ASK FATHER: Isn’t the priest supposed to genuflect after the elevation?

From a reader…


Has the rubric requiring priests to genuflect after showing the Eucharistic Species to the people been altered? Did someone get an indult or something so that bowing is now legitimate? I wonder because at our local parish the priests I have seen celebrating Mass are now bowing, one of them very profoundly (he is not old nor infirm).

What is going on? Is this widespread now? (Haven’t been to N.O. Mass elsewhere in quite a while.

No, the rubrics have not changed.  In the Novus Ordo, after the elevation the priest is to genuflect, not bow.

We are in the Latin Church, not one of the Eastern Churches.

Of course, if the priest has a bum knee or some other problem, and genuflecting isn’t possible, that’s another matter.  But that’s not the case for most priests.

It seems to me that this mania of standing, rather than kneeling or genuflecting, when in the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament boils down to plain old willful pride.


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  1. iteadthomam says:

    Pride or laziness or unbelief.

  2. I wonder whether some priests now bowing (instead of genuflecting) after the elevation have been influenced by current papal practice. One sometimes hears the doubtful argument that a pope as supreme legislator can change liturgical law merely by violating it (for whatever reason, however justified or justifiable–for instance, our Holy Father may be physically unable to genuflect).

  3. aquinasadmirer says:

    We have a priest at our parish who bows. However, he’s 86, and he got a new hip last year :-)

  4. Ivan says:

    Henry, does the pope bow instead of genuflecting (I really don’t know)?

  5. Sadly in my local parish almost no one genuflect a including the priest when entering and leaving for Mass and after the elevations. I am in Hong Kong and wondered if this was a “Chinese thing.”

  6. Clinton R. says:

    “Of course, if the priest has a bum knee or some other problem, and genuflecting isn’t possible, that’s another matter. But that’s not the case for most priests.”

    Apparently it is for the priests at the Masses I have attended. Additionally the elevation is in name only as usually I have seen the Consecrated Host ‘elevated’ below chest level. [Not a big deal, I suppose, if the Mass is versus populum. In the rare occasions when I have to Mass versus populum, at the elevation I try raise the Host high enough so as to obscure my face with my arms. That’s easier to do with a “full” chasuble.]

  7. Siculum says:

    I just keep making the excuse for the Holy Father that he has bad knees. And I seem to recall that it’s true. Some priests older than Pope Francis still genuflect all the way. I knew one who genuflected well into his 80s, until his knees gave out. We all get old differently.

    I also know two priests who do the elevation to just about neck level, with one arm. With the chalice, versus populum, it’s like a toast to the congregation. Cheers!

  8. Random Friar says:

    The state of my knees comes and goes, and although I can usually geneflect, this is not always a given. I do when I can, but even then, it can look awkward.

    I know a few who are limited more due to back issues or balance issues than anything else.

  9. St. Epaphras says:

    I wonder about what Henry said (regarding the Pope’s example). Has anyone noticed particular priests who used to genuflect during the consecration but who now bow instead? Or in the past couple of years do you notice more priests in general substituting a bow for a genuflection?

  10. John Nolan says:

    I know of priests who were too infirm to genuflect; when celebrating a TLM they would ‘pretend’ to genuflect. This does not work when celebrating versus populum since it would appear that the celebrant was not making any gesture of reverence at all, and so a profound bow is preferable.

    There are no genuflexions in the Sarum Use; indeed in the Middle Ages going down on one knee had secular connotations – it was the feudal act of homage from the vassal to his lord.

  11. I have noticed sloppier liturgical praxis since the new pontificate has begun….It’s funny however, when I see the Pontiff kneeling to kiss the feet on Holy Thursday, it does make me wonder.

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