only be brought about by believeing and worshiping with “one mind”, the mind of Christ.
I am sorry to hear we have a new trend of standing after Holy Communion because this posture in America is not the norm. More importantly it creates another round of disunity, distraction, and confusion for the faithful. This is the methodology of Satan to prevent prayer from happening in Mass and it has worked for the past 50 years very well. How long will this stiff necked people continue to repeat these errors?
We the faithful need to pray more for our priests and bishops. If we prayed for them as much as we complain about them they would probably all be living saints among us! We have no time for discouragement. There awaits us a whole world out their dying for lack of Christ! Onward Soldiers!
We have people bowing heads , bowing from the waist , kneeling or not doing any of these because they cant remember the latest changes . Receiving communion on the tongue ,in the hand now standing for unity .Why do these Bishops add their mark only to add to disorder ? It’s enough to make one become schismatic. I’m beginning to see why the Tridentine Mass is appealing . How about order and continuity ? Is this Bishop thinking clearly at all ?
It’s not about “Us” its about receiving Our Lord ,acknowledging Him in prayer with humility by kneeling to Him and offering thanksgiving to Him .
I cannot remain standing for very long, and I cannot kneel long for any length of time. So, when it comes to kneeling during Mass, I half-sit. If my legs tire when standing I have to sit down. I think the diocesen decision has absolutely no compassion for those of us who have handicaps. I do what I can with what I have, and I don’t need a diocesan professional ‘liturgist’ to tell me how I am to worship God. Period!
In LA, we were told to stand starting with the Eucharistic Prayer until the Presider sits after Communion. AND we start at the back row to go up for Communion. Some Churches have broken away from the standing but not from the back first.
My comment: As you proceed down the aisle, everyone in the pews is turned towards you watching everyone go up to receive Communion (instead of being in prayer!). Most Churches it is mixed who kneels after Communion.
Now I’m 88 and I believe in obedience but not for this nonsense. I don’t care if I’m the only one in Church, I sit in a front pew, go up first or second, receive in both species and return to the pew and kneel.
I also wrote our Archbishop when he arrived about this but never received a reply.
I think it is time for our laity to speak up. We should have done this when they took the Tabernacles out. And when all of the information began to come out about the abuse.
And an add on: Many of our Churches insist that we sit during the reading of the Passion. We were always
allowed to if we were sick or elderly. Well, I’m elderly but I prefer to stand to honor Passion.
I totally 100% agree with Sants
I aggee 100% with Sants
The humility of kneeling, particularly after communion, is what takes us out of our culture and puts us into the timeless reality of Christ. This bodily gesture of worship is full of spiritual meaning. Jesus and the Apostles knelt to pray. Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane prostrated Himself before Our Heavenly Father. The first martyr, St. Stephen, fell to his knees and begged God to not punish those about to stone him.
Bishop Olmsted writes, “The practice of kneeling assists our whole person to be attentive to the Lord, to surrender to His will, to lift our soul and our voices in worship,”
As for myself, I kneel in deep gratitude for bringing me to His Church (convert, 2011) and I beg Our Lord to stay with me.
It seems we must each individually ask for our hearts to be refashioned on a regular basis so it is possible to live in peaceful community with each other. It seems its Our Lord Himself who creates the unity we’re seeking and not us.
Something else comes to mind . . . we stand for judges and the president of the US out of respect for their office. However, we kneel (or fall on our faces) before God in worship. In today’s world, perhaps we should make a greater effort to keep the two distinct.
+ Glory be to the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. +
I am all in favour of standing until the last person has received communion as this symbolizes how Christ and the apostles SHARED the body & blood of Christ. In our liberal-minded parish (much to the chagrin of our conservative archbishop), we stand from the start of the liturgy of the Eucharist, including (at it should be as kneeling is a symbol of individualism vs. the what the original Eucharist would have looked like, in other words sharing i.e. ‘communion’) until the last person receives communion. As well, at the start of the liturgy of the Eurcharist, the priest invites those who wish (usually around 1/4 to 1/3 of the parishioners per mass do so, and which I absolutely love doing as I feel as part of a true communion in Christ) to gather around with him for the transfiguration until the singing of the Lamb of God. As our can see our parish is very liberal and I wouldn’t want it any other way. In addition to what I’ve just mentioned, about every second week the a lay person gives the reflection (i.e. lay person’s term for homily), we welcome gay catholics with open arms as our parish’s slogan is ‘All Are Welcome’ and we truly meant it and our priest isn’t afraid to speak openly about the role of women in the church (i.e. priesthood) or the role of married persons (i.e. again priesthood). It always boggles my mind how Rome is still obsessed with ‘celibacy’ yet there are thousands of married priests within the Catholic Church…and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, evidently you don’t know much about your own church.
Actually, they reclined at the Last Supper. As for your posture during the Canon, it is illicit. Sadly, you sound more like the modern world, rebellious, and parrot the trends of it, more than the Jesus you claim to represent. He actually founded a Church, gave it structure, appointing bishops in the call of the apostles and expects us to respect that he speaks through them. So, while you may think you are all about Jesus, I would once again say you sound more like a rebellious disciple of the modern world than anything else.
Andrew, I love it ! You make such a great argument against liturgical abuse and liberalism through your parody of a liberal – overstated but not so much so that a reader might not have doubts as to whether you might really be serious. Let me give it a try, I do not think I will pull it off like you did.
In my Church we pay absolutely no attention to that whole adoration thing. We see the mass as it was intended, a shared meal and a gathering of friends – sacrifices are so passe. First we gather around the guy in the robe and help him to pray over the bread (since we are all priests and priestesses) and we reject that whole line by Pope Benny about proximity to the altar not determining the level of participation in the mass or his line about the clericalization of the laity. We return to our coffee cups when we sing that Lamb of God ditty (BTW, we also reject V2s admonition in S.C. para 54 to preserve the Latin in the Common Mass) We come up to the extraordinary minister (lay persons term for future priest) just like she was a bartender and she slings us the host which (being the open minded parish that we are) we allow folks to either catch in the mouth or grab out of the air with their hand. She is sure to bless us if we miss. We wash it all down with a swig from the “chalice” – two-kinds-all-the-time baby (para 55 be damned)
We also think it is perfectly loving to not just accept the sinners as the rest of the Churches in my diocese do, but to accept his/her sin as well . Truth is so intolerant sometimes. We promote promiscuity, abortion, etc.In anticipation of the ordination of women, we prefer to refer to the Church as the Domestic Partner of Christ, not his Bride.
I once had the happiness to go to a Chaldean Rite Lord’s Day Divine Liturgy offered up in a congregation of Iraqi refugees in Istanbul. What so struck me was to see that upon receiving Holy Communion the people take just a few steps into the arms of the church, turn around, and while standing begin praying immediately, one on one with the Lord. Only slowly and at a time of each soul’s choosing do they return to their pews.
To have such a sense of how precious this time is!
As one who has MS and spinal problems, standing until all have received the Eucharist would be difficult and painful and would therefore impede my ability to make a devout and deep thanksgiving. I usually cover my eyes following Communion which would also be difficult while standing. I know that I would feel uncomfortable standing rather than kneeling. Somehow kneeling is more conducive to prayer than standing. While I prefer standing while receiving the Eucharist, believing that either posture is reverent, kneeling for the thanksgiving feels more intimate, lends to deeper concentration, and is more comfortable from an interior standpoint, at least for me.
once again kneeling is called into question. Either is the case of Kneeling to receive communion or kneeling after communion. I am for kneeling when I receive communion and kneeling after communion . Kneeling is a form of humility a virtue which seems to be lacking these days.
Kneeling is also the ultimate expression against ‘communion’ (i.e. individualism). Why does the priest ask us to ‘lift up our hearts’, if 30 seconds later the entire congregation is seated. What about in Catholic churches that either have no pews or have no kneelers, like mine? My comments are evidently directed at able-bodied persons. Those unable to stand would evidently stay seated.
When people stand after receiving the Holy Eucharist and return to their pews, they appear to be looking around watching those who are going to receive or watching to see when the last one receives the Eucharist. Rarely do any of them appear to be immersed in their thoughts and prayers directed to Jesus. I used to stand at times after receiving Jesus in one local Catholic church where this is popular, but I found it very difficult to talk to Jesus and pour out my heart to him. When other people kneel after they receive, I have noticed a lot more of them with eyes closed or covering their eyes appearing to be in deep communion with Jesus. And this experience has been confirmed by others whom I know.
First they told us it was too much trouble for us to kneel to receive the body blood soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. Then they told us to receive the spotless victim from unconsecrated men and women in our own hands. Then they put the tabernacle in a side room. Now they tell us to stay off our knees at any point after receiving Him. I see the fingerprints of the diabolical on all of it.
Great analysis !!! This is the reason I belong to a TRADITIONAL
parish. Done with all the silliness and irreverent behavior.
Finally at peace again.
I prefer to kneel after receiving Our Lord in Holy Communion. If God appeared to me right this moment, I’m sure that I would fall to my knees in Adoration, fear, and trembling. We attend the traditional Mass and receive while kneeling. And when my family attends the Novus Ordo Mass we also kneel to receive. It’s taken time to come to this point. We feel it shows more respect to God in Holy Communion. Also, I would find it difficult to focus on praying while standing. I like to kneel and cover my eyes so I’m not distracted. If the instructions are silent about the posture, I find it curious that it would need to be addressed at all. Why not allow people to do what they like while communing with their God?
I’m glad we have a Church with kneelers. I know a few don’t have them. I don’t think I could worship properly if I would not kneel specially during the concecration and after communion. These are to me very intense and profound moments of worship and the natural posture to me seems to kneel in humility and with reverence. Look at the picture on this post, we see people in profound meditation with eyes closed, hands in front of their faces, heads bowed. It would be hard to do this while standing. Another point is that if all are kneeling at this moment, it is easy to look up and see the altar and the crucifix. If all are standing it’s hard for children and for people not very tall to have an idea of what’s going on in front.
I typically attend the TLM but when I do attend the NO, I also kneel during Holy Communion and after. There is a Dominican parish close to me that I sometimes attend and they only have NO Masses.The last time I attended a Sunday Mass there, majority of the people were standing after Holy Communion and some look so anxious to leave already. The presiding priest related, after distributing Communion, that this would be a perfect time to kneel and adore Christ.
At places where there is insistence on standing for unity’s sake, I have heard and seen all kinds of other non-unifying behaviors, such as refusing to call God “he,” the 30 EMoHC receiving before the priest, and plenty more. No one has ever said a word about all that, but my goodness, we have to all stand, please.
Cardinal Francis Arinze, the now retired Prefect for the Congregation Divine Worship, stated they chose NOT to regulate this. If you wish to stand, knell or sit, it is up to you. You can find him stating this at Catholic Family Land during a Q&A session. It use to be on Youtube. Freedom, not regulation. As Pope Benedict XVI stated, allow those to do what the church permits. The progressives are far more controlling than any other group. We must be like robots!
Here is the link to Cardinal Arinze and his comments on a many issues. He’s fantastic!
I often imagine myself at the end of my life facing the presence of Chist in person and ask myself how I would present myself. Always in the presence of My King, I would be on my knees. In the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, kneeling seems to me the only appropriate response (as long as I can physically kneel). I cannot imagine (if one truly believes) not kneeling in the presence of Christ Our King. If kneeling is not appropriate then, when would it be?
If you want to kneel at your parish go right ahead, but don’t impose this on those that would like to worship in a different manner.
In my opinion, standing was some sort of divisive innovation introduced by dissident bishops, especially here in Canada, to de-sacralize the Mass. I have travelled all over the world, and attended Mass in countless countries, and nowhere have I encountered standing after the reception of Holy Communion.
In several parishes, the altar rails have been restored, and more and more people receive Holy Communion on the tongue. To receive Christ with your fingers, just like eating at McDonald’s, is a sure way to compound the dis-belief in the Real Presence. Disobedient nuns in Belgium started the disobedience, and although all the Bishops voted NOT to permit reception in the hand, the disobedience spread like wildfire througout the entire world, and then the Pope had no option, but to permit it.
If Christ were to walk into my home today, I know that I would prostrate myself in front of Him, not “stand to attention”.
This issue was addressed by the Congregation for Divine Worship back in 2003, at the request of Cardinal George:
all these what ifs are detrimental to the unity of the church.. Please stop changing rules to suit only a few . Since vatican 11 we have had nothing but division in the church. ie. kneel for comunion or stand , recieve in the hand or on the tongue, altar boys or alter girls, Take the Body And Blood or just the Body. Please stop this peti stuff and lets get back to being of one voice and one mind
I kneel when I receive the Eucharist and kneel when I return to the pew. If I am told that I can’t, I promise them that I will crawl! That usually ends the dialog! God Bless You, John
They tried that in the diosese I was in a few years back…but it didnt take after a few months. Most people chose to kneel and some even sit. Unity is in the hearts and minds of Christ’s people….not in their posture. After receiving Jesus in the greatest gift to mankind….how can one not Kneel in adoration(unless they are physically unable to) Even without kneelers…may people still kneel. Let our hearts be united….
The person asking the question said the archdiocese wants everyone to remain standing to show unity. If everyone is kneeling, doesn’t that ALREADY show a sign of unity.
What is this “unity” business? The Mass is where we worship GOD, not the “community”. Pure modernism and secular humanism – focus on MAN – which has been the goal (of Satan). People will be ok with standing because most don’t even go to Confession much less believe in the Real Presence. Sacrilegious Communions, particles of Christ’s Body on people’s hands, and then naturally all over the floor where you walk to be trampled underfoot, handed out unnecessarily by unconsecrated hands- all of this is a disgrace and abomination before God. It became far too painful for me (add sermons with no substance or real Catholic teaching). Find a Traditional Latin Mass and vive la difference, and perhaps save your soul as well.
They tried that in the diocese I was in a few years back…but it didnt take after a few months. Most people chose to kneel and some even sit. Unity is in the hearts and minds of Christ’s people….not in their posture. After receiving Jesus in the greatest gift to mankind….how can one not Kneel in adoration(unless they are physically unable to) Even without kneelers…may people still kneel. Also when it was implemented it appeared many more people especially in the back of the church left right after receiving Jesus. Reverence in posture shows humility. Let our hearts be united in reverence and humility.
Up, down, up down. I see little reverence at Mass these days. It should be kneeling after Communion and no Communion in the hand. And everyone should be as one, except the infirm.
I have severe arthritis and standing is very difficult for me. I am so glad I am not in a diocese and church that requires this. Kneeling, even with my knees is easier because I can kind of half sit on the pew and kneel but sometimes I have to shift a knee if one or the other is hurting. I know if you don’t conform you are made to feel “disobedient” and a weirdo traditionalist. No one says this but you know they think it. In my parish thankfully our priests are always courteous enough to say for those who are able to stand. I have nothing against standing but I honestly have always felt like I was being more reverent when I kneel. I hope people are not made to feel uncomfortable about this because we go to church for some comfort and peace and then we have to made to feel like weirdos if we don’t conform. God bless all.
“He who kneels before God can stand before anyone!”
Long kneeling gives good posture.
thanks for the thoughts – the idea that everyone should stand after communion leads me to a few points –
1. it is a recent innovation and a particular rather than universal idea – i.e., there is nothing intrinsically important about it
2. post-communion is a time at mass when people receive our Lord made present in the Eucharist and therefore is a time of uniting ones soul to our Lord who we have received
3. let people stand, sit, kneel as they are personally inclined – this is not a Broadway show
4. unity in diversity is a much more thoughtful approach than uniformity without respecting people
5. God wants our sincere and honest self – not the appearance of visual conformity
6. why trouble the weak – and try to break the strong
Our diocese has a policy, also, of standing after you return to your seat from receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord in Holy Communion. I just can’t do that because as Archbishop Athanasius Schneider points out in his book: “Dominus Est” — “It is the Lord”. This is an unfathomable gift from Him. Why do we make a beggar of Our Lord? He wants so much to come close to us that He humbles Himself far beyond what we could ever imagine. He is the One Who unites us, even though we are adoring him individually. Even the secular world knows body language gives us away. If I were a non-Catholic in attendance at Holy Mass I would never guess the people actually believed they were receiving anything more than just a symbol after having observed them casually returning to their seats, standing, looking around, talking, etc. (not to mention waving and talking on the way to receive, receiving on the hand while standing, dressing scantily, etc.). Oh, I just can’t imagine how disappointed Jesus must feel in those moments! We’ve lost the REALITY and the relationship.
In Fatima the 3 children fell on their knees when the angel appeared. How much more should we be on our knees before the King of Kings, receiving His body and blood and return to our pew and adore Him, praise Him, and talk to Him one on one? The church has been unified for centuries— kneeling and giving praise and honor. Many, many, including myself, close their eyes trying to listen and talk to Our Lord in those precious moments after Communion but find ourselves holding the palm of our hands over our ears to difuse the blasting piano/organ and the voices of many song leaders who seem to be holding their own personal concert or trying out for American Idol. If there was silence after Communion, many would get to know the King of Kings and would fall on their knees.
This is exactly how receiving communion in the hand probably began…
We do not have this in our church. We all kneel if we can or sit if we cannot kneel after receiving Holy Communion. I am now thinking of the Virgin Mary and St.Joseph kneeling at the crib, likewise the shepherds and the three kings. It is to adore Jesus that we kneel. It is so reverent and gives us all a special moment to worship the Lord and thank him for condescending to come into our poor unworthy souls. This should not be taken away from us and if it was I would still kneel. I also receive Holy Communion on the tongue because after a few years it just felt so wrong in the hand. It felt difficult at first because we have no altar rail but I just do it now and after a few years I will only join my hands so the minister can see straight away that I want to receive Jesus on the tongue, therefore kneeling afterwards just goes hand in hand with me. I love the Holy Mass. I love our priests. In unity is is very easy for people to kneel or sit.
Thomas Aquinas “Treatise on Gratuitous graces”, teaches that mystics’ posture duting apparitions teach us how to act in the presence of the Divine. We cannot but notice that all Church approved visionaries – Bernadette and others, all fell to their knees in the presence of the holy. Jesus’ Body, Blood, Soul and DIVINITY are present in the Blessed Sacrament – the children of Fatima were taught by the Angel not just to kneel but to prostrate before the Blessed Sacrament. Throughout Holy Scripture man always fell prostrate when a vision of God appeared whether at the descent of the cloud at the Tent of Meeting or an epiphany – it is the universal human reaction to Divine Presence. Standing in the presence is the Blessed Sacrament hypostatically united to the Godhead in Christ is utterly out of line with Sacred Scripture.
If Jesus or Our Blessed Mother were to appear to us individually or to the congregation we would fall to our knees immediately and it seems that is what they do during apparitions. Yes we do need to kneel during our
the Eucharistic receiving and we must continue to do that…It is a total distraction to stand during the time in which we should have our deepest meditation with Our Lord…I for one shall continue to kneel
Several years ago, our family was visiting someone out of state. At Mass, we sat in the front row with our young children and as usual for us, knelt to pray after communion. We had no idea that this was not the custom at this diocese but were quickly told after Mass that we need to stand in the future as a sign of unity. It makes me think of my 3 to 6 year olds in the CGS atrium – if they want to “make silence” they are never in a standing position. It is much harder for us to be quiet and contemplative if we are standing.
NO! I will never stand after receiving the Real Presence. Standing is one more nail in the coffin of belief in the True Presence. It is seriously harmful for little children to grow up seeing the adults carry on loud conversations after Mass right in front of the tabernacle, check their cell phones, wear immodest clothes, walk back from receiving with unfolded hands, not genuflect etc.
How do we teach them the great mystery of the Real Presence? Not by theological treatises but by the utmost reverence, posture, gestures and silence they will see and hear no where else in our desacralized world.
I am not able to receive the Most Precious Sacrament at this time. It is the practice at my parish that all stand; while I would prefer to kneel and pray, I stand. Standing reinforces, to me, the 70s attitude of “we are all going to share in a meal” and minimizes that this one moment, one sacrament, is between Jesus and the recipient.
We are hearing so much about the New Evangelization from the popes, bishops, Catholic authors like Dr. Scott Hahn, Ralph Martin, Peter Herbeck, Curtis Martin, and many others. The New Evangelization must include a strong emphasis on making sure Catholics have a strong, personal relationship with Jesus Christ as a foundation for all of our activities. Receiving the Holy Eucharist is the absolute best way to nurture a personal relationship with Jesus, because it is the best time to pour out our heart and listen to Him. And kneeling after Communion is the best way for Catholics to have a conversation with Jesus. Author Sherry Weddell found that a large number of Catholics, even many who work for the Church, do not have a personal relationship with God. (See: Forming Intentional Disciples,2012.) Only 60 percent of Catholics believe in a personal God (pg. 43). Only 48 percent were absolutely certain that they could have a personal relationship with God. (pg. 44) Weddell and Fr. Mike Fones, O.P., heard from over 1600 Catholic leaders from 60 dioceses and found a majority lacked discipleship. (pg.11) In fact, most active American Catholics are still at an early, essentially passive stage of spiritual development and they are not yet intentional disciples or apostles. They asked the Catholic leaders what percentage of their parishioners are intentional disciples, and to their astonishment, they heard over and over: 5 percent (pg. 62). Weddell writes: “If things do not improve, in 10 years Catholic parishes and schools will be emptying fast and sacramental practice will plummet.” (This is already happening and could get much worse.) If a living relationship with Christ and, therefore, his Father and the Holy Spirit, does not exist, we have not succeeded in transmitting the faith. (pg. 53) One priest in a model parish, who was interviewed, said Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration helps to foster vocations and keep the focus on the Holy Eucharist. He said the constant theme in his homilies is that people need to surrender their lives to Jesus and it always has to come back to the Eucharist. He invites people to live with Jesus and for Jesus. Anchoring people in the Eucharist and making disciples of children is a major priority for him. It is so important to teach and constantly emphasize the need to pray with the heart and to converse with Jesus on a daily basis WHAT IS MORE IMPORTANT: To promote a superficial appearance of uniformity by standing and looking around after receiving the Holy Eucharist OR to promote kneeling and developing our personal relationship with Jesus?
Well, we’ve been obediently standing in our diocese for well over a decade. While it is not my preference, I am perfectly able to pray the same prayers I would pray while kneeling. Since our cardinal retired it appears the majority of people have resumed kneeling. Since the bishop hasn’t made any changes, we continue to stand, but hope for restoration of the practice of kneeling as the standard.
I understand that in our home parishes we should do as asked by the Bishop, but he in return should also remember that many of us travel often. And therefore, asks his priest to remember it as well and NEVER CALL FOLKS OUT!
My husband, a US Army Reserves was attached to a company deploying to Afghanistan from Las Vegas. While there for the ‘farewell’ we attended a local parish as we would anywhere. Well, we kneel! We have always everywhere we’ve been to Mass in many states in two countries, kneeled during the entire Eucharist. But this time we were the ONLY family kneeling and in uniform on the front row we stood out.
The priest chastised us during the announcement before dismissing us to ‘go in peace.’ In front of his entire parish as if we were snobs for kneeling while they all remained standing. I can not tell you how that made us feel. We were worshiping the Lord and not being local had no idea what their ‘culture’ was. And frankly I think the Catholic culture should out-weight all others. I’ve also had one priest during a visit to El Paso, TX get angry that I wanted to receive on the tongue. He said nothing but it was obvious. He poked me all of the face with the Body of Christ. These kind of local ‘norms’ and cultures do nothing but separate parishes from the large Body of Christ in the Universal Church if you ask me. In my opinion of the Vatican allowed choices in how we receive and what posture we can take, then all Bishops should too.
1. Where I live now, we kneel. Most people wait to sit until the priest sits. In my home Diocese (my mom is still there), they stand from the end of the 2nd Eucharistic prayer until the priest sits.I get stares when I kneel after the Lamb of God, but that is OK.
***It bugs me that people in nearly every place I have attended Mass wait until the priest sits before they sit. I sit after the tabernacle is closed, as I see the kneeling as a sign of respect for the Eucharistic presence. I try to keep custody of my mind, but I pray they think more about why certain posture are the way they are.
2. I agree, unless there is a specific problem that goes against the rubrics, let it go. Choose the hills you die on!
3A- If the Bishop asks, the priest should pass it along. I don’t understand the standing. I have long felt exactly what you mentioned- how can standing be “unity” when so many cannot do it and are made to feel excluded. Sitting/kneeling is a better “mix” in terms of unity because everyone is at the same level. Kneeling is a prayerful posture- what else are you supposed to do when you are kneeling in church? With all due respect to the bishops, they should be encouraging kneeling!
3B- We definitely need more sacred silence. The problem lies in the conditioning of the people to immediately begin to prepare to leave Mass as soon as they have received Communion. when the vessels are purified at the altar, that provides a nice time to contemplate the great Mystery we have shared and the reason the vessels SHOULD be purified at the altar. One priest I know kneels facing the tabernacle after the altar is cleared. Who could leave? It is an obvious reminder of what we should be doing in that sacred time.
Overall- I would prefer the bishops encourage kneeling after Communion. As a whole, we spend far too little time on our knees, and the posture is more conducive to focusing the mind on conforming itself to what the body is doing. Standing, it is far too easy to drift into thoughts of where to head for lunch, or how easy it will be to get out of the parking lot. I have seven children and even when they were little, when they were kneeling at Mass, they were far more focused than while sitting or standing. One beautiful part of our Catholic faith is how we incorporate (literally) our whole beings into prayer and worship. Postures matter!
I just wonder WHY you keep this parish nameless? Why not call them out for this silliness?
Thanks for posting, this is interesting.
We do not stand after communion. I live in a small town where most everyone is Catholic, just a couple of small protestant churches. That means we have many elderly people. Many come almost an hour before mass starts, to spend time in prayer but also because they need to get in before the crowd. I truly believe that most would stand if told by the Church or bishop to do so but I think it would be asking a lot. Physically they would find it very hard. Mass is always full and it would be a long time standing. My husband who is not so old though has much difficulty standing for long periods of time in one place. His back will begin to cause him pain. Also I find kneeling a much more way to be in prayer than standing. I feel there would be a lot of people getting distracted and prayer and reverence for the Eucharist would fade more than where it is now. Also, people would stop sitting toward the front of the church and try to be more toward the back so they would not have to stand as long. I would like to see more reverence at Communion time and I think it would bring less.
I have not seen this and have not been asked by my bishop or local priest to do this. If I were, I would be one of those who for physical reasons could not do it consistently. I have a chronic disease that leaves me very fatigued. Sometimes I cannot stand for the parts of the mass during which the rubrics actually say to stand. My energy levels wax and wane, so I expect there would be times I could do this and times I could not.
In general I am not in favor of local bishops or priests imposing rules that aren’t in the rubrics.
i did experience it in a small intimate group mass and I loved it real sense of unity, body and true awareness of our fellows members. my knowledge is it was a norm for the early church. patti
Standing is wonderful. It’s rather ironic that those of us labelled as ‘liberals’ actually are following what the early church did. Some of the conservative comments on here are mind-boggling.
I don’t have time to develop this with you now, but any analysis of the early liturgies of the Church show something far more formal that what you seem to advocate. More on that here, http://blog.adw.org/2010/01/the-didiscalia-a-sometimes-humorous-look-at-the-liturgy-of-the-early-church/
As for the term Liberal. It was you who used it. I never called you a liberal. Frankly, based on other comments you have made here, I would describe you as secular, for you seem to draw your inspiration from a refashioned notion of Jesus, and a smug anti-authoritarian attitude typical of western secularism. Christ founded a Church with a hierarchical structure and this is clearly demonstrated in the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles. You can sneer all you want how you disobey liturgical norms, and disrespect other Church teachings and disciplines, but your inspiration reflects western secularism, not Jesus or biblical norms.
If over half the people at many Catholic Masses are defying the official teachings of the Catholic Church (based on polls and studies about the high levels of Catholic support for abortion, re-defining marriage, use of contraception, etc.), why not emphasize the need to refrain from going to Communion unless you are in a state of sanctifying grace? The real need is not for unity by mandating that everyone stand during Communion time, but in NOT going to Communion and NOT committing a sacrilege by receiving Jesus in a state of mortal sin.
We are not to judge or condemn any person but we should judge things, as well as what is moral or immoral. Jesus said: “You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time? Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right.” (Lk 12:56-57) Even if Catholics do not know what is right, they have a serious obligation to find out and obey the official teachings of the Church.
Please pray for the renewal of all Catholics and other Christians. Pray for Catholics in need of greater conversion – Bless, O Lord, all Catholics who attend Mass (and those who do not) especially on weekends and are in a state of mortal sin. You know and love them immensely. Please be gentle in convicting them of their sins and convert their hearts before it is too late. Give them the courage to confess their sins and receive absolution. Help them to enter a confessional and say: BLESS ME FATHER FOR I HAVE SINNED, I really need your help to make a good confession because it has been ___ years since my last confession. We ask this through the power of the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.
Life is short; eternity is forever. None of us knows when our time here is about to end. Be not afraid. Ask for the help of Jesus and Mary.
When I attended mass in Santa Fe at the cathedral we were reminded it stand until all who we’re receiving had done so. This mass was special as the new ambassador to Mexico was also being honored with a blessing. So there were many guest not from this diocese there. I prefer kneeling and having a few minutes of silence after the priest sits.
Msgr, This was “enforced” about 17-20 years ago in our diocese. We complied for a while and then spoke with the new pastor that we would prefer to kneel because it is distracting. He did not say not to but but was not in much favor of it. I understand the “theology” behind it; the people of God on pilgrimage, all waiting to sit at the Lord’s table like at a Thanksgiving dinner, etc. The trouble is it just makes it hard to pray. We belong to a huge parish and it takes 15 minutes at least for all to receive. The people become distracted; they are not reminded to pray. It’s harder to contain 6 kids too.No one has asked us to comply for years and the new bishop has not made a statement on the posture back at the pews. We pray for a while on our knees and if there is a lot of time we will also stand. I’ve noticed that a
lot of people are kneeling recently.
It seems I’m in a minority. I have attended Mass at hundreds of churches all over the US in countless dioceses and archdioceses. I think the idea of standing until the celebrant sits down-after the Tabernacle is closed-is both progressive and unique, at least to me. If people for whatever reason choose to / need to kneel or sit instead, there are no stand-only-police to force them to do otherwise. I go out of my way to attend Mass at churches where standing is the norm. When in Rome, do as …..
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