Kneeling Ban: Good Liturgy or Loss of Religious Freedom?

Some religious leaders in the Latin Rite are pressuring Catholics not to kneel at the Consecration, or to genuflect at their reception of the Eucharist. This trend has gained a great deal of traction in recent years, and is causing alarm among those who see it as a restriction of religious freedom. As Catholics, we have come to expect that our secular government wants to restrict our religious freedom, but it’s a new and disturbing trend when it comes from inside the Church.

This trend, which is being fostered by serious religious groups and orders, is being promulgated in both explicit and subtle ways. Whether it’s by making an actual rule, or by merely showing disapproval, participants in these liturgies are no longer free to “fall to their knees” in adoration. Instead, everyone must stand, sit, or bow—depending on the “rules” of that particular group. Deviation is not welcome, and in some cases, is forbidden.

What is behind this restriction? Is it a good thing? What does the Church say about the ways an individual may show adoration? The purpose of this paper is not to judge or condemn those who favor restrictions, but to show that such restrictive rules are incompatible with Church teachings, and even with the commonly accepted idea of religious freedom.

First, let’s be clear: the issue is not to stop anyone from standing, sitting, or bowing if their consciences tell them to do so during the liturgy. They should be free to do so! By the same token, those who wish to kneel should be free to do that as well.

Later, we will use Church teachings and documents to support the contention that a ban on kneeling is incompatible with our God-given religious freedom. For now, let’s examine the practical outcomes of such a ban: Under the “sit, stand, bow, or else” scenario, worshipers are being forced to think about “the community,” when they should be devoting their whole “body, soul, mind, and strength” to our Lord becoming truly Present in the Eucharist. In a restrictive atmosphere, even when an individual feels called by conscience to kneel in adoration, they will wrestle with nagging questions: “Am I offending my fellow worshipers?” “Will I be seen as a religious fanatic?” “Will it hurt my ability to stay in the group?”

It’s wrong to force such uneasiness (for some, it could even amount to a troubled conscience) on anyone during what should be a moment of profound adoration of God! However, that’s the effect of this trend. Even though the motives of these “trendsetters” may be pure, the hope is, they will reconsider their direction. They may believe that conformity will provide a more pleasing communal experience. But that’s not the goal of Catholic liturgy. The goal of our liturgy is to bring each individual into closer relationship with our Creator—not to please each other or the “group.” In short, it is wrong to coerce Catholics to act against a centuries-old tradition of “bending the knee” at the Consecration and Communion of the Eucharist. This is not a personal opinion, this is the position reflected in Church documents and teachings.

“Falling down in adoration” Is Fixed in Christian Worship
Pope Paul VI teaches that, after the Consecration of the Mass, the “physical reality” of Jesus Christ is “bodily present.” 1 This means that what was “physical” bread before, is now the “physical” body, blood, soul, and divinity of the person Jesus Christ. This knowledge awakens in believing Catholics an urge to fall down in adoration.

This urge to fall down before Jesus has always been there. This is so, whether it is the Magi “falling down” before the baby Jesus in Mt 2:11; Mary Magdalene in Mt 28:9 “embracing his feet” after the Resurrection; or St. Paul saying in Phil 2:9 that “at the name of Jesus, every knee should bend.”

By the time the Christians emerge from the catacombs (c.313), adoration of the Eucharist through bowing down and prostration was already in place. St. Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430) says that we are to adore the Eucharist prior to receiving it: “No one eats of this flesh unless he has first adored … not only do we not sin by adoring, but we would sin by not adoring.” 2 He also says: “Therefore, when you bow and prostrate yourself even down to the earth in whatever way you please, it is not as if you are venerating the earth,  but the former Holy (One) whose footstool (i.e., flesh) you adore.” 3

Clearly this “falling down” is present in the Christian Liturgy, from 4th century St. Augustine up to 13th century St. Thomas Aquinas’s famous Benediction hymn, “Tantum Ergo Sacramentum” (“Down in Adoration Falling”) and the time of St. Francis of Assisi, who stated that, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament in Mass, “everyone should kneel down” giving praise to God “living and true.” 4

Vatican II Supports “Bending the Knee” in the Eucharist
In our times, from the Second Vatican Council onward, Church norms have supported and encouraged the tradition of “falling down” before the Eucharist. The Council’s direction in this matter must be taken seriously. Those who would deviate from its direction should ponder whether they even have the authority to eliminate a liturgical tradition such as kneeling. That’s because the Council clearly sets the authority for regulating the Sacred Liturgy “solely … on the Apostolic See and as laws may determine on bishops” and “within certain defined limits” on “bishop conferences.” 5

The New Roman Missal states: “But, unless impeded by lack of space, density of crowd, or other reasonable cause, they (the faithful) should kneel down for the Consecration.” 6

Of course, the Church permits people to stand, sit, or bow for good reasons. But this does not mean that they have the authority to forbid people to “fall down” in worship at the Consecration and Communion.

It is also clear that liturgical expression is carefully and reverently defined by the Church. In other words, you can’t just do “any old thing” to express adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.  Pope John Paul II’s most authoritative 1984 Ceremonial of Bishops states that “The genuflection, made by bending only the right knee to the ground, signifies adoration, and is, therefore, reserved for the Blessed Sacrament, whether exposed or reserved  in the tabernacle.” 7

Can a bow substitute for kneeling at these times? Yes, when necessary. But, signification is essential to all sacraments and official liturgical worship, and the “bow” does not “signify” adoration in the Latin Rite Liturgy.

In fact, the Ceremonial continues: “A bow signifies reverence and honor toward persons or toward objects that represent persons.” A bow of the head is made at the names of persons, like Jesus and Mary and “a bow of the body, or deep bow,” is made to holy things like “the altar” and “the bishop.” 8

By contrast, the actions performed by an individual before God—whether it be kneeling, genuflecting, bowing down to the ground, or prostration—have one particular quality. They are each a type of “falling down,” and are designed to place the person lower than the One Whom they are adoring. These acts are “significantly” different from standing and sitting, eye-to-eye, as if everyone were equal.

While sitting, standing, or bowing may be acceptable, the act of “falling down” before God is the only completely definitive and unmistakable sign of reverence before God. Every other gesture can have alternative meanings—but to kneel is to say something very intentional about what you believe. John Paul II puts it this way: “Whoever comes before the Eucharist with faith can only prostrate himself in adoration, making his own, the words of St. Thomas: ‘My Lord and My God’ (Jn 20:28).” 9

In other words: a person’s act of kneeling or prostration is their act of faith. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger says about the act of “kneeling” during the Liturgy: “Here the bodily gesture attains to the status of a confession of faith in Christ: words could not replace such a confession.” 10

So does this also apply to posture when receiving Communion?

Yes. In no.11 of the Second Vatican Council’s 1980 post-conciliar document, Inaestimabile Donum, the Church says:

When the faithful communicate kneeling, no other sign of reverence towards the Blessed Sacrament is required, since kneeling is itself a sign of adoration. When they receive communion standing, it is strongly recommended that, coming up in procession, they should make a sign of reverence before receiving the Blessed Sacrament. This should be done at the right time and place, so that the order of people going to, and from, communion should not be disrupted. 11

But why does the Church only “strongly recommend” this act—why not require it? First of all, not everyone is able to make a genuflection and keep their balance. Some may only be able to give a bow, sign of the cross, or bow of the head. This is acceptable.

But there is a more important reason.

The Church understands the importance of the individual response at this most intimate moment of receiving Holy Communion. Pope Benedict XVI saw the importance of the option to stand or kneel when receiving Holy Communion. Towards the end of his office as pope, he had a kneeler brought out at his communion station to give people an option to kneel when receiving.

There is a time for unity, and a time for diversity. Here the Church wants the communicant to be free to authentically respond from the heart by kneeling, genuflecting, bowing the body, making the sign of the cross, or just bowing their head. This is preferred to the impersonal “herd instinct” where one mechanically does what everyone else is doing just because they are doing it, and to avoid appearing different.

Pressure to Restrict Adoration: A Mark of the Protestant Reformation
Throughout Church history, adoration and kneeling have been intimately connected with how we believe, and how we proclaim and spread the Catholic Faith.

During the Protestant Reformation, men like John Calvin (1509-1564) condemned and killed Catholics for adoring the Consecrated Host because they believed the Consecrated Host was still a   piece of “physical” bread. 12 To Calvin, this was worship of “idols.” 13

In response to Calvin and his followers, the Council of Trent (1545-1564) defined the act of adoration due to the Eucharist as an act of “latria” which can only be given to the Holy Trinity. Trent also pointed out that this action, when expressed outwardly, involves a “falling down.” 14

But most importantly, Trent infallibly defined as a dogma of faith: “If anyone says that in the holy sacrament of the Eucharist, the only begotten Son of God is not to be adored even outwardly with the worship of latria (the act of adoration) … or is not to be set before the people to be publicly adored … let him be anathema.” 15

Clearly, then, we can point to divine law, which protects Catholics from anyone who would tell them not to make an act of “latria” outwardly by “falling down” before the Blessed Sacrament. Therefore, anyone who would knowingly try to restrict an individual’s mode of adoration from including the most obvious and traditional form of latria—falling to one’s knees—should think very carefully about what he or she is doing. To tell a Catholic that he or she should not kneel at the most intimate moments of their relationship with Christ, at the Consecration and Communion of the Eucharist, recalls the warning of Jesus, when he says that anyone who would come between God and “one of these little ones,” “it would be better for him to have a millstone fastened around his neck and thrown into the sea” (Mk 9:42).

The point here is not to judge the new “rule makers” who would stop others from kneeling, any more than anyone should judge a worshiper who chooses to stand or sit. The issue should be, what are the theological implications of restricting an individual Catholic from adoring God in what, to them, is the most full and complete manner of latria possible? While this may not be the intention of the new “rule makers,” their kneeling ban puts them on a theological course that is compatible with the mindset of the 16th-century Calvinists, who believed that the Eucharist is not really Jesus Christ. They believed that the spiritual presence of Jesus in the Community is more important than the “physical reality” and Divine Person of Jesus Christ.

This mindset also includes the Calvinistic Presbyterian belief that there is no essential difference between the priest (ministerial priesthood) and the congregation (priesthood of the laity), and, therefore, all should stand or sit at the Consecration and Communion to show this unity and equality. Again, we cannot judge. However, the practical effect of forbidding others from worshiping as their conscience dictates, especially when it includes falling in adoration or bending the knee, has certain unavoidable implications. The most obvious one is to remove the visible “sign” that the “physical reality” of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist is to be believed and adored. There is also the implication that there does not need to be any distinction between the ministerial priesthood and the priesthood of the laity.

Red Alert:  Freedom Endangered
Of course, the most obvious impact of this movement to ban kneeling from the Eucharist is that it restricts individual religious freedom.

The implication is that a Catholic’s personal faith is less important than local “unity.” But this idea—that “the collective” is more important than the individual—has been refuted most clearly in the new English translation of the Mass, which was introduced in 2011 to conform more closely to Catholic theology. In this revision, over and over again, the Church asserts the role of worshipers is to proclaim their faith as individuals: Take, for example, the revised language of the Creed, which now requires that worshipers say “I believe in God …” rather than “We believe… .” Later in the Mass, the revised language of the liturgy now leads worshipers to say, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof … .” Again, this reinforces the relationship of the individual who is approaching God by having today’s Catholics pray the humble words of the Roman soldier who approached Jesus. It’s much more personal than the formulaic “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you,” which it replaced.

What can we learn from this? That even the most modern, contemporary thinking in the Church is emphasizing the role of the individual at the time of worship! Therefore, it is clearly “going against the grain” to force individuals to give up the time-honored, natural, and very human impulse to kneel before God, if their conscience so dictates.

In fact, it’s unconscionable that a group which has received “special permission” to substitute standing, sitting, or bowing in place of kneeling to better conform to their beliefs, would then deny permission to others who wish to worship according to their beliefs!

But this is now occurring in parishes, seminaries, religious life, and in so-called privileged and “approved” movements which regularly celebrate private and “exclusive” Masses.

Vatican II’s Document on Religious Liberty clearly says about the person that “he must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters.” 16 Once more, the Council says that “freedom and immunity from coercion in religious matters” is “the right of individuals.” 17 This was stated to protect Catholics and others from pressure from totalitarian civil authorities. The writers of the document would surely be appalled to think that Catholics today have to worry about “coercion in religious matters” within their own Church!

Therefore, the hope is that all Church leaders would reflect on the teachings of our faith up to our present day, and encourage, rather than restrict, freedom of worship. We pray everyone supports the right of Catholics, especially young Catholics, in the Latin Rite, to openly adore Jesus Christ, particularly by kneeling at the Consecration, and by bending the knee at Holy Communion, if their conscience so dictates. Then the focus of the Sacred Liturgy would settle—not on ourselves, or on a group—but on where it belongs, which is the Person of Jesus Christ.

  1. Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei, no. 46.
  2. St. Augustine (On the Psalms, 98:9) found in Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei, no. 55
  3. St. Augustine of Hippo (Patrologia Latine, Vol. 37, col. 1264). Be careful, this is eliminated from the English Translation, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church (Vol. VIII). For more of the above, see The Eucharistic Presence in the Early Church by James Monti at https://www.catholicculure.org/culture/library/view.cfm?i.d.=587
  4. St. Francis of Assisi, “Letter to All Superiors of the Friars Minor.”
  5. Paul VI, Second Vatican Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Dec. 4, 1963, no. 22, .1, .2, .3.
  6. The General Instructions of the Roman Missal, no. 43.
  7. John Paul II, Decree Prot. no. CD1300/84 found in Ceremonial of Bishops,The Congregation of Divine Worship (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1989), no. 69, p. 9, 36. My emphasis.
  8. Ceremonial of Bishops, no. 68, p. 36.
  9. John Paul II, “Sacrifice is essential to true worship,” No. 4, L’Osservatore Romano, No. 24 (June 15, 1994), 5.
  10. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, The Feast of Faith (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986), pp. 74-75. My emphasis.
  11. Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship, Inaestimabile Donum, No. 11, Vatican Council II: More Post Conciliar Documents (Vol. 2), (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1982), p. 96. My emphasis.
  12. John Calvin, “The True Method of Giving Peace to Christendom and Reforming the Church,” Selected Works of John Calvin, Tracts and Letters, p. 28.
  13. Carlos M. N. Eire, War against the Idols: The Reformation of Worship from Erasmus to Calvin (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).
  14. Denzinger, no. 878, 30th ed.
  15. Denzinger. no. 888, 30th ed.
  16. Second Vatican Council, Document on Religious Liberty, No. 3.
  17. Second Vatican Council, Document on Religious Liberty, No. 4.
Fr. Regis Scanlon, OFMCap About Fr. Regis Scanlon, OFMCap

Fr. Regis Scanlon, OFMCap, was ordained in Aug. 26, 1972. He is currently in the process of developing the Julia Greeley shelter for homeless, unaccompanied women in metro Denver. He is spiritual director and chaplain for Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s Missionaries of Charity in Denver, as well as being one of the spiritual directors for the Missionaries of Charity in the western United States. He was director of prison ministry for the Archdiocese of Denver, from 1999 to 2010; a chaplain for Missionaries of Charity at their now-closed AIDS hospice, Seton House, and at Gift of Mary homeless shelter for women in Denver from 1989 to 2008; and in 1997, he was sent by Mother Teresa to instruct Missionaries of Charity in Madagascar and South Africa on the subject of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist . His articles have been published in Homiletic & Pastoral Review, The Catholic Faith, Soul Magazine, Pastoral Life, and The Priest. He has also made two series for Mother Angelica’s EWTN: “Crucial Questions,” “Catholic Answers,” and “What Did Vatican II Really Teach?”

Comments

  1. Will Nier says:

    I like uniformity during Mass. For Good Friday during the general intercessions where a deacon intones let us stand or let us kneel. Our pastor instructed everyone to feel free to stand, kneel or sit at any time during the prayers. Complete confusion resulted among the faithful who like I were between the ages of 65 to 99 years of age. When I went up to communion I did what I always do and genuflected.

    • There are things I like at mass too but I would not make them mandatory. And what I like best is the people of God coming together in worship. Unity is not the same as uniformity.

    • Daphne Stockman says:

      While I am all in favor of kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament and Eucharist, let us be realistic.
      Some people have knee problems, arthritis and bone damage and concern and kindness need to be shown in not judging them. While the rule is the rule, the worship of God is prime and concern for the neighbor is next. King David showed this when he and his men ate the bread meant only for the priests. Let us ask the question: If Jesus came in person what would he say to that man or woman who could not kneel or stand for a long time????
      The Eucharist is a Thanksgiving Celebration and one can still have faith that Christ is truly present, body soul and divinity and be very adoring while sitting (because limitations call for it)

      • Luisa Galea says:

        Dear Daphne,

        For goodness sake!! I am more than sure, understood that disabled people, elderly, or others, are exceptions due to devotion, respect, honour, glory etc, we must give and show to our beloved Father, Son, Holy Spirit and the Immaculate Mother of God!! These things first of all come from our hearts, if our hearts belong to God, truly, genuinely, we shall feel the need to adore him, and we adore kneeling down, not standing up, is a way of showing I am the same as you… bowing down means I adore you my Lord, my God, my Savior, the Owner of my life and eternal fate!!

    • NICHOLAS MANSELL says:

      Thank you For those of us with double knee surgery and who can’t kneel, they will just have to put up with our feeble attempts at adoration on our tushes. We can not longer do what we used to with
      our bodies so we have to rely on our hearts. I somehow think GOD APPROVES

  2. Alphonsus M. Gusiora says:

    I am not so gifted to be a good writer, but I am always keen to recognize one when I come across them. So it is a big “THANK YOU!” to you for throwing more light in a shaded areas of our precious traditional Catholic Faith.
    I strongly believe that there is an imperative, cogent need in the Church for reevangelizing the Evangelized. Keep up the good work. God bless you!

  3. Rosemary says:

    There has been a concerted effort to destroy belief in the Real Presence. Forcing Catholics to stand during the Consecration is a strategem to erode further the faith of Catholics. Unfortunately, poor catechesis leaves many vulnerable to the practice. When I returned North this summer, the local parish, I found, has its parishioners standing after the Agnus Dei. My family and I knelt. Love for GOD is more important than the approval of the one sitting alongside you in the pew.

  4. Thank you! How inspiring to see those who genuflect, kneel, or bow with true devotion and reverence. How distressing to see those who don’t seem to recognize the True Presence of God in the Eucharist and even more so don’t even acknowledge the Blood of Christ held in the Chalice. As an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist, sometimes I just want to cry but instead I choose to smile with joy In the blessing of holding Christ out to others.

  5. K.C.Thomas says:

    Kneeling, and lying face downward, and such acts before the Blessed Sacrament, is acceptance of our lowliness before our creator. How can our Church say that none should do that? However the Church prescribes the minimum requirement, sitting, standing, kneeling, bowing etc.. If there is any problem causing difficulty to the other worshippers, as a good Christian, we must abstain.. There is no need for protests, a ban, etc., like the secular government. and people. We cannot ask people to go against their conscience in such cases.

  6. Martin B. Drew says:

    Father Scanlon, thank you for a lucid presentation of liturgical rubrics on positions at mass. Primarily due to the Real Presence after the Transsubstantiation kneeling at this time is important with adoration of Jesus Christ for one believes in the Truth that comes from God. Yet receiving the Body and Blood of Christ kneeling or standing is fine. Here it depends on where mass is celebrated. In St. peter’s basilica or John Lateran one stands for there are no seats. or at the Pope’s visit for a public mass. Yet the reception of the Body or Blood of jesus must be in the mind of each person that they are receiving Jesus. Jesus was recognized by the breaking of the bread .Catholics must do the same.

    • Not completely true. There are those who have seats, and do kneel. The Mass is televised, and I have seen it. And there are those who without seats, still kneel.

    • I have attended Masses without enough seating, outdoor Masses, Masses in facilities with no kneelers, Masses in sports stadiums, etc and I always try to kneel during the Consecration regardless of whether others do or not. Sometimes space is limited and the floor is hard, but when I think of what Jesus did for me, dying on a Cross, I kneel gratefully. I kneel to receive the Most Holy Eucharist as well, much to the chagrin of others at Mass with me. Again, it is not comfortable and it is often almost humiliating to do so because of the looks I get (I also wear a head covering), but Jesus endured spitting, cursing, nails, a spear, and more vile things on His Cross for my (our) Salvation. It is little enough that I can bend my knees when I partake of His Most Holy Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. It is my prayer that by my humble adoration of posture my children will learn by example as well as word how truly marvelous is our God to have given Himself to us.

      • John Stevens says:

        As a new Catholic, I feel very strongly about this matter. But rather than cause bad feeling within the community, and create disharmony, I regularly abstain from taking Communion precisely because our Church strongly disapproves of those who try to take Communion in the traditional way.

        I see it as preferable to skip communion, rather than to treat it with what I feel would be disrespect.

        I’m glad that the Church finally allowed me to join, but there are times I miss the way I received Communion in the Episcopal Church: kneeling at the altar rail, on the tongue, from the hand of the priest.

      • Amen!!!!

      • Beautifully said. We have a lot in common. I know what you mean about humiliation. We attend a local mass as we are a one car family and I often need to walk when my husband is on shift work. Our local parish has removed all kneelers. The Tabernacle also has been moved to an inconspicuous place. I find myself seeking out the Tabernacle and kneeling before it on the hard ground during the consecration and we ( our family ) ARE THE ONLY ONES. This shocks me and disturbs me. My family are the only ones who receive communion on the tongue while kneeling, and we have made no friends, we feel like outcasts receiving looks from parishioners and clergy alike. It takes real strength to continue our practices as it has felt so right before this judgement has set it….and even harder to just be able to let go and truly adore. I feel for those of us being challenged but this is a time of turmoil. Challenges come from within and outside the Church, sad but true…..we stay with truth and tradition.

    • NO, Martin! The Body and Blood of CHrist is a reality. It does not matter what is in the mind of the communicant.

  7. D. Mecham says:

    Father Regis, thank you for speaking out and telling us that the way we were taught is the right way.
    Sometimes I wonder how so many priests just have the privilege of doing whatever they wish and forget about the rubrics of the Mass. Of course there are good priests that want the congregation to do the right thing and will correct the parish members from time to time on what is the right way to receive the Body and Blood of Christ, and to act accordingly during Adoration. I wish there were more priests like you that will do the research and the right thing to correct a problem. God Bless you.

  8. Attalus says:

    Great article Fr. Scanlon. I have a question for you or anyone reading this. I noticed that the Portland Archdiocese has stated on line that “In the Archdiocese of Portland the faithful stand after the Lamb of God.” Does this me that Rome has given permission for bishops to discourage or forbid the faithful to kneel when adoring the Host at “Lord I am not worthy…”? And if so why do they do this and do they have the authority to discourage or forbid the act of “latria” at this time in the Mass? As you say it would seem to be against a defined dogma of Trent. How can they do away with an act of adoration that has been done at this moment in the Mass for 200 hundred years?

  9. Bernadette says:

    Fr. Scanlon this is the first time I heard that Vatican II wants each person to make an act of reverence before receiving (i.e. genuflection). Why doesn’t the Church let this be known. I have tried to genuflect before I receive in different churches but the priest scolds me saying : “you think that you are holier than thou” or “is that really necessary” . I don’t think I am holy but I know that the Host is Holy. I am not genuflecting to myself but to Jesus. And we don’t just do what is necessary. So I am afraid to try to adore Jesus with an outward act of kneeling. Thanks for giving me some way to argue for my Catholic rights.

    • Elizabeth Korf says:

      When asked if it is necessary my response to the priest would be Yes. Yes it is. It is my King and I shall adore him. I wonder what your priest would do with me because I receive on the tongue kneeling.

  10. Harriett says:

    Thank you, Fr. Scanlon for pointing out the huge difference between giving permission for people to stand and forbidding them to kneel. Bishops can give permission for people to stand at any time but they can never forbid people from kneeling in Adoration of The Blessed Sacrament during the Consecration and Holy Communion because this is a tradition in the United States for 200 years. I doubt that Rome would give anybody permission, least of all a novice master or some pastor, to force or pressure people not to kneel in adoration of the Eucharist at the Consecration and communion. I agree with you, Fr Scanlon, on this excellent point. Harriett

  11. When a novice master or a pastor tells you not to follow the directive of Rome on the liturgy and not to listen to your conscience which says to kneel or to genuflect, but rather to listen to them, this is very scary. Are cults beginning to develop in the church? Betsy

  12. This is why I go to Latin Mass

  13. Joan Bloyd says:

    Dear Fr.Regis
    Thank you so much, for you very informative letter. I am so sad to hear what some of our Catholic churches are doing as far as the kneeling at consecration. It is so disappointing to think that there are priests who are telling people not to kneel during such an important time during the Mass. If we do not kneel before our Lord during the consecration, then we will lose our reverence for what is happening on the altar.

  14. Elenor K. Schoen Elenor K. Schoen says:

    (The comment below was sent to Fr. Meconi who asked that we add it the comments on Fr. Scanlon’s article. -Elenor K. Schoen, HPR Managing Editor)

    I write to recommend that HPR publish a partial correction of Fr. Scanlon’s article in the current online edition. He neglected to research the US bishops’ ruling on standing when receiving Holy Communion. I know of this, because of its relevance for the Josephinum seminarians, who have to be told of it when they begin life here at the start of the different programs. The paragraph on freedom of reception on hand or tongue has to be impressed on the deacons.
    Here are two relevant paragraph from the Bishops’ Liturgy website:
    http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/the-mass/order-of-mass/liturgy-of-the-eucharist/the-reception-of-holy-communion-at-mass.cfm

    “The General Instruction asks each country’s Conference of Bishops to determine the posture to be used for the reception of Communion and the act of reverence to be made by each person as he or she receives Communion. In the United States, the body of Bishops determined that Communion should be received standing, and that a bow is the act of reverence made by those receiving. These norms may require some adjustment on the part of those who have been used to other practices, however the significance of unity in posture and gesture as a symbol of our unity as members of the one body of Christ should be the governing factor in our own actions.

    Those who receive Communion may receive either in the hand or on the tongue, and the decision should be that of the individual receiving, not of the person distributing Communion. If Communion is received in the hand, the hands should first of all be clean. If one is right handed the left hand should rest upon the right. The host will then be laid in the palm of the left hand and then taken by the right hand to the mouth. If one is left-handed this is reversed. It is not appropriate to reach out with the fingers and take the host from the person distributing.”

    I hope this can help HPR readers. I look at the Sunday homily regularly, after outlining my own, and before composing it.

    -Fr. Jared Wicks, SJ
    Scholar in Residence, Pontifical College Josephinum
    (Author of many works and a leader in Catholic-Lutheran Ecumenism)

    • I would like a more detailed explanation of the implications of the paragraphs quoted. They are quite surprising to me and certainly I would want to obey if indeed this is something binding. Can some clarification be given please on the level of authority that this statement actually has? I know that it is unfortunately the case that sometimes bishops’ conferences exceed their authority and make statements that are made to sound as if they are binding, but when examined canonically are not in fact binding. So I would like some careful clarification here. Are Catholics really being disobedient who choose to kneel to receive or are parishes disobedient who make this possible by for example having a prie dieu available (where the priest is standing on the step above it and it is very easy logistically for communicants to choose either to stand and receive or to kneel and receive, with no disruption for anyone; this has always seemed to me a wonderful way to handle the situation, everything goes very smoothly and in places where I’ve seen it done sometimes the majority stand and sometimes the majority kneel, sometimes it is closer to half and half; it really does foster freedom of individual response to God in this intimate spiritual moment). Secondly, how do the paragraphs affect Tridentine parishes where everyone is expected to receive kneeling? Are they not bound by these paragraphs by reason of the permission they have to follow the older ritual?

    • Elizabeth Korf says:

      The USCCB is NOT a governing body. It is an advisory committee.

    • This is exactly how our church has explained it many times. A bow at Communion. We ALL kneel for the consecrecation. A “sister” parish in town stands…I cannot bring myself to do this. I now choose on the tongue after many years in the hand, the Lord asked me to return receiving on the tongue. There is no way to express, how this feels so much more right! It now pains me, that we even went to the hand. This never should have been an option. It is a wholly (and holy) different experience receiving on the tongue. Impossible to put into words how ordained it feels. Now, I have just heard the Lord call me to genuflect at Communion instead of my bow. Many, many devout persons at my parish do. (With a previous pastor genuflecting was discouraged for uniform sake, and not accidentally tripping someone). This article, actually, has given me the courage to begin genuflecting at Communion. Praised Be Jesus Forever, in His name and in The Eucharist.

    • Ann Herreid says:

      I’m puzzled to read that Fr. Wicks, SJ, believes that Fr. Scanlon’s article needs “partial correction.” Fr. Wicks’ offers citations which have nothing to do with kneeling per se, which was the subject of Fr. Scanlon’s article. What those citations do show, however, it is the spirit of regimentation which the Conference of Bishops and Fr Wicks, apparently, seem to favor over the consciences of individual Catholics. (“Unity of posture” should be the “governing factor”? Looks like the Puritans and Babbitts of the Church have won this round!)
      If only Fr. Wicks and the bishops were as motivated to speak out on our vanishing religious freedoms.

    • Federico Genoese-Zerbi says:

      Father Wicks can be forgiven for being in error, he is not a canonist.

      The document he references is not the adaptation approved by the USCCB and given the confirmation (not approval) by the proper Vatican dicastery in 2010. To the contrary, the document he references is an explanation written by USCCB staff. While this is interesting, it is not authoritative. What is authoritative is the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, adapted for the United States. Paragraph 160 contains the guidelines for the reception of communion in the United States, reproduced in its entirety below. These are entirely consistent with Fr. Scanlon’s interpretation and in contrast tot he apparently jussive language in the document quoted by Fr. Wicks, above.

      Federico (JCL)
      P.S. If Fr. John Heisler is still at the Josephinum, I hope Fr. Wicks will extend my greetings to him — we were classmates in the JCL course at CUA many years ago.

      GIRM Paragraph 160: The Priest then takes the paten or ciborium and approaches the communicants, who usually come up in procession. It is not permitted for the faithful to take the consecrated Bread or the sacred chalice by themselves and, still less, to hand them on from one to another among themselves.

      The norm established for the Dioceses of the United States of America is that Holy Communion is to be received standing, unless an individual member of the faithful wishes to receive Communion while kneeling (Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Instruction, Redemptionis Sacramentum, March 25, 2004, no. 91).

      When receiving Holy Communion, the communicant bows his or her head before the Sacrament as a gesture of reverence and receives the Body of the Lord from the minister. The consecrated host may be received either on the tongue or in the hand, at the discretion of each communicant. When Holy Communion is received under both kinds, the sign of reverence is also made before receiving the Precious Blood.

    • The Angel at Fatima, knelt before the Eucharist and said: ” Oh my God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I trust in Thee. I beg Thee pardon for those who do not believe, do adore, do hope, and do not trust thee.” This was from the Church approved apparition Our Lady of Fatima, in 1917! God must have seen all this coming down the road. One other thing Our Lady said at Fatima, “The Rosary you will always have.” This caused Sister Lucia to ask, “Why didn’t Our Blessed Mother say, ‘The Eucharist, you will always have”? I think we are beginning to see why.

  15. Michael R. Lederhos says:

    This article brings to mind two of the most important issues in the Church today, The relationship of an individual to our Lord, and the strength of the Catholic community. There has been a noble and well-meaning effort to reinvigorate the Catholic community in the United States, particularly among the younger generation. This effort has been largely perpetrated with small changes to traditional elements of the Mass for instance, song choices that appeal to youth are being more widely utilized. However, attempts to bring the community closer together must do so without interfering with our relationship to God. It’s important to address these concerns early on and I appreciate Fr. Regis Scanlon’s article for laying out the framework for the importance of kneeling as well as the similarities of certain movements to Calvinist teaching and the danger therein.

  16. RWCross says:

    Fr Regis must be commended for his extremely cogent explanation of posture before the Holy Eucharist. The bishop’s Instruction noted above that Fr Wicks generously provides, read in its entirety, a beautiful and compelling commentary on the solemnity of procession, but, curiously, it does not include a rationale for the decision to stand during the reception of the Holy Eucharist. It bears recalling that many foreign dignitaries bow before the other as a gesture of honor, but we have yet to learn that in our times no human kneels before another—we reserve this for the Lord. It seems right and just that it be demanded for the Lord, but our bishops evidently recognize that we live in a era, in the West, where we are getting old and weary, if not only in our knees also in our souls, too. Giving a gesture of mere human respect to our Lord is a sign of weariness, is it not? Perhaps our bishops recognized that so many churches had removed their alter rails making it somewhat more cumbersome to have kneeling at the reception of the Holy Eucharist in a country where only the elderly attend Mass with any regularity. But in our seminaries, and houses of religious formation, filled with young men with strong knees and a spirit of adoration and service, standing during the reception of the Eucharistic Lord seems to make them old before their time!

  17. Matthew says:

    Protestant? Centuries old tradition, what about millennia old tradition? The Eastern Catholic/Orthodox stand during the Consecration as we will before the Lord at the Last Judgment.

    • Mary Davenport says:

      The Eastern Catholics in my Ukrainian Catholic Church prostrate themselves on the floor during the consecration.

  18. Then the pastors responsible for this mayhem leave, and the new ones that tries to fix it become the bad guys. Very sad.

  19. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you Fr. Scanlon for your thoughtful presentation. When the new G.I.R.M. in English came out in 2011, all Catholics in our diocese were told to stand from the beginning to the end of the reception of communion. In other words, no kneeling for a few minutes of thanksgiving and adoration after the reception of the most Holy Eucharist. Incredibly, all this time later the faithful are still harangued in some parishes by priests still ordering the faithful to stand even though they clearly heard the directive in 2011 and chose to obey their conscience. Recently, a friend was kneeling down quietly after reception of communion and the lady next to her was physically trying to force her to her feet and chased her down after the Sacred Liturgy to berate her for disobeying the bishop! Letters complaining to the bishop and asking him to rescind this “command” have never received even the courtesy of a reply. What was particularly irksome was that the head of the deanery informed his perturbed parishioners that this extraordinary infringement on our religious freedom was mandated by the Vatican as part and parcel of the new GIRM.

    Our diocesan newspaper published the “Evolution of the Mass over the Millennia” by Rev. Michael Bechard who taught that during the medieval period “There was an OVER EMPHASIS on Christ’s physical presence in the Eucharist.” Another liturgist, Simone Brosig, wrote that “the Communion Procession is a unit” and that “This sequence -standing throughout the Communion Procession . . . may take time to reprogram our bodies, minds and hearts. It can take time until a sequence that is distracting by its unfamiliarity becomes comfortably familiar.” Moreover, “To fall into private prayer while the Communion Procession continues appears to neglect the presence of Christ in the other communicants.” So now we are accused of neglecting Christ when kneel. In the words of a local pastor who thrice repeated in his homily, “We the people are the Eucharist and we the people make the Eucharist.”

  20. The Council of Nicea prohibited kneeling to pray on Sunday. The form of Council decrees was “anathema sit.” However the teaching of Councils comes and goes.

  21. Find a traditional latin Mass to attend. The NO mass is not the Mass of VII (no latin, no gregorian chant), the 1962 Mass is.
    http://www.ecclesiadei.org/masses.cfm
    http://www.latinmasstimes.com

  22. It would be my preference to kneel, as at a communion rail. I am unable to genuflect unless I am holding on to something, so I bow. Yes, I know about the Latin Mass, but God has me at my suburban church which is near me.

  23. Richard Plavo says:

    Somehow from what I’ve read about the history of the liturgy, people probably just walked around during Mass throughout the first fifteen centuries of western Catholicism…..as they were looking for statues of their favorite saints

    • Martha Coyne says:

      That’s similar to what I recently read in a book entitled Concise History of the Catholic Church. When the faithful started to be excluded from the Mass (became observers and not participants) the elevation of the host was all they could see. They were not allowed to take communion or really to take part in any way, only the Priests could do that with their backs to the faithful (how recent was that?). So the faithful would hurry from church to church on Sundays to see the host elevated. Apparently they would even offer payment to have the priests raise the host higher so they could see .Reminds me of the gospel reading about the little man climbing the tree to see Jesus pass by!

  24. Richard says:

    Thank you Fr. Regis for such a great article. I agree that one should be able to kneel when adoring our LORD. I find it odd that we are even having this discussion. We seem to pay homage to people that in no way deserve it in todays society, but are offended by kneeling before our LORD. I always kneel and will continue to kneel before my LORD, nothing will change that. To quote you “Vatican II’s Document on Religious Liberty clearly says about the person that “he must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters.” 16 Once more, the Council says that “freedom and immunity from coercion in religious matters” is “the right of individuals.” 17 This was stated to protect Catholics and others from pressure from totalitarian civil authorities. The writers of the document would surely be appalled to think that Catholics today have to worry about “coercion in religious matters” within their own Church!”.

  25. Romulus says:

    In 2002 The CDWDS responded to a dubium as follows:

    “Even where the Congregation has approved of legislation denoting standing as the posture for Holy Communion, in accordance with the adaptations permitted to the Conferences of Bishops by the Institution Generalis Missalis Romani n. 160, paragraph 2, it has done so with the stipulation that communicants who choose to kneel are not to be denied Holy Communion on these grounds.

    “In fact, as His Eminence, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has recently emphasized, the practice of kneeling for Holy Communion has in its favor a centuries-old tradition, and it is a particularly expressive sign of adoration, completely appropriate in light of the true, real and substantial presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ under the consecrated species.

    “Given the importance of this matter, the Congregation would request that Your Excellency inquire specifically whether this priest in fact has a regular practice of refusing Holy Communion to any member of the faithful in the circumstances described above and—if the complaint is verified—that you also firmly instruct him and any other priests who may have had such a practice to refrain from acting thus in the future. Priests should understand that the Congregation will regard future complaints of this nature with great seriousness, and if they are verified, it intends to seek disciplinary action consonant with the gravity of the pastoral abuse.”

    For the record, within the past 10 years, I have twice been scolded by priests (once from the pulpit) for attempting to kneel when receiving.

  26. Fr. Regis, when I first saw this post I thought perhaps you were out of touch with the vast improvements in this area over the past few years. But in reading the comments I see that our Archdiocese is not the norm, sadly. Keep up the good work Fr. Regis! In all your ministries!
    Maybe when He comes again some of those who stand will find themselves unable to do so and Jesus will ask: “Why didn’t you learn this sooner, O you of little faith.” Pax et bonum

  27. NICHOLAS MANSELL says:

    i HAVE BEEN A PRIEST FOR ALMOST 31 YEARS AND WE HAVE BEEN FIGHTING THIS
    STRANGE BATTLE FOR YEARS. STRANGE BECAUSE IT IS, HAS BEEN THE CUSTOM OF
    KNEELING AT THE CONSECRATION AND FOR COMMUNION . THE FAULT LIES WITH THOSE
    WHO BUY INTO THE LITURGISTS WHO COME UP WITH THESE THINGS. THERE IS A TRADITION
    IN THE EASTERN CHURCH THAT ALLOWS STANDING FOR THE ENTIRE LITURGY BUT KNEELING
    DURING LENT. WHEN IN ROME…

  28. Pius Ogene says:

    The horror of being scandalized by a rebuke by a minister, from my cherished adoration of the Host in line with age long tradition, and I will add, common sense, is what I do not pray to witness until I go Home.

  29. Chris Lang says:

    Thank you Fr. Regis for this article.
    When first coming to the parish I attend now the entire congregation would stand since the priest permitted it because there were no kneelers (are these necessary to kneel? No!). I choose to kneel anyway. Over a short period of time there were more and more people kneeling but it wasn’t until the same parish priest instructed us on the change in wording for the new Roman English speaking rite did we, as a parish, all kneel.
    It is true that we should be in union and is traditional to kneel in the Roman rite. To be ordered by your priest to either stand or kneel is something that we should take with obedience in the same way St. Francis respected the clerics of his time even though many were corrupt; as long was what is being order by the pastor of the parish is not in violation of God’s law, or the bishop. As for genuflecting before receiving holy Eucharist, as long as this doesn’t interfere, or draw attention to, the person I think it should be permitted. Again however if the local pastor forbids this then it is up to us to follow in obedience.
    The Latin rite, as long as it is not schismatic with Roman, is fine. But for those who seem to think that this the “only” way please remember that as far as we know Jesus did not speak Latin so how can hold that celebrating the Holy Liturgy in the vernacular of the country is invalid.

    • We held hands during the Our Father in my last three churches….W.Vir., Vir., N.C. and S.C. today. We have kneeling benches, but I don’t kneel because it hurts my knees, I half sit on the edge of the pew. [arthritis] I really feel that what is in one’s heart counts, not whether they kneel, sit or stand.
      @Chris Lang: You are right, Jesus did not speak Latin….He spoke Aramaic…..[the language of the country He lived in}

  30. John of Roncesvalles says:

    I was at a service far from home, in Sooke BC precisely, where the congregation didn’t kneel at all during the service and had no knee supports. I felt out of place. To top it off, the whole congregation held hands during the Our Father. It all felt too Baptist to me.

  31. Therese says:

    Dear Father,
    Thank you for this article.
    If we could grasp in the human mind, heart and soul what is truly happening before us upon the altar, none of us would be able to stand. Our own legs could not hold up under the realization of The Gift.
    God blesses us with this Gift of Eternal Life and we wonder if we should sit, stand or kneel?

    The Church in her wisdom tells us it is a mortal sin to miss Mass on Sunday… maybe we should think about why that is so. Maybe we would be less concerned about our bodily actions and be in awe before Our God.

  32. kathy l. says:

    Bring back the communion rail ! That would end confusion and promote reverence, a critical necessity of church and country that’s been eroding for far too long. Want respect among men? It starts with respect for God and that only comes with kneeling before He who made us.

  33. Mark Hartman says:

    Far from being irreverent, this sounds very much to me (as an Eastern Catholic) as an unwarranted “Easternization” of the Latin Rite, much as many “latinizations” were imposed on the Eastern Churches in the USA in the past. Standing during prayer and the Consecration is a proper practice in the East, and in keeping with our spirituality; kneeling is a proper position in the West, and it seems to me that discouraging it goes against the true and proper spirituality of the West.

  34. I have requested that those wishing to receive kneeling be allowed and was told that in our diocese, you must stand to receive. I don’t understand why, nor what difference it makes. Although, more and more people in the parish are genuflecting before receiving and receiving on the tongue, I am hoping eventually the prohibition will be rescinded.

  35. Well, if Father asked me to forego kneeling, I think I’d have to respectfully decline. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  36. P.S. Isn’t it forbidden for any priest on his own initiative to change, alter or add anything to the Liturgy? If this is so, it applies to altering our responses as well as our responses are part of the same Liturgy. That’s simply logic. I also think to do so fulfills all 3 requirements for mortal sin, grave matter, sufficient reflection and consent. God bless. Ginnyfree.

    • dolores dulaney says:

      I do what I feel in my heart…there is so little reverence anymore during Mass it is sad….I don’t feel that ..parishioners should hold hands during the OUR FATHER…where did that ever come from….? Our community togetherness has always been in receiving the Holy Eucharist..and if you feel you cannot receive there is always spiritual communion..

  37. As a priest and ordinary minister of holy communion, I have always allowed the faithful to receive communion in the manner in which they present themselves–kneeling, genuflecting, bowing, on the tongue, in the hands–it is their choice.

    However, it is also my experience that those who choose to kneel often are the most confrontational of the parishioners. I would expect the virtue of humility to permeate from such persons, but often I sense defiance, as though he or she was hoping to be denied, and thus further the idea that they are purposefully marginalized or victimized. Frequently these same people have some notion about the liturgy that they latch on to, whether it be American flags in the sanctuary, a devotion to which they are fond and want everyone else to share, wanting either the chalice to be shared or not to be shared, some sort of modest clothing mandate, or whatever. They have no hesitancy in sharing their views after Mass, even as awkward as the timing may be. Thus my experience is that instead of humbly receiving the Lord, confrontation is what is on some of their minds. Further, some have difficulty actually kneeling and standing back up, and I am always concerned that the hosts might spill due to a lack of balance.

    It is for these reasons that while I never deny a person who presents him or herself kneeling Holy Communion, I also never encourage anyone to do so.

    • RWCross says:

      I am always inclined to cut the traditionalists some slack. Many traditionalist-types have been abused by the Church over generations. Some have personality problems, but most, in my experience, are good people who have been abandoned, abused, neglected, or attacked by the local priest or bishop. I could give many examples of this, but I would encourage you to go easy, and assume that somewhere down the line someone did them a very bad turn, and it can harden the heart.

  38. Fr. Regis Scanlon O.F.M.Cap. Fr. Regis Scanlon O.F.M.Cap. says:

    This is a response and clarification to Xander and Matthew

    Canon 20 of the Council of Nicea I (A. D. 325) applies to the Eastern Rite which was developing at this time. It does not apply to the Western or Latin Rite to which we belong. More importantly this statement has nothing to do with kneeling in adoration of the Eucharist. For the Eastern Rite kneeling symbolizes penance and humiliation. So they do not want people to be focusing on their sorrows but on the joy of the Resurrection at the Liturgy. There never was a universal infallible decree of the Church (anathema sit) banning kneeling at the Eucharist in the Latin Rite. You will not find this among the list of Infallible Church Teachings in the Denzinger.

    • Fr. Deacon John Montalvo says:

      Father Regis,

      Just to clarify, Nicaea I was not a local council of the East. Canon 20 of Nicaea I would apply to the Universal Church as did the other 19 canons of this first Ecumenical Council. So the Churches of the West (including Rome) would follow these canons as well. Certainly, the canons could be (and no doubt would be) abrogated and replaced in the future, but to say that the canons of Nicaea I only applied to the Churches of the East is incorrect.

  39. sister seraphim says:

    At Fatima, Mary said less and less importance will be given to the Holy Eucharist. So we would understand that this was to be in this present time. The Angel gave the Blessed Sacrament to the children under both kinds which was unheard of at that time for laity. Look to the Holy Bible – every time God appears, under whatsoever symbol, the people all fall down prostrate. Likewise, children who see the Blessed Virgin all drop to their knees then in the direct presence of the holy, from St Bernadette to Medugorje. St Thomas Aquinas says the actions of those who have such visions is because their action teaches the rest of us how to act by faith in the presence of the holy.

  40. Simon Reilly says:

    Let’s get to the heart of the issue: it is very likely that prelates who forbid kneeling do so because they no longer believe in the Real Presence (it is doubtful whether they even believe in God as the Church understands the term). If we take that to be the case (and it’s highly probable), we should not in conscience attend liturgies where kneeling is forbidden. In any case, not kneeling before the Blessed Dacrament is a gross act of impiety and a sin against the first three commandments, therefore it should be avoided.

  41. Fr. John Helmueller says:

    I have basically given up trying to explain why I was kicked out of St John Vianney Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, back in the mid 1980s. Who would believe it anyway? They had an unspoken rule of “no kneeling during any part of the Mass.” The rector of the seminary at the time called me into his office several times to warn me not to kneel during the consecration. I didn’t understand why. That’s the way everyone in my church back at home did it. The only reasons he gave me was that “it has been in the rubrics of the seminary for eight years” and, “We are the risen people!, the people of the resurrection, so we do not kneel.” I couldn’t believe anyone would be kicked out of the seminary for such a small thing as kneeling during the Mass. Nevertheless, it was seen as disobedience and I was promptly kicked out. Rejection hurts, but what was worse was not understanding why. Thank God I never gave up. I went on to study at another seminary, and now I am in my 14th year of serving as a Catholic Priest. But the question remains, how many other men have gone through this same situation but never continued on to the priesthood? A friend of mine suggested that perhaps they were trying to create an artificial shortage of priests in order to push forward the ordination of women priests. Who knows? I still haven’t found a good reason and it still doesn’t make sense.

  42. Here’s are some brilliant postings on Msgr. Vincent Foy’s website on these issues:

    http://msgrfoy.com/2015/05/04/venite-adoremus-o-come-let-us-adore-him/

    http://msgrfoy.com/2015/05/27/saving-the-church/

  43. Larry T. says:

    I don’t know where I fall (pardon the pun) on this. I can understand the freedom argument. For instance, 99% of the first communicants I see receive in the hand, making me wonder if they are even taught another option. That’s not right. However, the choices we do have within the liturgy, or even of what type of liturgy, seem to be something people use to “choose teams”, which I really don’t like.

  44. Mary Bate says:

    Father Regis: This is a well-written article stating the facts around this issue. Catholics should have the right to kneel and bow at the consecration when Our Lord Jesus Christ has humbled himself to come down from Heaven to be truly present with us body, soul, and divinity, at every Mass — even though we are sinners, and do not deserve such a privilege !! If Our Lord has humbled himself, why can’t I adore my Jesus and humble myself by kneeling during the consecration, and bow before receiving him?? These gestures remind me of all God has done for me, and that he is allowing Jesus to be present to me in such a special way. By these gestures, we are engaging our whole body and soul in prayer and adoration — how beautiful!!!!
    Also, it is a crime to have such misguided theology being taught in seminaries!!! Can you imagine how many people this is going to effect because the priests in formation will come out of training and then start enforcing these “rules”!!! It sounds like these priests who are forming our religious have an agenda, and it must be stopped. We have the right to adore our dear Lord with our gestures as well as our hearts, minds and souls. God bless

  45. Jennifer says:

    I am very blessed as I sit here perplexed and wondering where in the world these parishes are that are micromanaging when people stand, kneel, etc. And, why not attend a different one if it is not acceptable? Ah, but I live in a large archdiocese, and could easily walk to 3 different parishes, and there are many more I could drive to. I know not everyone is so fortunate. God bless you all.

  46. aaaaaand THAT’s why I love being Catholic. a 3,059 word dissertation debating whether or not it’s right to kneel. can I get an amen?

  47. Rose Rivera says:

    I would still kneel in adoration and love I have for our loving merciful God Jesus the Son of God and Son of Man Blessed Virgin Mary our Mother too. He died on the Cross for all of Us human race and the whole world but whenever “CONSECRATION” is being done during the mass He is coming to be with us and to share His body and blood to us the PERFECT LOVE He has for us!!!!!!!! And to kneel and look up and bow down during this time of CONSECRATION is showing that we honor HIM and love HIM as our GOD, KING of Kings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  48. Joreen Kelly says:

    I was unaware that there were Catholic churches that banned kneeling at the consecration. It must be done in another part of the country. We have always done so and I’ve bever been to a church where they stood. Kneeling before receiving Holy Communion is another thing. I’ve seen people who were unaware that the person in front off them was going to kneel nearly fall over them. If it’s not a uniform gesture it can be a hazard, especially to the elderly who can’t kneel. I agree that the Communion line as we see it isn’t conveying in action what we profess to believe, and we need to take a serious look at how we are teaching the faithful. Americans in particular are so used to casualness in everything they do and everywhere they go, that they are unable to grasp the idea of the Real Presence of Christ. Parents, children and even grandparents come into church as if they were going to an arena. There must be a better way to communicate a sense of awe and reverence for the Eucharist to people. I think it’s going to take a lot more than just the act of kneeling since it’s so culturally ingrained.

  49. I’m almost 65 years old and for all of my life, I have knelt during the Consecration of the Mass. I have never received any other instruction. Most likely if I am ever told to change my position, I would ignore it. I’m not at Mass for the “community”. I’m there for my God. As far as receiving Communion, once the Communion rail was removed from the majority of churches, it became almost impossible to kneel to receive the Holy Eucharist. Too bad the powers that be felt it was necessary to make any changes.

  50. I must say I find all of this commentary a little disturbing. I entered the Church in 2012 so, no I don’t have years of habit and tradition, but I do have a very scholarly attitude and, at this point, some unique experience. I currently attend a Maronite Eastern Catholic Rite church. It is in communion with Rome and has been so since its inception 1500 years ago. The tradition in that rite is to stand during Consecration. In fact, kneeling is technically not done in the Maronite rite. Our local church has a lot of Roman rite folks attending as our church is more conservative than a lot of other churches in the area and they are allowed (and most do) kneel during the Consecration, but the tradition is to stand. Many cultures view standing/kneeling/sitting etc. in different ways. To some, such as in Lebanon, where the Maronite Rite began, standing DOES show a sign of respect and reverence. Even in our modern society it can be seen. When a judge enters a room, it shows them respect and honor to stand. Standing is not, per se, an insult. As with the question of how one “can” receive Communion (tongue vs. hand), there are more historical instances than folks want to admit. I recognize the debate is primarily about being forced to stand or forced to kneel or forced to do whatever, but a lot of these comments are focusing on the what (standing), not the why (Do it or else). Now, please note that they allow kneeling for Roman Rite guests and parishioners that don’t feel comfortable standing during those points. There is no enforcement here either. I would say if a pastor is “enforcing” it’s because he simply wants to inject some uniformity into the Mass, which I see nothing wrong with, so long as no one is “pushed out” over it. So, to end, I think it’s wonderful people are looking at the pieces of the liturgy and debating and talking about what they mean. I do hope, though, that our view is not so myopic that we forget there are other Christian Brothers and Sisters that are fully in communion that perhaps have a different take.

  51. Martha Coyne says:

    After reading the comments I’d like to note that our Parish of about 2,000 families started a Perpetual Adoration chapel about a year and a half ago. It has been really hard to find enough people willing to commit to one hour of Adoration a week in order to keep it going 24/7.

  52. Tom Hockel says:

    I must confess I’m more confused than ever after reading this article and the comments that follow. I have developed the practice of kneeling for Holy Communion, and it is my strong preference for all of the reasons articulated in this article, but I certainly don’t want to undermine our bishops by doing so.

    I’d appreciate clear responses to the following, with citations to authority for the answers:

    (1) Have the U.S. Bishops been granted the authority to decide the normative posture (kneeling vs. standing) for the reception of the Eucharist by Catholics in the U.S.?

    (2) If so, have the U.S. Bishops decreed that Catholics in the U.S. should receive while standing, rather than kneeling?

    It seems to me that the USCCB has conflicting information on its website:

    –The GIRM, para. 60 says: “The norm established for the Dioceses of the United States of America is that Holy Communion is to be received standing, unless an individual member of the faithful wishes to receive Communion while kneeling (Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Instruction, Redemptionis Sacramentum, March 25, 2004, no. 91)”
    (http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/the-mass/general-instruction-of-the-roman-missal/girm-chapter-4.cfm)

    –However, the document on the USCCB’s website entitled “The Reception of Holy Communioni at Mass” says: “The General Instruction asks each country’s Conference of Bishops to determine the posture to be used for the reception of Communion and the act of reverence to be made by each person as he or she receives Communion. In the United States, the body of Bishops determined that Communion should be received standing, and that a bow is the act of reverence made by those receiving. These norms may require some adjustment on the part of those who have been used to other practices, however the significance of unity in posture and gesture as a symbol of our unity as members of the one body of Christ should be the governing factor in our own actions.”
    (http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/the-mass/order-of-mass/liturgy-of-the-eucharist/the-reception-of-holy-communion-at-mass.cfm)

    Is the comment above by Federico Genoese-Zerbi correct that the latter document “is not the adaptation approved by the USCCB and given the confirmation (not approval) by the proper Vatican dicastery in 2010”? If so, why is it on the USCCB’s website?

    Thanks in advance for any guidance you can offer.

    • Tom Hockel says:

      Upon researching the issue it is clear that Frederico is correct. The only authoritative document on the issue is the 2010 version of the GIRM, above, which permits receipt of Holy Communion while kneeling. The only mystery is why the USCCB is leaving the other document on its website when it clearly conflicts with the GIRM.

  53. Theresa says:

    Great article. Some people are misinformed. Rome has given us 2 options to receive Holy Communion….standing or on one’s knees:
    Below are great links that we have both options:

    http://www.adoremus.org/0703Kneel.html
    https://www.ewtn.com/library/Liturgy/zlitur103.htm

    http://www.adoremus.org/Notitiae-kneeling.html

  54. Lisa De Ruyter says:

    The Vatican prefers us to kneel and recieve on the tongue and no one can take away that right. If any priest tries to do so he should be reported to Rome because it is a GRAVE violation. Here is the Vatican’s words from their website: http://www.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/details/ns_lit_doc_20091117_comunione_en.html

  55. Lisa De Ruyter says:

    Also, here is the church’s words stating that it is a GRAVE abuse for any priest to say one word to a communicate who has the right to choose to kneel and use their tongue to receive our Lord, for as the Vatican’s website I posted above, clearly states is the church’s preferred form of receiving Holy Communion and always will be. http://www.adoremus.org/Notitiae-kneeling.html

  56. Jaime T. says:

    Those who impose this kneeling ban fall into one or more of four categories; They either do not believe that the Blessed Sacrament is the Lord Jesus Christ! Or, They believe do not believe that Jesus is Lord and God, Or, they do believe, but are just following orders! Or, they have created a new faith for themselves which puts little emphasis on adoration of the Blessed Sacrament

    Either way, this is indicative of the state of faith in the Eucharist in the church, even among the clergy! ot the faith of the church as a whole, but specifically, faith in the Blessed Sacrament!

  57. Deb Swift says:

    I went to a Cursillo at Stoneham College in Massachusetts and the priest yelled at me from the altar to stop kneeling. They had Eucharistic Adoration and told us not to kneel. I knelt anyway. God is more important than man. That was the first time a priest ever singled me out in Mass to yell at me in front of everyone.

  58. Part of the re-reform of the liturgy in the US will be that we normally receive kneeling at an altar rail on the tongue. In other words, we will return to the practices before the whacky 70s. That’s my prediction.

  59. Annette Snyder says:

    Our parish priest asked our family to refrain from kneeling during the “Our Father” at Mass. We kneel anyway. Our priest avoids our side of the church when he administers Holy Communion. When he asked us to stop kneeling, he said that it was for the sake of uniformity, and had nothing to do with adoration or reverence. Another time when he asked us to stop, he asked me why I disobey “Mother Church”. Is there a rubric that forbids us to kneel during the “Our Father” part of the Mass?

  60. I wrote about something similar going on the the Albany Diocese (originally under Bishop Howard Hubbard) and my frustrations about it. http://towardstheheartbeat.blogspot.com/2015/07/for-increase-in-sacred-moments.html?utm_source=BP_recent But I wish I’d had a deeper theological understanding of the mass, the Eucharist, and adoration with which to understand and talk about it, instead of just personal feelings. Does anyone know good resourses for beginning theologians? Broadly, too, not just in the area of the mass/Eucharist/adoration? (although those would be most welcome!)

  61. I am not Roman Catholic, but, in the spirit and according to the writings of the venerable Cardinal Newman, I recognize my own catholicity (essential unity) with all who call upon and worship Jesus as God’s Christ, the Only Redeemer. And so I feel I have a stake, however small, in this conversation, for it taps into a matter that has hindered me from changing communions, though at times I have sorely wanted to. The matter is the nexus between exercising a free conscience and submitting to Church authority. I have read nearly all of the posts here (whew!), and I am struck by an irony, so that I cannot help feeling both confused and a bit bemused. It is this: If Roman Catholics cannot agree about this or that issue that arises among them, then their recourse is, at least as I understand it, fairly easy–they turn to the Holy See and submit to his determination of the issue. I don’t mean that it is easy to submit, only that it is easy to know that that is a Catholic’s duty. But in this long thread of posts, I have heard very many Catholics appealing to private conscience to be the final arbiter in this issue about whether the Church can require or ban kneeling. What confuses and bemuses me is that that turn of mind reminds me of both Calvin and Luther (particularly the latter)–even though I’m pretty sure this issue is not a theological one (as so many of theirs were); furthermore, I cannot help but wonder whether some (if not many) of these same Catholics (appealing to conscience) know at an intuitive level, or deeply suspect, that the final arbiter in disputes of this sort (and theological ones, too, of course) is not a synod or a council–though very useful bodies for the preservation of good traditions sometimes–but the individual conscience. This is not to say, of course, that the Christian’s conscience acts autonomously, but, as is wise, accords with what appears to be the plain sense of the full scriptural witness, a sense that is sometimes only rendered after careful scrutiny (of grammar, history, custom, Patristic guidance). I readily, humbly admit this, though: that the very notion that the individual conscience is the final arbiter is a double-edged sword. Man is fallen (Jeremiah says “desperately sick”), which must mean at least that an autonomous individual conscience isn’t–cannot be–a sufficient judge. It must have help, guidance. Nevertheless, not even all the guidance in the world would make the conscience fit to judge if it were not free to judge at all. I mean no offense, but can’t (or, maybe, shouldn’t) this matter be settled by turning to Rome? And if Rome returns a judgment that flies against someone’s conscience (or, evidently, many consciences), what is to be done?

  62. I think that these priests should stick to what the church has always done, and stop worrying about uniformity! Concentrate on the divine celebration, and not on who is standing, etc.
    Let people choose to do what their hearts want to do. If you feel the need to kneel, then so be it.

  63. You all need to get out more. This is a ridiculous non issue.

  64. Robin Poe says:

    If anyone is denied communion by a priest due to kneeling or receiving on the tongue, you should immediately write to the local Bishop and inform him of the situation. They are not permitted to deny you Holy Communion, unless they know you are in a state of serious sin. It is your obligation to inform the local bishop of such an abuse.

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