Priest bully at consecration: “Lest we commit venial sin, let us continue to stand.”

I found this on Ten Reasons.

Sign of victory and celebration

From a Rochester (NY) reader:

    I was in attendance at Sr. Joan’s 50th anniversary mass at OLOL tonight at 5PM. … During the consecration, [Fr. Lawlor] (as usual) invited the (packed) congregation to remain standing "as a sign of victory and celebration." I was expecting that. What I was not prepared for was his reference to some early church somebody (I was too stunned to retain the specific reference) suggested that "kneeling at this time could be construed as a venial sin." I paused (as he did) and went into hypervigilant mode, only to hear him say (verbatim), "Lest we commit venial sin, let us continue to stand." !!?!?!??"

!!?!?!?? indeed!

In the USA, congregations are to kneel from after the Sanctus to after the Amen following the Doxology.

In Italy, congregations are to kneel for the consecration. from the epiklesis until the "acclamation" following the consecration.

I don’t believe there is anywhere in the world in the Latin Church where people are not supposed to kneel for the consecration.

First,… the report is that the priest invited people to something against the Church’s liturgical law at the time of the consecration.  If you search the Roman Missal there is no option for this. 

No one is to add anything to the texts or rubrics on his own authority. 

If the priest did this, he hijacked the Mass and abused the congregation for his own selfish agenda.  He turned the Mass and the people there into objects to be utilized in the advancement of his ideology.

He is a bully.

And what is this "lest we commit venial" sin, is simply snide.  By invoking the category of sin, he is mocking the pre-Conciliar Missale Romanum, which in the praenotanda referred to venial and mortal sin for defects and violation of rubrics.  He is also mocking people who are interested in deeper liturgical decorum through obedience.

I would be very interested to learn from this bully which Father of the Church he instrumentalized to ask people to violate the Church’s clear liturgical law and break unity of worship on his own authority to.

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  1. Jayna says:

    Wow. I may complain about the priests in my parish not saying the word “men” in the Creed, but they would never take it this far. Simply speechless.

  2. Jenny says:

    The parish I grew up in did not kneel at all for anything. Never. I don’t know why not. It was never discussed that I recall. I had to learn when we are supposed to kneel as an adult after attending other parishes. I’m sure if you visited my old parish, they are all still standing because the same ole folks are still in charge over there.

  3. Gus says:

    Unfortunately, there are way too many bullies who try to turn the Holy Mass into their’s or the local community’s liturgy instead of the Church’s.
    Case in point: in my faith community, Holy Communion under both species has been suspended for the past month due to the swine flu scare. The Archbishop has now re-authorized the use of both species starting on the Feast of Corpus Christi.
    Yesterday the priest stated all of the above but added that he wants communicants to cease the practice of self-intinction.
    This caused a minor uproar in the congregation by those who want to continue the self-inctintion despite it not being permitted in the Rite.
    In this case the bully wasn’t this present priest but previous ones that gave license to the practice of self-inctintion despite their not having any authority to do so and as a result both warped the proper liturgical celebration and confused legitimate with illegitimate authority.
    The present priest, however, wasn’t too clear as to the theological reasons why self-inctinction is wrong.
    I’d like to provide the priest with some help in this matter but I’m not too clear about the underlying reasons either.
    If anyone can provide some info as to why this practice is not permitted by the Church it would really be welcomed.

    Pax et Bonum

  4. Pat says:

    It’s actually quite a common thing in Canada, and I’ve been to several parishes where kneeling is verboten. One priest explained to me that it’s because “We’re an Easter people, and kneeling wouldn’t properly reflect our dignity before God”. I’m serious, I couldn’t make that stuff up.

  5. When you live in a diocese like Arlington, you do manage to get spoiled. (There, I admitted it.) So when I go on the road, I am careful where I go to Mass. Usually I’ll attend a Traditional Mass (at a place in communion with the Holy See, mind you), or an Eastern Rite liturgy. But I wonder, would I refuse to attend Mass, if my only choice were the scenario described here? I hope that never happens. God forbid that I refuse to spend one hour with Him, never mind when it be His commandment.

    Still, to this day, I will avoid the parish in Ohio where I grew up. They haven’t descended to this level of nonsense yet. But when given the chance…

    Here, too, I wonder.

  6. Mary says:

    “I don’t believe there is anywhere in the world where people are not to kneel for the consecration.”

    I think in Quebec and perhaps all of Canada, actually. [Actually, I bet by law they are supposed to kneel. Perhaps people can help us get to the bottom of that.]

  7. paul says:

    I think the only way to attack this kind of nonsense is to go to Mass where you know the rubrics are respected and be generous by supporting those churches. Although I normally go to a novus ordo Mass, if I were traveling outside of my state- I would make a special effort to find the EF.

  8. Dan says:

    At my ‘home’ parish, there is no kneeling because there are no kneelers. Most times I kneel anyway. An encouraging trend I’ve seen is that more of the servers are beginning to kneel.

  9. Zyad says:

    “I don’t believe there is anywhere in the world where people are not to kneel for the consecration.” Eastern Catholics (most) bow but do not kneel during consecration. [We are talking about the Latin Church.]

  10. Jim says:

    Eastern Catholics and Orthodox, who prostrate at the epiclesis, are exempt from this priest’s venal adjudication. [We are talking about the Latin Church.] I also suspect that the priest himself could be guilty of a greater than venial sin by scandalizing others with his heterodox pronouncements. But then, it is not my place to judge him.

  11. mrsmontoya says:

    I am thrilled to announce I, my husband, and two daughters knelt yesterday at the consecration for the first time in many years. Our bishop long ago asked that everyone remain standing during communion as a sign of ‘unity in posture’ – and that has been interpreted as including the consecration. Last week I had the opportunity to ask the Bishop himself, after the Memorial Day service. He told me “By all means you may kneel” though he added he preferred everyone remain standing during communion.

    We take that to mean, kneel during consecration, remain standing after receiving communion. We took appropriate action yesterday, it felt so wonderful!

    Did I mention we sit in the front pew?

  12. I am not Spartacus says:

    I would be very interested to learn from this bully which Father of the Church he instrumentalized to ask people to violate the Church’s clear liturgical law and break unity of worship on his own authority to

    Fr. He prolly cited Tertullian.

    Tertullian, “The Crown:”

    We regard it as unlawful to fast or to worship on our knees on the Lord’s day.”

    Footnote 5 references the Council of Micea.

    The Council of Nicaea – 325ad

    Canon 20.

    Since there are some who kneel on Sunday and during the season of Pentecost, this holy synod decrees that, so that the same observances may be maintained in every diocese, one should offer one’s prayers to the Lord standing.

    William A. Jurgens, “The Faith of the Early Fathers,” Vol 1, page 151

  13. dcs says:

    He is also suggesting that the Church can command us to sin.

  14. Fr. Charles says:

    The “no kneelers” thing has been an issue in a lot of places I’ve been. We never had any in our house chapels in formation, so…no kneeling. Nobody dared. Now in our parish we have our early Mass in a small chapel where there are no kneelers. So the people stand. I’m supposed to scold people if they kneel, but I don’t feel as if I have the right.

  15. Roland de Chanson says:

    I am probably showing my ignorance here but I was not aware that there is an epiclesis in the Roman Rite, at least not in the sense that the term is used in the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, i.e. an explicit invocation of the Holy Ghost to change the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. What prayer of the Roman Canon is considered the epiclesis?

    And as an obiter dictum, is the Kyrie to be recited from the Epistle side? It used to tbe the center of the altar. (I am referring to the “extraordinary” form). Undique res novae.

  16. Virgil says:

    I’m curious about the comment, “his reference to some early church somebody (I was too stunned to retain the specific reference).”

    I understand the “stunning.” I assisted Mass at my parents parish a few months ago and I was a bit rattled at the consecration, when there was no kneeler available and my near 7 foot frame couldn’t quite contort to the floor.

    Probably not that the reader was stunned, so much as the reference was probably either an urban myth, or something taken out of context. We know that there were moments in certain places in the Latin Church when standing was the norm. But it’s the idea that there would be a sin, or more specifically a “venial sin” to adopt a different posture: but this sounds odd.

    Readers? Father Z? Better yet, the aforementioned Father Lawlor? Citations and footnotes!

  17. Dr. Eric says:


    The lack of an explicit epiclesis in the EF is one of the many reasons that the Orhtodox claim that we are heretics. From what I have read, the OF now has such an epiclesis to accommodate the Orthodox. The OF has it prior to the Words of Institution and the Byzantine Orthodox (and Catholics) have it after the Words of Institution.

  18. Joseph says:

    The irony (as Spartacus mentioned) of this discussion on the week where we celebrate the first Nicene council:
    20. prohibition of kneeling during the liturgy, on Sundays and in the fifty days of Eastertide (“the pentecost”). Standing was the normative posture for prayer at this time, as it still is among the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholics. (In time, Western Christianity adopted the term Pentecost to refer to the last Sunday of Eastertide, the fiftieth day.)

    I do know some Roman parishes that stand for the consecration and I know some Byzantine parishes that kneel. In no way supporting cafeteria ritual obediences but it is an amusing coincidence.

  19. “No kneelers” is a bogus excuse. Surely irrelevant, since people probably knelt for centuries before the modern cushioned kneeler was invented. People who want to honor God in this way will find a way.

    Years ago I was a member of a TLM community that had Mass in an Eastern Catholic Church. There were no kneelers there, but the belief of the people attending was so full that not a single person was ever seen to stand during any part of the Canon.

    Though many, including me, began to carry suitable personal cushions into church for this purpose. Whereas now I occasionally see people of perhaps greater conviction at a TLM decline to put down the kneeler and instead by choice kneel directly on the hard floor.

    Also, I frequently see people at a TLM decline to put

  20. not Spartacus: But.. used as excuse to violate the Church’s law? I don’t think so. Especially that Canon from Nicea.

  21. Even things in Mahonyland haven’t gotten that bad.

  22. joe says:

    Speaking of Canada…I know that Abp. Terrence Prendergast, SJ (SJ!) directed all parishes in his archdiocese to kneel. In fact, I recall you (Fr. Z, I mean) blogging on the media coverage of this here:

    And the original letter from His Excellency is (in PDF form) somewhere in the site.


  23. Wm. Christopher Hoag says:

    I am always amused by those progressivist persons who dismiss the relevance of the past for the present on grounds of cultural and historical conditioning and then turn around and cite the past in a gross example of archeologism to justify some deviation in the present.

    Now I have no evidence that this priest in question does this, but he seems to fit the profile!

  24. Richard says:

    I wonder on what other occasions this priest has talked about sin outside of whether or not people follow purported rubrics of the Mass.

  25. I am not Spartacus says:

    FR. Z. Amen. I completely agree.

    Sadly, that is the sort of dishonest propaganda incubated in the intellects of the obedient in not a few seminaries. It is extremely dangerous precisely because citations for this malign mischief can be produced.

    Whenever I read of such actions, I recall the warnings of l Mediator Dei

    61…The same reasoning holds in the case of some persons who are bent on the restoration of all the ancient rites and ceremonies indiscriminately. The liturgy of the early ages is most certainly worthy of all veneration. But ancient usage must not be esteemed more suitable and proper, either in its own right or in its significance for later times and new situations, on the simple ground that it carries the savor and aroma of antiquity

    63.…Just as obviously unwise and mistaken is the zeal of one who in matters liturgical would go back to the rites and usage of antiquity, discarding the new patterns introduced by disposition of divine Providence to meet the changes of circumstances and situation.

    64. This way of acting bids fair to revive the exaggerated and senseless antiquarianism to which the illegal Council of Pistoia gave rise.

    The mischief caused by the willful Priests/Bishops who allow or, worse, encourage this Liturgical anomie is absolutely a theft of my Catholic Heritage.

  26. Sandia says:

    This sort of nonsense is widespread in the Diocese of Rochester, doctrinally and liturgically–this is actually one of the less outrageous examples. I’m so glad I live in Northern Virginia now…

  27. Scotty says:

    When I lived in Caen, France, the congregation did not kneel (less a few non-conformists, myself included) during the Consecration, even at the big, beautiful, well-attended NO Mass downtown. One church I attended in a different part of the city even had kneelers and the congregation did not kneel. I do wonder if there was a diocesan rule against it…

  28. Dr. Eric says:

    I am not one of those people who go against the Church or anything like that, but what about this Canon XX of Nicaea I? I came across it about 4 years ago and I am a bit perplexed by it. If this is a rabbit hole, I ask Fr. Z to bump my post.

    Why do we kneel when the Canon says that we are not supposed to on Sundays and throughout the Easter season?

  29. dcs says:

    Re: The Epiklesis –

    Eucharistic Prayers II, III, and IV have an explicit invocation of the Holy Ghost before the consecration. The Roman Canon does not have an explicit invocation. Hope this helps.

  30. Nicholas says:

    Dear Dr. Eric,

    Because that canon is clearly no longer the law!

  31. Jeff Pinyan says:

    It’s all about redefining “participation” in the liturgy of the Church. Priests like him deny Catholics the “full, conscious, and active participation” in the liturgy which is their by right of baptism and replace it with a pseudo-participation.

    This is why it is only proper for priests (and anyone else, really) to provide sound liturgical catechesis to their flocks. Bow the head at the invocation of the Trinity, at the name of Jesus, at the name of Mary, at the name of the saint(s) being honored that day. Bow the body to the altar, and during the Creed. Genuflect to the Blessed Sacrament.

    PARTICIPATE IN THE LITURGY THE RIGHT WAY, not this fraudulent way foisted upon us by “heteroprax” clergy!

  32. Dr. Eric says:

    Nicholas, when was it nullified?

  33. FYI, the Mass in question was the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of Sr. Joan Sobala’s membership in the Sisters of St. Joseph.** Sr. Joan was made Pastoral Administrator over one of the Diocese of Rochester’s few remaining traditional parishes last year. She is a member of the Women’s Ordination Conference, frequently preaches during the time reserved for the homily, and has been known to wear a crucifix featuring a female corpus.


    You can find related posts at my site:

  34. Lois says:

    The area I live in, eastern Canada, there are many churches without kneelers at all. Everyone stands, and this is all the people know. In fact, when they put a new floor in our church not so long ago there was a proposal put forward to not re-install the kneelers afterwards because they are too difficult to clean. Some people did not care for that idea and eventually the kneelers went back in.

  35. I will add that there are many such bullies and we will pray for them.

    At my brother’s parish the priests (liberal OFM’s in Kensington, CT)border on the heterodox and consider those of us attached to the EF as “extremists”.

    How sad.

  36. Nicholas says:

    I don’t know. But it’s clearly not been the law in the West for centuries, perhaps even more than a millennium. It also needn’t have been nullified or abrogated or superseded or repealed or whatever (there are so many possible terms of art out there) by a single, explicit act or decree or bull or canon or whatever (id.). Desuetude is a powerful principle in all legal systems.

  37. I’m not sure the Priest in question was of ill will. He’s probably just profoundly confused, as so many others of us.

    Some have brought up Nicea. It seems that the ancient practice of the Church, at least in the East, indeed was to pray standing. The Easterners still consider it extremely inappropriate to kneel while praying, at least on Sundays, instead bowing profoundly (as far as I can make out, they regard it as unduly poenitential for the commemoration of the glorious event of the Resurrection).

    My guess is that the Pastor in question doesn’t much like the kneeling thing himself, and he’s looked up some Church history and convinced himself that the original practice of the Church was different. He may well be right – but the point is that tradition has evolved differently since then in the West. While ancient Christians, and Easterners today, mean no disrespect while they stand for the anaphora, when we in our culture have been kneeling for so long it is difficult to not all of a sudden be disrespectful if we don’t kneel.

  38. I hope it’s okay to share a similar personal experience. At a daily mass when I was in college, the priest apparently spoke about standing as part of his homily and how you should do what the priest tells you to. I missed that because I was contemplating something else he said at the beginning, and when it was time for the consecration I was the only one kneeling. My friend commented on it later, I said, “Oh he did? Well I’m going to kneel anyway because it’s Christ!” It’s funny, because I remember going to the priest after that mass and thanking him for what he said at the beginning, having no idea I had offended his suggestions!
    I’m in a very traditional Catholic Louisiana, and that fellow was a Jesuit from California. He left after only two years.

  39. I am not Spartacus says:

    Nicholas, when was it nullified?

    Fr. Jungmann, Vol 1, pp 233-245, “Forms of Popular Participation,” has a fascinating discussion of the matter. If I could scan it and post it here, I would.

    Suffice it to say that on page 240…

    It was not till the eucharistic movement of the thirteenth century that any inroad was made here, namely, by kneeling at the consecration.

    However,he, prior to that observation, notes that; On the other hand, kneeling was still generally limited during the first millenary to days without festive character and even here it was limited to the fore-mass…Then, for the people, kneeling was transferred to the respective orations themselves, and on non-festive days the bowed but standing posture, hitherto in vogue during the canon and other orations, was also soon changed to kneeling.

    FWIW, “The Mass of the Roman Rite (Two vols) by Fr. Jungmann is endlessly fascinating. Mine is so dog-eared and marked-up it is ridiculous but I use it for reference all the time.

  40. Paladin says:

    I once asked a local priest, while he was a seminarian, why some people (including him, while he was a seminarian) didn’t kneel for the consecration, etc.; he replied that “we are the Body of Christ, and the Body of Christ does not kneel before the Body of Christ.”

    Does this, and the “Easter People” excuse, remind anyone else of ad hoc, straw-grasping excuse-making? If any of my students tried an excuse with me that was that lame, I’d have them in for detention!

  41. Gideon Ertner: he’s looked up some Church history and convinced himself that the original practice of the Church was different.

    These anachronistic arguments often are (even when not pernicious) fallacious on several levels. Not only is it true that what was reverent in one age may be irreverent or even sacrilegious in another, but such arguments may deny centuries-long developments under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Though I thought it a bit extreme, I once heard a priest say that this kind of denial can actually involve sin against the Holy Spirit.

  42. Jeff Pinyan says:

    This is the pessimist in me, but I fear the priest in question doesn’t actually believe in “venial” vs. “mortal” sin anyway.

  43. Paladin: “we are the Body of Christ, and the Body of Christ does not kneel before the Body of Christ.”

    In the words of the popular gathering hymn, “We gather together to worship each other”?

  44. Okay folks, leave my Canada alone!

    The norm in Canada is the same as in the United States this is how it was ever since the promulation of the Missa Normative in 1970 and how it everywhere I have been. There may be parishes abusing this here and there, notwithstanding.

    We kneel from the Sanctus to the end of the Doxology and again after the Agnus Dei to after Communion. The situation in Ottawa was unique and perhaps to enforce uniformity the Archbishop could only rely on the letter of the GIRM.

    Certain, in the Archdiocese of Toronto, we kneel (though there exceptions where they “know better!”).

  45. The Catholic Encyclopedia makes the same point as I am not Spartacus. It is a rather confusing article, but in the end it concludes that while kneeling has always been used for private devotion, standing was in the first centuries the most common liturgical posture, except on poenitential days.

  46. Hidden One says:

    Re: Fr. Z\’s comment on the comment \”Comment by Mary — 1 June 2009 @ 1:41 pm\”

    In Canada, it is indeed mandated for all to kneel during the Consecration itself. How much of the Mass we are mandated to kneel for varies by the diocese, but we are always to kneel for the Consecration.

    In plenty of places and at all levels, however, that rule is ignored.

  47. Susan Peterson says:

    There seems to be what one might call a conceit among certain types of modern liturgists, to copy elements from Eastern Christianity, without at all emulating its spirit of reverence.
    My Ruthenian Catholic parish has recently (a little over a year ago) changed its practice to be in accord with that council of Nicea canon. This is supposed to be part of getting back to our Eastern roots.
    Most people are not all that happy about it, as they have absorbed the Western sense that kneeling is more reverential. I myself have great difficulty with no kneeling to pray after communion. But in an Eastern Catholic church this does make sense; it is in accord with the tradition and with the Orthodox who worship according to the same rite.

    It makes no sense for Western rite Catholics. Why don’t they import ad orientem celebration, an iconostasis which no one who is not serving at the altar goes behind, which means no women, communion administered on a golden spoon by the priest only, which means no EMHC’s, changed liturgies even at daily mass, multiple signs of the cross by laypeople during liturgy, prostrations, and so on? No, they choose the one practice to import which to a Western sensibility implies less reverence.

    Susan Peterson

  48. fr william says:

    Epiclesis: My understanding is that, in the EF, the prayer Veni, sanctificator omnipotens æterne Deus (at the Offertory) is epicletic in function. Of course, in the OF this prayer has been removed, with the ironic consequence that the use of the Canon Romanus in the OF results in the total omission of this (arguably) essential element.

    I realise it probably counts as a liturgical abuse, but when using the Canon Romanus in the OF I always add (privately) the Veni, sanctificator … straight after In spiritu humilitatis … – just to be sure! (Actually, I’d welcome opinions on whether that’s legitimate, or in general a good or bad idea.)

  49. Dr. Eric says:

    “Not only is it true that what was reverent in one age may be irreverent or even sacrilegious in another, but such arguments may deny centuries-long developments under the influence of the Holy Spirit.”

    I had heard a priest relate this story on EWTN:

    In a country in Southeast Asia (this story reminds me of “The King and I”) the people sit for the Consecration because in their culture no one’s head may be physically above the most important person in the room and I guess their altars sit pretty low.

  50. Bill in Texas says:

    I remember going to Mass in Naples, Italy, in the mid-70’s (’76 to ’78) during port visits there, and noticing that a small but noticeable number of those at Mass stood during the Consecration. With my lousy Italian, I wasn’t about to ask them why. I later heard (back in the U.S.) that standing during the Consecration was not permitted because it was a sign of some sort of protest (about what, I never heard). I can’t remember ever seeing this standing in Spain or in Sicily. No idea about France — we had a Catholic chaplain aboard for one visit to Toulon, and in Marseilles I don’t think I ever managed to find a church close enough, at least not that I can remember — if there was one, I’d have gone. In Marseilles, we were at a pier way off in the port for one visit, and in the shipyard for another. We could see the beautiful cathedral far off in the distance, but had no idea how to get there, and Marseilles in the 70’s was not a place for getting lost off the beaten track — too easy to be found floating in the harbor the next day (I hear it’s much safer now).

    When I was growing up in Dallas, before the changes in 1969, we always knelt, at the approximate times that we kneel now. Since returning to Texas after leaving the Navy in 1978, every parish I’ve been in the practice has been to kneel from the Sanctus to the Amen after the Doxology.

    So I’m very surprised that anybody in the U.S. stands during those times. I guess I’ve been in good parishes.

  51. truthfinder says:

    About Canada:
    I have lived in two dioceses in the West of Canada. In the Archdiocese of Vancouver, one kneels just as one does in the U.S. In my current diocese, we kneel from the Sanctus to just before “Christ has died, Christ has risen…” and we do not kneel after the Agnus Dei. However, there are some people who do kneel through this to the Sanctus, and again after the Agnus Dei. No one seems to have a problem with this. Funnily enough, though, at weekday Masses (at least in my parish) most people tend to follow the American norms, even if they follow our usual practice on Sundays.

  52. ED says:

    Well we can see why all those churches have been closed in the Rochester, New York diocese when you have clowns like this. Either Salvation is a serious matter or not, Catholics better start asking themselves .

  53. Bill in Texas says:

    Our parish priest has said that the epiclesis in the OF is when he extends his hands over the bread and wine just before the Consecration. He explained it during server training as being the moment when the priest invokes the Holy Spirit. He has the servers give a short ring of the bells at that moment.

    We have had visiting priests, some of whom ask that we not ring the bells then, and some of whom seem delighted and surprised that we do.

    I have no idea what is right and what isn’t, but what Father said about the epiclesis and about ringing the bells for it seemed right to me, but then I was originally trained as a server in the late 50’s, so maybe his practice just resonates with my fossilized knowledge.

    (In case you’re wondering how an old fudd like me got involved in server training, it’s because during the school year it’s hard to get servers for funerals. Since I live very close to the church and I work from home, Father often calls me in to help him by setting up (the elements for the Eucharist, the Easter candle, incense, pall, aspergillium and bucket, Sacramentary, coaching any family members who are going to serve as lector(s), dealing as necessary with flowers, tables, guest books, and helping elderly folks to their seats, and so on), serving during the funeral Mass, and then putting away.)

  54. Patricia Gonzalez says:

    In my parish (diocese of Valleyfield, Quebec), we kneel from the Sanctus till the Eucharistic Acclamation (we also have kneelers). In another parish I’ve attended in the same Diocese, the congregation kneels from the Sanctus till the end of the Doxology. I’d be willing to bet that this kind of discrepancy (variation, whatever) is a result of confusion, and many parish priests tweaking the liturgy to suit their own personal preferences. One priest has actually told me that (his words) “when something comes from Rome, we close our eyes”. No word from the Bishop — ever — about anything — except for the annual fundraising dinner.

  55. Glen says:

    Back to Canada, I used to visit a parish where everyone stood for the consecration. By no coincidence we also had to introduce ourselves to those around us prior to the start of Mass, Father “Jim” co-hosted his homily with the parish nun which was a string of one-liners, laughter, etc. Father spent some time in Central America, spoke favourably of Liberation Theology and was usually seen outside of church without his collar.

    Sometimes if it quacks, it’s a duck.

  56. Sue Sims says:

    Visiting France, I found that in every church where I attended Mass, I was the only person kneeling. This applied to small churches and to large – it happened at Sacre-Coeur in Paris and in the Basilica at Lisieux. Not the least irritating aspect is that when you’re short, like me, you can’t see the elevation.

  57. fr william says:

    Bill in Texas: What you say makes perfect sense in terms of Eucharistic Prayers II to IV, where the bells are correctly rung at these words:
    “Let your Spirit come upon these gifts to make them holy …” (EP II)
    “We ask you to make them holy by the power of your Spirit …” (EP III)
    “Father, may this Holy Spirit sanctify these offerings …” (EP IV)

    The trouble is that in EP I there is no corresponding invocation of the Holy Spirit – or in fact any reference of any kind to the Holy Spirit, unless you count the Doxology. But the prayer Veni sanctificator, in the Offertory of the EF, does appear to fulfil that rôle. Unfortunately, the OF has removed it!

  58. thereseb says:

    How odd it is that those who dig up the Early Church as justification, never extend their observances to really uncomfortable practices of the early Church – e.g. public confession and penance; living as a “dead” person (fasting and abstaining from food and sex) after Extreme Unction; strict fasting and abstinence at the appointed times; chucking the catechumens out of church before the Liturgy of the Eucharist……..

  59. Standing is the norm at catholic high school gymnasium Masses…maybe practical because there are no kneelers.

    The sad part is, the ‘catholic’ high school I worked for built a new building and the chapel was planned without kneelers.

    Was it Archbishop Fulton Sheen who said “you’ll loose your faith if you send your kids to a catholic school” at least they can share their faith with others if you send them to a public school. I don’t know (if or)when +Sheen said this, but I would recommend neither these days(homeschool or orthodox Catholic school).

  60. John says:

    Bishop Matthew Clark is 3 years, one month and 15 days from age 75 retirement

  61. thereseb says:

    Sorry – post E.U. abstention was from meat, not all food.

  62. Dr. Eric says:

    Bishop Sheen was reported to have said that during the 70s to a couple who wanted to know whether or not they should send their college aged children to a Catholic University.

  63. pelerin says:

    Sue Sims is right in saying that it is the norm in France for the congregation to stand during the Consecration and it does not seem to be a recent practice either. I can remember attending Mass on one occasion in England with several French friends in about 1958 and they stood for the Consecration even though they were the only ones to do so.

    However when I first attended a Mass in a Missionary chapel in Paris I could not help noticing that to kneel or not to kneel was very much divided by race. All those of African descent knelt whilst us Europeans stood. When I commented on this to a friend she told me that people did whatever they felt comfortable doing and that there was no ‘rule’ as such.

  64. TKS says:

    In the parish in the diocese of Honolulu where I lived until a couple of years ago, it was announced, not once, but twice, at every Sunday Mass that “It is our custom to stand during the Consecration” so I always sat in the back pews and knelt anyway. I noticed more people doing that also over time. But that would not be surprising in the super liberal Honolulu diocese.

  65. Doug Gates says:

    Father Z.,

    Here in Japan, all the faithful are to remain standing the Consecration. Kneeling has some sort of other connotation to the Japanese (which, I must admit, I don’t really understand), and so the bishops have directed the faithful to stand. As well, chasubles are never used for Mass.

    Although I don’t really prefer these practices, I do enjoy the Japanese method of exchanging the Peace. Rather than gladhanding and embracing, they exchange solemn bows with those near them in a timely manner, and then return their focus to the altar.

    In Christ,

    Doug Gates

  66. shana sfo says:

    Our diocese always knelt from after the Sanctus until after the Amen, and then knelt after the Agnus Dei. The year our bishop was retiring, he ordered all of us to remain standing after the Agnus Dei. There was no real reason to do it. I obeyed it simply because I knew it was an option the bishop had, although documents on liturgy at the time had recently said that in the US kneeling was a laudible tradition that should be retained.

    When the new bishop, Michael Bransfield came, his first big Mass here for his installation was on TV and we watched. The whole right side of the cathedral (looking down at the congregation from above) were his family and friends – they ALL knelt and the rest of the church remained standing! I found it profoundly sad that our previous bishop took away from us one piece of unity with all the diocese around our own. In fact, it always causes visitors a bit of shock when they go to kneel and no one else does.

    I really hope and pray that the custom is returned to us someday, perhaps when the new translation of the liturgy is used. I bow low since I can’t kneel because it seems wrong not to do anything but stand gawping at the altar.

    And Sue Sims is INCREDIBLY short! We lost her twice right here in the house while she was visiting. Here, I had mistaken her for one of my children. :D

  67. Séamas Choilm Chille says:

    “as far as I can make out, they regard it as unduly poenitential for the commemoration of the glorious event of the Resurrection”/i>

    But the Mass is above all the Holy Sacrifice, and therefore a commemoration, primarily, of the Passion of our Lord rather than the Resurrection (although both the Incarnation and Resurrection are also embodied in the same Mass).

    Further, we are not really a “Resurrection people”… yet. We are the Church Militant, not the Church Triumphant. Therefore, we are a people of the Cross. We are still in agony, being scourged and crowned with thorns. We are carrying our crosses after Him each day, each of us on his way to his own Calvary. We hope to follow our Savior in His Glorious Resurrection, but that is not now.

    As Fr. Corapi says: no pain, no gain. No Good Friday, no Easter. No Cross, no Resurrection.

    Is it not fitting that the People of the Cross should kneel, in adoration and penance, before the Re-Presentation of Our Lord’s ultimate act of penance for us upon His Cross?

    Even were we not taking part in the Sacrifice of Calvary, but strictly adoring the Resurrected Jesus, does that mean we should stand? Well, what did the women do when they met Jesus outside the tomb? Did they remain standing, saying “Alleluia, we are a Resurrection people now”?

    No. They fell to their knees and kissed his feet. Because that is what you do before God, if you have any humility whatsoever. It is also what the Church requires of us, not only at Mass, but also, for instance, when passing the tabernacle, in which the Resurrected and Glorified Jesus resides.

    God humbled Himself, taking on the form of a slave. Satan inflated Himself, fancying himself his own god. God lowers Himself, Satan refuses to lower himself.

    In essence: God kneels, the devil remains standing.

  68. Roland de Chanson says:

    Dr. Eric, dcs, Fr. William:

    Thank you all for your explanations of the epiclesis. I should have made clear I was referring to the EF (as I had thought Fr. Z. was). On rereading his post, it became clearer that he had the OF in mind.

    I have read that the Quam oblationem is a “sort of” epiclesis as well, but having read Canon of the 1962 Missale Romanum since I last posted, I don’t think there is anything in there that is quite analogous to the Byzantine formula.

    Again as a side point, a bit of reading in the Ritus Servandus indicates that the Kyrie is recited at the center of the altar in Low Mass, whereas in Solemn Mass the Celebrant and Deacon alternate at the Epistle side (following the Introit). Where I am still in limbo (if that is still a place one is allowed to be) is what is the correct procedure at a High Mass (Missa Cantata) without deacon and subdeacon.

  69. John says:

    Background for those unaware of the situation:

    Last summer, St. Anne Church in Rochester, NY was “clustered”, that is to say was merged under a single leadership, with Our Lady of Lourdes Church. St. Anne is in the City SE, and OLoL is located in the town of Brighton. Sr. Joan Sobala, one of the early leaders of the Women’s Ordination Conference (we have at least two WOC members leading a total of 3 parishes in the Diocese of Rochester) and was serving as “Pastoral Administrator” of OLoL, was now given control over St. Anne Church. The Pastoral Administrator in the Diocese of Rochester is the de facto leader of the parish, who answers to the Bishop. The priests in these situations serve as “Sacramental Ministers.” Their responsibilities include the offering of Mass and the Sacraments, but this at times has been taken over by the P.A.’s (see the video of the lay Pastoral Administrator illicitly performing the Baptism preliminaries, while one of the priests, Fr. Lawlor, paces back and forth behind the altar with nothing to do, and the deacon holds a binder for her).

    St. Anne Church was the much more traditional of the two parishes; they actually followed the rubrics, incense was used weekly, Gregorian chant was sung at the 11am Solemn Mass, the altar servers knelt before the altar, etc. Then Sr. Sobala and three Sacramental Ministers came aboard. Now Sr. Sobala gives homilies regularly (defended by the DoR as a sound liturgical practice called “dialogue homilies”), delivers various commentaries during Masses, illicitly participates in Baptisms when a priest and deacon are present, and has now held two Masses for herself. One of these Masses was her installation Mass. Yes, in the DoR the two WOC members leading parishes have received personal installation Masses presided over by Bishop Clark where various prayers and blessings were recited for the new Pastoral Administrators. The one at OLoL for Sr. Sobala may be what most people are familiar with (two well-known photos of the event: photo 1 and photo 2). I have never seen an installation Mass for a priest in the DoR.

    To make a long story shorter, St. Anne/OLoL have become factories for liturgical abuse and sites for the P.A. to play priest legally. This incident with Fr. Lawlor telling people not to kneel any longer because it is a “sin” is just the latest in a long line of serious abuses that have taken place over the past year at this cluster of parishes. Letters have been sent to Rome, to the bishop, etc. but no success has come yet for the struggling orthodox Catholics of St. Anne. These people are truly suffering, and they need our help. Please, if someone out there has connections, if someone out there is a gifted writer, please, contact the Curia and help us. The people of St. Anne have been slowly making an exodus from their former parish to head downtown to the orthodox Our Lady of Victory under the outstanding leadership of Fr. Ronald Antinarelli, God bless his soul. Please help us, anyone out there who can do so. There is treasure waiting for you in the life to come if you can save the souls being fed mush and heterodoxy and turned away from God here in the DoR. If you are unable to help us in this way, please keep the suffering of the DoR, and especially St. Anne parish, in your prayers.

  70. magdalene says:

    My former diocese was ‘invited’ to stand because we are a resurrection people and no longer a penitent people. But after some study, I realized that it was not an obedience issue since the word was ‘invite’ and I chose not to accept the invitation. That went on for 13 years.

    But here in my new diocese, there is a parish that does not kneel. The hall is nicer than the ‘worship space’where there are only plastic chairs. This is a wealthy parish too. BUT a new pastor is coming and I have heard good things so changes will hopefully be coming. Another parish has the half stand/half kneel thing going on.
    The sheep were instructed to stand at some time or other you see.

  71. Jayna says:

    I once asked a local priest, while he was a seminarian, why some people (including him, while he was a seminarian) didn’t kneel for the consecration, etc.; he replied that “we are the Body of Christ, and the Body of Christ does not kneel before the Body of Christ.”

    My parish uses the same kind of rhetoric. I was having a bit of a disagreement with one of the RCIA ladies about the Risen Christ statue that is in the sanctuary and her argument was that there shouldn’t be a crucifix there because we’re a “Resurrection parish.” What does that even mean? I’m actually surprised I haven’t heard “Easter People” yet, it sounds right up their alley. At any rate, this kind of ideology has deeply affected how the parish views bowing and kneeling. I’d say a good 75% of the congregation does not bow at the incarnation in the Creed, everyone is asked to stand before and after communion (the exact phrasing is “let us stand as we approach the table of the Lord” – at least it’s accurate, it does look like a picnic table) and man, don’t even mention the possibility of kneeling to receive communion! We approach Christ standing because we’re buds, you know?

    Some day we’re all gonna look back on this and laugh.

  72. RickG says:

    My question is what’s a faithful Christian to do when attending mass and the presiding priest tells you it’s a venial sin if you kneel?

    If you KNOW is wrong, do you kneel anyway? What if you not really sure, but just think he’s wrong?

    Is there a sin committed in standing or kneeling?

  73. Christina says:

    This might be the wrong way of looking at this, but aren’t venial sins forgiven with the reception of the Eucharist? So, even if kneeling is a venial sin in this situation (which it doesn’t appear to be), it’ll be taken away in a few minutes anyway.

    I’ve never heard of this happening before, though. I’ve been to quite a few kneeler-less Masses, and knelt anyway. At some, I was the only person doing so; at others, all in attendence knelt. I also know that some friends of mine have been asked not to kneel at Mass, in the interest of unity amongst the congregation.

  74. Dom says:

    I googled and also came across something by Tertullian (On Prayer):

    ‘In the matter of kneeling also prayer is subject to diversity of observance, through the act of some few who abstain from kneeling on the Sabbath; and since this dissension is particularly on its trial before the churches, the Lord will give His grace that the dissentients may either yield, or else indulge their opinion without offense to others. We, however (just as we have received), only on the day of the Lord’s Resurrection ought to guard not only against kneeling, but every posture and office of solicitude; deferring even our businesses lest we give any place to the devil. Ephesians 4:27 Similarly, too, in the period of Pentecost; which period we distinguish by the same solemnity of exultation. But who would hesitate every day to prostrate himself before God, at least in the first prayer with which we enter on the daylight? At fasts, moreover, and Stations, no prayer should be made without kneeling, and the remaining customary marks of humility; for (then) we are not only praying, but deprecating, and making satisfaction to God our Lord. Touching times of prayer nothing at all has been prescribed, except clearly “to pray at every time and every place.”‘

  75. Paul J. B. says:

    On the subject of the epiclesis and the Roman Canon, Fr. Jungmann has some valuable things to say in Vol. 2 of the “The Mass of the Roman Rite,” pp. 191-193. His point (as is often the case) is a little complicated and subtle, but to sum it up, explicit epicleseis became expected in the Greek Byzantine Church by the 4th century, following the theology of the Holy Spirit developed by the Greek fathers in that time period–the Roman and Egyptian Churches, however, kept the perhaps older practice of an implicit epiclesis–as is found in the Quam oblationem.

    According to something else I read (I don’t remember where), the Supplices te rogamus is also regarded by some experts–including even some Eastern Orthodox theologians–as being another epiclesis, if implicit. It is also claimed that this so-called double or split epiclesis (obviously assuming the correctness of the said interpretation of the Supplices te rogamus) is found in the old Eucharistic prayer of the Egyptians. This has led some to speculate there was an early Egyptian influence on the Roman Mass. (I report it for what it’s worth.)

  76. As long as I’m able to kneel, I will, period. Unless there’s absolutely no space to kneel, there are zero excuses.

  77. Nick says:

    Bullying is obviously wrong but as regards the matter of not kneeling on Sundays:
    “The second century writer Tertullian gives testimony concerning this practice: ‘On the Lord’s Day (i.e. Sunday) we consider it improper to fast or to kneel; and we also enjoy this freedom from Easter until Pentecost’ (On the Crown, ch. 3). St. Peter of Alexandria (3rd cent.—cf. his Canon XV), and the Apostolic Constitutions (Book II, Ch. 59) also say the same thing.

    “Subsequently, the First Ecumenical Council found it necessary to make this legally binding by a special canon obligatory for the entire Church. The canon of this council states: “Since there are some persons who kneel in church on Sundays and on the days of Pentecost, with a view to preserving uniformity in all parishes, it has seemed best to the holy council for prayers to be offered to God while standing” (Canon XX).

    “Pointing out this canon, St. Basil the Great explains the rationale and meaning of the practice established by it thus: ‘We stand up when praying on the first of the week, though not all of us know the reason. For it is not only that it serves to remind us that when we have risen from the dead together with Christ we ought to seek the things above, in the day of resurrection of the grace given us, by standing at prayer, but that it also seems to serve in a way as a picture of the expected age. Wherefore, being also the starting point of days, though not the first with Moses, yet it has been called the first. For it says: ‘The evening and the morning were the first day’ (Gen. 1:5), on the ground that it returns again and again. The eighth, therefore, is also the first, especially as respects that really first and true eighth day, which the Psalmist too has mentioned in some of the superscriptions of his psalms, serving to exhibit the state which is to succeed this period of time, the unceasing day, the day without a night that follows, the day without successor, the never-ending and unaging age. Of necessity, therefore, the Church teaches her children to fulfill their obligations to pray therein while standing up, in order by constantly reminding them of the deathless life to prevent them from neglecting the provisions for the journey thither. And every Pentecost is a reminder of the expected resurrection in the age to come. For that one first day, being multiplied seven times over, constitutes the seven weeks of the holy Pentecost. For by starting from the first day of the week, one arrives on the same day… The laws of the Church have taught us to prefer the upright posture at prayer, thus transporting our mind, so to speak, as a result of a vivid and clear suggestions, from the present age to the things come in the future. And during each kneeling and standing up again we are in fact showing by our actions that is was through sin that we fell to earth, and that through the kindness of the One Who created us we have been called back to Heaven…’ (Canon XCI of St. Basil the Great).

    “In Canon XC of the Council of Trullo, held in conjunction with the Sixth Ecumenical Council, we read: ‘We have received it canonical from our God-bearing Fathers not to bend the knee on Sundays when honoring the resurrection of Christ. Since this observation may not be clear to some of us, we are making it plain to the faithful, that after the entrance of those in holy orders into the sacrificial altar on the evening of the Saturday in question, let none of them bend the knee until the evening of the following Sunday, when, following the entrance after the lamps have been lit, again bending knees, we thus begin to offer our prayers to the Lord. For, inasmuch as we have received it that the night succeeding Saturday was the precursor of our Savior’s rising, we commence our hymns at this point in a spiritual manner, ending the festival by passing out of darkness into light, in order that we may hence celebrate the resurrection together for a whole day and a whole night.”

  78. Luca says:

    Dear Father, in the past (non many years ago!) also in Italy we were told to kneel from the end of the Sanctus to the end of Doxology. Recently some “liturgists”, especially from the Società di San Paolo (Pie Discepole del Divin Maestro) were saying that we should stand even during the Consecration because “we are goingo toward Christ”! But I remember that pope Benedict claraly spoke about kneeling…

  79. mpk says:

    “The Spirit of the Liturgy” by Joseph Ratzinger before becoming Pope Benedict:

    “It may well be that kneeling is alien to modern culture – insofar as it is a culture, for this culture has turned away from the faith and no longer knows the One before whom kneeling is the right, indeed the intrinsically necessary gesture. 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.” (p.194)

  80. Roland de Chanson says:

    Paul J. B.,

    Thanks for the reference to Fr. Jungmann and the note on the “Supplices te rogamus.”

    Significant, and very germane to the main discussion here, is the fact that the root meaning of the word “supplex” is “kneeling, on the knees”! This is the posture of a suppliant and the word, contained as it is in the Liturgy, ought to carry at least as much weight as the non-liturgical writings of Tertullian and the Fathers.

    I’m with Joe of St. Thérèse. As in the French Christmas hymn Minuit Chrétien: Peuple à genoux, attends ta délivrance. Voici le Rédempteur. (Englished as “O Holy Night”).

  81. irishgirl says:

    I was at a Memorial Mass for Cardinal Avery Dulles yesterday at the Shrine of the North American Martyrs, Auriesville, NY, which is in the Albany diocese. Bishop Howard Hubbard said the Mass at the Coliseum church on the shrine grounds. (I also went to the burial ceremony, which was at the Jesuit cemetery on the hill behind the shrine-quite a lot of gravestones! But the short ceremony was very impressive)

    There were a few of the Cardinal’s relatives present-a niece and a nephew [by marriage] with their spouses. I was kneeling behind some young Jesuit novices [yay!] and I noticed that there were one or two people in front stood during the entire Eucharistic Prayer. Since I saw them from the back, I assumed they were the relatives, who were probably Protestant.

    I go to the TLM exclusively, and so it was quite jarring to be in an NO Mass, with the banal music and all.

    Seamas-you hit it right on the head!

    That priest in Rochester WAS a bully! Grrr….

  82. irishgirl says:

    I meant ‘who stood’…

    Another example of ‘brain being engaged before fingers’…


  83. Ole Doc Farmer says:

    Could the hedgepriest be referring to the Hippolytus…EP II (adapted from the “Prayer of Hippolytus”) has the prayer “to stand in your presence and serve you.” Of course the standing refers to the ministers…but what’s accuracy when there’s an agenda to promote?

  84. Prof. Basto says:

    Even in Oriental Churches, where people are supposed to stand per liturgical laws, it wouldn’t be a sin to kneel before the Holy Eucharist.

    The Holy Eucharist deserves adoration.

    To deny it that adoration and to say that it would be venial sin to adorate it, and to do so at the point of Consacration is very troublesome. It puts into question the intention of the priest of confecting the True Body and Blood of our Lord.

  85. Tom says:

    I can add very little here; yet, here I add.
    First, experiences in Europe, they seem to stand in Italy, France, Germany and Austria. Kneel in the Czech Republic. At the Vatican (mass in Italian) everyone stood, except from the Sanctus to the Amen, when some blue habited nuns and we American tourists knelt. And after the Angus Dei whe only the American resumed knelling. I thought the presider smilled approvingly, but it may have been a condesending “ah those americans” kinda reaction. I will say it was quite different from how I was glared at in a church in Venice.
    By the way the pushy preist don’t always drive practices unique to parishes. My own Church in Houston the people knell after communion until the Blessed Sacrement is placed into the Tabernacle. This was defintely started by the people, the priests used to sit but later responded to the practice by standing, wich is better than sitting at least.

  86. inillotempore says:

    Bishop Sheen was reported to have said that during the 70s to a couple who wanted to know whether or not they should send their college aged children to a Catholic University.

    Dr. Eric: I stand corrected. I think it according to right reason to expand the scope to many ‘catholic’ institutions at all grade levels where heterodox beliefs and liturgical abuses abound.

    May God have mercy on us.

  87. Simon Platt says:

    But …

    I thought there were no rubrics for the laity! Was I wrong?

    Also, somebody mentioned bowing at the et incarnatus est. I rarely assist at the novus ordo these days, but my experience in England is that noone (else) ever bows, nor do they kneel at Christmas or the Annunciation.

  88. leo says:

    why dont they kneel in italy ? Its so strange to see and must be tiring to stand for so long. How can the peoples posture be so varied

  89. Nick says:

    \”Even in Oriental Churches, where people are supposed to stand per liturgical laws, it wouldn’t be a sin to kneel before the Holy Eucharist.

    \”The Holy Eucharist deserves adoration.

    \”To deny it that adoration and to say that it would be venial sin to adorate it, and to do so at the point of Consacration is very troublesome. It puts into question the intention of the priest of confecting the True Body and Blood of our Lord.\”

    Actually that depends on whether self-will and disobedience are sins in your book. There are several Councils, one Ecumenical, that clearly stipulate by canon that the faithful should not kneel on Sundays, in the East and in the West. This is done to honor the Resurrection of Christ. This does not apply to weekdays. I suspect that the Councils’ Fathers had a modicum of adoration for the Eucharist when they composed the respective canons.

  90. ssoldie says:

    What does common sense, right reasoning, and a deep love and respect of God tell us from our heart what to do.

  91. Denise says:

    Of course this is all happening at a parish run by Sr. Joan Sobala. How sad that things have gotten this bad.

  92. “The lack of an explicit epiclesis in the EF is one of the many reasons that the Orhtodox claim that we are heretics”

    That’s untrue, although I have seen that several times on Roman Catholoc forums. I’m not sure where that comes from. At any rate, the presence or absence of an epiklesis could not be considered heresy (although the text could, of course).

    I might also point out that while it is true that we are technically forbidden from kneeling on Sundays, we aren’t consistent about it. We have, for example, the Kneeling Prayers at Pentecost (coming up this Sunday). And there are parishes that kneel (or more appropriately, do full prostrations) during the epiklesis on Sundays, as is customary when the Divine Liturgy is said on a weekday.

    Priest: Thine own of thine own we offer unto thee on behalf of all and for all.
    Deacon: Bless, Master, the holy bread.
    Priest: Make this bread the precious Body of thy Christ.
    All: Amen.
    Deacon: Bless, Master, the holy cup.
    Priest: And that which is in this cup the precious Blood of thy Christ.
    All: Amen.
    Deacon: Bless, Master, both.
    Priest: Changing them by thy Holy Spirit.
    All: Amen. Amen. Amen.

  93. Dr. Eric says:

    Right Wing Prof,
    This is what I have been told by various Orthodox persons including priests. If it is wrong, I defer to your judgment.

  94. Without changing the definition of heresy, I don’t see how the presence or absence of an epiklesis can be considered heretical, particularly considering that we share a fervent belief in the Real Presence. If you had an epiklesis that called upon the Mother Earth Goddess, well, that would without a doubt be heresy. With only one exception, I know of nothing in the Roman liturgy we would consider heresy. That one exception is the filioque, and whether it’s heretical depends on whom you talk to: There are two schools of thought, one that holds that it changes the theology of the Godhead, and one that does not (although the latter considers it unacceptable, just not heresy).

    It is true that when the Antiochians and Russians and Greek Old Calendrists allowed Western Rite parishes, they insisted that an epiklesis be inserted if there were none present. Maybe that’s where this comes from. Also contrary to popular belief, we have no equivalent to the doctrine of transubstantiation, that is, we do not know how or when, exactly, the gifts become the Body and Blood of Our Lord, just that they do. We do not prostrate ourselves during the epiklesis because we believe that’s when the transformation occurs, but because we are asking God to transform them.

  95. William Tighe says:

    In the West, kneeling is a gesture of both penitence and adoration; in the East, of penitence only. Of course, where Latin Catholic customs and notions have been inculcated among Eastern Catholic Christians, it is not so simple. In addition, in the late Middle Ages, kneeling at the Liturgy from the Great Entrance through the Consecration until after communion became a widespread popular custom throughout most of Russia, and can still be found among Russians of a pious and traditionalist temperament.

    As one reads Jungmann, Willis, Dix and others on Western liturgy, the impression is that originally in the West, as in the East, kneeling was a gesture of penitence only, not adoration, and that this changed as the cult of the Blessed Sacrament/Corpus Christi etc., spread throughout Western Europe. Most of the comments on this thread, even those that reflect a fairly sophisitcated understanding of the differences between the East and the West, ignore this difference concerning the signification of kneeling.

    As to other matters, while some Orthodox jurisdictions required the insertion of an explicit epiclesis into the Roman Canon when authorizing “Western Rite Orthodox” congregations, nowadays few do this, as it is clear that the Roman litirgical tradition never had an epiclesis in the Eastern sense, that is, a petition for the Holy Spirit to descend (or overshadow) and consecrate the elements, transforming therm into the Body and Blood of Christ. Rather, there is the “Quam oblationem” petition before the Words of Institution that the elements may be consecrated (i.e., by the ensuing Words) and subsequently in the “Supplices te rogamus” prayer that Christ, the “Great Angel,” may bear aloft his Body and Blood to be joined to his perpetual and timeless self-offering on the heavenly altar which is also his throne. A couple of years ago the theological commission of the Patriarchate of Moscow issued a report declaring that the venerable and ancient Eucharistic Prayer of the Roman Church was undoubtedly valid, and needed no alterations to make it acceptable in Orthodox eyes.

  96. grace says:

    The proper posture was determined by the bishops of their respective areas. In Italy and Spain, the Bishops opted to stand throughout the Eucharistic Prayer, except during the consecration. In France, Quebec, Belgium, and the Netherlands, the Bishops opted to stand throughout the entire Eucharistic Prayer. The United States chose to kneel immediately after the Sanctus to the end of the prayer.

    The Bishops would have discerned what was best for each one’s respective diocese; i.e., does one diocese need humility? If so, then kneel. Does another need hope and the need to grow in the strength, which comes from the Eucharist? If so, then stand.

    I found the references in the linked paper (see note 13). I found another good article; however, I can no longer find it on the Internet. I will post it should I come across it again.


    Frank C. Quinn’s paper (

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