Monday, 8 June 2009

On Your Knees!

I was taught, as a young boy, that we genuflected (and knelt for communion) as a sign of our belief in - and reverence for - the Real Presence. In front of the Blessed Sacrament exposed, we genuflected on both knees; and in passing an altar where the Blessed Sacrament was not reserved, we bowed.

This, of course, is distinctively Catholic (as is belief in the Real Presence) so of course it had to go. And so we are taught that these days a bow is sufficient as we pass the tabernacle, and standing is fine for communion.

In fact one school teacher had the idiocy to tell me that we no longer kneel before kings, and these things change over time, so we no longer kneel before the Blessed Sacrament. What a twit! The reason we no longer kneel before kings is that we no longer believe in the Divine Right theory - ie that they are practically God-on-earth!

But as I still believe that the Blessed Sacrament is literally God-on-earth, I continue to genuflect, kneel for communion etc.

It's harder with the kids: I don't insist they kneel for communion (though they happily do at EF Masses) but at least genuflect before receiving, and certainly genuflect rather than bow at the tabernacle etc.

We must reclaim a sense of the sacred, and a pride in our Catholic identity - the decades of convergence with Protestant practice have been disastrous for the Church.


Catholic Mom of 10 said...

Thankfully we have our rails intact & everyone kneels..

Ben Trovato said...

You're very blessed! Wish there was an Oratory near us!

madame evangelista said...

Very interesting. I never see anyone genuflect before receiving communion at an OF Mass. I do see people sometimes make the sign of the cross. At the RCIA we were told that was just something children were encouraged to do, because it ensured they had to put the wafer in their mouth before they could make the cross.

Ben Trovato said...

Mme E

As I recall (don't have time to look it up) the norms for the reception of communion say that kneeling to receive is the approved way; standing is permitted by way of indult (or concession) but in that case a formal reverence should be made prior to reception (eg genuflecting - or I suppose, bowing the head or crossing oneself).

And guess what, nobody does anything (just as nobody bows the head at the point in the Creed where we all used to [and I still do...] genuflect).

It was they same when they removed the rule to abstain from flesh meat on Fridays, saying you could do any other penance or good work instead: a whole tradition that was part of our identity destroyed - and I bet most Catholics don't do anything to replace it.

the Feds said...

Things could be worse, you could be going to one of the many irreverent churches in the US. Once, about 12 years ago, I was sitting in the pew, waiting for Mass to begin, when a mother and her twelve year old son sat in front of me. He was wearing a ball cap, and hadn't bothered to take it off when entering the church. I gently tapped him on the shoulder, smiled, and asked him to please take off the cap while in the church. He didn't seem very happy with me, but he did take off the cap. He and his mother started talking, and then they both got up and moved to the other side of the church, where he put the cap back on his head and glared at me all through the mass. I was a member of the parish council at the time, and at the next meeting, I related the event, asking that we remind our Ushers/greeters to request that men and boys remove their hats upon entering the church. I then got an earfull from a mother on the council, who tearfully berated me with "What would Jesus do?". I've since switched from that parish to a more traditional, orthodox parish, but you are not alone in wishing for more reverence in Church.

Patricius said...

I was taught as you were- one knee to the Blessed Sacrament reserved, both when exposed and merely a bow to an altar where the Blessed Sacrament is not reserved. These differences are clearly nuanced and their meanings obvious. An able-bodied person who wont genuflect is clearly a wimp or a heretic!

Ben Trovato said...


talking of hats, like yours! And yes, I know things could be a lot worse - but they should be so much better!


Wimp, heretic - or a victim of modern catechetics!...

The Catholic Beekeeper said...

I have been wrestling over whether to kneel for communion for some time. When I mentioned this to my parish priest he told me to wait until after the bishops annual visit!
I find the lack of reverence for the real presence incredible - it's not just in the way people genuflect or not but also in the casual way that they receive in the hand - why do they want to touch the host?

Ben Trovato said...


Yes, communion in the hand totally bemuses me: I can see no reason at all for this being desirable, either from the point of view of the individual or the Church. Further, I can see many reasons why it is undesirable, both in theory and in practice.

As for kneeling, not sure why you should wait till after the bishop -except possibly as a gesture of submission/docility towards your PP.

the Feds said...


The hat is a hand made panama, used to keep my head from getting sunburnt. Ordered online for about 35 pounds.