QUAERITUR: When Mass is in an unconsecrate place do you still kneel?

From a reader:

Every year we attend a youth conference held in a local hotel.
Ever since I can remember, they have everyone stand during Mass. They have even had announcements before the Masses saying that “we will follow the stance of the community and all stand”. When asked about the issue of standing during the Eucharistic prayer, they told me that there is a rule in the Church (universal) that if you are holding Mass in an unconsecrated space, then everyone should stand for that portion. I have never heard that, but it is what they go by. Are they right? If so, where does it say this?


If people are genuinely impeded from kneeling, they don’t have to kneel.  The lack of kneelers, by the way, isn’t necessarily a genuine impediment.

In the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, people everywhere are to kneel at least for the consecration.  In the USA, people are to kneel from after the Sanctus to the end of the Great Doxology after the Eucharistic Prayer.

This doesn’t have anything to do with the place being consecrated or not consecrated.

That said, be of good cheer!  Given the way things are going, if that is a youth conference, they will soon have to have the Extraordinary Form to get young people to come.

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  1. FrCharles says:

    It would be quite something if I had a nickel for every time over the years I have been fed some excuse why I’m not supposed to kneel as the Roman rite (or its legitimate adaptation here in the USA) describes. ‘We don’t kneel on Sundays,’ ‘We are a resurrected people,’ ‘we are beyond that theologically,’ and so on and so on. It got worse when I was a deacon. ‘Deacons don’t kneel at the consecration. Stop adding things to the liturgy out of your own devotion.’ Wrong. Oh, if only priests would actually read the rubrics, and care about them as a sign of their reverence for God! In many places I’ve been, e.g. houses of religious formation, schools of theology, etc., kneeling at Mass was not even permitted. So much for liberalism. This sort of thing has been a great sadness in my Catholic life.

  2. Alex P says:

    When I lived in Korea, things there were done a little differently than the universal norm. Everybody stood throughout the whole Eucharistic Prayer, and at the consecration the congregation would, in unison, raise their folded hands a little further from their chest at the elevation of both the Host and the Precious Blood. Priests would follow each elevation with a profound bow, at which time the congregation would also make a similar reverential bow.

    The Church in Korea reason that the traditional form of showing reverence and respect there is through a profound bow, and if anything there is a far more palpable sense there of the sacredness of what is happening on the altar, and that the congregation have a much deeper sense of, and belief in, the Real Presence than anything I’ve witnessed in the West.

    The intention of the Church in Korea seems different to the intention of liberals in the West- there, the emphasis is in showing profound reverence for the Real Presence, and so they have adopted what in their culture is the most obvious way of showing that; in the West, the approach of liberals is to try to lessen the emphasis on the Real Presence, and so by trying to remove kneeling they attempt to achieve just that. I’d have the thought the two approaches were at odds with each other, even if the bodily posture during the Consecration is actually the same in both.

  3. Kerry says:

    Did anyone else, before even reading past, the headline see GI’s kneeling on the ground in front of Father Kapuan’s raised arms?

  4. Clinton says:

    I’ve always been baffled by the ‘unity of gesture’ excuse cited by liturgists who would try
    to eliminate kneeling at Mass. If the standard practice for the Church throughout the world
    is to kneel, then doesn’t rejecting that normative posture undermine ‘unity of gesture’ with
    the rest of the Church? Aren’t they sowing division of gesture in the name of unity?

    Alex P., I do not imply that Koreans are sowing division in their practices. It appears to me
    that theirs is a time-honored custom that arose organically, not as the fiat of a liturgist with
    perhaps both a dislike for more traditional Catholic practice and a contempt for norms.

  5. pseudomodo says:

    My TWO rules of thumb (at least for the Latin Church) are:

    1) When in Rome do as the Romans do.
    2) When not in Rome… DO AS THE ROMANS DO!

  6. Cavaliere says:

    Every time I hear this nonsense I am reminded of this picture of Blessed Charles. If it was okay for the last Emperor of what used to be the Holy Roman Empire to kneel on unconsecrated ground then I think it is okay to for me to do the same. Here’s the link to the picture on his canonization cause website. http://emperorcharles.org/images/JPG%20800/cd%203/11–Restoration%20Attempts%20and%20Final%20Exile/Cat%20No%20297–Version%202–Postcard.jpg

  7. Christo et Ecclesiae says:

    This type of nonsense has become the norm in some of the parishes, EVEN WHERE THERE ARE KNEELERS! Ridiculous. They attribute it to “tradition.” I feel like asking them when they ever cared about tradition!

    I have especially hated the “unity” excuse. You must do what the community is doing! B.S. I would at least expect the priest to be sensitive to those who wish to fall on their knees in the sight of their Lord, despite what the rest of the community is doing, foolishly or blindly. Nevertheless, priests are not sensitive to those, and tell them to “get with the program.”

  8. Henry Edwards says:

    When he first came to Atlanta — where a number of the newer churches had been built sans kneelers in the 1980s — Archbishop Donoghue (now emeritus) published a statement that henceforth the practice in the archdiocese would be to kneel for the canon. In the next issue he published an addendum pointing out–in response to a number of inquiries–that he had not stated that all churches would have kneelers, only that all worshipers would kneel. In one church without kneelers that I frequented, people started bringing personal cushions to Mass.

  9. benedetta says:

    I was actually taught to stand in the diocese where I grew up and the kneelers had been removed. We were told that this, along with communion in the hand, was the way in which the earliest Christians worshipped…talk about “holier than thou”…but in reality it is a political statement and nothing more. There are certainly those places for people seeking out a political rally in lieu of worship of the Risen Lord. And then there is the Real Presence, humbly and faithfully offered by the Church. Would you rather your prayer be the support of ranting political ideologues, or, is it your wish that your prayer and reception of the Eucharist be in union with the communion of saints?

  10. twherge says:

    This is something I will soon have to deal with when we start having Mass on campus. Most of the people will be used to standing. I have prepared an introductory letter asking people to kneel at least for the consacration and communion. Personally, however, I must admit that I am extremely uncomfortable with kneeling being the given norm throughout the Canon in the United States. For non-penetential days, it is not in keeping with the rubrics of the TLM, and the Council of Nicaea to kneel for the whole Canon. Now, I have no objection to people kneeling–people should, to a point, be able to adopt a posture which is helpful to piety, but kneeling throughout ignores history. But then again, standing ignores the developments of personal piety. My ultimate guideline is Our Lady–she stood by the cross, and so the people of God stand at Mass, except in cases of personal piety, penitence, and adoration.

    Now I explain how this all came about for me. At the TLM I attend, about half the congregation stands for the Pater; half kneels. I inquired why. Those who stood said it was on account of the rubrics. I investigated the rubrics, and found this to be an extremely inconsistent explanation, because on Sundays standing is given for the whole Canon and priest’s communion, except for Consacration and Communion. But the rubrics are for the clergy, so what is one to say for the people? The revisedd version of Fortesque’s Ceremonies of the Roman Rite and my Fulton Sheen Sunday Missal say to stand. But the US bishops say to kneel as do years of practice. and yet personally, I cannot be comfortable with that (except, maybe, if the servers and clergy in choir followed the rubrics)

  11. Christ-Bearer says:

    Re kneeling/bowing in Korea: speaking as a Korean (though living in the US), I agree with Alex P that the faith and devotion of the laity to the Eucharist is profound, but I find the “cultural” reasons the hierarchy gives for suppressing kneeling disingenuous. Traditionally, we certainly show respect/reverence by a profound bow, but *on our knees*!!! In everyday life standing, but even now on special occasions to our elders on our knees, and no Korean would have dared appear before royalty not kneeling. We all kneeled before the reforms of the Council, then one day all the kneelers disappeared in the name of inculturation (*not* organically). Whose culture? Not Korea’s, for sure. You’ll still find me kneeling on the floor in a Korean church. Modernist currents flow in Korea too, sometimes not as easily detectable, thanks to the devoted faith of many laity and priests. Korean Martyrs, pray for us, the Church in Korea and everywhere, for the restoration of our traditional faith and liturgy.

  12. How do you know that Our Lady stood by the Cross? Plenty of depictions show her lying down or kneeling by the Cross.

    If you’re a time traveler, fine, but I want to see pics. :)

  13. Kneeling in the Roman Rite also expresses Adoration and hence isn’t penitential, and hence isn’t violating Nicea (or at least that’s what I’ve learned, correct me if I’m wrong)

    Several times I’ve had to request people to please kneel at the consecration back home. Follow the Rubrics, how hard is it? Really

  14. Henry Edwards says:


    It sounds to me like some of the people you attend TLM with must be EF newbies (which is great). Of course, the EF rubrics are silent on the people’s posture — mandating such is strictly a Novus Ordo liturgy police thing — but it is universal TLM practice to kneel at the Sanctus and remain kneeling throughout the Roman Canon.

    As for the Pater Noster, all the ubiquitous missalettes, etc. say to remain kneeling if it’s a low Mass, but stand if it’s a high Mass, thence to kneel again at the Agnus Dei. (Maybe half your people think they’re at a high Mass, half at a low Mass?)

    I’ve attended TLM’s all over, for well over a half century, and have never encountered any confusion on these points. (Except once when before a TLM as I was getting the altar boys organized, a woman approached and asked if we needed an EMHC. I pleasantly told her thanks, that we had Holy Communion covered.)

    As for the ordinary form, what’s the problem? Just follow “the law” and kneel throughout the Eucharistic Prayer. In this case, it’s “right”, and feels right.

  15. QMJ says:

    This is idiocy. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that we kneel in reverence and in the presence of our Lord, not because we’re on consecrated ground.

    On another note, I do not think youth coordinators will have to begin using the EF to increase attendance at conferences and in parish programs. There are many problems that I have with the way youth ministry is generally carried out in the US (liturgy not least among them), but in many places programs and conferences are well attended and still going strong. While many of these youth have a less mature understanding of the faith, they are faithful nonetheless. I have also been to many youth conferences and Masses where kneeling on hard gym floors was the common practice.

  16. bmccoy says:

    Is it a requirement to kneel, or is it just strongly suggested? I wouldn’t want to bring it up just to be told it was a norm and not a law.

  17. QMJ says:


    We are bound to adhere to the faith proclaimed by ecumenical councils, but the disciplines set forth by those councils are not unchangable. There is not a single rite today that actually practices every single canon (dealing with discipline) set forth by the ecumenical councils. Whatever practice the Council of Niceae put forth, regarding the posture of the people during the consecration, is not binding throughout all the ages of the Church.

  18. Poimier says:

    It’s a curious fact that in France, where the vast majority of those present kneel for the consecration (and more) during the TLM, often some people rise from kneeling and stand. I have noticed this for very many years.

    Can anyone provide an explanation please ? I believe it is not according to the rubrics.

  19. Alexis says:

    I actually thought there was a rather unfortunate option to omit kneeling whatsoever, including during the Consecration, if the pastor deems it necessary. Thus, as a result, at the Catholic Center where I attend Mass, the Franciscan friars in charge there (really, one in particular…guess what age range?) have “outlawed” kneeling at most/many of the Saturday and Sunday Masses because it’s “too crowded” at these Masses to safely kneel.

    Now, try to argue THAT one with the pastor. Where do you even start?

  20. Luvadoxi says:

    Alexis–I’m guessing you live in my town. (I won’t say where, but I’m pretty sure I’m right!) It’s most annoying, especially because there really *is* room to kneel. Another beef of mine (not about our town–I’m changing the subject)–we were visiting in Hawaii, and there it’s announced before Mass that we are all to remain standing after Communion until everyone has received. (It’s also announced that those who can’t receive can cross their arms and receive a blessing. I do like how they mention that it isn’t always possible to receive–I think that should be done everywhere to avoid confusing non-Catholics.) Anyway–is this a violation about standing? *Are* we supposed to stand, or doesn’t it matter? I don’t want to get worked up over something that isn’t that important, especially since attending Mass there was very lovely, for the most part. The one pastor that refused to use “man” in the Creed–guess what age group? The one who did–and even *emphasized* the word–lol!–guess what his age group was? I read the entry about the TLM in Hawaii with great hope. While I was there I did notice the announcements about the TLM on Maui. Unfortunately the regular TLM is way too far away from west Maui. (We’re thinking of retiring there; that’s why I’m so interested.) Another hopeful sign–at Maria Lanakila Church in Lahaina, there’s a TLM once a month–unfortunately it’s the last week of the month so I missed it. But brick by brick!

  21. catholicmidwest says:

    On your knees, of course.

  22. @Ludadoxi, no one can tell you whether to stand sit or kneel after Communion, you’re free to choose. I generally kneel or sit.

  23. Clinton says:

    There are many wonderful anecdotes involving Hilaire Belloc, and one has him at a Mass
    in the Catholic Westminster Cathedral in London. As was the custom he learnt from his
    childhood in France, he stood throughout the Mass, even during the Canon. A fussy usher
    approached and whispered “excuse me sir, it is our custom here to kneel”. To which Belloc
    responded “go to hell!”. Puzzled a moment, the usher finally blurted “I’m so sorry sir,
    I didn’t realize you were a Catholic!”.

    Not exactly on-topic, but awfully funny…

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