QUAERITUR: Genuflecting when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed

From a reader:

When I was in grade school (1990’s), I was taught by a very devout teacher that one should genuflect (kneel?) on both knees with a slight bow of the head when entering/leaving the pew during adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.  I have never really seen this any place else, or even heard it discussed.  I don’t recall my grandfather ever doing this, and he spent at least an hour or more before the Blessed Sacrament each week and went to grade school in the 1930’s when all but one of his teachers were nuns.  What is the proper way to genuflect before the exposed Blessed Sacrament?  Thanks!

It is possible, even probable, that there were some variations of practice when the Blessed Sacrament was exposed. Also, conferences of bishops can, by and large, determine proper practices for Catholics in their regions.  If memory serves, some bishops conferences have eliminated the distinction of the “double-genuflection” when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed.  FAIL.

The way I learned, and the parish where I learned was an exemplar of traditional liturgical custom and practice, was as you described.  This is what I do, both knees permitting.  No bishops’ conference will convince me that it is better not to do so.

That said, I have seen people genuflect on one knee when coming and going and haven’t had the impulse to jump on them.  They seemed genuinely reverent, which is what matters most.  I will continue to use both knees, again, both knees permitting.  When they at last don’t permit, I’ll find another way to express reverence.

It is good that we have distinct gestures for different situations.  Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament is special.  The special time in a church, the privilege of a view of the very Eucharist we otherwise know is the tabernacle, deserves recognition.  Gestures help to reinforce our Faith and to give witness of Faith to others.  Children learn a great deal from subtle differences in our gestures.  They learn from sloppiness, as well.  They learn from minimalism, too.

It seems to me that a double-genuflection is an appropriate gesture, given that total prostration and then crawling backwards out of church isn’t always possible.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. I was taught the same. At our one church, there was a lady who always did her genuflections on both knees, with a profound bow.

    Crawling backwards out of the church will look a possessed person in one of those horror movies.

  2. Given the nature and dignity of the One Whom we adore in the Blessed Sacrament, the crawling-backwards thing is actually 100% appropriate, though most of us (especially me) would probably look so funny doing it we’d make the saints and angels roar with laughter.

  3. Norah says:

    Australia has an indult which permits genuflection on both knees before the exposed Sacrament. In my church most peple don’t even bother to genuflect on one knee entering the pew before Mass. A bob of the head seems all that can be managed. Not surprising really; I can’t ever remember hearing a homily on the Real Presence.

  4. Mike says:

    Yes, as Fr. Z said, reverence and adoration are key, so a devout one-knee before the Monstrance is fine, but a special gesture of reverence is best. In my parish, the veritable army of Extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist–almost all old ladies, God bless them–hardly ever genuflect before the Tabernacle. They just bow, which is better than nothing. But it always gets me wondering–who taught these ladies?

    “Bend the heart before you bend the knee.”–St. Benedict

  5. yatzer says:

    Being an old lady, definitely not an Extraordinary Minister, I go for the double genuflection unless there is nothing to help me get back up. Being stuck on the floor or doing some weird gyrations to stand up again doesn’t add to reverence. If there is nothing to hold on to I do the deepest bow I can before Our Lord. I don’t know what the norms, if any, are supposed to be in our diocese and that doesn’t concern me much.

  6. mamajen says:

    I was taught to double genuflect, and everyone I’ve seen at the adoration chapel does so.

  7. “Australia has an indult which permits genuflection on both knees before the exposed Sacrament.”

    No indult or permission is needed anywhere to permit genuflection on both knees before His Real Presence–or prostration face down on the floor if one feels compelled (as a Protestant once remarked Catholics would practice if they really believed what they profess)–and no one on earth has the authority to prohibit anyone else from expressing reverence in this manner.

  8. Supertradmum says:

    Today, after Mass, we had a parish bbq, which was very well attended. I went into the lonely and dark Church for a few minutes, and a little girl in a school uniform, (they had sung as a class in the Mass), was on the steps of the sanctuary. She prostrated herself before the altar and tabernacle, which is centered, and I thought it was one of the most beautiful awarenesses of the Presence I have seen in years. She was about eight. I pray she has a vocation.

  9. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Re: bowing only, there are a lot of people who have gotten taught the wrong thing in recent years. I’ve heard that a fair number of people have been told that genuflecting to the Tabernacle during Mass is some kind of denial of the importance of the Mass, and so you should only bow to the altar, blah blah yadda BS. I’ve never actually heard this myself, but I can believe that stupid workshops have taught it.

    What bugs me is, when the Tabernacle is over to the side and surrounded by photogenic decor, people going up to stand in front of the Tabernacle to get their picture taken, standing on a level with the Tabernacle but with their backs to Him. I wouldn’t find it nearly so offensive if they were even putting Him in the center of the picture, although of course they really should be kneeling if they’re doing something like that. But just forgetting about Him — that’s what I find hard to bear.

  10. Supertradmum says:

    Mike, some of us older ladies cannot get up or down to genuflect. Seriously. And in Europe, where many times there are only chairs and not pews, or pews which are movable and not stuck in place, one cannot use these to get up and down as these move, if one has bad knees, hips or ankles. I would not judge those “old ladies”.

  11. I do a double genuflection when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed…it’s a lot easier to do when holding on to an altar rail or pew, than without for me.

  12. APX says:

    Mike, aside from various joint, muscle, and body ailments, some people (such as myself, as I have serious balance issues) can’t genuflect without falling over if there is nothing to stabilize them (ie: a pew). I’m sure I don’t genuflect enough times, and someone in Tradom is judging me for it.

    Meanwhile, I’ve started to notice a bit of a creeping incrementalism prior to one of our Daily EF Masses on a day when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed in the main church proper. It used to be no one entered the sanctuary except the priest when he was going to repose the Blessed Sacrament 15 minutes before Mass started in order to set up. Over time it got that altar servers were entering the sanctuary to put stuff on the credence table while the Blessed Sacrament is exposed. Now, they’re trampling right through the sanctuary to set up the kneelers. Why?? Can’t it wait until the Blessed Sacrament is reposed?!? Even the ladies doing the altar flowers for Corpus Christi knew well enough that they came at 6 am as to not be in the sanctuary with the Blessed Sacrament exposed.

  13. Mike says:

    I know, I don’t. I was just musing if their instruction were to blame instead of the bad knee.

  14. Fr Kurt Barragan says:

    The single genuflection before the Blessed Sacrament exposed is not the imposition of a Bishops’ Conference but what the modern Roman Ritual prescribes: “Genuflection in the presence of the blessed sacrament, whether reserved in the tabernacle or exposed for public adoration, is on one knee.” – Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist Outside Mass (De Sacra Communione et de Cultu Mysterii Eucharistici Extra Missam) [1973], n. 84.

    In practice, however, the double genuflection remains very common (at least in my experience). Elliot writes in Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite that some Bishops’ Conferences require the double genuflection, though he does not name which ones.

  15. Sandy says:

    I come from the generation before Father’s original questioner, and we were indeed taught by the good nuns to genuflect on both knees before the exposed Blessed Sacrament. Now we see all this bowing before the tabernacle (instead of a simple genuflection) and I’m still trying to figure out how bowing entered the picture. Obviously physical limitation is another story. I once read what the Council of Trent said about genuflecting. How far we have drifted.

    Someone used the phrase “creeping incrementalism”, which seems such a good description. Human nature is weak, and we seem to become more lazy and sloppy about our body postures and habits before the Lord.

  16. HighMass says:

    Again the making of the single genuflection is today’s modernism in the Church…..I like many still genuflect on two knees…..does this make me holier than others….heavens no……just think it is a better sign of reverence to our DEAR SACRED LORD…..

    This may not fit but as Fr. Z said in Rome in March…..change the way people pray and you change what they believe……(hope I quoted you correctly Fr.Z)

    Minimalism is what much of what we do these days…..When are most of the bishops going to wake up???? What are they afraid of???? Maybe more attraction to many to join the church or improve there way of worship….Odd the old ways worked for centuries…..but now we must re-invent the wheel….the fruits of the new liturgy. N.O.

    Sorry I guess I just needed to rant and rave

  17. Mike says:

    Hardly anyone teaches stuff like in the old days that was called “deportment”. How you, as it were, carry yourself. Today at my NO parish, in front of us, was a fine family…four beautiful kids. Dad was spreading his arms back on the pews as if he were at a pub, mom was chewing gum right up to the Eucharistic prayer. I am not judging them…heck, they have four kids…I am sad, however, that little things that should be taken for granted are simply forgotten today….

  18. Imrahil says:

    Seems that around here, at least some ten years ago, it still was taught by the good nuns of the old sort in the kindergarden. I went to another one, yet it is basically a “it is done this way, and if you happen to know that, then you’ll do so”.

    Though I find it interesting (and I mean just that, interesting, not “deplorable”) how this “habituation” (to Our Lord’s presence) comes into play. If you visit the Church seldom (causes of lack-of-devotion excepted), you’ll be utmost reverent if you know that the Blessed Sacrament is there. If after a May Devotional-Service (most of which is about Holy Mary) you have a short Eucharistic adoration with a litany or so, you’ll kneel down the entire time the Blessed Sacrament is exposed (exception: the incense kneels down for the Blessing and previous incensation only; the priest gets up for the Deus qui nobis sub sacramento prayer and of course for the Blessing).
    On the other hand, when you have an organized long eucharistic adoration (one hour, or one of the old 40 hours length or approximations), then you’ll get in front of the Monstrance, make your double genuflection, and then kneel down or even sit down.
    And finally, if there’s a Corpus Christi procession, you do not kneel, but walk in the procession. You do kneel, though – and on one knee – when the Blessed Sacrament passes you, or when the Blessing is given (which is at every altar).

    As I mentioned in brackets, I do not think this is deplorable. There must be prostrations; there must be affability (though of the sort of an inferior whom the superior, in this case God, deigns to befriend). There might be some truth expressible in the English words “God is awesome but not awful”.

    Always very impressive is what standard-bearers and uniformed personnel (including the students’ corporations) do around here. They don’t kneel; but the standard-bearers lower the standard. And uniformed personnel (other than standard-bearers) stand at attention and give the military salute. Coming to think of it, should they bear a weapon, the “present arms” command would probably be in place.

    There is an indult in Australia to allow the double genuflection? Don’t understand that. Really don’t. As if I needed to be allowed to do a double genuflection.

    As to bowing: bowing comes from the legitimate bowings in the Church, e. g. to the altar, the priest, etc. For those with knee problems it is a fine thing. Otherwise, bowing in front of a tabernacle makes no real sense.
    May I detect a certain attitude à la: “Well, we won’t part with reverence altogether. But let’s for all sake take the lesser one, we’re mature Christians”, etc. etc.?
    Then of course, they take the sign of proud (in the non-moral sense) vassalage, self-assured humility and some bodily effort out (for all this is kneeling), and leave the one sign in which is sometimes used as posture of shame or subservience (though it has not this liturgical sense). Wrong again. These modernizers just get it precisely wrong, but we’re used to that.

  19. Irene says:

    I was taught (three Catholic grade schools and one Catholic high school) in the 1940’s and 1950’s to genuflect on both knees before the exposed Eucharist. Thankfully, I can still do it easily. At a local Novus Ordo parish with perpetual adoration, most of the adorers of all ages genuflect on both knees, as do adorers at the local TLM parish. However at that same Novus Ordo parish, with a grade school, some of the children, including servers, do not genuflect at all at any time.

  20. Raymond says:

    I was taught double genuflection before the exposed Blessed Sacrament by the Opus Dei. My pet-peeve, however, at least here in the U.S, is the number of lay people genuflecting before the altar when there’s no Blessed Sacrament or tabernacle present.

  21. Simon_GNR says:

    When I became a Catholic in my mid-20’s I was not taught anything about how to genuflect before the exposed Blessed Sacrament, but I saw an old person doing it and I deduced that this must be the right way to show reverence, so that’s always what I have done. I later read about the double genuflection towards the exposed Eucharist and had my supposition that this was the right thing to do confirmed. So I learned from a good example set by a devout older Catholic.
    On a slightly different point, I’ve often felt that people who genuflect towards an empty altar were wrong, in the case like in my local cathedral where the reserved Blessed Sacrament is kept in a tabernacle in a side chapel away from the main altar and there is no reserved Blessed Sacrament anywhere near the altar. I think I’m right in saying that the correct form of reverence for an altar *per se* is a bow. I think most Catholics have grown up believing the correct form of reverence for an altar is a single genuflection rather than a bow because altars always used to have a tabernacle containing the Blessed Sacrament just at the back of them in the middle. When arriving for the Good Friday Liturgy at my parish church, when the tabernacle just behind the altar is empty, I make a point of bowing, not genuflecting, to the altar. Genuflections are for the Blessed Sacrament, not for an altar, I believe.

  22. Sorry to be the “odd man out”, but I went to Catholic school (taught by older very traditional nuns) from 1963 on, one which was a part of a very traditional parish, and I have never heard of or seen a genuflection on both knees. In fact, I’m having a bit of a time figuring out exactly what it is – i.e. how it would work. How is it different from kneeling?

    Got to agree about the inappropriateness of bowing! I still don’t know where it came from – but I wish someone would figure out a way tosend it back! It alwys makes me feel like a Buddhist for some reason.

  23. Nordic Breed says:

    I’m one of those old ladies. Luckily I can still kneel to receive Holy Communion at an altar railing if it is sturdy enough to help me use leverage to get up. As for the rest, entering and leaving the pew I make a profound bow very s-l-o-w-l-y, fully conscious that I am in the presence of the Most High God in His heavenly court. Same with Adoration. What I would have to go through to get up off my knees considering both hips being replaced and having other serious issues would prove distracting and obstructive to others. God knows my heart and that’s all that counts.

  24. Clinton says:

    Carolina publican, some liturgical professionals have been insisting since the 70’s that there
    is no difference between bowing to the Blessed Sacrament and making a genuflection. I’ve
    always been baffled by that opinion– I cannot imagine two persons genuflecting to each other
    as equals, but two equals bowing to each other happens all over the world… Who is the equal
    of the Blessed Sacrament? Someday, due to frailty, I might only able to bow to my God, but
    until that day, I’ll happily genuflect– double or otherwise.

    I remember the liturgist at my horrible parish of the mid-1980’s speaking to parish youth
    one day to tell us that bowing and genuflecting were exactly alike in reverence and
    asking us to therefore only bow in the future. She never offered an explanation for why one
    of two identically reverent things should be rooted out– and several of us kids concluded that it
    was because they weren’t quite the same after all, and she knew it.

    I’d dearly like to hear a sermon that described the marks of reverence particular to the Blessed
    Sacrament exposed– the double genuflection, keeping silence, avoiding turning one’s back on
    the Host, and never leaving the Blessed Sacrament unattended, for example. I suspect many
    Catholics today have never heard of such (thanks to folks like the liturgist of my childhood),
    and it would make them more aware of just Who the Blessed Sacrament is. Which was, of
    course, the reason for such externals in the first place.

  25. Raymond says:

    AFAIK, our Eastern Catholic and Orthodox brethren only bow (and make multiple signs of the Cross) inside their churches during Divine Liturgy; they never kneel or genuflect.

  26. disc.s.thom says:

    It seems to me (sadly), that this isn’t as much a question of Episcopal Conferences but of the sad changes of the 1970s. As can be seen on EWTN’s website, the detestable General Instruction for Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist Outside of Mass reads:

    II. Regulations For Exposition
    84. Genuflection in the presence of the blessed sacrament, whether reserved in the tabernacle or exposed for public adoration, is on one knee.

  27. Jeannie_C says:

    When I was a child of 8, back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth, my protestant mother hurried the two of us to see a “parade” – turned out to be the Corpus Christi Procession. As they passed by us with the Blessed Sacrament held aloft, everyone knelt, both knees, on the concrete sidewalk. I knelt, my mother was forced down by a man behind her who placed his hand on her shoulder and forced her down. Now, as a Catholic, I kneel both knees out of respect for Christ, but also out of respect for those departed faithful whose actions spoke volumes to me way back when. Children do indeed learn by observing, actions speak louder than words, faith is caught as well as taught.

  28. Suburbanbanshee says:

    The Eastern side of things also does a lot more proskynesis and prostrations than we do, and there’s rites that do a lot more fanning with giant fans than we do.


    The meaning of a gesture is influenced by its history in a rite, the occasion upon which it is done, and many other factors. You don’t have to be always rubbernecking the neighbor Rites and copying their stuff, if you don’t intend to copy every other thing they say and do and every spirituality and charism that they have. And you’d be an idiot to ignore your own charisms in order to do so. I will fight for the right of the Byzantine Rite to do its own thing. and it wouldn’t offend me to see a Byzantine Rite visitor do his thing at my church. But I’m not Byzantine Rite, and I don’t have to copy off their stuff. My ancestors are in a direct line of years just as long as their ancestors.

    Heh… all humans can say that, of course… because otherwise, we wouldn’t exist!

  29. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Re: pushing mother down to kneel —

    Traditional American Catholicism did a lot of formation through physical catechesis. (Which isn’t surprising; most traditional cultures teach and remind by doing the odd bit of pushing or prodding.) My parents and grandparents were not shy about helping us kids that way!

  30. Stephen Matthew says:

    The present Roman Ritual for Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist Outside of Mass, promulgated by the Congregation for Divine Worship, instructs the following:
    II. Regulations For Exposition

    “84. Genuflection in the presence of the blessed sacrament, whether reserved in the tabernacle or exposed for public adoration, is on one knee.”

    The primary reason for this is the simple fact that Christ present in the Eucharist is equally present in a pyx, ciborium, monstrance, tabernacle, paten, or any other vessel. There was also possibly some desire to stamp out the last strains of the old notion of the desirability of “ocular communion”, the history and theology about which are a quagmire best avoided.

    Now it should be noted that the Roman Ritual and its various subsets are dealing with liturgical or para-liturgical actions. Thus No 84 seems to bind, as a matter of liturgical law, those ministers conducting exposition and benediction. While uniformity might tend to suggest everyone should do the same, the actions of a private person during adoration are essentially devotional in nature. Let me make that distinction clearer: adoration is essentially a personal devotional (thus largely a matter of individual conscience), but Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament is a solemn liturgical act (thus being subject to liturgical rubrics).

    It is true that in Australia the bishops conference instructions on liturgy indicate the double-genuflection be retained, but there is no known evidence this was recognized by the Holy See, thus it seems beyond there competence to modify any liturgical ritual without express permission.

    In any case, it is laudable thing to make some clear sign of reverence, be it the older double genuflection (which sometimes added a bow, or not), or the current single genuflection, or the Easter style prostrations, or a solemn bow for those unable to do the genuflecting, as your conscience may dictate so long as you are a private person in adoration. When taking on the public role and persona of a minister of Exposition and Benediction, then obedience seems to dictate the single genuflection. Likewise if you are serving as a DRE or catechist, it would be best to clearly indicate the single genuflection is what is required (but do not overstep your bounds and forbid something more).

    One final word:
    The disparity and divergence in matters such as this, and other simple things like properly receiving the Eucharist, or entering or leaving a church, etc. causes considerable confusion to catechumens, converts, children, poorly catechized adults, etc. etc… and often leads to reluctance to “do the wrong thing” or sometimes a self-conscious fear of being looked down upon or publicly corrected. This in tern leads to NO sign of reverence WHATSOEVER when entering the church, crossing before the tabernacle, receiving communion, etc. for concern of “doing it wrong”. So, while I reject the rigid enforcement of strict uniformity, I must say it would help the confused and ignorant if they could observe all of us being more nearly of one mind, one voice, and one action on these things. Let us set a good example and build one another up as much as we can.

  31. jacobi says:

    After Vat 11 there was an attempt, and still is, on the part of some, to diminish belief in the Real Presence. (Remember Modernists and Neo-modernists never deny, they imply.)
    One of their weapons was the replacement of genuflection with a bow and the near elimination of genuflection, and certainly double genuflection.

    Single and double genuflections have never been, and arguably cannot be, forbidden. The current “Regulations for Exposition” are a minimum.

    It is proper to have a different sign of devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, veiled in the tabernacle, and exposed on the Altar. Therefore, single and double genuflections should continue to be used where appropriate – except for the elderly who cannot get up without a bit of assistance

  32. poohbear says:

    One of the earliest memories I have of my mother is going with her to Adoration on Holy Thursday and her teaching me to kneel on both knees before the Blessed Sacrament. That memory comes to mind often when I am in church.

  33. Stephen D says:

    It’s self selection (at least here in the UK). Those (few) who ever attend adoration of the Blessed Sacrament all seem to know what to do and they do it. This would probably amaze any Catholic who wandered in by accident. I always add a deep bow while on my knees and I have also considered walking out backwards (which is what one does for an earthly monarch, if able) but have never done so.

  34. Michelle F says:

    Here is my case of learning by example:

    When I came into the Church through RCIA in 1999 I wasn’t taught anything about genuflection, but I didn’t ask about it either. I learned through a book originally published in the late 1920s to genuflect toward the Tabernacle when the Lord is present in it, so that’s what I did and I still do.

    A few years later I went to Adoration at a different parish. I saw a priest come in and do a “double-genuflection” as Fr. Z described before he entered the pew, and again when he left the pew. He was youngish, probably in his late 30s at the time, and newly ordained.

    I had never seen anyone do this, and I had never heard of a “double-genuflection,” but what he did seemed appropriate to me under the circumstances (our Lord exposed in a Monstrance on the Altar). I thought “this must be old-school Catholic,” so I started doing what he did. Sometime later I learned that what the priest did really was a traditional practice with its own name.

    So, it isn’t just children who learn from the examples set by Catholics.

    Now for an example of very bad catechesis:

    I was at a yet different parish a while back, and a boy who was about 15 to 16 years old was sitting in front of me.

    As I stepped out of my pew and started to genuflect at the end of Mass, the boy stepped out of his pew, wheeled around 180 degrees to face me, and genuflected, making the sign of the cross. I managed to stop short and step back so that we didn’t knock heads. The boy straightened up, gave me an odd look, and then went on his way without saying a word.

    I’ve seen many Catholics genuflecting out of habit to an empty Tabernacle, walking past a Tabernacle and genuflecting or bowing to the table-like altar, and even genuflecting toward the front of a church when inside a Protestant church, but this poor boy seemed to associate the gesture with the pew – as something done whenever one enters or exits a pew – with no notion of to Whom we genuflect, or why.

    We really need for priests to start incorporating basic catechesis into their sermons. The month of June is dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament, and July is dedicated to the Precious Blood, so this would be an excellent time of the year for priests to start catechizing their congregations regarding the True Presence of Christ.

  35. JARay says:

    I was taught as a child that one always genuflected on two knees before Jesus when he is exposed in the monstrance and one genuflected on one knee when entering ones pew when one comes into the church.
    These days I find this difficult because of arthritis, hence I always bow as a second best. What I do notice however is that many young people these days simply walk straight into a pew and sit down even when their parents are genuflecting! I feel that these parents do not say anything to their children because they are simply pleased that their children have actually come to church and dare not say anything to them for fear of upsetting their children!

  36. Matt R says:

    I agree that a double genuflection is best for the exposed Sacrament. It is very special to have the Sacrament exposed, and deserves a special reverence as such.
    As to genuflecting where no tabernacle is present…the rubrics for the EF call for the server to genuflect when the Blessed Sacrament is not reserved at that altar, IIRC.

  37. yatzer says:

    “Ocular communion”???????

  38. Bea says:

    I, too, was taught to use both knees and continued to do so until arthritis no longer allowed me.
    Now I genuflect without going all the way down to the floor (i couldn’t get back up if I did) and bow my head.

    At our parish we now run the gamut:
    We had an excellent school principal last year that taught the children to use both knees.
    We now have a new principal, and I’m holding my breath to see what happens.
    Some adults who should know better, don’t (don’t know better, that is)
    Some come in, greet their friends and by the way: “God, hello to you too”
    Some come in sit or kneel in the pew for a few seconds and then chit chat with friends.
    Some just bless themselves and simply go to their pew.
    Some simply genuflect on one knee and proceed to the pew.
    It is a rare person who still goes down on 2 knees.
    Some even walk backwards when leaving the church so as not to give their back to the Lord.

  39. swissguardwannabe says:

    I also double-knee to genuflect… What I don’t understand is when people do not RECEIVE kneeling. So many people in my church receive standing, and to my utter dismay (every time) on the hand. I have, sadly, looked at their faces during communion as a server. THEY HAVE NO RESPECT! Should people receive kneeling? I think so…and since the Holy Eucharist is EXPOSED during receiving, they should also kneel during communion AND adoration. Sadly, people are weak and poorly-catechized…

  40. swissguardwannabe says:

    Old people can still show respect by going on one knee; receiving on the tongue is always important, right?

  41. wmeyer says:

    One knee or two, I can get down, but unless I am close to a solid piece of furniture (the chairs in the chapel don’t really meet that standard) getting up is an issue. Also, lately, I find that kneeling on my right knee in the nave (marble floor) is quite painful, as I seem to have a spur of some sort on my kneecap. In the chapel (carpeted) I find that I can kneel, but the kneelers attached to the rather light chairs are treacherous unless someone is seated in the chair.

    The joys of ageing.

    Nonetheless, I do my best in the context of the setting. I’d kneel to receive, but alas, no rail, no prie-dieux, nor anything else nearby to make me less a spectacle in rising again, so I stand.

  42. wmeyer says:

    swissguardwannabe, I’m not old, my body is simply high-mileage.

  43. Blog Goliard says:

    In this neck of the woods, whether it’s Mass or Adoration, most of the ladies go for the curtsy-with-sign-of-the-cross. Men nod their heads or make a slight bow, often with the sign of the cross. I get the impression that some of them were actually taught to do it this way; others were never taught anything in particular by anyone.

    I’m not alone in genuflecting, but I’m resoundingly in the minority. I’m in an even smaller minority in that I do not make the sign of the cross while genuflecting. (I do this per the instructions I received from the then-Monsignor who received me into the Church, a man of great expertise and excellent judgment in matters liturgical.)

    Oh, and being a pretty good but also not untypical OF parish, we of course have Extraordinary Ministers in and around the sanctuary at communion time. I don’t know precisely what gestures are prescribed for them; but I never see them genuflect, only bow (frequently and reverently, mind).

  44. thefeds says:

    I remember hearing a story of a Muslim man disputing the Real Presence by saying if he believed it was possible, he would be prostrate immediately! So many people treat Holy Communion as nothing more than a trifle.

  45. Imrahil says:

    Dear @thefed,

    while I don’t dispute the actual lack of reverence we suffer from and also its effect,

    we should bear in mind that the Muslim begins, from the outset, with a vastly different image of God. The Muslim would be prostrate immediately, one of the reasons being he knows nothing but prostration towards God.

    The Catholic, also the reverent Catholic, makes his genuflection and then, perhaps, sits down. “He is looking at me and I am looking at him.”

    We love God.

    Irreverence is a sin; but it is the more sympathetic of the two vices opposed to the virtue of reverence. Bad as that is, both in itself and in its further effects, but it is among the glories of Catholicism that it produces irreverence rather than servile fear.

  46. Imrahil says:

    Not saying that servile fear would be a vice. But I guess you see what I mean, and I’ll leave the correct terminology for some other person, e.g. the reader, or day.

  47. Vecchio di Londra says:

    Down on both knees, of course, and bowing low profoundly, and rising only slowly after a few seconds – as has always been the custom everywhere in the Catholic universe.

    The Blessed Sacrament???? I can’t believe we’re even discussing this.

    It’s like asking – what’s the minimum of respect we need to give to the immediate physical presence of Almighty God?

  48. Indulgentiam says:

    @Imrahil says:Irreverence is a sin; but it is the more sympathetic of the two vices opposed to the virtue of reverence. Bad as that is, both in itself and in its further effects, but it is among the glories of Catholicism that it produces irreverence rather than servile fear.”

    I respectfully disagree b/c…Proverbs 9:10–The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is prudence.
    Vecchio di Londra says:The Blessed Sacrament???? I can’t believe we’re even discussing this.
    Couldn’t have said it better. But then thanks to VII these conversations NEED to be had more and more.

  49. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Indulgentiam,
    thank you for your kind answer!

    apart from the two points that the sense intended by the Holy Spirit was not improbably at least primarily filial fear – in which case there is nothing to be said – and that it expressly says “beginning”…

    I do prefer the Christian fool to the Muslim, Puritan etc. zealot. Also, I (without knowledge) he is both in spirit (though perhaps not by counting his action each itself) nearer to Christian truth, easier to evangelize.

    Abuse of drink is a sin, but I prefer the drunkard to the preacher of abstinence.

    These comparisons are, of course, strictly comparisons.

  50. Imrahil says:

    Estimate, I wanted to say after the first parenthesis.

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  52. maryclare says:

    I find it too painful to genuflect/kneel on both knees due to arthritis. I am a Benedictine oblate so I bow profoundly when Our Lord is present either exposed in the Blessed Sacrament or hidden in the Tabernacle.
    It grieves me when our Sacristan and also the Altar Servers just walk across the sanctuary whether the Tabernacle is open or not and also when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed for adoration.
    Such lack of reverence and respect for Our Lord….

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