Eucharistic Consecration: Kneeling vs. Standing

By June 4, 2015 Articles, Q&A

ISSUE: Are Catholics in the United States supposed to kneel during the consecration at Mass?
RESPONSE: With Vatican approval, the U.S. Bishops in both 1969 and 1995 decreed as a norm that people are to “kneel beginning after the singing or recitation of the Sanctus until after the Amen of the Eucharistic Prayer” (General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), no. 43). The only exceptions are when the congregation is “prevented on occasion by reasons of health, lack of space, the large number of people present, or some other good reason” (GIRM, no. 43).
Where there is doubt concerning whether the conditions described in GIRM, number 43 exist, it is the bishop, as moderator of the liturgical life of his diocese, who should make the determination. As Ceremonial of Bishops, number seven states, “The bishop’s authority regulates the orderly and effective celebrations of the sacraments. . . . He regulates every lawful celebration of the Eucharist, from which the Church continually receives life and growth.”
DISCUSSION: How we conduct ourselves at Mass is a reflection of our attitude toward God and each other as members of the Family of God. At Mass, the most important event in human history is made present for us: Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, through which we were redeemed from sin and can gain the grace to enjoy eternal salvation in heaven. It is this truly awesome sacrifice—Christ’s timeless offering of His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity—for which we kneel and with which we offer our prayers and our whole selves to our heavenly Father (cf. Rom. 12:1).
This is why our bishops have decided that the faithful must kneel during the consecration. Kneeling or lying prostrate is traditionally associated with the most solemn form of worship. For example, St. Paul writes “that at Jesus’ name every knee must bend in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth. . .” (Phil. 2:10).
But the best example from Scripture is St. John’s description of how heavenly creatures pay tribute to Jesus (the Paschal Lamb who was slain) while participating in the heavenly liturgy, that is, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as experienced in heaven. Whenever glory and honor is given to the Lamb, the elders “fall down. . .and worship Him who lives forever and ever” (Rev. 4:9-11 and 5:11-14). St. John himself fell down as if he were dead upon encountering the risen Christ (Rev. 1:12-18).
There is also the basic issue of instilling in the faithful reverence for our Eucharistic Lord. We stand for many events in life, but kneeling is a distinctively prayerful position, whether for praise or penance. With the aid of God’s grace, following the norm for kneeling and encouraging preaching on the Real Presence would do much to promote a renewal of Eucharistic belief and piety (See also, Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist).
Our bishops have decreed that kneeling is the appropriate posture. Whether it be in doctrinal or disciplinary matters, we should show obedience to legitimate Church authorities (cf. 1 Tim. 3:15; Mt. 16:18-19; Lk. 2:51; Phil. 2:8). Indeed, Jesus is our model of obedience, for it is through His obedient suffering and death that we are able to partake of His one, life-giving sacrifice under the appearances of bread and wine (cf. Heb. 5:7-10; Gen. 14:17-20).
As GIRM, number 43 provides, there can be exceptions to this norm. But an exception that becomes a norm ceases to be an “exception.” And, in various places in the country, standing during the consecration has in practice become the norm. If the U.S. Bishops wanted to modify their norm to standing, they could have done so with the new General Instruction, which was issued in 2003. But they did not. In addition, Vatican II teaches that “no other person, not even a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 22).
Some have asked whether the faithful should kneel or stand after the “Lamb of God” is prayed. GIRM, number 43, says, “The faithful kneel after the Agnus Dei unless the Diocesan Bishop determines otherwise.” This allows the continuation of the custom of kneeling at this time, which has been practiced throughout the United States since 1969, perhaps continuing a practice that preceded Vatican II.

4 Comments

  • Anne McQuade says:

    ” Kneeling” is most important!
    It signifies ” true worship” and “Adoration” of the Risen Jesus, present on the altar and in the Holy Eucharist!
    Such is the “amazment” of receiving this great sacrifice of Jesus, fully within the Gifts of The breaking of Bread which He gave (still gives), to us His Church!
    As a child, years ago, we would kneel on the altar to receive Jesus. Such a symbol of true Reverence nowadays has been lost!
    Decades ago, when given the gift of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, with the “absolute Power” of The Holy Spirit, it was my ” intense, immediate desire” to “genuflect” just prior to receiving this great and ultimate Sacrament!” I was ordered not to do the genuflection, as, as some others said “everyone would do it!” Please note, that when one has such an “astonishing need” to genuflect just prior to receiving Jesus, (due to His Glory and Power), it is extremely hard “not to kneel,” and requires strong, strong discipline!
    Thus “kneeling” is not only important but also extremely apprroppriate to the great and WONDERFUL Glory of Almighty God! Amen ❤️❤️❤️xxx

  • Arthur Jay says:

    What a bunch of nonsense. Whether one stands or kneels (or sits) is totally irrelevant. Your attitude towards what Christ offers is far more important and significant.

  • Waiguru says:

    During his birth, the Nuntivity..
    The WISE men realizing a King is born payed homage in Adoration.
    Just be Wise…..
    Period

  • B.marie says:

    Mass is the one time where we are at common union with each other. We leave our at the door. I do believe that posture is very much part of prayer. I do believe that at least the parish needs to be on same page as to whether we stand or kneel as for all being the same level. If we can we follow the official order of mass, including posture. It’s not a matter of what I want. It’s a matter of being in common union which brings upon harmony and peace to the entire parish.
    When you have one row over there standing. (In front of those kneeling therefore blocking those behind them). Or all over the place people standing, sitting,kneeling, sprawled on the floor it’s very disconcerting and discombobulated. There are people who have serous health issues who can not kneel and they by all means may sit during the mass. That’s absolutely fine. What I don’t like is when you have total disorder of the mass. I feel very uncomfortable while kneeling to have someone in front blocking my view of what’s going on in front at the Alter. Or I feel intimidated by some man or woman hovering over me while kneeling. It’s dustracting.
    My parish used to not have kneelers and we stood. I was perfectly fine since all were in the same posture. But now our new building has kneelers 3/4 continue to stand. And I feel distracted and lost when the people standing are within my space. It’s not comfortable. I feel like I am in a space of individuals who either are protesting the pews since they are anti kneelers or confused what to do. It takes away from the body is one feeling we had when everyone was on the same page. I don’t mind standing or kneeling. All I ask is everyone in the parish who can stand or kneel just do the same thing. Those who can’t do either just sit. Posture is just as part of the mass and prayers as the words are.
    The priest lets everyone do what they want. How the spirit moves you.
    Mass is not a time of individual expression. Mass is a time of conformity and oneness. No one is supposed to stand out. No one is supposed to distract others from their prayers. It’s not the time or place of protest. Not the time and place to do our own thing. It’s the time when we pray together in common union and in synch with each other. When mass is out of synch that is not a good thing.
    I know there is a debate over whether standing or kneeling is better. Both sides of the arguement are very compelling. But that debate does not belong while we are at mass. It needs to be settled among the bishops and pope and if the bishops change to all standing or leaving matter up to parish I would honor that. But as a lay person it is not my place to decide what i want to do. No matter how compelling the argument is either pro standing or pro kneeling. I just want to be in full communion with those I am at mass with. To me the same posture is the glue at mass. And yes if you can’t kneel or stand you can always find the posture you can do, most likely sitting for those who can not stand or kneel.
    The focus at mass is number one Christ.
    And the unity of the mass is to make it easy for you and those around you equal ability to focus on the Mass. There will always be distractions at mass. But the unity of posture modifies and limites the distractions. When we are all doing the same thing we are in common union with each other. We are able to focus on the Eucharist and not on the person who is standing right in front of us or hovering over us. Unified posture is very important to the experience of mass.

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