From a reader:
I happened to note in O’Connell, II, 1940, p. 23: "… the Celebrant, when genuflecting at the foot of the altar (especially when genuflecting on the step), must not turn sideways, but directly face the tabernacle."
There seems to become a "rule" in many places for a priest to genuflect turning toward the North-East. Not a very attractive view from pews. And not all that reverent. Could you consider writing about it ?
This came with the subject line "Important". I am not sure I agree.
My first comment is that this O’Connell’s opinion. It is a good one, but it is an opinion. Sometimes people mistake opinions of sound authorities for the discipline legislated by the Church. In a similar way, various Pope’s had to issue clarifications over the centuries that St. Augustine’s writings, though venerable in a degree hard to parallel, were not the same as the Magisterium of the Church.
Second, I was not able to find this description of the genuflection in the new edition of Fortescue-O’Connell-Reid, which I reviewed HERE. If I missed it, I hope someone will let me know.
Third, O’Connell presents an ideal. In reality, some days it is easier to genuflect that others. Age and injury can make it harder to genuflect in the perfect manner described. That is certainly my situation. I have had some bad knee injuries from sports and my knees aren’t happy every day.
It is possible that the young who are in the sanctuary might be learning to genuflect to the "north-east" as you put it, from watching older men doing their best to continue to genuflect at all. Also, it is a little easier to shift to the "north-east" when genuflecting on steps or where there is a kneeler.
Yes… I think that sacred ministers and those who serve, as well as the faithful, should pay attention to how they genuflect, lest their signs of due reverence become sloppy through the distraction. This can become habitual. We should take care to teach children good habits.
Therefore, it is good to be reminded that an authoritative source offers such an idea.
At the same time, this is really not something I would fume about or pick on. For example, I can imagine a scene in which a priest has been striving to implement Summorum Pontificum, perhaps taking a lot of flack for it. I can imagine him trying to calm certain factions in the parish, train servers, get singers, struggle with the Latin every week, etc., only to be confronted in the sacristy be some indignant know-it-all who starts in on the priest’s taking off his biretta as he rises rather than before he rises, or genuflecting at the altar step slightly turned to the liturgical "north-east", or not having buckles on his shoes, or having some unpicked nits on the hem of his cassock…. which by the way is too short.
I can imagine it very well, because I have been the recipient of such comments in years past and I can assure you that they are not always as welcome as you might imagine.