QUAERITUR: knee injury makes me choose either sitting or kneeling

VOTE FOR WDTPRSFrom a reader:

I have incurred a quite painful knee injury and am currently wearing a brace, between the pain and the brace kneeling is out of the question, Is it preferable to stand or sit during the consecration, I am in the pew in the back with extra space so there is no question of causing a commotion, no one sees me except the priest and The Lord. One way seems so nonchalant and the other seems to imply that I am too proud to bend before the Lord. What is your call?

Just reading about that makes me hurt in sympathy.  I’ve had knee injuries.  brrrrrr

I don’t know the prevailing practice in your parish, that is, whether many people stand (quod Deus avertat) during the consecration or not.  Assuming your fellow congregants are mainly kneeling (as they should), perhaps taking the lower profile route may be best.  Perhaps sitting is not a bad option for you while you are ailing if everyone is kneeling.   When you find a place in the back of the church, or on a side, in other words in an unobtrusive place, stand if you believe that this is more reverent than sitting.  If everyone else is kneeling, perhaps you shouldn’t be standing if you are in the front pew, if you get my drift.

I am glad you are worrying about this.  It shows that you are serious about your posture before God.  Just don’t worry too much.  Friend, if you can’t kneel physically, do something else.  God sees the heart and know what you would rather be doing.  Given the injury, it don’t think it is a matter of pride to stand.

Heal quickly.  Solidarity.

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  1. Dr. Eric says:

    I offer my prayers for your reader through the intercession of Sts. Peter and John the Apostles.

    I would like to throw in the advise to listen to ones physicians, surgeons, and physical therapists before and after surgery and do what they tell you.

  2. Marc says:

    I was going to suggest ibuprofen to help with the inflammation, but I am going to defer to Dr. Eric (above) who offers far better advice then I.

  3. The Egyptian says:

    Dr. Eric

    Don’t worry my long suffering wife is an occupational “terrorist” (pun intended) and her dad is a MD (family practitioner), she works in the clinic that will be treating me. Sometime I think she likes to inflict pain :>))

  4. PghCath says:

    I see many people who can’t kneel lean against the pew in front of them in a half sitting, half kneeling posture. When I see someone doing that, I think, “There’s someone who wants to kneel but just can’t.” If standing isn’t an option, this may be your best option.

  5. Philangelus says:

    During pregnancy, if I kneel during the consecration, I will pass out during the sign of peace. It’s pretty much a given after five pregnancies. My parish priest told me to sit it out, but I tried to sit hunching forward at least, or get one knee down on the kneeler if possible so as not to attract attention.

    If anyone looks at a non-kneeler who’s wearing a knee brace and thinks the person is too proud to kneel before God, the problem is NOT with the person wearing the brace.

  6. Dr. Eric says:

    It would appear that The Egyptian is in good hands. I hope that everything turns out well for him.

  7. digdigby says:

    I am struggling with what they used to call ‘custody of the eyes’. For starters, I cannot receive communion and then watch others receive communion without noticing inappropriate clothing, attractiveness, ugliness, cute kids, veils about to fall off etc. Even if its just a ‘running commentary’ in my mind – I found it is the MOST DESTRUCTIVE thing I do at Mass. Now, head down, eyes closed, I listen for the end of distribution. If I must sometimes sit-kneel because of my bulging disc I time it to give myself some relief so I can fully kneel at the altar rail. As for what other people do (sit, stand, kneel) MYOB. We are a traditional Oratory of the ICKSP and have many visitors: sullen sloppy teens who barely nod their head to Christ when being seated (they are too cool to kneel) and out and out neo-Catholic tourists ‘slumming’ and I say GREAT, I’m glad they have come to ‘taste and see’. Remember, that that unshaven man in sloppy clothes may have been up all night at his wife’s hospital bed. YOU DON’T KNOW.

  8. Dr. Eric says:

    At least they are there, digdigby. When at St. Francis de Sales Oratory, I do see some people with less than perfect attire whom I assume don’t know that at more traditional parishes the people wear their “Sunday Best.” Perhaps they will figure it out, become parishioners, and start wearing their “Sunday Best” too.

  9. digdigby says:


    People at Mass who are looking around with gimlet eyes and hissing to themselves SHE’S not KNEELING – are doing something MUCH more disrespectful than ‘not kneeling’.

  10. Catholictothecore says:

    @ The Egyptian : I wish you a speedy recovery. Will pray for you.

  11. Fr. Basil says:

    I have gout and cannot stand long. Oddly enough, walking hurts me less.

    So I have to sit in the back row of the Church with my cane. It grieved me deeply that I can not kneel before the Eucharistic Lord in the Great Entrance at the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts. It took 4 people to get me back up when I tried!

    Through the prayers of St. Julian the Gout Sufferer [yes! there is such a saint], have mercy on us, O Lord.

  12. joanofarcfan says:

    @dididgby: When in grade school (late 1950s/early 1960s), the nuns taught us to cover our face with our hands after getting back to the pew after communion. That, of course, went out of style along with striking one’s breast or bowing one’s head at the name of “Jesus.” I have started doing it again and find it is really helpful to keep one from losing “custody” of those eyes.

  13. Animadversor says:

    Remember, that that unshaven man in sloppy clothes may have been up all night at his wife’s hospital bed. YOU DON’T KNOW.

    Or perhaps he had been up all night carousing—or worse—and had just had an unanticipated superfusion of actual grace. We don’t know!

  14. When I developed a torn meniscus in my left knee last year, it prompted me to join the schola! ;)

  15. Maria says:

    It is my firm belief that if we kneel before Our Lord in our herts, then we shall instinctively and automatically kneel with our bodies, – if we are able.

    God sees right into a mans’ soul

  16. Rob Cartusciello says:

    In some circles, standing during the consecration has been used as a sign of protest (this was especially popular at Holy Trinity Church in Georgetown). I also see it as being more conspicuous than sitting for medical reasons.

    I have suffered various orthopedic problems over the years: Osgood–Schlatter disease, patellar subluxation and a few broken tarsals & metatarsals. I typically move to the edge of my seat & rest my forearms on the pew in front of me.

    We have certain elderly members at our parish who have limited mobility. They typically sit in the back or in the front off to the side. Communion is sometime brought to them.

  17. WGS says:

    Aha! Another advantage for the E.F. of the Mass – no rubrics for the layman – sit, stand, kneel as you choose – while having a good sense of tradition and being respectful and demonstrating charity toward all.

  18. John UK says:

    Digby wrote: I am struggling with what they used to call ‘custody of the eyes’. For starters, I cannot receive communion and then watch others receive communion without noticing inappropriate clothing, attractiveness, ugliness, cute kids, veils about to fall off etc. Even if its just a ‘running commentary’ in my mind – I found it is the MOST DESTRUCTIVE thing I do at Mass.

    Digby, you are not the first, nor will be the last. C.S.Lewis, in The Screwtape Letters devotes a whole letter (Letter 2) to it …
    My dear Wormwood, I note with grave displeasure that your patient has become a Christian [ . . . ] One of our great allies at present is the Church irself. Do not misunderstand me. I do not mean the Church as we see her spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to these humans. All your patient sees is the half-finished, sham Gothic erection on the new building estate. When he goes inside, he sees the local grocer with a rather oily expression on his face bustling up to offer him one shiny little book containing a liturgy which neither of them understand, and one shabby little book containing a number of religious lyrics, mostly bad, and in very small print. When he gets to his pew and looks around he sees just the selection of his neighbours he has hitherto avoided. You want to lean pretty heavily on those neighbours. Make his mind flit to and fro between an expression like “the body of Christ” and the actual faces in the next pew. It matters very little, of course, what kind of prople that next pew really contains. Yiou may know one of them to be a great warrior on the Enemy’s side. No matter, your patient, thanks to Our Father below, is no fool. Provided that any of those neighbour sing out of tune, or have boots that squeak, or double chins, or odd clothes, the patient will quite easily believe that their religion must therefore be somewhat ridiculous. [ . . . ] At bottom [the patient] still believes he has run up a very favourable credit balance in the Enemy’s ledger by allowing himself to be converted, and thinks that he is showing great humility and condescension in going to church with these ‘smug’ commonplace neighbours at all. Keep him in that state of mind as long as you can. Your affectionate uncle Screwtape.

    And our Lord Himself recognizes the temptation in the Parable of the Publican and the Sinner. It is a temptation which has been around for 2000 years and more!

    So, Digby, in recognizing the temptation you have taken the first step to conquering it, and as you yourself say, . . . I say GREAT, I’m glad they have come to ‘taste and see’. Remember, that that unshaven man in sloppy clothes may have been up all night at his wife’s hospital bed. YOU DON’T KNOW

    So you already know some steps to take to counter the temptation…thank God for their presence at Mass alongside you today, to put the best possible interpretation on their motives for being present. When you do entertain ucharitable thoughts about others, turn to your own shortcomings, and picture in your mind the two thieves crucified alongside Christ. Which are you most like? Which do you want to be most like? Above all, talk it over with your confessor/spiritual director.

    One practical point, if opportunity presents itself, get to know some of your brothers and sisters in Christ whom you are most tempted to criticise. Look not for their faults, but mentally list their good points, beginning with the fact that each is formed in the image and likeness of God, -“Inasmuch as ye have done it to the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me”

    Kind regards,
    John U.K.

  19. catholicmidwest says:

    “Or perhaps he had been up all night carousing—or worse—and had just had an unanticipated superfusion of actual grace. We don’t know!”

    Moreover, Animadversor, it’s probably none of anyone else’s business. Posture policing isn’t what a person should be going to mass for.

  20. asacjack says:

    I have had a total right knee replacement. For some reason, even though the knee feels fairly good and can walk fine, I cannot kneel on that knee. As a result, I have to assume the “slacker position” of kneeling on one knee while propped up against the bench.

    I really don’t care what anyone thinks. If someone is really concerned, I would hope they would approach me and I will be happy to explain the dilemma. I do care that God knows that I am absolutely making my best effort to properly honor Him.

    If only everyone were as dedicated to doing the right thing as this person with the knee brace, we were all have much more reverent Masses.

  21. Supertradmum says:

    I have a knee injury as well and surgery did not help it. I half-sit, half-kneel if it is painful, which it is most of the time. Those at the EF know about this and never mention it. This is a good practice-and I hope you are not judged by your peers. I hope your knee heals. God bless.

  22. mjd says:

    When I returned to attending Mass after a gangrened kidney was removed, I brought special cushions. Sometimes, I did not have the strength to pull myself up, to stand. Our Divine Healing Physician will heal your pain, just as His merciful heart did for this poor sinner.

  23. albinus1 says:

    My elderly mother has serious mobility problems and has weak legs. She is unable to kneel because, if she were to kneel, it would be impossible for her to rise again without help and a great deal of difficulty. My parents often attend the traditional Mass, and my mother generally sits at times when everyone else is kneeling. She bows instead of genuflecting, and she also stands at the Communion Rail to receive Communion. To my knowledge she has never encountered any adverse comments about this, from priests or anyone else. Since she walks with a walker, or a cane on a good day, it’s pretty clear that she is disabled and is doing her best.

    We occasionally have the traditional Mass celebrated in our parish by the retired founding pastor, who is 90 years old and moves stiffly. He never does the prescribed genuflections during Mass, presumably because, like my mother, if he were to kneel or genuflect, he would have a great deal of difficulty getting up again without help.

    I agree that people who are looking around to see who is kneeling and who is not really need to focus their mind on the Mass and on their own business. When I was younger I used to look askance at apparently able-bodied people who took the elevator instead of the stairs, until it was pointed out to me that there are many people with heart conditions and other problems who are under medical orders not to take the stairs. That really brought me up short and has made me think twice about thinking ill of others. Not all physical disabilities are readily apparent to the casual observer.

  24. The Egyptian says:

    Thank you one and all for your kind prayers, I just felt odd not kneeling that’s all, no one noticed or particularly cared except to ask what was wrong on the way out since I was favoring my left leg. Really since church is usually quite crowed and there are rows of folding chairs in the isles and no one on those chair seems to mind just sitting I do not know why I care.
    Oh well like my 73 year old dad tells me, offer it up. And honestly there are many much worse off than me.

    But for a dairy farmer this stinks, large. :>)

  25. JKnott says:

    Just today at our EF Mass, a dear elderly and retired priest who substituted for our pastor, as he does for other EP Masses in the area if asked, told us in his homily that the arthritis in his hip makes it difficult for him to kneel and do all the genuflections required. He did genuflect at the consecration.
    If this priest was unable to be there we would not have had the EF Mass today.
    The nuns taught us custody of the eyes in order to stay recollected. I cannot begin to imagine why recollection at Mass , aided by custody of the eyes, especially at Communion would have gone out of style!
    I used to be rather judgemental about others not kneeling until I saw several good cloistered nuns, who were troubled with infirmities that were not openly evident, unable to kneel and had to sit. Charity towards the elderly or the sick shined out there .
    Those who are genuinely unable to kneel must have the added suffering and MERIT of others misunderstanding their motives.
    All in all, I think our Lord would prefer to have us looking at Him in our heart rather than scoping out others to see if they are kneeling, or for any reason. How many spouses would feel great about having their other half checking out other guys or gals during a romantic dinner!

  26. Supertradmum says:

    Custody of the eyes was one of the best things I learned from the nuns. I passed it on as an important discipline. “Mind your own business” was one of those great lessons from the nuns as well, and they stressed that even good news, like when a mom in the parish was pregnant with another baby, we should not talk about anyone’s business but our own. Good common sense lessons which lead to deep spiritual disciplines still hold true.When I taught a class of my foreign students the acronym “MYOB”, they loved it and talked about it for days as something they never heard of before. Then, they began to remind each other that gossiping was a sin. Do we not have enough to pray about without judging others who may have secret problems, and which can remain so, if they wish?

  27. jbosco88 says:

    The Rector at a Church I attend regularly is still reasonably young, but has had several operations on his knees and hips. He celebrates both rites, walks with an extreme limp and cane, but is entirely unable to genuflect or kneel. I have never seen anyone bow so profoundly as he.

    But he still manages to prostrate himself over the Triduum even though it takes him five minutes and assistance to get to his feet again. THAT’S doing penance.

    I don’t judge people sitting during the consecration as a result, I think of the inner reverence they have but aren’t showing – “He who sees in secret shall reward you…”

  28. digdigby says:

    “When the devil can’t get you to sin, he gets you to judge others who sin.” My hero is my sister in law’s father, a Chinese Catholic whom I’ve never heard say ANYTHING bad about ANYBODY and who hated to HEAR anything bad about anyone and would usually make some excuse for them or say ‘how unhappy she must be….”. Such a true gentleman, a gentle MAN. Then….I find out totally by accident (not from him!) that he fought with the famous Chennault’s Flying Tigers, that he was a hero who defended his country against Japanese invaders and then had a harrowing escape from the Communists. Amazing. Felled by stroke recently, his mind is fighting for blood, any prayers are appreciated.

  29. MargaretC says:

    Back when I was an Episcopalian, that half-kneeling-half-sitting position was called “The Anglican Slump.” :)
    While I can kneel without pain, I can’t get up or down without using the back of the pew in front of me for support. Likewise, I can no longer genuflect. So I’ve been working on making a profound bow with as much reverence as I can express.
    Spending mass time finding fault with other people is a sure sign of a beam in the eye that needs immediate attention.

  30. Sandra_in_Severn says:

    When I had a serious knee injury and then surgery and months of PT, I stood in the back and did a profound bow, when everyone else was kneeling and/or genuflecting. With the brace and crutches, it was easier to stand than to sit, with a leg in the way.

  31. Gail F says:

    I think she should do whatever is normal for people in her parish who can’t kneel. Standing is an act of protest in some parishes but other parishes would be bewildered by the very idea. But most parishes have plenty of people who can’t kneel — if she hasn’t noticed them, perhaps that’s because they are not as noticeable as she fears she will be.

    In my parish, the first pew in one of the side aisles is where most of the people who can’t kneel sit. This pew is set further back from the front thing (I don’t know what it’s called — it’s not a communion rail, it’s a sort of low wall in front of the first pew) so these folks have more leg room. They usually sit throughout mass, and many of them can’t get up so an EMHC brings them communion — a good use of this mostly useless and certainly much too numerous position in my parish, I think.

  32. depending on the pew, sometimes, they’re set so I end up kneeling on the screws that are in my leg, and I can’t kneel for a long period when that happens. I normally sit and make the proper bows at various points, if I have that problem

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