Liturgical Posture, Part 2, Sit? Stand? Kneel? What are we to do?

As I mentioned last week, with the move into the “gym chapel,” we have found ourselves in unfamiliar worship space. Thus, movement and posture has taken on a new significance. So why do we do the things that we do? We examined bowing and genuflection last week. This week let’s look at another posture.

We don’t have kneelers right now so what posture should we use?

Some have mentioned that they read ‘on the internet” (The definitive liturgical source for all things Catholic because, of course, everything on the internet is true)

The “General Instructions of the Roman Missal” or “GIRM” is the official Catholic Church document on liturgical guidelines and norms. Concerning “Movements and Posture” Paragraph #42 states:

The gestures and posture of the priest, the deacon, and the ministers, as well as those of the people, ought to contribute to making the entire celebration resplendent with beauty and noble simplicity, so that the true and full meaning of the different parts of the celebration is evident and that the participation of all is fostered. [Reference is from Vatican II Document on the Liturgy] Therefore, attention should be paid to the GIRM, Roman Rite and what serves the common spiritual good of the People of God, rather than private inclination or arbitrary choice (because) a common posture, to be observed by all participants, is a sign of the unity of the members of the Christian community gathered for the sacred Liturgy: it both expresses and fosters the intention and spiritual attitude of the participants.

Concerning whether one should stand, kneel or sit during the Eucharistic Prayer, the GIRM reads:

In the dioceses of the United States of America, they should kneel beginning after the singing or recitation of the Sanctus until after the Amen of the Eucharistic Prayer, except when prevented on occasion by reasons of health, lack of space, the large number of people present, or some other good reason. Those who do not kneel ought to make a profound bow when the priest genuflects after the consecration. The faithful kneel after the Agnus Dei unless the diocesan Bishop determines otherwise. [Again, reference is from Vatican II]

Thus I mentioned that people stand during the Eucharistic Prayer unless that presents a physical burden or difficulty to the person. Then they can sit. This also reflects Paragraph #43 which mentions, “except when prevented on occasion by ill health or for reasons of lack of space of the large number of people present, or for another reasonable cause.”

So you can sit guilt free. I can’t definitively say what God would think, but, considering the caveats mentioned above, I would believe that the Lord wouldn’t mind if you were comfortable during the Liturgy. I am sure that he would not want you to be uncomfortable if your thought was “Oh I have to do this because that’s the rules.” The church has always had a tenant: “In matters of discipline – interpret narrowly. In matters of permission – interpret broadly.”




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