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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Why the Various Postures at Mass

Several readers had inquired regarding the correct posture during the consecration.

Answer following the ZENIT

As already mentioned, the correct posture is kneeling. According to universal norms, this means from the epiclesis (when the priest outstretches both hands over the chalice) to the memorial acclamation. This is the minimum requirement.

In some countries the faithful kneel during the whole Eucharistic Prayer or a substantial part of it in virtue of particular law or legitimate custom.

Standing during the consecration is permitted only for exceptional circumstances, such as when there is no space to kneel.

Sitting is never foreseen during the consecration except for the physically impaired.

As we mentioned, the present significance of kneeling reinforces the sense of respect and adoration contained in standing.

With this in mind a Canadian reader asked about his bishop's insistence that churches should remove kneelers and new churches must be built without them. The argument given is that in his diocese: "We stand with Christ in his resurrection during the consecration."

Loath as I am to disagree with a successor of the apostles, I must honestly state that in this respect the bishop is simply wrong in his theological interpretation of the meaning of kneeling and in his interpretation of liturgical law.

I would suggest that the reader in question send a copy of the bishop's written directives (and not just hearsay) to the Congregation for Divine Worship and inquire if this is the mind of the Church. If possible, it is preferable that the inquiry should come from a cleric, especially one who knows something of canon law and who can phrase the query appropriately.

Such a query should be brief, to the point, and respectful of all persons involved, especially toward the bishop. This is the best way of receiving a prompt and satisfactory outcome to the consultation.

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