Archbp. of Ottawa: kneel!

This is from The Gazette of Ottawa with my emphases and comments:

Ottawa archbishop lays down law on kneeling
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
By Jennifer Green
OTTAWA — 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.  [Note the vocabularly choices.  The writer doesn’t seem to like this.]

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.

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."  [Notice how we have moved from "order" to "ask" to "invite".]

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,’ 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. [How stupid is that?] "She said, ‘we French Canadians have a bit of an inferiority complex. We don’t like people telling us what to do’."  [Imagine.]

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.  [For heaven’s sake.]

It seems a small thing to ask the faithful to kneel [to GOD] 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.

[Now get this stunningly obtuse comment….] "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. 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, [So do I.  You ought to be able to.] 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.[Connect this to the stunningly obtuse comment, above.]

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." [YES!  He get’s it.  Save The Liturgy – Save The World, too.]

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.

"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." [That is interesting.]

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."  [grrrr]

As to his authoritarian 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 kudos to Archbp. Prendergast.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Sedgwick says:

    This is about what you should expect when you open up the can of worms called PRIDE for 40 years, and then try to close it again. The members of the Mystical Body have for more than a generation seen themselves as members of the Democratic Body, the Peace ‘n Justice Body, the Community Body – you name it, as long as it’s anything but seeing themselves as souls who should be kissing the feet of their Savior in humility and gratitude; souls who would be utterly lost without Him.

    I wonder if the good Archbishop will soon mandate the reception of Communion kneeling and on the tongue…ad orientem for his priests…the elimination of Extraordinary Monsters…

  2. introibo says:

    I wonder what these people would do if Our Lord made a personal appearance as a man….probably they’d stand up and clap right in church rather than bowing down and adoring their God……and yet He DOES make a personal appearance every week at Mass…..

  3. Grabski says:

    What is with Liberals, who think that the statement ‘doesn’t the Bishop have better things to think about’ is an actual argument.

  4. ljc says:

    This is a problem in various parts of Canada. In my Diocese people kneel only through the consecration and stand immediately at the Mystery of Faith. They do not kneel at the Behold the Lamb of God or any other time at all. Total time kneeling is usually about 45 seconds, since the Priest usually rushes through the prayers of consecration. I think this is the same thing that is going on in Ottawa. Only, where Im from there isn’t the slightest hope of it ever changing.

  5. TNCath says:

    Canada has been a mess for so long. This is a welcome sign that things might be turning around. Prayers for and best wishes to Archbishop Pendergast!

  6. FranzJosf says:

    Archbishop Prendergast is on the Vox Clara Committee, which means he’s in Rome regularly, meeting with Congregation of Divine Worship people. He knows the mind of the Holy Father on liturgy and is sympathetic to it. I’m glad to see him begin to improve things in the Canadian capital.

  7. mdillon says:

    “She said, ‘we French Canadians have a bit of an inferiority complex. We don’t like people telling us what to do’.”

    ~With this attitude one can morally justify anything, I am sure GOD will take this into consideration on judgment day.

  8. doanli says:

    Can we get rid of the handshaking too, Father? (the “sign of peace”—99.9% of the time I have had no quarrel with those standing around me during Mass)

    Pride always comes before the Fall. Pray for them, but let them leave. Our Lord didn’t stop the ones who left because they didn’t understand His words about eating His flesh and drinking His blood to have eternal life.

  9. Moses had to deal with the stiff-necked people, and a successor to the Apostles has to deal with a stiff-kneed people. Worship of self is the primary cause of not wanting to kneel to the true God, and there is plenty of that within the Church members. Looks like Our Lord will have to use a bit of Wrath as was used in Moses’ time.

  10. Tom in NY says:

    Reader ljc exposes a weakness in the article. Had Ms. Green checked on practices in Toronto, Kingston, Montreal or Quebec, covering both English speaking and French-speaking faithful?

    Veuillez croire a mes sentiments les plus eleves.

  11. cmm says:

    What about people with stiff joints and various knee problems?

    I’ve seen places that ask that “for the sake of harmony, refrain from standing – please sit or kneel”.

    Maybe people with problems could be asked to sit since a congregation with a mixture if people sitting and kneeling looks much more harmonious than with a mixture of standing and kneeling.

  12. Glen M says:

    A church in Hamilton I attended for awhile didn’t kneel at all. Before Mass everyone was asked to introduce themselves to others, the ‘sign of peace’ was a massive group hug, the priest’s sermon was a flury of jokes and often waxed poetically about liberation theology. The pews were full as it was well known divorced/remarried Catholics could receive the Blessed Sacrament there. To summarize, congregations that don’t kneel before the Lord are usually rebellious in other matters too.

  13. PaulK says:

    Big Kudos to my Bishop…

    Is kneeling from the Sanctus until the Mysterium Fidei is going to be the norm once the new missal comes out? I seem to remember this being mentioned when the good Archbishop released the directive in 2008. During the second half on the Eucharistic prayer, the congregation will be standing.

  14. “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”.'”

    When my son was two years old, he didn’t like people telling him what to do. [good point]

  15. EnoughRope says:

    I thought I had problems in my church! Kneeling for the Concescration is like soooo Trent. But seriously though, my liturgical woes seem like small potatoes compared to the nut jobs this Bishop is fighting.

  16. stgemma_0411 says:

    @Sedgwick If you are looking for his track record, look no further than where he came from before he was in Ottawa. In the Archdiocese of Halifax, there are zero parishes that offer a TLM. There used to be one priest, who was retired, who spent his summers in Nova Scotia, and he offered the TLM when he was in town. But outside of that, you would be hard pressed to find anyone who even knows Latin, let alone have the wherewithal to celebrate a TLM. Hard enough to get the chancery here to stop wanting to bring more people in at the sake of watering down the Gospel. I had a discussion with the chancellor on that very topic and he was more interested in bending the Truth enough so that we can get more people into the pews. Was a sad day. I do miss Abp. Pendergast. He was one of the few people in the Archdiocese who actually could get your attention with his preaching. He would routinely get out on the local news and even had a yearly 10 minute discussion on prime time news with the local area’s news anchor about the state of the Church in Nova Scotia. He really made his presence felt. Glad to see he is able to do more with Ottawa.

  17. SoliDeo says:

    The sad thing is, that in the new edition of the Roman Missal genuflections towards the tabernacle are forbidden and replaced by bows during the course of holy mass. This leads, as I could observe in many places all about the world, that the faithful do not genuflect any more, even when entering the church. How can we ignore the living presence of Christ in the Eucharist by laying more importance on just a symbol of his presence (the altar)??? This change must be repaired, if we do not want to lose another sign of faith into the Eucharist. I wonder, how the CDW can be made aware of the most damaging consequences of the new instruction, before it is too late. We can see, in the case of Ottawa, how difficult it will be in the future to re-establish signs of adoration due to the Eucharist. How can there be a “reform of the reform”, when the new edition of the missal, which has also brought good changes, is still going on to reduce the awareness for the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, true God and true man? What terrible damage, if people would no longer greet Jesus in the tabernacle by a genuflection? I know, they still ought to do this, like the priest at the beginning and the end of the mass, but you will see – the custom soon will have been dropped…

  18. medievalist says:

    ljc and Tom in NY: This must be an Ottawa thing. In my experience of several parishes in Toronto and southern Ontario, kneeling is the norm from the Sanctus through to the Great Amen, and again from after the Agnus Dei until Communion. Those too elderly or infirm to kneel simply sit with head bowed, since the Church will never ask the impossible.

    In good news from Ottawa, however, I also recall that the Basilica of St Patrick never removed it’s altar rail, at which Communion is still received (albeit in a variety of manners).

  19. Greg Smisek says:

    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

    Reminds me of when a certain directive was issued to a certain seminary: “But, Bishop, we don’t have kneelers.” To which the bishop replied: “I didn’t say anything about kneelers. I said the seminarians shall kneel during the consecration.” (Kneelers appeared posthaste.)

  20. This is kind of old news. The pastoral letter was from November 2008.

    I have a feeling you covered this once before. Yeah, you did. :)

    (Hmm… I wonder if it’d be any fun comparing your emphases and comments between the two posts!)

  21. FrCharles says:

    At the place where I studied theology–which was, apart from this sort of thing, a fine education–we were made to stand not only for the Eucharistic Prayer but were also forbidden to kneel during or after Holy Communion. The whole standing thing gets to be a kind of spiritual elitism in my arrogant opinion. Since I’ve been ordained I’ve been in situations in which there are no kneelers and I am supposed to tell people not to kneel for the sake of ‘unity.’ I refuse, however, because it seems to an abuse of power.

  22. TJerome says:

    Well, I guess when liberals impose things, they are good (think Novus Ordo) but when traditionalists impose things they are bad. Tough. If I had reacted the way these folks have, I would have left the Church decades ago. For them, it’s still “all about me, me, me, me.”

  23. j says:

    How could this reporter find so many logic-challenged commentators?
    All comments follow this scheme;

    a) This is unimportant, and I can’t believe anyone has bothered to issue a clarification.

    b) Because we don’t think it is important, it is of crucial importance that it NOT be done. Protests must ensue. It is critical this be blocked

    One or the other.

  24. Glen M says:

    “The sad thing is, that in the new edition of the Roman Missal genuflections towards the tabernacle are forbidden and replaced by bows during the course of holy mass.” SoliDeo

    This is news to me. Can you provide a source? If it’s true then it’s just one more reason to find a traditional Mass in your area.

  25. Boanerges says:

    The USCCB in America is in total disarray with varied and sundry opinions and attitudes regarding architecture, interior design, up to and including the REMOVAL of the Blessed Sacrament from the Sanctuary. So why am I not surprised by this? The Church in the Americas has within it a “remnant” of orthodoxy that will keep the order of proper worship (TLM?). When the New Age goofies fall away, that’s who will be standing.

  26. revueltos67 says:


    At my parish in New Mexico people kneel just after the Sanctus. I’ve assumed this is standard for the NO and have never understood why since kneeling at the start of the Sanctus is such a dramatic and beautiful gesture in the TLM. Is this standard for other parishes/dioceses? And what do the actual rubrics of the NO call for – if anything?

  27. John F. Kennedy says:

    I think the Bishop should have first ordered all of the kneelers to be removed, then issue the order to kneel. See who’s faithful then.

  28. JJMSJ says:

    Just wanted to mention that Archbishop Prendergast is a Jesuit.

  29. revueltos67 says:

    “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. I don’t see them as the caring community they should be. It isn’t whether you stand or kneel.”

    A classic example of the “more important things to talk about” argument, which is, of course, just a way of changing the subject.

    Expect to see this a lot wrt the new translation. It won’t matter whether it’s “we believe” or “I believe”, or “for all” or “for many” so why are we bothering with changing anything or even arguing about it. It will be silly, trivial, a waste of time right up to the time that the new translation actually goes into effect. Then, suddenly, it will matter. A lot.

  30. JSBSJ says:

    Just a reminder to all: Archbishop Prendergast is a Jesuit. We must not paint all Jesuits with the same brush. In this case, Archbishop Prendergast is the example of a Canadian Jesuit who is deeply concerned about prayer and liturgy. He gives us pause for thought next time we might be quick to attack other Jesuits for silly practices.

  31. JJMSJ says:

    I didn’t think I would have to spell it out for them, JSBSJ, but I’m glad to see you did..four minutes after my post.
    Good to know we think alike.

  32. ljc says:

    medievalist, it is not just an Ottawa thing. I have seen it throughout the east coast, and as I said, in every parish in my own Diocese. I can’t speak for other parts of the country, but in the east this is widespread.

  33. Father John Horgan says:

    In Canada, the new “liturgical legislation” will be that in all dioceses, the faithful must kneel AT LEAST from the conclusion of the Sanctus to the Mysterium Fidei. In those dioceses where the faithful kneel for the entire Eucharistic Prayer, that practice will CONTINUE UNCHANGED. Similarly, in those dioceses where it is customary to kneel after the Agnus Dei, that practice will also continue. In the Archdiocese of Vancouver, for example, we kneel for the entire Eucharistic Prayer and after the Agnus Dei (in most parishes) as well. The Bishops Conference was trying to promote kneeling in those places where it had been eliminated completely. I think many dioceses will not implement this new practice until the new edition of the Roman Missal in English is published. Congratulations to Archbishop Prendergast for his courage and humility!

  34. irishgirl says:

    Good for the Archbishop! A true son of St. Ignatius Loyola!

    I’d rather kneel before Our Lord, kneelers or no.

  35. JosephMary says:

    My former diocese’s bishop “invited” us to stand for the Eucharistic prayer for over 13 years. The litugist explained this to us: We are no longer a penitent people but a ‘resurrection’ people. Father told us that everything we do is holy and since Christ paid the price for our sins…well, it is like a golf tournament and He paid the admission fee and we just need to play golf.

    I could not make this up!

  36. sejoga says:

    You know, I was reading the Gospel of Luke last night and was literally brought to tears during one passage:

    “Now he was standing one day by the lake of Gennesaret, with the crowd pressing round him listening to the word of God, when he caught sight of two boats close to the bank. The fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats – it was Simon’s – and asked him to put out a little from the short. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
    “When he had finished speaking he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch.’ ‘Master,’ Simon replied, ‘we worked hard all night long and caught nothing, but if you say so, I will pay out the nets.’ And when they had done this they netted such a huge number of fish that their nets began to tear, so they signalled to their companions in the other boat to come and help them; when these came, they filled the two boats to sinking point.
    “When Simon Peter saw this he fell at the knees of Jesus saying, ‘Leave me Lord; I am a sinful man.'”

    What a moving moment! That’s not the reaction of some feigning holier-than-thou type who talks a great deal about sins he doesn’t believe he’s committed. That’s the true repentance of a man who was probably racked with serious, mortal sin. When he was given grace from God, his instinctive reaction was to fall to his knees and turn the mercies of Christ away because he knew how undeserving of them he was. You can hear the plaintive crack in his voice saying “Leave me Lord”… you can almost see tears in his eyes. But even though this is the second major mention of Simon in Luke’s Gospel, the moment that he falls before Jesus in humility is the first time Luke names him “Peter”.

    Think of that: The Rock of our Church is given that name by Luke when he seems the most vulnerable, the most repentant, the most humble. I’m sure Luke didn’t do that by accident.

    And yet these cavalier French Canadians can’t be bothered to show the same awe and respect for Our Lord’s greatest gift of grace to us in the Eucharist. I would say it’s revolting, but mostly I just pity them. They’re only obstinate in their pride because they’ve never really known the love of Jesus, and that’s a sad thing.

  37. sprachmeister says:

    I must say I always find it staggering when in a Church where people stand during the Consecration and the Eucharistic Prayer. In Edinburgh we kneel from the “Suscipiat” right through to the great amen, and not a moment before. To only kneel for a couple of seconds at the Consecration is just mind-boggling, and not at all even more so. When abroad, I have to fight off the urge to yank the people next to me to their knees. Good on Archbishop Prendergast for calling people back to the traditions of the Latin rite.

  38. deborah-anne says:

    Praise to Archbishop Terrence Prendergast.

    St. Augustine said: “It was in the flesh that Christ walked among us and it is His flesh that He has given us to eat for our salvation.” “But,” he added: “no one eats of this flesh without having first adored it . . . and not only do we not sin in thus adoring it, but we would be sinning if we did not do so!”

    So I say bend thy knee and do not stop bending it! Just think that every time we kneel we are doing a little bit more towards having a happy death and reaching the Kingdom of Heaven.

  39. Leonius says:

    “If someone comes to church and stubbornly stands, they won’t be asked to leave.”

    They should be asked if they would be interested in converting by entering into the parish RCIA program. A reasonable and kind offer to people who stand out during mass as not been Catholic by not knowing the correct way to behave imo.

  40. jmgarciajr says:

    Let the record show Abp. Terrence Prendergast is a Jesuit.


  41. Clinton says:

    So Toddy Kehoe of St. Joseph’s parish wonders “is that all they have to think about? …It isn’t whether you stand or kneel.”

    Imagine Mr. Kehoe as a defendant in court. The bailiff calls out “The Honorable Judge Smith — All rise!” To which Mr. Kehoe
    responds, sitting, “Is that all you have to think about? It isn’t whether you stand or sit.”

    Mr. Kehoe may indulge his fantasy that he has evolved beyond mere childish externals in his relationship with his God and Church,
    but I’d bet the farm that in a situation that held more immediate consequences, like a courtroom, he’d be hanging onto those ‘mere’
    externals with both hands.

    I wonder about the anonymous St. Joseph’s staff member, the one who cannot think of anything meaningful to say about kneeling
    because he (or she) is sooo focused on truth and reconciliation. Do you think that he was always so focused on T & R that marks of
    respect never held any meaning for him? Imagine the interview for the position on St. Joseph’s staff: Anonymous shows up in
    a dirty t-shirt with “T & R” printed across the front and flips through a copy of “T & R Magazine” during the interview. Halfway into
    the meeting Anonymous takes a phone call from a friend who needs to discuss truth and reconciliation. The staff of St. Joseph’s,
    awed to be in the presence of such focus, declare that common marks of respect and courtesy have no claim on one such as this
    and hire him on the spot.

  42. jt83 says:

    I am happy to say that even at my Newman Center at the U. of Washington, the congregation (predominantly college students) have been and continue to kneel of the floor (sans kneelers!) form the Sanctus to the Great Amen. I’ve always found this to be inspiring given that many parishes don’t even kneel when they have kneelers. there is hope in the youth!

  43. Gail F says:

    I have fond memories of sitting in the front pew for mass at a seminary, and suddenly realizing I did not know what to do when it came time to kneel. The pews in the back all had kneelers. When the time came, down we all went on our knees on the marble floor. You really know you’re kneeling when you’re kneeling on marble! And it makes you feel very determined. A week or two later I was at a mass in a neighboring parish, which was so full that I had to sit on one of the benches lining the back walls. The floor was carpeted, but when it came time to kneel no one on the benches knelt. I did, though. I figured if I could do it on marble, I could do it on carpet. It is an odd feeling to kneel when no one else does.

  44. Nathan says:

    I share in the kudos to Archbp. Prendergast–it appears that he is working to instill a sense of reverence in the celebration of the Holy Mass (and from the comments in the article, it appears to be necessary). He has the authority to teach the Faithful on these things.

    That said, the kerfuffle makes me long for a time when what you did at Holy Mass was just a given, and no liturgist or parish coordinator or, for that matter, archbishop would presume to set a policy on when the laity were and weren’t to kneel. It just was passed down. In fact, I don’t think the pre-Novus Ordo rubrics ever presumed to tell the laity to do anything (with some exceptions, such as the administration of Holy Communion). People just did what was passed on from generation to generation.

    As someone who bucks the trends to kneel for Holy Communion at the Novus Ordo (which I pray nobody notices and dosen’t give scandal) I think we should be thoughtful to the folks who have been taught not to kneel, I’m sure most took the word of someone in authority and ran with it. The archbishop has spoken, pastors can deal with people privately and personally, but I don’t think we (the laity) should get too worked up if someone in the pews stands while others kneel. IMO, the last thing we need is laypeople becoming the kneeling police. Those of us who love the TLM and have been going for a while understand this phenomenon far too well…

    In Christ,

  45. ssoldie says:

    Can’t use the word ‘order’ much to rigid, you know like ‘must’, has to be the progressive word like may or can or ‘should’ (which can and often is not(ignored).

  46. SoliDeo says:

    Glen M:
    You will find this instruction in the GIRM (General Introduction to the Roman Missal § 274.

    In Christ,

  47. Susan the Short says:

    cmm asks: What about people with stiff joints and various knee problems?

    As one who has these afflictions, I still kneel. With ‘rump resting’ one can spare those old knees from having to bear the weight.

    The only time I refrain from doing the up/down, stand/sit/kneel is during our parish’s Stations of the Cross. This devotion is physically rigorous as we follow Christ on the Via Dolorosa. I do a few of the first stations, then remain sitting. Many of us elders do likewise.

    No big deal. We just recognize our weaknesses and rely on God’s strength, not our own.

  48. ssoldie says:

    Susan the Short, love it as you are so right on, would very much like to do/ what you said / did just 5 years ago at 69, can’t now. God permits our infirmaties. He know’s.

  49. MAJ Tony says:

    @revueltos67 in our FSSP apostolate in Indy, we were advised that, in a Missa Cantata or Solemn High Mass, we were to kneel AFTER completion of the chanted Sanctus (at least when the congregation can chant it). When the Sanctus goes into polyphonic mode, the MC has the altar boys kneel, and the congregation follows suit, which is logical, since the congregation can’t follow along in polyphony it doesn’t know. Some people insist on kneeling at the beginning of the Sanctus in a Missa Cantata regardless, despite specific guidance from both the FSSP priest AND the parish pastor who is the Archdiocese VG. Yes, we have the red Collition Ecclessia Dei missalettes, which don’t discriminate between Low and High Masses.

  50. Will D. says:

    I just still can’t wrap my mind around this comment:

    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 on earth does kneeling have to do with this? Is kneeling somehow particularly offensive to the First Nations? If not, then how do postures at mass make the slightest difference to this process?

  51. asperges says:

    The problem lies in the rite itself. Instructions like: “may be sung, said or omitted” or “as local custom permits” has caused chaos for years. Also the total misunderstanding of ritual and symbolism gives the impression that priest and people can just do their own thing.

    The bottom line is that you don’t get this sort of nonsense in the old rite, because there is order, beauty and discipline – and – largely, peace and quiet and general contentment. This was all thrown to the winds with the liturgical reforms of the 70s and its time is up. Good for the Archbishop: but no point in waiting for instructions from Rome (cf the new GIRM). No-one takes the slightest notice of them, so he may as well have a go himself. He will have an uphill struggle…

  52. The Cobbler says:

    ‘”Is that all they have to think about?”‘
    I was going to say this can be turned on its head: if it’s so trifling, why waste your time resisting it either?

    But of course, first j nailed the absurdity by pointing out that all the commenters’ logic was “1) It is unimportant, 2) ergo it is of vital importance to resist it.”

    One of these days I’ll be king of some obscure portion of the world and will banish anyone who can’t maintain logical consistency on the same matter. I’ll make small exceptions for trivial matters with little to no relation (e.g. “You hate sci-fi, but your favorite videogame is Metroid?”) only. My nation’s population will thereby be kept sufficiently sparse to make politics much easier (subsidiarity and whatnot — if we decide to live communally a la socialism, it could actually work [like a monastery], if we decide to live in pure democracy, it could actually work… if we decide to make Catholicism the state religion…?).

  53. trespinos says:

    Kudos to the Archbishop. But I can say that because I agree with what he wants to achieve. If I didn’t, well…

    Case in point: my own bishop belongs to the “no kneeling at all during Mass” school, and I would hate to see him order his preference to be followed by every pastor. As it is, there are three parishes that I know of, and perhaps many more, who disregard his stated preference (which gets mentioned periodically in the local diocesan paper) and have the people kneel during the Eucharistic Prayer. It’s gratifying to me that at least the Bishop is content with trying persuasion, and not issuing binding orders.

    Sadly, my own pastor–new here and fairly young–hasn’t seen fit to join the pro-kneeling group. A trend needs to get in motion, because the Bish still has many years left before he reaches 75.

  54. There was a retired Quebec politician who had permission to keep the Blessed Sacrament in a tabernacle in his house. One night there was a fire, and he died trying to bring the tabernacle out of the burning house. This seems like a good time to remember him.

    Canada’s Catholics have all sorts of a proud history of holiness, and saints and blesseds all over. Let’s not give up on them. Archbishop Prendergast is just getting people to remember what they should do.

    It may also be significant to remember that Andre Bessette is becoming a saint this year, and that this announcement came around St. Joseph’s Day.

  55. cicada380 says:

    When I attended college in Iowa, the parish that served the university did not kneel at all during the Mass. A few of us did out of respect for the Eucharist – and we were ostracized.

  56. I’ve never been in a place where people *weren’t* required to kneel if they could, so I did not realize this was a controversy to some.

    I regret not being able to due to arthritis but I try to bow from a sitting position and bring my knees down to the kneeler as much as I can.

    I wish I had a better way to handle it. This is the best way which comes to my mind, though it seems inadequate.

  57. kiwitrad says:

    Alas, only a tiny minority kneel at our Church and the Bishop actively discourages it. Recently a woman I knew slightly asked me why I knelt at the consecration. When I said that I knelt at the presence of Jesus on the altar she said “But Jesus is in me and you, and in every human being. Why don’t you kneel to us?”. The scary thing is that she teaches RCIA!

  58. Tom in NY says:

    J’etais surpris de la remarque, “Nos Franco-Canadiens ont un peu d’un complexe d’inferiorite…” Elle a oubliee sa patrimoine.

    Cartier a porte la foi a Nouvelle France un peu a v a n t le Conseil de Trent. Les pretres suivants ont porte la messe en latine, codifiee a Trent, aux terres qui sont devenues Quebec. Ses images sont en verre colore a Notre Dame de Montreal. Les fideles se mettraient a genoux dans le canon de la messe pendant nombreuses annees, ne c’est pas?

    Veuillez croire dans mes sentiments les plus eleves.

  59. Tom in NY says:

    J’etais en erreur. La correction sera, “Nous Franco-Canadiens avons un peu d’un …”

    Salutations a tous.

  60. Mary T says:

    There are two Catholic universities in the Diocese of Bridgeport, CT and neither has kneelers. At one, Sacred Heart, there is no way to tell you are at a Catholic university – the Stations of the Cross are totally white, blank walls with tiny, tiny, tiny Roman Numerals ON THE FLOOR. Supposedly the point is that these “rooms” are used for other events, and besides, you don’t want to offend the Protestants.

    OK…but kneelers can put in the upright position and would be in no one’s way if they wanted to have “other events” (although the schools have auditoriums, so I don’t see what “other events” could/should be going on in a chapel).

    Whenever I go to a Diocesan event at one of these places, I kneel on the floor. Except for my husband, there is usually only one other person who does so. I am not trying to be “holier than thou” but the GIRMs say to kneel, and, gee, it’s Jesus Christ Himself up there.

    I am deeply concerned about my diocese. The new editor of the diocesan newspaper recently published a letter from some suburbanite that was very, very nasty and insulting about communion on the tongue. She said it was “infantile” – only babies need to be fed!!! The letter was published WITH NO RESPONSE by the editor under it (no correction, etc). SO now people who never heard this argument before (“only babies need to be fed by others”) are babbling it. When the Diocesan newspaper publishes something like that, it has the appearance of Church approval.

    Sad. Fasting and praying…….

  61. Re: university Masses

    During the 70’s, when my church had the “folk Mass” down in the undercroft, we sat on folding chairs and knelt on the floor. Of course, to do this, you have to leave room between the chairs for kneeling. It wasn’t a priority to force as many chairs into the space as possible. It was more important to be able to kneel; and if some people had to stand in back, that was just life.

    Of course, if you’re really pressed for space, you can always go medieval and have no chairs at all. With no chair, you can stand, sit, and kneel in a lot less space. Although I’d say you’d want to warn folks first, so they can bring sit-upons. ;)

  62. Thomas S says:

    I’m reminded of the old paintings that depict Satan and his demons as having no knees. Their pride and refusal to humble themselves was manifested in rigid legs that could not bend.

  63. Thomas S: I’m reminded of the old paintings that depict Satan and his demons as having no knees.

    Good one.

    We could use some examples.


  64. Mitchell NY says:

    Thank God for the Bishop’s decision. It is larger than kneeling. It is also a sign of unity. Allowing for all the different styles, lengths of time, etc. only leads to confusion and bickering. It just doesn’t work with so many people deciding and having an opinion on the topic. We were much better off and probably happier and didn’t know it when there was less “freedom of choice”. Not everything can be up for debate and choice. If it is, it is formally called anarchy.

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