Cleansing Fire

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Liturgical Impropriety’s Fine, So Long As It’s All or Nothing

October 14th, 2009, Promulgated by Gen


So argues a DoR deacon. For his sake, I will not relate his name or post. In a periodical “writing corner” of his, he addresses the following question:

At Mass, I see some people kneeling during the Eucharistic Prayer while others are standing. Who’s right?

Now for his response. I have added some of my own commentary, but unless red, these are his exact words:

The answer is both . . . sort of! (Sort of? The Church dwells in absolutes, sir. In the words of Fr. Corapi, “The devil’s favorite color is gray.”) Make no mistake about it – the Church says that the assembly “SHOULD kneel beginning after the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy) until after Amen, EXCEPT when prevented on occaision by reasons of health, lack of space, the large number of people present or some other GOOD reason.” [GIRM #43 revised; emphasis mine (“mine” as in Deacon T____, not Gen)] (The Church says that the assembly should kneel. It also says that we should not kill people or torture animals. This man’s interpretation leads me to believe that “should” means “eh, do whatever you want.”)

He continues:

Here it has been customary to stand during the aforementioned time for the good reason that none of the seats have kneelers. (This could be easily rectified.) This seems (in the words of Shakespeare, “Seems, madam? Nay, it is. I know not seems.” Again – the Church dwells in black and white, not gray) to be evident to the majority but some, no doubt out of a profound and certainly admirable (admirable in the sense of “those admiral natives hopelessly clinging to their land) sense of reverence, feel compelled to kneel directly on the floor. (We are compelled. When God is brought down at the word of the priest, we should fall on our faces out of absolute humility.) The real answer to this question is most suitably addressed by the second directive mentioned: the sign and witness of an assembly united (all participants exhibiting the same posture) should take precedence over anyone’s individual “private inclination or arbitrary choice [GIRM #42 revised] – personal piety notwithstanding. (aka “I know some of you are people who can’t let go of old things. Tough. We’re a community.” This is not what Church is about. Indeed, the Church exists at the behest of Christ, not man. Due to this, we must realize that we have no right to His presence, no guarantee save from His lips alone. Cardinal Arinze was rather blunt about this, was he not?)

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15 Responses to “Liturgical Impropriety’s Fine, So Long As It’s All or Nothing”

  1. I wonder if this is the Deacon T at a certain community with a Father J

    because I went to a certain place for Mass last weekend and was the only person kneeling (and the only person in a shirt and tie!)

    -Arialdus

  2. avatar Gen says:

    Yet one more place I can add to the "do not go here" list.

    It's not hard, folks. Read the GIRM and practice it without cutesy wording and caps-locked emphasis. It's what one SHOULD do.

  3. avatar Kelly says:

    Any chance the photo used could be part of an upcoming 'Photo caption contest'?

    😉

  4. avatar Gen says:

    I think perhaps. lol

  5. avatar Dr. K says:

    Sounds like a "get off the floor and stand like the rest of us." If people wish to kneel, which we are called to do during this time of the Mass, he is wrong to tell them otherwise.

    No kneelers is not an excuse. Put in kneelers like you are supposed to have done.

    ~Dr. K

  6. avatar Matt says:

    there's only 2 reasons that kneelers should be absent from a Catholic Church…1) somebody is encouraging that the congregation ignore church norms, in which case you should kneel, or 2) somebody wanted to encourage penance of kneeling on the floor, in which case you should kneel. therefore you should kneel. QED

  7. avatar Anonymous says:

    3. Many nursing homes have resident that attend Mass. They are not asked to kneel.

  8. avatar Gen says:

    There is a massive amount of difference between a community of elderly and infirm Catholics as opposed to adolescent to middle aged Catholics at this particular worship site. The #3 pointed out above would be an appropriate time to pardon kneeling. Using the excuse "we don't have comfortable kneelers" is not.

  9. a nursing home is not a catholic church, so matt's comment doesn't really apply there

    -Arialdus

  10. avatar Anonymous says:

    ST Anne, ST John, Strong hospital all have chapels with Sunday and week day Masses, they are attended by patients,familes, and staff. Sometimes they have altar servers,decons & Priest.

    The Mother house on French road also has Masses.

    It does too apply here! If you can kneel, kneel. If a kneeler is not provided GET ON YOUR KNEES on the bare hard floor. At least you don't have thorns in your side, nails in your hands and feet and a crown of thorns.

    I am tired of watching all of the above (accept the infirmed) make up their own reverend gestures. Forget about what the guy next to you is doing or what he is wearing. RESPECT RESPECT RESPECT! Yes my cap button is on and I do not feel cutesy.

  11. avatar Anonymous says:

    Mass is no longer offered at Strong on any day.

  12. avatar Kelly says:

    Anon 7:51 – Two thumbs up! When attending Mass in Mexico, many churches have little means to provide kneelers. People kneel on the hard stone floor and are happy to do it.

    There were no cushions in Calvary, folks!

  13. NOOOOO no no no no

    I didn't mean the kneeling rule didn't apply, i meant that it's reasonable that a nursing home or hospital chapel or whatever wouldn't have kneelers (if it's not a strictly Catholic institution)

    I was talking about what reasons there were for a specifically Catholic Church to not have kneelers–not reasons people don't kneel (ref. anon 4:37)

    If one is incapable of kneeling, then it's reasonable to not kneel. I'm saying that reasons for individuals don't apply to group settings like the one described in the post…namely, that there's no kneelers is NO EXCUSE to stand or sit or whatever…

    -Arialdus

  14. avatar gretchen says:

    When we moved to the DOR from a diocese far away (in so many ways), I asked a priest here why the congregation was standing instead of kneeling during the Eucharistic prayers.

    He said that they are to follow the instructions of the Ordinary, and in this diocese, the Ordinary (the Bishop, right?) has said to stand…

    When I pointed out that kneeling seemed so much more respectful (and that I should be on my face, as one poster said), the priest said something about the bishop liking consistency and that having everyone standing shows unity with those people going up to communion. He also said, "Well, you know, times change and things become more modern. We just have to follow along…" Argh.

  15. avatar Matt says:

    well, there's sort of a truth hidden in there…i believe that the second kneel (post agnus dei) is up to the local ordinary, technically…not the Eucharistic prayer kneel…that's a universal norm

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