Ottawa’s Archbp. Prendergast lays down law on kneeling

From the Ottawa Citizen with my emphases and comments.

Ottawa archbishop lays down law on kneeling  [Huzzah!]
Jennifer Green
The Ottawa Citizen

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Ottawa’s archbishop has ordered all Catholics to conform in how they kneel during mass, despite widespread grumbling that uniformity doesn’t equal sanctity, or even unity[Well… its a start.]

Archbishop Terrence Prendergast circulated a letter recently asking that everyone kneel for the entire Eucharistic prayer from "Holy, holy, holy" to the conclusion "Let us proclaim the mystery of faith" — about five minutes in all.  [It’s sooo haaarrrrrd!]

Currently, some congregations stand for most of the prayer, kneeling only as the priest prepares holy communion. Some stand for the whole thing; others kneel throughout.

Archbishop Prendergast said in his letter: "I have noted a wide range of practices … which present a lack of harmony in a matter where we should be united — the worship of God.

"I know that it may not be easy for some to accept. However, I am convinced its implementation will bring blessings to our archdiocese and I invite your co-operation with this directive."   [YES YES YES! This is an example of "Save The Liturgy – Save The World"!  Kneeling with have consequences.  I believe I wrote something about this yesterday, about genuflections before the Blessed Sacrament.  Kneeling, I think, makes a difference.]

In an interview later, he explained: "It’s a sign of reverence. People say, ‘I don’t like that. We are the people set free, we no longer have to kneel to God,’  [Oh… yes.  We are so grown up now!  Modern man is so very sophisticated.  We don’t have to kneel.] and I said, ‘Wait a minute, we do have to kneel to God. Christ knelt in the garden. People knelt before Jesus. Why can’t we do that for a few minutes at mass?’ "

One woman told him her husband might not come to church because of this. "She said, ‘we French Canadians have a bit of an inferiority complex. We don’t like people telling us what to do’."

He replied that, if the husband does come, he is free to stand through the prayer, but at the back of the church, where he won’t confuse everyone else.

It seems a small thing to ask the faithful to kneel during mass, but opponents say that’s just the point, especially since it is the archbishop’s first firm order since he arrived in this area last year.

"Is that all they have to think about?" asked former Ottawa councillor Toddy Kehoe, a parishioner at St. Joseph’s parish on Laurier Avenue East. "I don’t see the Catholic church as doing loving things. [Unreal.] I don’t see them as the caring community they should be. It isn’t whether you stand or kneel."

St. Joseph’s Rev. Richard Kelly declined to comment, as did a staff member who said in an e-mail: "It is hard to believe that a kneeler is such a big topic, and I wish I could say something about this piece of furniture that was meaningful, and about the prayer posture we have been requested to assume, but we are in difficult times and the focus for us as a parish is really how can we participate in the truth and reconciliation process with the aboriginal community of Canada."  [WHAT?]

Even Rev. William Burke, associate director of the national liturgy office at the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, refused to comment for fear of fanning the controversy. Canadian bishops have already agreed to adopt this rule when the new missal, or Catholic mass book, is introduced in the near future.

Archbishop Prendergast acknowledged the underlying strains. "Every time you talk about liturgy, everything else going on in the church is reflected.[Exactly.]

Right now, the Catholic church is asking, "Is (the mass) our thing or is it God’s thing? There are certain tensions in the church about that[Well said.]

"After 40 years since the Vatican Council, we have gotten away from certain aspects of reverence; we’re trying to have more harmony and co-ordination. Harmony will help bolster a sense of divine worship, something that has slipped away.

"What has happened with the liturgy is that it is being asked to bear too many things." [It is at the heart of who we are.]

At one mass, people got so enthusiastic about greeting each other at the exchange of the peace that it took 45 minutes to get back to the pews and resume the service.

"That’s not what mass is about. It’s about worshipping God," Archbishop Prendergast said.

"At one time, nobody ever applauded. Now, they applaud for everything. It becomes more like a concert."

As to his authoritarian message, [perhaps "archiepiscopal" message] he said, "The bishop is the mentor of the liturgy, moderator, the one who calls the shots. I try to do it gently."

Nevertheless, to both clergy and congregants, he says, "I know you disagree, but I would like you to come along."

If someone comes to church and stubbornly stands, they won’t be asked to leave. But, the archbishop says, "You sort of wonder, what are they proving when there are two people standing in a church of 500 kneeling? Some people always have to let you know they’re right."

WDTPRS applauds Archbishop Prendergast.

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  1. Kris says:

    Just one comment on an otherwise good posting – one might infer that you are demeaning the truth and reconciliation process with the Canadian Aboriginal population. Given the forced removal of children from their families by all churches, with the support of the Canadian government, it is vitally important that the churches are reconciled with such an important segment of Canadian society. While I am sure that you do not intend to demean this, your comment about it could easily be misconstrued.

  2. AM says:

    reconciliation process with the aboriginal community of Canada

    In Canada there has been a long process involving the governments, various churches and institutions, and the aboriginal groups, focused on the legacy of a policy of Residential Schools during most of the last century, in which (whatever good they may have done) purposed cultural destruction and in many cases involved dreadful abuse. The schools are closed, but the necessary reconciliation is far from over. Probably Fr Richard Kelly is referring to that.

    St Joseph’s The writer of this piece knew exactly where to go in Ottawa to get such comments.

  3. Paul S. Quist says:

    Thanks be to God!

    Under the leadership of some very fine bishops things are changing in a very postive direction in Canada. Check out Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy ( for a fine example of a Catholic college that whole heartedly embraces the faith – just over an hour from Ottawa.

    Very encouraging, indeed!

    Paul Quist, Edmonton

  4. Tyler says:

    ” but we are in difficult times and the focus for us as a parish is really how can we participate in the truth and reconciliation process with the aboriginal community of Canada.”

    I am aware that this is a very legitimate problem in Canada, but when connected to the article, it is absurd. It is as if the Priest was trying to say “Kneeling is going to put us a step backwards in our relations with the aboriginal communities”. The two things are not related at all. He does show a debate strategy popular with politicians all over the world–don’t like the question? Give the answer to a different one, and don’t even acknowledge the point

  5. Tomás López says:

    The way we do it in Puerto Rico is the same way this archbishop is ordering it: kneeling from the Holy Holy to the Mystery of Faith. However, I have noticed in the States that the faithful remain kneeling through the Mystery of Faith, through the second portion of the Eucharistic Prayer and then through the Concluding Doxology, standing only after the Amen.

    Which is correct in the O.F.? Thank you, all.

  6. Tyler says:

    Double post, I know, but I forgot to mention the picture included. The Dalmatics that are being worn, that I am sure look very beautiful in person, show up on my computer looking like they are made out of burlap. Yet more proof that seeing things in person is incredible, even when you see them over and over on a screen

  7. Andrew, UK and sometimes Canada says:

    Is THAT a picture of the archbishop!? Stunning. I can’t wait to get out of the UK and back to Canada. Bishops here are sometimes depressing.

    As an aside, I like to point out to all those who talk about the Church not fulfilling a “loving” social role, that, with its many organisations, it may be the largest charitable body in the world.

  8. Tim Ferguson says:

    I found Ottawa to be a bit of a liturgical wasteland, with some bright spots, when I was there studying canon law. St. Joseph’s has a reputation as a pretty far-out parish, sort of an Ottawa version of St. Joan of Arc in Minneapolis.

    St. Clement’s, staffed by the FSSP was a major source of consolation there – a truly energetic parish filled with devout folks – both Anglophone and Francophone. St. Patrick’s and St. Therese were also decent.

    God bless Archbishop Prendergast for trying to bring some semblance of fidelity to the liturgical tradition and law of the Church in. May his kind increase!

  9. Frank H says:

    Tomás López – My understanding is that the US practice of kneeling all the way through the Amen is an indult granted at the request of the US Bishops years ago. And it is practiced that way in our parish (and most others, I feel certain) in the Diocese of Columbus, Ohio. However, I was recently at a wedding Mass in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area, both parties Catholic, and no one (except yours truly) knelt AT ALL during the Eucharistic Prayer. I couldn’t believe it.

  10. TJM says:

    For some folks, the Mass is “all about me, me, me, me.” Good for the Archbishop. Tom

  11. Will says:

    From the USCCB Website, Tomás:

    In the dioceses of the United States of America, they 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.53

    It appears that this is one of those parts of the GIRM that can be altered by the local Bishops\’ conference.

  12. If only all the Bishops would ask for just a bit of reverence for God. Those who refuse to kneel may find God reminding them the hard way, for the “stiff-necked” (“stiff-kneed” in this case) people. Of course kneeling requires humility, which is why so many refuse to do it these days. Looks like Pope B16’s comments about the smaller purer Church are in progress.

  13. GregY says:

    St. Joseph’s Rev. Richard Kelly declined to comment, as did a staff member who said in an e-mail: “It is hard to believe that a kneeler is such a big topic, and I wish I could say something about this piece of furniture that was meaningful, and about the prayer posture we have been requested to assume, but we are in difficult times and the focus for us as a parish is really how can we participate in the truth and reconciliation process with the aboriginal community of Canada.”
    You couldn’t make this stuff up! Unwittingly, this parishioner of St. Joseph’s has proven His Excellency’s point. We have gotten so far away from the worship of God that we now think that it is “not a big topic,” where as reconciliation with the aboriginal community is what we’re really about as “church.”
    So you see that’s exactly the point: what is really most important in the hierarchy of priorities, our charitable works (for the time being let’s assume for argument’s sake that they are actually legitimate works of charity) or the worship of God?
    Yes we need both, but one takes precedence.

  14. Baron Korf says:

    If I had to suppose a reason for this, its that they don’t understand. They might be under the impression that they are kneeling before the priest and/or the authority of the Church as opposed to the reality that we are kneeling before the Real Presence and the descent of the Holy Spirit which confects the Eucharist through the ministry of the priest acting in Persona Christi. Not to beat a dead horse, but I think this has to do with the fact the priest is facing the people. With his face to us, it looks like he’s the main attraction, and that we are kneeling to the priest, rather than Christ.

  15. Kirk Rich says:

    I’m all for unity……BUT, I know that it is common to find older folks standing throughout the Canon in France, especially at Masses in the Extraordinary Form. Just watch a video of a Mass at St. Nicolas du Chardonnet in Paris. It’s interesting, as the Episcopal Church is now encouraging standing throughout their Eucharistic prayers. Just some observations.

  16. Deo Gratias for the good Bishop…I believe that kneeling throughout the entire EP is an indult as well. (Though I usually go EF).

    I’d say recovering our ability to adore would be a good thing.

  17. Jeff Pinyan says:

    I, too, applaud the Archbishop. (What is the context of that liturgical photo?!)

    In another article on the matter, there’s this gem: “Some expressed concerns that the archdiocesan liturgical commission was not consulted.” Boo-hoo.

  18. Oliver says:

    It’s not very clear for me if the archbishop wants to oblige people not to kneel between Mysterium fidei and the Per ipsum. Someone who has read the entire document ?
    In the new rubrics people are invited to kneel during the consecration, and the same rubrics mention as laudable to kneel until the Amen where it is the habit. But as usual possibility of adaptation by episcopal conferences is mentionned, and I never figured out if they were allowed to contradict what is just before ordained…

  19. Matt says:

    Back in Halifax, I always found Archbishop Prendergast to be a beacon of hope, and a great, great man. Ottawa is blessed to have someone so ardent in faith as their leader.

  20. Bro. AJK says:

    Dear Fr. Z.,

    Is the archbishop asking that all parishes have kneelers? If we kneel for only five minutes, then perhaps we don’t need them? (OK, perhaps in the winter with the melting water yet to evaporate ;) )

  21. Ed says:

    At a recent Mass, the older woman next to me in the pew, who had obvious health issues, was having a very hard time keeping up with positions–standing, sitting, kneeling–and at one point simply couldn’t rise from the kneeling position. There she was, kneeling alone in a forest of standing people. After she refused my offer to help her up, I knelt too, and we knelt together through the rest of the Mass. It felt wonderful, to ‘stand’ with her in that way, and to hold to the Lord with her despite the obvious out-of-sync-ness of our worship.

    Kneeling is right.

  22. PaulK says:

    Direct link to the letter:

    I’ve experienced this first hand, having lived in Ottawa for several years. It was definitely needed.

    For anyone visiting the capital or currently living there, I highly recommend St. Patrick’s Basilica at Kent and Nepean downtown.

    The preaching is top notch and they celebrated a Usus Antiquior mass a few months back. You have a communion rail to kneel and the mass is celebrated very reverently. High masses and their St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are outstanding.

  23. Lirioroja says:

    I was a student at U of Ottawa for 2 years. St. Joseph’s is right across the street
    and I avoided it like the plauge. It’s the only Catholic church I ever walked into
    where I was struck by an absence, not a Presence. I had a part-time job as a room
    attendant in the Music Department and one weekend I was so booked that the only Mass
    I could make was the Saturday Vigil at St. Joe’s. To this day, I question whether
    the Mass and the Sacraments were valid. I will spare you the details. I would hop
    on the Transitway bus to go to Mass at St. Patrick’s during the week. What an oasis –
    and even though it’s OF, they use the communion rail! I prefer to go to Mass there
    whenever I visit.

    Kudos to Archbishop Prendergast. Ottawa is blessed to have him. I do hope he will
    do something about St. Joe’s.

  24. I think if people really took to heart what is occurring in the liturgy, they’d not only want to kneel but prostrate themselves. Enough said.

  25. Maureen says:

    Not kneeling is very old, and imitates the angels in the presence of God or students in the presence of a Roman/Greek philosopher giving a lecture. Kneeling is very old, too. I can see doing it either way, but either way it has to be done reverently and mindfully.

    But if the old custom of an archdiocese is to kneel, probably everybody should be kneeling except maybe in certain ethnic parishes, by permission. Here in the US, I believe the custom always used to be to kneel. That’s how I was raised; that’s what I prefer.

    Also, I find that it is very painful to stand at attention like that for hours on end, as we have to do in the choirloft because we don’t have enough room to kneel. Okay, maybe it only seems like hours — but given that everybody always complains about standing through long Gospels, I’m not sure why anybody ever thought it would be a good idea to make us stand all through the Eucharistic prayers, much less take away the kneelers. It’s certainly not good for the old and frail people. Maybe it’s all in the interests of increasing mortification and detachment….

    Re: “loving things”

    We kneel because we love and adore.

    Re: reconciliation

    Humility before God produces justice and equality among men.

  26. Lirioroja says:


    Good to know that they’re open to the EF at St. Patrick’s. It’s been a few years
    since I’ve been in Ottawa so I didn’t know that. I second your recommendation of
    St. Patrick’s for those living in or visiting Ottawa.

  27. dcs says:

    Aren’t at least some of the aboriginal people of Canada largely Catholic? I know the Metis are (or were), though I guess they are not really aboriginal in the full sense of the word.

    The interesting thing about His Grace’s directive, though, is that it requires no resources at all. Nothing is being taken away from the resources directed toward the process of reconciliation with Canada’s aboriginal people. Kneeling costs nothing. Just do it.

  28. I think that one can link the dotted line to the Archbishop’s celebration of High Mass at St.Clement’s Parish (FSSP) last year and this decision. It is an example of the new rite being interpreted in light of the norms of the old rite as per the Holy Father’s desires stated in SP. Congratulations to the Archbishop for tackling this sticky and thankless task.

    The photo on Fr.Z’s entry as well as the rest from that Mass can be found here:

  29. Here in Toronto we follow the traditional manner of kneeling to the end of the Amen at the Doxology. I can see for Ottawa this is a shock. I was there during the debacle of the Ottawa Oratory back in 1987 and remember well two archbishops previous saying in the Ottawa Citizen that those who longed for Gregorian chant “suffer from nostalgia neurosis.

    St. Joseph’s is the same church that turned the confessionals into coat rooms and had a filthy fish pond of koi in the floor of the sanctuary.

    And look at what has happened since Archbishop Prendergast has been on board.

    Two exorcists hired.

    Politicians told about their voting patters on abortion and communion.

    He celebrates as Father Z has shown a Solemn High Pontifical Mass.

    And now this!

    Here, here to Archbishop Prendergast.

  30. Gere says:

    Com’on, all you sticks-in-the-mud, join Toddy and me in a rousing chorus:

    O Lord, I am so worthy,
    That I never need to kneel…
    I ‘m sorry if that irks You,
    It’s just the way I feel.

    We’re a “resurrection people,”
    It’s our story that we tell.
    Anyone who doesn’t like it,
    Can simply go to… receive Communion at the local sedevacantist chapel.

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)

  31. YearnsToKneel says:

    Maybe the next red cap in for a Canadian Bishop will go to Archbp. Prendergast?

    Unfortunately in my Canadian dioceses the Archbishop has instructed the complete opposite gesture. As part of our “Liturgical Renewal” we are to all remain standing until everyone has received communion, and then we are all to sit together as one. Apparently this gesture promotes unity. I guess in this diocese that is more important than prayer.

  32. Joe says:

    The Liturgists have had their kick at the can, now the Bishops. I have a great admiration for Archbishop Prendergast. I have one question though. The new GIRM has not yet been promulgated in Canada, unless a temporary one has some limited promulgation that I am unaware of. The GIRM in place in Canada calls for kneeling from the Epiclesis, not the Sanctus, to the Memorial Acclamation. The episcopal conference has the authority to make changes, with the approval of Rome; as far as I know the Episcopal Conference of Canada has not sought approval for any changes. (unlike say the US where in the previous GIRM they did ask for, and received, an extension of kneeling from what the GIRM called for). I wonder, then, by what authority Archbishop Prendergast made this change to the GIRM.

  33. Megan says:

    God bless Archbishop Prendergast. The Church needs more leaders like him.

  34. Nancy Reyes says:


    Actually, when we lived in Minnesota, my husband and I always knelt on the foor at the consecration when everyone stood.

    But mandating (as opposed to suggesting)? what about the elderly who have bad knees?

    My problem is not with kneeling: it is with the standing and standing and standing…I tend to faint. So I sit during the mass. It’s better than passing out once or twice a year in church.

  35. TJB says:

    Other info you may not know about Archbishop Prendergast:
    He is a Jesuit! He was given the Archdiocese of Ottawa after bringing about an incredible renewal in the Archdiocese of Halifax. He was given the Pallium by Pope Benedict XVI earlier this year. I have no doubt he will be a cardinal soon.
    Archbishop Prendergast certainly needs our prayers. Here in Canada there is far more opposition to good Bishops and far less support for them than there is in the US.

  36. Joe says:

    another useful anti-spam phrase that could be used might be ‘have you read carefully?’ in which case I would have seen that Fr Burke answered my question: the Canadian bishops have agreed to this in principle and Archbishop Prendergast SJ is being proleptic.

  37. Ann says:

    I read this article and think,”whatever happened to obedience unless asked to sin?” After all, obedience to legitimate authority is one of the virtues.

  38. agam says:

    This is REALLY good news.The first sign of Episcopal Fidelity in a VERY long time ,in this Liturgical Wasteland that is Canada. God Bless Archbishop Prendergast and we shall ALL keep praying for more courageous Bishops and Priests like him !

  39. Warren says:

    We either learn to kneel in humility this side of heaven or we won’t be able to stand (in) the presence of God.

  40. Josh says:

    I once met a man who could not kneel during Mass because he suffered from cerebral palsy. This man confided in me that he longed to travel to Lourdes, not to be able to walk, but to be able to kneel during Mass.

  41. Karen Russell says:

    Did anyone else notice this bit of irony?

    When an entire parish or diocese is asked to stand throughout the Eucharistic Prayer, the reasons always include, as Yearnstokneel pointed out, “this gesture promotes unity.”

    But when the archbishop asks all parishes to kneed throughout the Eucharistic prayer, the response is widespread grumbling that uniformity doesn’t equal sanctity, or even unity.”

    Sigh. I could wish Archbishop Prendergast had been left here in Halifax a little while longer. It is still a desert, at least as far as the EF goes . . .

  42. Jason Keener says:

    In “The Spirit of the Liturgy,” Pope Benedict noted that when the Devil appeared to one of the Desert Fathers, the Devil had no knees. The Pope went on to say that the inability to kneel is seen at the very essence of diabolical.

    I don’t think I need to say anymore…

  43. Jason Keener says:

    I do need to say more. Ha!

    Pope Benedict also included this in “The Spirit of the Liturgy” regarding kneeling:

    “The man who learns to believe learns also to kneel, and a faith or a liturgy no longer familiar with kneeling WOULD BE SICK AT THE CORE. Where it has been lost, kneeling must be rediscovered, so that, in our prayer, we remain in fellowship with the apostles and martyrs, in fellowship with the whole cosmos, indeed in union with Jesus Christ Himself.”

  44. Rancher says:

    IMO we need more authoritarian leaders. The Church (in spite of what the U S Bishops have done over the past 40 years) is NOT a democracy. Never has been and if it every becomes one we’re doomed. We (laity) are NOT equal to the clergy and while we should have some input into some decisions it is our duty to obey even if the direction is unpopular (that assumes that what we are directed to do is in accord with true Church teaching). Glad to see more and more Bishops exercising leadership—something they chose not to do for decades.

  45. chironomo says:

    Tyler said;

    “It is as if the Priest was trying to say “Kneeling is going to put us a step backwards in our relations with the aboriginal communities”. The two things are not related at all.”

    The point isn’t that they are related. What is being expressed here is an argument often heard when any attempt is made at refining the liturgy. In the U.S, it would be something like “we have priests abusing young boys and Bishops trying to hide them, and they think the most important thing is how we stand at Mass?” What this person was expressing was the “we have bigger things to worry about” argument. The fact that he tried to connect them by implying that this edict would set back relations with the aboriginals was simply a way to neatly disguise the argument.

  46. TomW says:

    Our parish just completed a new school and gymnasium, which was built before the new church. We move into the gym as our new worship space after Christmas. Unfortunately, we will have chairs with no kneelers during the long 4 or 5 year period between now and building a new church. My fear is that this long duration without kneelers will solidify a new expectation among the sheeple about standing and wallah, standing becomes ok. I’m guessing that in the meantime while worshiping in the gym, our pastor will not allow those of us choosing to kneel on the floor to do so for fear of destroying unity. We shall see.

  47. Ottawan says:

    As a member of Archbishop Prendergast’s diocese, I have to say that I give thanks to God every day for granting our diocese such a wonderful bishop. He is doing so many good things for the diocese, which is in great need of renewal. The issue at hand, though, is not one of kneeling or not kneeling: it is about fidelity and about obedience. Any true Catholic should regard both of those things in high esteem.

    I should also add that most of the opposition to obeying the archbishop’s directive that I have seen so far comes FROM THE CLERGY and not from the laity. And more specifically (though not exclusively) from the liberal Francophone clergy. The 70s and 80s theology that they learned in the seminary (when they actually went through a seminary formation) makes them rebel at the thought of kneeling, genuflecting, and all such forms of Eucharistic (and also Marian) devotion. It is not the fault of the clergy; they have just been very poorly educated. This, of course, is another reason to keep the clergy in our prayers. Better pray for them than judge them.

  48. Joe says:

    TomW and others: the GIRM clearly says (at least the edition used in Canada) that there is nothing to stop people from kneeling on the floor. The absence of kneelers would be a red herring. And if Father says \’many of the older people can\’t kneel on the floor\’, well, they\’re usually the ones who are best at kneeling, but of course the Church does not expect the physically impossible.

  49. walter says:

    Kneeling on the floor is a lot less painful than nails in your hands and a spear in your side.

  50. Jessy says:

    I should add add that most of the opposition to obeying the archbishop’s directive that I have seen so far comes FROM THE CLERGY and not from the laity.

    Over the past week, there have been 3 publicly announced excommunications in the US. All clergy (or former clergy).

    The laity have our problems, but the question of obedience begins with the clergy and religious. If we see them doing what they want, why should we bother with obedience?

  51. YearnsToKneel says:

    Cardinal Arinze on kneeling: (5 min)

  52. David Martin says:

    Dear Editor

    It’s about time a ruling bishop did something to get the people on their knees for God. Hats off to Archbishop Prendergast! Those who accuse him of being “authoritarian” are only showing their ignorance and their contempt for legitimate Church authority. The Church by nature is authoritarian. Christ is the King of kings who maintains absolute authority over His church and who allows no personal freedom to either challenge or dismiss His rule of law, and the clergy in turn are commissioned by Christ to execute that very authority over His subjects.
    Since when do the laity have the right to challenge the Church’s rulings or teachings? The Church is not a democracy where we vote for procedure, but is a monarchy, and every point of doctrine and discipline has already been handed down to us by the Divine Monarch through His legal representatives in the hierarchy. (save the modernists) As such, the Catholic faithful have no recourse but to either obey these rulings with loving submission, or to suffer the eternal fires that were prepared for the children of pride. Christ Himself told us that unless we become like little children and render a childlike submission to His doctrines and tradition, we will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. (St. Matthew 18:3)
    It is for reason that the Church through the centuries has always knelt during the consecration of the Mass. All doctrine and instruction is subservient toward that one end that we kneel in adoration to God. Since when do Catholics have a right to stand up to God? If “every knee must bend in the name of Jesus” (Philippians 2:10), how much more must those knees bend in His very presence when He re-enacts His Sacrifice among us during the consecration of Holy Mass?
    Let the faithful consider the conduct of Moses when he approached the burning bush in the mount. The Lord ordered him to put off his sandals because he was on holy ground. “Moses hid his face: for he durst not look at God.” (Exodus 3:6) And to think that this was only a manifestation of God’s presence, not an actual, physical presence.
    With how much greater reverence must we approach the altar where the Creator Himself dwells day and night in full body and spirit? Shall we mock Him and do a little dance for Him with our guitar and celebrate the the solemnity of Jesus Crucified is finally done away with? Shall we be like Pharisees and dance around the cross with our wagging heads, or shall we rather imitate St. John and the Blessed Virgin who knelt at the foot of the cross in loving reparation for all the sacrilege?
    Yea, St. John and the Holy Virgin set the stage for all the true apostles of the last times. The Mystical Body is truly passing through its passion, so it is incumbent upon faithful Catholics to come forward and make loving reparation to a Christ who is being profaned today in His own Church. And if we don’t have the courage and good will to at least kneel throughout the canon of the Mass as every Catholic should, then the least we can do is kneel for the consecration of Mass when the Maker of all things comes to us with His very Body and Blood. His Holiness Benedict XVI puts the matter in clear perspective in his sermon of May 22, 2008, in honor of Corpus Cristi, which he delivered in the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome:

    “We Christians kneel before the Blessed Sacrament because, therein,
    we know and believe to be the presence of the One True God.”

    The pope also said: “I am convinced of the importance of giving the host once again to the faithful directly in the mouth without them touching it” and made it clear that he would like to see “the return of kneeling during Communion as a sign of respect.” Those chosen to receive communion from the pope at his Masses must now kneel and receive on the tongue only.

    David Martin

  53. Michael Anne says:

    I’ve noticed that since Archbishop Prendergast, s.j. arrived in Ottawa that masses (i’ve attended while visiting) at the Notre-Dame Cathedral have used the latin Pater Noster in an effort to unify the language of this largely bilingual Diocese (multi-lingual on many levels). As Fr. Z says, Brick by Brick!

    Can a parishioner of Notre-Dame in Ottawa confirm that this happens at every mass?

  54. “I was recently at a wedding Mass in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area, both parties Catholic, and no one (except yours truly) knelt AT ALL during the Eucharistic Prayer. I couldn’t believe it.”

    Welcome to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee……..This is rather common in these parts. At least you did not see the Blessed Sacrament land on the floor….

  55. Ben says:

    As long as the Archbishop gave excemptions to the Eastern rite Catholics. Their liturgy requires a lot of bowing in order to show respect. We should maintain our Western tradition of kneeling.

  56. Frank H says:

    Tom W – Have hope! When we moved to the Columbus, Ohio area in early ’92, the parish we joined had a late ’60s vintage church with no kneelers, and thus no kneeling. The parish built a new church in ’05, with kneelers, and the congregation had no trouble resuming the practice.

  57. Joe says:

    Ben, the Archbishop does not have jurisdiction over the Liturgy of Eastern rite Catholics and he has no jurisdiction at all over those with their own Canadian hierarch (eg the Ukrainians, Melkites). On the other hand most Ukrainians in Canada have no problem with kneeling!

  58. Maureen says:

    Re: Eastern Catholics

    The Maronites, Greek Catholics, et al — they have their own bishops. They aren’t affected by what the Archbishop of Ottawa says.

  59. Irish says:

    FYI–Prendergast is a name in my family and I’ve done a little research on its origins. It’s definitely a Norman name. Maurice de Prendergast was one of the leaders of the Norman invasion. The family settled in Counties Wexford and Tipperary in Ireland and became quite prominent in Irish politics. The family crest consists of several bells, which represents the power to disperse evil spirits. The family motto is Vincit Veritas.

    Looks like the good Bishop is living up to his name.

  60. Mitch says:

    Send that wonderful message with the Canadian winds down south across the border to the US..We could use it…Receiving on the tongue kneeling should be the norm everywhere..It takes little adjustment to get used to..Great work Bishop !

  61. Charivari Rob says:

    TomW – “Our parish just completed a new school and gymnasium, which was built before the new church. We move into the gym as our new worship space after Christmas. Unfortunately, we will have chairs with no kneelers during the long 4 or 5 year period between now and building a new church. My fear is that this long duration without kneelers will solidify a new expectation among the sheeple about standing and wallah, standing becomes ok. I’m guessing that in the meantime while worshiping in the gym, our pastor will not allow those of us choosing to kneel on the floor to do so for fear of destroying unity. ”

    You can do it! My old parish had 35-40 years in a gymnasium (half-time) and the folding chairs with kneelers wore out a generation ago. Those that could, simply kneeled on the floor. They moved into the new church last spring and nobody seems to be having any problem adjusting to kneelers again.

  62. Blaise says:

    The good bishop is simply implementing the universal norm of the Church for posture during the consecration of the bread and wine. This is to kneel. The Canadian bishops have never received a recognitio to stand during the consecration. One may ask where many of the liturgical abuses have originated? Please see this article at Adoremus:

    John Huels, (who is employed at St. Paul’s University, Ottawa) has also interpreted Canon 915 relatively and Archbishop Burke speaks of this in CANON 915:

    “John M. Huels, the commentator on can. 915 in the New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law, commissioned by the Canon Law Society of America, reduces scandal to a subjective reality, ignoring its essential connection to what is objective, what is right and wrong. He states:

    The fact of actual scandal is, moreover, culturally relative. What causes scandal in one part of the world may not cause scandal elsewhere. In North America the faithful often are more scandalized by the Church’s denial of sacraments and sacramentals than by the sin that occasions it, because it seems to them contrary to the mercy and forgiveness commanded by Christ. [76]”

  63. Geoffrey Jones says:

    Here in Australia we kneel from the Sanctus until the great Amen, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    I don’t really care that standing is more ancient. I, as a Latin Rit-er don’t really care how other Rites do it. We have to be culturally sensitive. In western society everybody (even the totally unchurched) unstand that kneeling is a powerful sign of reverence and it is culturally insensitive to me as someone who grew up in a Western-European based culture to ask me to not kneel.

  64. Amadan says:

    Fr. Z.:
    Do you know of any guide for the wearing of the pectoral cross in public? I have an American
    friend who thinks not sticking it in the front pocket of the jacket is bad form and tacky.

  65. Hugo says:


    Do you mean like Cardinal Mahoney? There’s been speculation for years about what he has on the end of that chain.

    I’m old enough to have heard every one of these neo-con slaps against the TLM crowd.

    Cassock = Dress

    Lace points to effeminacy.

    I’m sure the readers could submit more £

  66. TerryC says:

    Our bishop in Virginia has laid the law down. It has been the habit to construct churches without kneelers in this diocese (though my own church has them.) The bishop has directed (and widely propagated the news) that all new churches will be designed with kneelers. Present churches will have kneelers installed if they are renovated.
    Now we get to see how some try to wiggle out: “..but changing the alter isn’t really renovation…”, “painting and changing the carpet isn’t really renovation is it?…”, “…we were just going to change the bapistry, that really isn’t renovation…”
    I hope the bishop will be pastoral, but firm.

  67. Tina says:

    My sister says that Cardinal George was quite cruel on this matter. He set
    a deadline for kneelers to be installed. In the interim, if able, the laity
    would kneel on the floor.

    He wasn’t prepared for the resistence he got, that’s for sure!

  68. James Markley says:

    Perhaps, putting the pectoral cross in one’s pocket is one of those “voluntary” American requirements like not wearing one’s cassock in public?

  69. Ottawa Catholic says:

    I have a question for Fr. Zuhlsdorf (or any other liturgist that may be listening). I am from the Archdiocese of Ottawa (Archbishop Prendergast’s diocese), and I noticed that my parish priest NEVER kneels or genuflects, including during Holy Mass. He just does short inclinations (minor inclinations) at the double consecration, and at the entrance and the recessional. This practice seems to be almost universally followed in the francophone parishes in our diocese (my parish is francophone too). I wonder if it is just an ideology of our French-speaking priests against genuflection.

    My question is: Is it licit for the priest, of his own initiative, to replace the genuflections at Mass with minor inclinations?

    Just wondering. Thanks for any information in this area.

  70. Blaise says:

    Christ is present on earth. He is present as the Holy Eucharist and He becomes really present at the consecration during Holy Mass (Novus Ordo, if valid, and the Extraordinary Form, if valid) of the bread and wine by the priest so that the bread and wine appear as bread and wine but the substance of them is changed to the real body and blood of Christ, the Real Presence of Christ. THis is called transubstantiation. This is why the Church’s universal norm is to kneel. Because Jesus Christ, who is God is really there. To not kneel during the consecration is insanity. That is why the universal norm is to kneel.

    The postures for the Holy Mass and universal norms for the Holy Mass can be found in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), a copy of which can be found on the internet.

  71. Ed says:

    Kneeling, yes.

  72. Ed says:

    Kneeling, yes. But why?

    After my last post I thought about it; kneeling seems to push buttons. Thinking about that, I found this:

    “Surrender is an inside job. It has to do with what is going on inside of me. We are talking about the healing of my heart. It is a healing that needs to go on inside of me. This surrender within me is extremely important because it allows the Holy Spirit to come and work in our unconscious areas. Actually, the healing power of surrender is really our inheritance in Jesus because Jesus Himself was total “fiat” – total surrender. It was His desire that we become one with the Father. He experienced this oneness because He was in the constant posture of surrender. Surrender is our inheritance. He wants us to have this same grace that He had. He paid a high price so that we could have it.”

    This is from the Intercesors of the Lamb, mentioned yestrday on another thread,

    and, in my case, it fits the question. I want to surrender; it can be tough to do; kneeling gives me the opportunity to follow my better instinct vis-a-vis my relationship with the Creator.

  73. Joe: The absence of kneelers would be a red herring.

    Indeed, it is. Some years ago I was a member of a TLM community that met for Sunday Mass in a church having no kneelers. Most of us, not being the stuff of martyrs, regularly carried with us cushions to kneel on.

  74. Gilberto says:

    Enough with the clapping we are not pentecostal or evangelicals.Let us return to our tradition of keeping silence during The Holy Mass.Let us pray for the bishop that God may give wisdown and knowlege to do the right thing that is to bring God’s people to fidelity to the Catholic Church.Basta …no more show The Mass is the Sacrifice of Christ on The Cross.

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