QUAERITUR: Am I forbidden to kneel after the Agnus Dei?

Vote for Fr. Z!From a reader:

Our parish has always knelt for the Second Elevation (after the Agnus Dei). This is a regular Novus Ordo Mass. Our priest retired and now our new temporary priest has instructed us to remain standing. I want to kneel. Are there rubrics on this? I found none. Would I be wrong to disobey the priest? Or do I have a right as a Catholic to kneel before the elevated Blessed Sacrament? (This right for Communion has been affirmed by the Vatican). Or are these practices determined in each diocese? I fully intend to kneel, unless somehow I am wrong to do so.

I don’t think it is ever wrong to kneel in a church where the Blessed Sacrament is present.

On the other hand, there is a great deal to be said about adopting the posture of the whole congregation when that posture is what the Church asks for.  The Church does not, for example, ask people to stand during the consecration.

I strikes me that if you want to kneel at times when everyone else is standing, choose a place in Church where you can do this discreetly.  I would say the same to a person who, for one reason or another needs to stand, perhaps because of a back-problem, etc.  I would suggest to him that the front pew perhaps isn’t the best place for him to stand when everyone else is kneeling.

As far as legislation is concerned, this is the situation in the USA.

The General Instruction on the Roman Missal 43 describes postures for Mass. It says that “the people should stand … from the prayer over the gifts to the end of the Mass, except at the places indicated later in this paragraph.”  Those places are the Consecration, “when they kneel,” and after Communion, when they may “kneel, stand or sit”.

Conferences of bishops can “adapt the actions and postures … to the customs of the people.” In the USA the former practice was continued: people kneel after the Agnus Dei.  The US version of the GIRM says:

43 … The faithful kneel after the Agnus Dei unless the Diocesan Bishop determines otherwise.

Local bishops can make a determination.  A pastor cannot.

However, if someone wants to kneel he can kneel.

This has been made clear by the Holy See.

Cardinal George, as Chairman of the USCCB’s liturgy committee received an answer from the CDW on this point:

Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments

5 June 2003

Prot. n. 855/03/L

Dubium: In many places, the faithful are accustomed to kneeling or sitting in personal prayer upon returning to their places after having individually received Holy Communion during Mass. Is it the intention of the Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia, to forbid this practice?

Responsum: Negative, et ad mentem. The mens is that the prescription of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani, no. 43, is intended, on one hand, to ensure within broad limits a certain uniformity of posture within the congregation for the various parts of the celebration of the 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. [That is the key.]

Francis Cardinal Arinze
Prefect

Bp. Bruskewitz of Lincoln received an response also specifically about the Agnus Dei:

Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments

7 November 2000
Prot. 2372/00/L

Query: Is it the case that the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, by no. 43 of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani, [the new 2000 GIRM]  intends to prohibit the faithful from kneeling after the Agnus Dei and following reception of Communion?

Response: Negative.

Kneel if and when you wish.  Don’t make a spectacle of yourself.

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42 Responses to QUAERITUR: Am I forbidden to kneel after the Agnus Dei?

  1. momoften says:

    Our Diocese switched gears on just those things about 5 years ago. I COULD NOT be part of it, as I couldn’t pray standing up after reception of the Blessed Sacrament, and felt I could NOT allow my children to stand after the Agnes Dei during the minor elevation..I felt that if I really believed that Jesus was present in the Blessed Eucharist, how could my children believe it if they were NOT on their knees also? I have caught SOOOO much flack from people around me and from friends at church,(telling me I was disobedient to the Bishop-but I asked a priest and he said don’t worry, kneel). Quite frankly, whenever I look around, most of the others who don’t kneel after the Agnes Dei to after the reception of the Blessed Eucharist are looking around and not very prayerful. They don’t know when to sit or kneel during this time, so stand there even if everyone else decides to sit. Quite frankly I think they look like they are more concerned with what is going on around them (OTHER PEOPLE) than what should be going on internally. It has done its damage by taking away a posture that promotes reverence and prayer. I pray it changes.

  2. Well, it’s not fair to say that the some-countries European practice of standing is wrong, and it’s good to understand what Europeans are doing and not be scandalized. But. Our country has had an indult to kneel at certain points for a zillion years, and it’s silly not to use real inculturation stuff like that. It’s like they’re saying, “Oh, yeah, inculturation and long custom is good for everybody else, but not for you Americans and your Grandmas. Be European instead.”

    However, it’s also good not to make a spectacle of yourself. And anyway, Father will notice you kneeling way in back, never you fear. :) Kneeling cushions are a nice craft, too.

  3. brianvzn says:

    This is a perfect example of why I will never again attend a Novus Ordo unless it is a wedding or a funeral. It is horrible that things vary not only from country to country, but also from state to state, parish to parish, and even Priest to Priest in the same Parish! I believe a Catholic should be able to visit any Church in the world and be able to use the same missal. I am blessed to live only 13 miles from Mater Ecclesiae in Berlin, NJ which celebrates all Sacraments according to the 1962 rubrics. When I travel, I attend Chapels of the SSPX as they are the closest Traditional Mass to my relatives.
    I understand the concepts of brick by brick and our Holy Father leading by example (Communion on the tongue while kneeling), but in my opinion more authoritative measures must be taken. We are already 45 years into the post VII period as everyone knows. But think of how many souls have been either led astray or God forbid even completely lost due to the Crisis. I have read the dcouments of Vatican II, and I wish everyone would (more than once). It does contain ambiguities and parts of it have been misapplied or ignored, but it also contains statements that contradict 1,962 years of Church Teaching. I strongly suggest that everyone read Iota Unum as it expertly documents how many things have changed and the depths of these changes. They are an affront to Jesus Christ.
    God Bless Pope Benedict XVI and God Bless the One True Church!

  4. A pertinent question given the varied situation in Canada. Some kneel in the more traditional way from the Sanctus to the end of the Great Amen and then from the Agnus Dei; this is the case in most of Ontario and B.C. In other parts such as Quebec and in some of the west, they only kneel at the Consecration. In still others, the Maritimes, Ottawa in Ontario, some of the west, they kneel from the end of the Sanctus to the end of the Memorial Acclamation only. And wouldn’t you know that the Canadian Bishops through the CCCB is trying to have this inserted as Canadian “adaptations” in the GIRM for the correctly translated Roman Missal which is still not approved and announced for Canada, perhaps this is the reason, that Rome is debating these points.

    This is from their Grey Book submission:

    “In the dioceses of Canada, they should kneel from the singing or recitation of the Sanctus to the Memorial Acclamation,…” and; “The diocesan Bishop may allow the common practice of kneeling at the Consecration only. Where it is the practice for the people to remain kneeling
    after the Sanctus until the end of the Eucharistic Prayer and before Communion when the Priest says, Behold the Lamb of God, it is laudable to retain this practice.”

    So, as communion-in-the-hand and Altar girls, the “common practice” of dissent becomes the norm.

    Well, at least the Canadian bishops have acknoledged that it is “laudable to retain the practice” of the more traditional form.

    Now, what was it that Pope Benedict XVI wrote in Summorum Pontificum about “mutual enrichment?”

    Not in Canada you say? Pity.

  5. Phil_NL says:

    In fact, local custom is what usually drives posture, at least here in Europe. Standing after communion (which the first reaction was about) is hardly a European habit; in most places the custom is to sit down or kneel, but which one it will be depends on the particular church. Moreover, most masses have a significant proportion of people attending who can be presumed to have trouble kneeling, so that adds to the confusion. Prior to communion, the same thing applies, in so far that many take the sign of peace as a perfect opportunity to sit down afterwards (whether they were kneeling before, and nearing the end of their knee’s endurance, or standing).
    And to make it even more ‘confusing’, many churches have kneelers for only part of the pews, which adds to the variety of postures, even within the same church. (which provides a good opportunity to blend in in case of knee- or back problems, as there would be places were kneeling is not expected)

    So in all, I’d say drop the ‘European practice’ as a term, as there is none, really. As long as you don’t make a show of it, no-one here will say (or care) anything in just about any parish. Fr. Z’s. suggestion is therefore a good one: apply common sense, and don’t make a spectacle.

  6. brianvzn, you can also find variation in the traditional rite, because we’re not guided in the posture of the congregation by universal rules, but by customs that do vary from place to place.

  7. Interesting. It never even crossed my mind that I could not kneel.

    But whether or not the Church forbids it, there are other considerations to consider. A parish is more than the mass. We are by nature social animals given prudence to discern between different goods in relation to our duties.

    We as a family always knelt at the Agnus Dei up until a few years back, but now not so much.
    It was differences like this that caused ostracism of my older children while they were growing up. You can only be so different before the other parents start not wanting their children to be with yours. I was never much for going along to get along, but it does matter, and children do suffer. It’s the Rhett Butler principle, sometime you need to smile to the old biddies.

  8. robtbrown says:

    The kneelers in many European churches don’t have the American style cushioning. They are simply wood.

  9. JohnE says:

    I prefer to kneel and in the past have disregarded such requests to remain standing. That being said, even if the pastor is wrong to have requested that all remain standing, if it is not wrong to do so and if it is in compliance with the bishop and the Church, I think it’s a much better thing to humbly submit to your pastor’s request and worship in conformity with the rest of the congregation. God knows we can use a little more unity and obedience in the Church today, at all levels, and I think there’s a certain degree of obedience owed to the pastor — such obedience is itself a form of reverence to Christ.

    On the contrary, disobeying the pastor in such a visible way could embolden those who have more serious disagreements to more easily dismiss or defy him in other ways. I think there’s great virtue in obeying when you’d prefer to do things your own way. It’s only when there’s defiance somewhere in the chain of command where it should cause concern, and we should save our energy for those battles.

  10. traditionalorganist says:

    The problem is, Bishops and pastors choose to say “No” to kneeling, “No” to other devotions, “Yes” to standing, “Yes” to altar girls, “Yes” to liturgical permissiveness. There is far too little encouragement to show more devotion and to regulate one’s posture in accord with that devotion. I prefer that bishops and pastors didn’t have the option to change anything at all in the Mass. It should be the same across the world. Otherwise, we’re not a truly universal church. The differences should be found only in the different Rite’s that we use.

  11. jtuturic says:

    Fr. Z,

    I’m curious. Your post mentioned that local bishops have the authority to dictate when to kneel or stand after the Agnus Dei, but that local pastors do not. The original question noted that it was a temporary pastor who was instituting the change, not the bishop. The follow up question on this is, what should a parishner do if the priest is instituting this change without the authority from his bishop? I realize the specific diocese was not mentioned in the question and whether or not the local bishop had, in fact, authorized such a change. Still, it is an important question to ask.

  12. BenedictXVIFan says:

    I may be mis-recollecting this, but in my diocese the rationale for standing after the Agnus Dei is to assume the posture prescribed in Exodus for consuming the Passover meal. The standing after reception of Communion is symbolic of being resurrected. I have no problem with either idea. I also have no problem kneeling, which is what they continue to do in the diocese where I grew up. Regardless, I believe that conforming to local custom, when it violates no well-known prohibition (e.g. Holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer), that one should strive to do whatever will draw the least attention to oneself.

  13. jajctpj24 says:

    I’m happy when I visit dioceses and parishes that kneel after the Agnus Dei…hides me a bit better…I rarely stand after the Agnus Dei, except when I go to a particular parish back home where the practices are say really nuts and anyone with a traditional bent is looked down upon. Otherwise it’s always kneel, it’s course of habit that’s been drilled into me (of course kneeling before the Lamb makes sense, it’s Biblical)

  14. The question asked Fr. Z concerned standing after the Agbus Dei, not standing after receiving Holy Communion.
    The bishop DOES NOT have the authority to order someone to stand after receiving Holy Commubion, but he DOES have the authority to require standing at the Agus Dei.
    I don’t like it, but that is within his authority, and to do otherwise is to disobey the bishop when he is acting within his legitimate authority, which is sinful.

    The response Bp. Bruskewitz of Lincoln received from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments does not mandate kneeling after the Agnus Dei. This does not say that the bishop cannot mandate standing at the Agnus Dei.

    This is an excerpt from my book, “On Holy Ground: Church and Mass Etiquette”:
    There seems to be some confusion as to the posture of the people after the Agnus Dei is sung. In most churches in the United States a return to a kneeling position at the “Agnus Dei” especially to prepare for the “Ecce Agnus Dei—Behold the Lamb of God” is the norm. And, this traditional act is not limited to United States.
    The 2002 Roman Missal has new instructions for kneeling after the Agnus Dei which were not in the 2000 GIRM, §43, nor in the 1975 GIRM, §21, but have been added to the 2002 version.
    The section now reads:

    “Where it is the custom that the people remain kneeling from the end of the Sanctus until the end of the Eucharistic Prayer, and before Communion when the priest says Ecce Agnus Dei, this is laudably retained”

    Section 43 of the GIRM states: “In the dioceses of the United States of America, [the faithful] should kneel beginning after the singing or recitation of the Sanctus until after the Amen of the Eucharistic Prayer, except when prevented on occasion by reasons of health, lack of space, the large number of people present, or some other good reason. Those who do not kneel ought to make a profound bow when the priest genuflects after the consecration. The faithful kneel after the Agnus Dei unless the diocesan bishop determines otherwise.” [Note: Bold type indicates US adaptations.]
    Bishops are acting within their legitimate authority when they direct the faithful to stand from the beginning of the Our Father to the reception of Holy Communion. Our responsibility is to obey:

    “Moreover, the highest duty is to respect authority, and obediently to submit to just law; and by this the members of a community are effectually protected from the wrong-doing of evil men. Lawful power is from God, ‘and whosoever resists authority resists the ordinance of God’; wherefore, obedience is greatly ennobled when subjected to an authority which is the most just and supreme of all.”

    For the sake of observing a uniformity in gestures and posture during the same celebration, the faithful should obey the directions, which the deacon, or priest give during the celebration.

    In Corde Jesu,
    Victor

    [As indicated at the top, people have the right to kneel when it suits them.]

  15. Perhaps the question should be: “Do we have the right to disobey our bishop when he is exercising his legitimate authority?”
    Change is usually difficult, especially when it concerns worship and the Mass. But it is precisely during these tumultuous times that our Faith and Hope in the Church must not fail. During any change there is as much opportunity for growth as there is the threat of public scandal.
    Section 43 of the General Instruction on the Roman Missal (GIRM) states: “In the dioceses of the United States of America, [the faithful] should kneel beginning after the singing or recitation of the Sanctus until after the Amen of the Eucharistic Prayer, except when prevented on occasion by reasons of health, lack of space, the large number of people present, or some other good reason. Those who do not kneel ought to make a profound bow when the priest genuflects after the consecration. The faithful kneel after the Agnus Dei unless the diocesan bishop determines otherwise.”
    A sentence in the un-adapted Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani [IGMR], March, 2003, reads: “Where it is the custom that the people remain kneeling from the end of the Sanctus until the end of the Eucharistic Prayer, and before Communion when the priest says Ecce Agnus Dei, this is laudably retained”.
    For the sake of observing uniformity in gestures and posture during the same celebration, the faithful should obey the directions, which the deacon or lay minister or the priest give during the celebration, according to whatever is indicated in the Missal.
    In this case, certain bishops have directed that the faithful to “stand from the beginning of the Our Father to the reception of Holy Communion.” This is entirely within the bishop’s authority and as such, we must be in obedience to his wishes, just as Jesus was in obedience to His Father.
    Let me cite a few paragraphs from Vatican II’s Christus Dominus (Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church) to give us a bit of context:
    2. “The bishops also have been designated by the Holy Spirit to take the place of the apostles as pastors of souls and together with the Supreme Pontiff and subject to his authority, they are commissioned to perpetuate the work of Christ, the eternal Pastor.”
    3. “United in one college or body for the instruction and direction of the universal Church, the bishops, sharing in the solicitude of all the churches, exercise this their episcopal function, which they have received by virtue of their episcopal consecration in communion with the Supreme Pontiff and subject to his authority.”
    8 (a). “Bishops, as the successors of the apostles, enjoy as of right in the dioceses assigned to them all ordinary, special and immediate power which is necessary for the exercise of their pastoral office, but always without prejudice to the power which the Roman Pontiff possesses, by virtue of his office, of reserving certain matters to himself or to some other authority.”
    Canon Law also spells out the submission that Catholics owe to our bishop:
    Canon 753. “Although they do not enjoy infallible teaching authority, the bishops in communion with the head and members of the college, whether as individuals or gathered in conferences of bishops or in particular councils, are authentic teachers and instructors of the faith for the faithful entrusted to their care; the faithful must adhere to the authentic teaching of their own bishops with a religious assent of soul.”
    Canon Law also describes the responsibility of a bishop to ensure discipline.
    Can. 392 §1. “Since the Bishop must defend the unity of the universal Church, he is bound to foster the discipline which is common to the whole Church, and so press for the observance of all ecclesiastical laws.”
    §2. “He is to ensure that abuses do not creep into ecclesiastical discipline, especially concerning the ministry of the word, the celebration of the sacraments and sacramentals, the worship of God and the cult of the saints, and the administration of goods.”
    Canon Law specifically states that a person who disobeys the rightful authority of his bishop may be subject to punishment.
    Can. 137. “The following are to be punished with a just penalty:”
    2° “a person who in any other way does not obey the lawful command or prohibition of the Apostolic See or the Ordinary or Superior and, after being warned, persists in disobedience.”
    Having therefore established clearly the Bishop’s authority, we can now look to a lay Catholic’s rights within the Church. The laity has the right to petition the bishop if we disagree with him, but we do not have the right to disobey him when he is exercising his legitimate authority.
    Canon 212, § 1. “The Christian faithful, conscious of their own responsibility, are bound by Christian obedience to follow what the sacred pastors, as representatives of Christ, declare as teachers of the faith or determine as leaders of the Church.”
    Canon 212, § 2. “The Christian faithful are free to make known their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires to the pastors of the Church.”
    Canon 221 §1 “Christ’s faithful may lawfully vindicate and defend the rights they enjoy in the Church, before the competent ecclesiastical forum in accordance with the law.”
    We must submit to the rightful authority of the bishop – even if it is not what we want. We are no holier than the saints who went before us who were treated “roughly” by their superiors – even by Rome.
    Two instances come to mind – St. “Padre” Pio and St. Faustina. We must take their example of humility and accept any proper directive that we might receive – and do it with a smile on our faces.
    If we want the crown, we must first take the cross because that’s how it works. If we are not prepared to do this, then the Lord will lift that cross off our shoulders and give it someone else who will carry it the rest of the way. Crucifixion is for all. Few accept it, and still fewer endure it.
    Fundamentally, disobedience to the bishop’s lawful authority is prideful and as such, sinful. Let us embrace these requirements in obedience. Even though you are standing God knows you are kneeling in your heart.

    [That said, people can kneel when they want to.]

  16. Hidden One says:

    I don’t have to worry about the bishops’ of the dioceses I go to Mass in. My concern is one priest who, at one (possibly both, but I have reason to doubt it) of the Sunday Masses, causes things to occur such that it is awkward (there is no time) to kneel after the Agnus Dei. (I and a few others do anyway.) The other days of the week, and at the cathedral, everyone kneels after it, so it’s clearly not an episcopal directive.

    It seems to me that, A) I can kneel, B) the GIRM tells me to (since the bishop hasn’t said otherwise), and C) the priest should not be doing this. My question is if the people who stand (sometimes me, when I’m caught off guard) are doing something wrong.

  17. [That said, people can kneel when they want to.]

    With all due respect to your office as a priest of God, is this statement simply your opinion or can you provide some evidence that supports your contention? Where in any Church document does it state that we can be disobedient to our bishop when he is acting within his rightful authority?
    Certainly, we have been endowed by our Creator with free will. We can choose to be disobedient, but we will eventually pay the the price. Obedience leads to righteousness? (Rom. 6:16)

    [Read the top entry.]

  18. BenedictXVIFan says:

    I am finding that where I would have knelt in the past, bowing my head as deeply as possible brings about an inward approximation to kneeling. I know it’s not the same, but it’s a way to retain some of outward reverence (which tend to reinforce the inward) of kneeling. I also hope it is a good example for my children.

  19. BenedictXVIFan says:

    I liken the bowing to how the Pope encorages placing a cross on the altar as a step toward addressing the loss of proper focus prevalent in versus populum.

  20. Respectfully, that is not good enough, Father. The top entry does not say that we have the right to disobey our bishop. The Holy See has not said that the laity have the right to kneel at the Agnus Dei, when their bishop has ordered otherwise.
    A bishop has the right to mandate that the faithful stand at the Agnus Dei. We, laity and priest alike, have the obligation to obey, under pain of sin.
    Did you not take an oath of fidelity to your bishop when you were ordained?

    CCC 1567 “…The promise of obedience they make to the bishop at the moment of ordination and the kiss of peace from him at the end of the ordination liturgy mean that the bishop considers them his co-workers, his sons, his brothers and his friends, and that they in return owe him love and obedience.”

    Were you relieved of that obligation? [You are now way over the line.]
    Disobedience in small matters will lead to disobedience in larger ones.

    [Read Card. Arinze's explanation of the 'mens' behind the Church's law. That should clear it up.]

  21. Fr. Basil says:

    \\Our parish has always knelt for the Second Elevation (after the Agnus Dei). This is a regular Novus Ordo Mass.\\

    This is not an elevation.

    In the Latin Rite, the Great Elevation is associated with the Words of Institution. The Lesser Elevation is at the Doxology.

    **after the Agnes Dei **

    Is she the cousin of Doris?

  22. Geoffrey says:

    Here in California, where kneeling seems to be a foreign concept, my family and I always kneel at the “Ecce Agnus Dei” and after receiving Holy Communion. Only once did a couple actually berate my sister for kneeling. We reported this in a letter to the pastor and the bishop; the pastor apologized for the lack of charity on the part of the couple, but defended the “custom” of standing… meanwhile the bishop apologized for the lack of charity and said it was his policy to let people do as they wish (kneel, stand, etc.).

  23. Fr. Basil,
    Many of the California dioceses require standing after the Agnus Dei, so this issue comes up quite often. Most require that the entire congregation remain standing until all of the communicants have received. Most people stand until the Blessed Sacrament is in repose.
    The dioceses of San Bernardino, Orange, L.A., and Stockton all require standing. More than likely, other California dioceses are also required to stand. Birds of a feather…
    Victor

  24. MichaelJ says:

    I find it ironic that the most “open” and “progressive” and “tolerant” Catholics find it so necessary to mandate how others must express themselves – all in the name of “unity” and under threat of an accusation disobedience.
    I have attended an Eastern Divine Liturgy and brought my “Latin” habits with me so knelt at the inappropriate times. Nobody seemed to have any trouble with this and I was treated with great understanding. Similarly, at the Traditional Mass I attend, there are those who kneel, those who stand and those who sit, but there is no hand wringing about “disobedience”.

    Why is it that those who are most often accused of intolerance are the ones most likely to cut the other guy some slack and to presume – yes presume – that those who behave slightly differently have a good reason for doing so?

  25. Geoffery, which part of Ca are you in, actually in virtually all of Ca that I’ve been in, the only places that stand after the Agnus Dei are LA and Orange. (though a few of the parishes I attend still kneel)…in Sacramento, San Francisco, Oakland, and San Diego, all kneel after the Agnus Dei :)

  26. pop says:

    brianvzn:

    “I have read the documents of Vatican II, and I wish everyone would (more than once). It does contain ambiguities and parts of it have been misapplied or ignored, but it also contains statements that contradict 1,962 years of Church Teaching.”

    You’ve got to be kidding me! Ambiguity. Perhaps. Then too that ambiguity might be a reflection of our knowledge and inability to understand what is said.

    Kneeling Issue:
    Does anyone really believe that the kneeling posture makes us worthy! It a gesture of humility. Then just how do we rectify that with the following:
    Partial from Eucharistic Prayer II
    “In memory of His death and resurrection, we offer You, Father, this life-giving bread, this saving cup.
    We thank You for counting us worthy to stand in Your presence and serve You.
    May all of us who share in the Body and Blood of Christ be brought together in unity by the Holy Spirit”
    Should we be kneeling? Do we not believe that the Father can consider us worthy to stand! It is not because of us at all…. not even the slightest… that we somehow “earn” worthiness!
    And notice the liturgy is in the “we” and not I. We are brought to “unity”.
    Our liturgy…… “the work of the people”….. utilizes a very reach symbolism so that we “do” that which we “believe”. So as a sign of communal unity…… “community”…. in our posture, our responses, we act in a unity of action.
    Can you kneel? Sure you can. Receive on the tongue? Sure you can. If you do so, are you participating in the spirit of unity? Then again, maybe that is not important to you. The beautiful thing about the catholic church is that we tolerate a variety of personalities, and mo. as long as we remain to orthodox teaching.

  27. pop says:

    “Were you relieved of that obligation? [You are now way over the line.]”

    With all due respect, do you think a more detailed response might be in order?
    With respect to the teaching of your ordinary, you are indeed obligated to follow his teaching. All clergy promise obedience to the ordinary. In that context Victor is correct. Is Victor speaking to the context of your postings? I can not say one way or the other. However: If and when a bishop issues a teaching such as teaching the manner of posture to be followed at Eucharist, we are obligated to follow that teaching. A pastor is in effect the bishop in his absence at the pastorate to which the bishop has appointed him.
    Honestly I think there may be a spirit of pride at work when one defies a teaching……. I think we should kneel and so I’m doing what “I” want to do. Change does not come easy.
    On the other hand a teaching of what constitutes a “well formed” conscience is certainly in order when any cleric is responding to one who asks if it is ok to defy the teaching of a bishop. But honestly, I am not really sure if “teaching authority” is in dispute as at least to me, there seems to be a few angles developing as this thread moves along.
    If I am reading correctly, the issue is: can I kneel? Sure. Should you kneel? Each person has to answer that for themselves.

  28. amdg123 says:

    While traveling in Europe for a year, I attended Mass in 8 different countries. In every Mass I can remember, everyone knelt from the Agnus Dei until Communion. Why is the custom of standing considered a “European thing”?

  29. The Cobbler says:

    I always figured that “stand in your presence” in there had less to do with posture than, you know, the fact that Christ isn’t hidden on the other side of a burning bush or something Old Testament like that.

    Furthermore, I’m inclined to believe there is no contradiction between worthiness given by Christ’s sacrifice and humility. The notion that for our humility we must believe Christ just pretends we’re good now is Protestant crap; I am therefore highly suspicious of the reverse notion, that gestures of humility should be avoided as some kind of affront to Christ making us holy. It sounds the same to me as saying that because you can clearly see in the Bible Mary was humble therefore she can’t be the great Mother of God and mediatrix of His graces that Catholics make her out to be: it opposes things that in truth never were to be opposed, in fact opposes the exact same things as the Protestant nonsense does. If humility and worthiness were so opposed that they could never be reconciled, Christ, worthiest of all, couldn’t have been born instable and lain in a feeding trough; heck, I’m inclined to say that we positively ought to show by our gesture that we are in Him who reconciles humility and worthiness, just as we ought in our actions to show that we are in Him who reconciles justice and mercy.

    As for unity… I’m not convinced we can achieve “unity of gesture” by taking _variances_ in gesture (in some places the custom is one thing, in some another, and in other Rites of the same Sacrifice in the same Church…) and enforcing them on the basis of parochial units of sorts. It strikes me that if there’s some sort of disunity with regard to local custom, it isn’t made more union-like by trying to have each locale be homogenous in itself. Now if somebody were suggesting that the entire Church has to follow the same posture, that’d at least seem consistent — but I don’t think I’d buy that either, simply because the Church seems less about unity of gesture in any case than about unity of essential worship and essential teaching (and yes, the worship before the teaching — lex orandi and all that). But that’s not a strong theological opinion like that humility is not opposed to worthiness, just an off-the-top-of-my-head sense that something doesn’t seem to add up.

  30. MJ says:

    Bp. Bruskewitz of Lincoln – God Bless him! I was at the FSSP ordinations last May in Lincoln, NE and was very impressed with him.

    [...people can kneel when they want to.]

    AMEN to that, Fr. Z!

  31. Geoffrey says:

    Joseph Therese:

    I am in the diocese of Monterey, which is part of the province of L.A. Our previous bishop ordered all to stand after Communion, and our new bishop says the faithful can do what they want. I moved here in 1992 from the east coast and found it jarring that everyone stood after the Agnus Dei!

  32. Mitchell NY says:

    Here in the US it is often not a case of legislating contrary to Rome for custom’s sake, but for the whim of Priests and Bishops wishing to change said customs. I have never heard of people in Mass standing up one by one in any parish until after several weeks that majority is standing, and that goes on for a few years, indicating a change in custom. No, we are instructed to change and do away with the past. That is the reality here.

  33. kiwitrad says:

    I always kneel at the consecration and at the Lamb of God though most of the rest of the congregation stands. I always sit near the back so that I won’t be conspicuous. There are a few other people who kneel too and most of them stay near the back. Sometimes I have been troubled by the lack of unity but Our Blessed Lord is in our midst, and I just HAVE to kneel in love and adoration. Quite a few people sit through the whole Mass. No one has ever criticised me for kneeling and I certainly wouldn’t criticise people for not. In NZ we are proud of being a ‘free country’. And we are!

  34. Mostert says:

    I think….Christ, God, The Creator has been lifted up. He would like it if you kneel. Like Magdalene maby choosing the better part?

  35. Phil_NL says:

    amdg123,
    No idea, as I mentioned earlier in this thread there’s not such a thing as a European custom at all, and in the vast majority of cases it’s a mixture of kneeling and sitting, but not standing.

    In fact, what amazes me most in this threat is the apparently ubiquitous concern of bishops, priests and even fellow parishioners regarding posture in the States. Like it would be a sign of secession, even heresy. In Europe, not a single person has even given me so much as a glancing look for kneeling when the majority did otherwise (or vice versa, though there the assumption presumably is that due to some ailment, kneeling is not a good idea). Not a single word from priest or bishop either, ever.

    Live and let live, kneel and let kneel works excellently as long as people don’t make a spectacle of it.

    PS: Rotbrown: not only are most kneelers here made of plain wood (maybe some coarse fibre mat is available, but thats it), far worse is the fact they were made in a day and age where people where much shorter and smaller. Ergonomics were unheard of, during the last Solemn Mass on our parish patron saint’s feast (EP I, so it took a while) I manged to wreck my knee by an unfortunate movement which placed way too much weight on a small area of wood (and knee); it’s still not 100% after 5 months. Just as worse are pews crafted for people no more than 5 feet tall and corresponding leg length, or walking space between kneeler and pew barely wider than the width of your foot. I would not be surprised if some pews/kneelers were designed by Torquemada.

  36. Dr. Lee Fratantuono says:

    It’s an unfortunate development of relatively recent years that for some — clergy and laity — one’s posture at Mass has become a veritable badge of orthodoxy or lack thereof. If you dare to do something different from everyone else, you’re suddenly “disobedient” or worse. For centuries, the liturgical books didn’t even envision much of anything concerning lay posture at Mass. Custom and tradition developed organically, and people didn’t need the GIRM to spell out how many breaths they could take between responses or how many inches from their body they should hold their hands when receiving communion (as I think one US bishop bothered to specify in some decree or other). And indeed, this seems to be mostly a US problem, probably a cultural result of the US need to legalize everything in precise detail.

  37. robtbrown says:

    Phil_NL says:

    PS: Rotbrown: not only are most kneelers here made of plain wood (maybe some coarse fibre mat is available, but thats it), far worse is the fact they were made in a day and age where people where much shorter and smaller. Ergonomics were unheard of, during the last Solemn Mass on our parish patron saint’s feast (EP I, so it took a while) I manged to wreck my knee by an unfortunate movement which placed way too much weight on a small area of wood (and knee); it’s still not 100% after 5 months. Just as worse are pews crafted for people no more than 5 feet tall and corresponding leg length, or walking space between kneeler and pew barely wider than the width of your foot. I would not be surprised if some pews/kneelers were designed by Torquemada.

    Agree. My point is simply that IME the Euro kneelers are not cushioned, and so it’s understandable why some would stand. And the wicker chair-kneeler combo is the worst–too small, with the kneeler poorly angled.

  38. Worship, or paying attention to God, is one of the things that belong to God. “Render… to God the things that are God’s” (Lk 20:25), commands Christ in the Gospel. God expects and demands from every thinking person some attention, some recognition, some thought, some prayer, some honor, some homage.
    The Church issued the GIRM as well as other directives for our benefit; in the hope that we will worship God in truth and in light and in order for us enter into the Mass and participate actively.
    In various forms and degrees, ritualism exists in every society—church, civil, military, social, and government. Order is heaven’s first law, and is commonly maintained in earthly gatherings, if the business at hand it to be performed with ease and promptness.
    Our Church, invested with the power of the Holy Spirit, provides liturgical norms, designed to heighten the experience of all involved. It is incumbent upon us to follow these directives, without exception or reservation. Change or innovation, simply for its own sake, corrupts the intent of the liturgy and must be avoided at all costs. The Holy Mass is a symphony of delight, not a note of which do we have a right to modify in the slightest.
    How many people really live their Mass? Many who attend pay attention to what is going on around them and little attention to what is taking place before them. Moreover, how many, after leaving Mass think little more about it?
    If we are to live the Mass, we must enter into the Mass. If certain Catholics attend Mass simply to avoid serious sin, then they have little love for the Mass. It is, most likely, because they do not understand it, do not take part in it, and do not live it. For these people the Mass is simply an obligation and they remain indifferent witnesses and passive spectators. We can say that the Mass is the centerpiece of Catholic spirituality, but what is the Mass?
    The Mass is the reenactment of the Last Supper, when Our Lord ate the Passover meal with His disciples for the last time. Jesus sat at table with His twelve Apostles. He had gathered them together for a final meal as a father might gather his family together to address them prior to his death and tell them of his last will and testament. His desire was to give them a precious gift—the gift of Himself in the form of consecrated bread and wine. He took bread and changed it into His body; He took a cup of wine and changed it into His blood. He gave them both to His apostles to eat and drink. Finally, He said, “Do this in remembrance of Me” (Lk 22:19). Therefore, this command of Jesus is still being carried out around the world, at every minute of every day, in every country. No moment passes without the Mass being offered somewhere on the earth. For Catholics, Mass if the fulfilling of that command, “Do this in remembrance of Me”.
    We go to Mass to pay attention to God. Sooner or later, you will attend your last Mass and receive your last Holy Communion. How do you want Jesus to remember that moment?

  39. pop says:

    Cobbler:
    I am not suggesting that “stand in Your presence” refers to our posture. It may and then again it may not. It does however make a statement reflecting our “gratitude” and our joy.
    Formats such as a blog carry an inherent disadvantage which face to face conversation overcomes.

    In making my statement about humility I was trying to ascertain why one would feel the need to kneel i.e. does kneeling portray a humble posture. Certainly it is a symbolic gesture as is bowing, removing ones shoes, and so forth. Cultural experiences vary from place to place.

    Generally speaking, there is something to be said for the desire to kneel when receiving communion, the reception of communion on the tongue, the desire for celebrating Eucharist via the extraordinary form. Each person has to come to terms with and find comfort in where they find themselves.

    I am a product of the pre-Vatican II period. For many years I served mass and I was in awe as mass was said. Perhaps I could describe my experience as semi-mystical . In any event I was caught up in the mystery of it all. Unfortunately for me, my entire focus was directed at the consecration. I observed many attendees praying the rosary. Suddenly, the bell would ring and folks would clinch their fist and strike their breast. I would answer the priest as the “representative” of the people. Of course had the dialogue been in the vernacular, the people could have answered for themselves!
    Nonetheless, there was a mystery of sorts taking place. However, somewhere along the line there was a disconnect with the Mystery taking place. The disconnect of course was in our failure to actively participate.

    During the period of transition from the mass of Trent to the mass of Vatican II…… I and many like me were very uncomfortable. Our mass changed…….. but did it really? I suggest we were so accustomed to attending, and going through our own rituals that our understanding of mass is was actually changed. Obviously nothing of our faith changed, but rather our “expression of that faith” changed.

    Having said that, I think we need to give consideration that some expression of piety, reverence, humility, and so forth remains. In some cases it may be a vestige of the past creeping into the present. In any event I think pastoral concern is always in order. Certainly there is a richness to our expressiveness as community, but we should never cause harm. Patient teaching is always in order.
    An authentic investigation of motivation for each individual is also necessary.
    One of my theology professors used to tell us:
    Everyone has the right to be “right”: no one has the right to be “wrong”.

    We were often reminded of the necessity to meet people where they are at. There is a variety of authentic spirituality alive and well within the catholic church. Unlike some denominations, fortunately we can assimilate as The Living Body of Christ.

  40. Well, this has been an enlightening thread. I was always told that we had to stand, in order to be like all the other Catholics in the world, especially Europe. Another urban legend factoid bites the dust.

  41. Geoffery, I remembered when it used to be kneeling in the Archdiocese of LA and it was suddenly changed. I’ve never been comfortable with it. When I was in Monterey I remember them kneeling after the Agnus Dei where I was. Hopefully things will change under our new Bishop

    Victor, the dioceses of Santa Rosa, Sacramento, San Diego, Fresno, Oakland, archdiocese of San Francisco all kneel after the Agnus Dei (at least the parishes I’ve been in)…only, LA (though there are a few parishes that still kneel), Orange and San Jose are the hold outs, but that may change under LA’s new Bishop at the Masses that the coadjutor has been at, all have knelt after the Agnus Dei.

  42. Joan A. says:

    As for being conspicuous or making a spectacle, let’s get real. If I like to sit in the front row (so I don’t have distractions perhaps), and I choose to quietly and modestly kneel during this part of the mass that is only about 2 minutes long, how am I creating a spectacle? In fact, being in the FRONT row, I am hidden by all those standing behind me!

    Think of your typical NO mass: babies crying, children fidgeting, women in tank tops and shorts, teenagers acting as if they are in the back row of a movie theatre, people whispering, rummaging thru their purses, crinkling bulletins, scrambling for cough drops, even cell phones ringing. AND WITH ALL THAT GOING ON, DOES ANYONE REALLY CONSIDER KNEELING TO BE A DISTRACTION!?!