Standing during the communion rite

As promised, I want to set forth the value of standing during the communion rite, from the time of the Our Father until the time of silent prayer after communion.

My argument is based on the values inherent in every version of the General Instruction from 1969 to the present, as well as the changes made in the 2002 edition (marked in bold in the following extracts from the 2011 translation of the 2002 GIRM, §§42, 43, 86, 95, and 96). My argument is: When one studies carefully the changes in the 2002 GIRM, one sees that there is an even stronger case for (relative) uniformity of the posture of standing throughout the communion rite, pace the current US practice.

42. The gestures and bodily posture of both the Priest, the Deacon, and the ministers, and also of the people, must be conducive to making the entire celebration resplendent with beauty and noble simplicity, to making clear the true and full meaning of its different parts, and to fostering the participation of all. Attention must therefore be paid to what is determined by this General Instruction and by the traditional practice of the Roman Rite and to what serves the common spiritual good of the People of God, rather than private inclination or arbitrary choice.

A common bodily posture, to be observed by all those taking part, is a sign of the unity of the members of the Christian community gathered together for the Sacred Liturgy, for it expresses the intentions and spiritual attitude of the participants and also fosters them.

Notice that this article is almost entirely new (I speculate that this emphasis is taken from Articles 95 and 96, printed below). Six values are adduced for a common posture:

    one, making the entire celebration resplendent with beauty and noble simplicity
    two, making clear the true and full meaning of its different parts
    three, fostering the participation of all
    four, signifying the unity of the members of the Christian community gathered together for the Sacred Liturgy,
    five, expressing the intentions and spiritual attitude of the participants
    six, fostering the intentions and spiritual attitude of the participants.

* * *

43. The faithful should stand from the beginning of the Entrance Chant, or while the Priest approaches the altar, until the end of the Collect; for the Alleluia Chant before the Gospel; while the Gospel itself is proclaimed; during the Profession of Faith and the Universal Prayer; and from the invitation, Orate, fratres (Pray, brethren), before the Prayer over the Offerings until the end of Mass, except at the places indicated here below.

The faithful should sit, on the other hand, during the readings before the Gospel and the Responsorial Psalm and for the Homily and during the Preparation of the Gifts at the Offertory; and, if appropriate, they may sit or kneel during the period of sacred silence after Communion.

In the dioceses of the United States of America, they should kneel beginning after the singing or recitation of the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy) until after the Amen of the Eucharistic Prayer, 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. However, 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 (Lamb of God) unless the Diocesan Bishop determines otherwise.

However, the original Latin of the previous paragraph indicates very modest expectations of kneeling:

Genuflectant vero, nisi valetudinis causa, vel ob angustiam loci vel frequentiorem numerum adstantium aliasve rationabiles causas impediantur, ad consecrationem. Hi vero qui non genuflectunt ad consecrationem, inclinationem profundam peragant dum sacerdos genuflectit post consecrationem.

“They should kneel, to be sure—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—at the consecration. However, those who do not kneel ought to make a profound bow when the Priest genuflects after the Consecration.”

Those of us who appreciate the Mass of Pope Saint Pius V can say what an immense shift this paragraph about kneeling makes in the Mass of Pope Paul VI. The old emphasis on kneeling by the people was attached most especially to the exposed Blessed Sacrament, always present in the tabernacle on the altar, renewed in the Sacrifice of the Mass, consumed under both signs by the priest, taken from the tabernacle for distribution to all the other ministers and the people and returned thereto, with all the vessels purified at the altar. The new emphasis on standing underscores the resurrection posture of all during the Celebration, and the freedom to sit or kneel after communion underscores the need to commune with our eucharistic Lord and with one another, on earth, on the way, and in heaven.

I cannot help but think that overemphasis on kneeling until the reserved sacrament is replaced in the tabernacle before sitting or kneeling detracts from the reality that the Eucharist exists for being consumed (“ut sumatur” says Chapter V of the Thirteenth Session of the Council of Trent), that our main focus after communion is communing.

Have we really noticed that going to the tabernacle for hosts to be distributed at Mass is not mentioned in the General Instruction?


The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy says that “[T]he more perfect form of participation in the Mass whereby the faithful, after the priest’s communion, receive the Lord’s Body from the same sacrifice, is warmly recommended” (55, emphasis added).

One of the first implemented documents of the reform, Eucharisticum mysterium [EM], May 1967, interprets the conciliar article thus:

31. The faithful share more fully in the celebration of the eucharist through sacramental communion. It is strongly recommended [valde commendatur] that they should receive it as a rule [de more] in the Mass itself and at that point in the celebration which is prescribed by the rite, that is, right after the communion of the priest celebrant.

In order that the communion may stand out more clearly even through signs as a participation in the sacrifice actually being celebrated, steps should be taken [curandum est] that enable the faithful to receive hosts consecrated at the Mass.

Note that the valde commendatur (“warmly recommended”) of CSL, 55 is strengthened by the de more (“as a rule”) and the curandum est (“steps should be taken”) of EM, 31. Later this becomes the maxime commendatur (“strongly recommended”) of canon 917.

UPDATE See also GIRM 85: It is most desirable that the faithful, just as the Priest himself is bound to do, receive the Lord’s Body from hosts consecrated at the same Mass and that, in the cases where this is foreseen, they partake of the chalice, so that even by means of the signs Communion may stand out more clearly as a participation in the sacrifice actually being celebrated.

Returning to Article 43:

For the sake of uniformity in gestures and bodily postures during one and the same celebration, the faithful should follow the instructions which the Deacon, a lay minister, or the Priest gives, according to what is laid down in the Missal.

Notice the reiteration of the desire for uniformity in gestures and bodily postures.

* * *

86. While the Priest is receiving the Sacrament, the Communion Chant is begun, its purpose being to express the spiritual union of the communicants by means of the unity of their voices, to show gladness of heart, and to bring out more clearly the “communitarian” character of the procession to receive the Eucharist. The singing is prolonged for as long as the Sacrament is being administered to the faithful. However, if there is to be a hymn after Communion, the Communion Chant should be ended in a timely manner.

Care should be taken that singers, too, can receive Communion with ease.

It may seem to some that the addition of the first clause is a mere clarification, but I argue that it is a new emphasis on “the ‘communitarian’ character of the procession to receive the Eucharist.”

It may seem to some that the addition of the sentence, “The singing is prolonged for as long as the Sacrament is being administered to the faithful.” is a mere clarification, but I argue that it is a new emphasis on “the ‘communitarian’ character of the procession to receive the Eucharist.”

And if we are SINGING all during this time, we should be STANDING all during this time. (Sorry to shout, but I feel passionate about this.)

* * *

95. In the celebration of Mass the faithful form a holy people, a people of God’s own possession and a royal Priesthood, so that they may give thanks to God and offer the unblemished sacrificial Victim not only by means of the hands of the Priest but also together with him and so that they may learn to offer their very selves. They should, moreover, take care to show this by their deep religious sense and their charity toward brothers and sisters who participate with them in the same celebration.

They are consequently to avoid any appearance of singularity or division, keeping in mind that they have only one Father in heaven and that hence are all brothers or sisters one to the other.

96. Moreover, they are to form one body, whether in hearing the Word of God, or in taking part in the prayers and in the singing, or above all by the common offering of the Sacrifice and by participating together at the Lord’s table. This unity is beautifully apparent from the gestures and bodily postures observed together by the faithful.

These articles have remained unchanged from the very first edition of the General Instruction (1969). As such, they may have lost their significance to us who may have grown too familiar with them. But nothing like these articles has ever existed in a ritual book for the celebration of Mass! These articles constitute a summary of the greatest change in the Missal of Pope Paul VI: the emphasis on the role of the people at the liturgy.

The entire Extraordinary Form missal mentions the assembly/congregation / faithful / people some thirty times (only thrice in the Order of Mass) but only to orient the gestures and postures of the celebrant, to mention that a homily may be preached to them, that a special Lenten prayer be prayed over them, or that they should receive ashes, palms, candles, and be allowed to venerate the cross on Good Friday.

By contrast, the General Introduction to the Ordinary Form—all by itself—mentions the assembly/congregation/faithful/people over 500 times! The Order of Mass mentions them almost eighty times! And these are differences not just in degree but in kind.

Perhaps our American practice can be reformed in the next edition of the missal.

UPDATE: May I ask that all readers of this blog treat each other in the way C. S. Lewis instructs us in his sermon, “The Weight of Glory”:

It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbour. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbour’s glory should be laid on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations — these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit — immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously — no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner — no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat — the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.


  1. Since the 2002 draft of the 2011 GIRM was promulgated here we have been standing from Doxology/Amen until the last communicant (here, the DLM) has received. It works very well and has been well accepted by the assembly. Following reception by the DLM the eucharistic ministers retire to the sacristy to consume remaining element and purify the vessels. The absence of any distraction at the altar or credence table during the time of reflection before the prayer after communion is very prayerful.

    1. This is essentially what my home community was doing more than thirty years ago as a simple following of the GIRM. I have never understood why anyone would think the GIRM envisioned anything else.

      DLM=Director of Liturgical Music?

  2. I’ve witnessed and participated in a variety of postures for Mass. I think standing can be very inhospitable toward children and short people, especially during the Eucharistic prayer or having everyone remain standing even after they’ve received Holy Communion until everyone has received. Also, if you view photos or videos of people standing during Mass, the various ways of standing can betray signs of being tired of doing it, to disinterest in what’s happening, all the way to profound reverence depending upon the stance one takes and what one does with their hands, arms and head. Standing for prolonged periods can lead to swaying and shifting restlessness.
    In my own parish, we celebrated Mass for three years in our social hall while our church was being renovated. We stood for everything since there were no kneelers although people sat after they received Holy Communion. People sang a Te Deum when we returned to church and its pews and kneelers, especially the larger families with small children. And the children were happy that they didn’t have to look at the behinds of those in front of them.

    1. Sounds to me like you have sought and found ways to blame real problems on something you already do not like.

      The problems you describe are not caused by the standing but by the interminable additions to the essential elements of the Mass, the extended time taken by priests and ministers who show no regard for the smooth and well coordinated flow of the service, by poor sight lines in the liturgical space, and several other local possibilities which would have to be seen to be corrected.

      How much better to work on these other things than to substitute feudal kneeling for the Christian dignity of standing before God in prayer!

      In short, your red herrings are not relevant to the nature and purpose of liturgical prayer. Please bury them and deal with the GIRM on its own terms instead of your own preferences.

  3. Paul, I am very glad that you feel passionate about the matter of posture and song during the distribution of the Eucharist.

    I have felt that the GIRM has been clear all along that the entire distribution is a communal service, that we are one-with each other in this service as much as we are one-with Jesus.

    The local moving and re-arranging for other priorities has long moved me to passion, even passion similar to those who object to the error of others claiming to do things “in the spirit of Vatican II” rather than follow the rules.

    How anybody could have actually read the GIRM and feel correct to start the communion song any time other than during the reception of the priest, I have never been able to understand! Why anyone would think that they were free to kneel or sit for private communing with Jesus and abandon the members of the community still in procession, abandon the communal activity for the personal has always been a mystery or has created a suspicion of self-centeredness in the midst of community, a distinct lack of “charity toward brothers and sisters who participate with them in the same celebration.”.

    I rejoice in joining my shouts to yours.

  4. Thanks, Paul…if you link below to some of the comments having to do with receiving the eucharist and hosts, tabernacle, etc. there were some excellent views about the “communal” action of the eucharist – you have done a good analysis that supports this versus an approach that straddles the action allowing each indiviudal to choose what she/he does – genuflecting, standing, in the hand or tongue, etc. (Paul Inwood’s comments are very close to what Paul Ford is stating)

    Fr. Allan – your usual excuses to avoid the implications of what Paul has laid out.

    It would seem that we continue the both/and or rather the tension between eucharist in the tabernacle or during exposition and the communal action of the eucharist. This also touches on other comments about communal vs. private or personal. We talk alot about secularism – one very obvious manifestation of secularism is identification and support of individualism – this impacts the nature of the eucharist as a communal meal.

  5. Only comments with a full name will be approved.

    Fr. Allan J. McDonald :

    Tom, that’s a stretch. Evidently we all have our prejudices.

    What is a stretch?
    Where are your liturgical reasons for not standing?
    Don’t accuse others of prejudice when you want your preferences substituted for the GIRM.

    1. There are other things Tom in theologizing which also include following rubrics for our country and pastoral theology. The custom in most dioceses in the USA made explicit by the GIRM and local bishops’ options is to kneel from the Sanctus to the Great Amen, kneel again after the Agnus Dei and to return to the pew and kneel after receiving Holy Communion. Customs in parishes are not to be taken lightly either, for example remaining kneeling until the Holy Eucharist is replaced in the tabernacle. With that said, other places that I’ve experienced do other things and do it well according to their diocesan policy and parish custom.

      1. Kneel after all have received Holy Communion, when it is then time for quiet personal reflection, not before the communion with all is complete.

        Customs in parishes need to be charitably corrected when they are contrary to the GIRM.

        Your anecdotal accounts have no weight in making good liturgical decisions.

        Following rubrics are not theologizing, why can you not get these things straight?

        Still no liturgical reasons for not standing!

    2. Tom,

      I have been an admirer of your many comments urging all of us here to keep the focus on what is liturgically proper. At times, however, your passion comes across with an authoritarian tone that suggests you are the lone arbiter of what is liturgically correct and the rest of us are mere emoticons or reactionaries. Do you think you might edit your comments for tone before pressing submit?

      When it comes to standing throughout the communion procession, I agree with the liturgical premise, but in my parish it would mean people standing for ten minutes or more. We have plenty of communion ministers but just a great many people taking communion. It seems more sensible and hospitable–albeit liturgically questionable–to allow people to continue the singing while kneeling or sitting.
      As to the point of the singing extending until the last person has been communicated, this can also be a bit overbearing. It is our practice but I often think “what’s wrong with a little silence beginning at the end of the song which has gone on for nearly ten minutes”. I know about the opportunity for silence after all have communicated. We do that.

      We’re having discussions here about matters of great importance to all of us. All should be heard and respected.

      1. Opinionated I will admit to, authoritarian is impossible as I have no authority to use, only sources, logic, consistency, and some practical suggestions.

        I have been trying to avoid personal comments in order to keep things on topic and away from ad hominem attacks. That is about all the self-editing I can handle right now, and more than many do here.

        Besides, who are you to me to try to control my behavior, not my parent or employer, and not a friend communicating in private.

        If the problem is actually the length of time, then the thing to do is make the time less, not choose a less desirable liturgical alternative.

        Being heard and respected does not mean letting other priorities set aside good liturgical practice without bringing them into question.

      2. “Do you think you might edit your comments for tone before pressing submit?”

        Besides, who are you to me to try to control my behavior, not my parent or employer, and not a friend communicating in private.

        With all due respect, Tom, that sentence seems to me to be one that you should have self-edited. Fr. Jack is not trying to control your behavior, he’s making a polite request.

  6. People in the entrance procession, upon arriving at their places, do not crash to their chairs or to their knees. They remain standing until the rest of the procession has arrived at their places. If this is true of people in all entrance processions, why would it not be true of of all who have participated in the Communion procession? As for stamina, I would think folks who can stand long hours on golf courses or in shopping malls can manage a few minutes of standing after they receive Communion. They would do this out of respect for and in solidarity with those who have not yet received. Good old common sense would apply to children and the elderly.

    1. I agree with this. Allan, people only get tired of standing if they’re not engaged in what is going on. If your people get shiftless and restless, one can only think it’s because they are somehow bored.

    2. As a matter of charity, please do not assume that the only disabilities are those you can see — old people, people in wheelchairs, and people with other obvious external helps. There are many diseases, MS being the most obvious example, that limit stamina severely. Somebody with one of these diseases may do him or herself grave harm by standing for more than a very limited time.

      Here’s the thing. When you have one of these diseases — I do myself — not only do you look “just fine”, but people will glare at you when you use disabiled facilities, or, worse, demand evidence that you’re disabled. (I had a friend with MS pulled over and reamed out *by a cop*.) This adds to the burden of the disability itself.

      It is one thing to instruct your congregation that, if able, they should follow the liturgical positions. But please do not imply then, nor when you see them disobeying, that it is a matter of willful disobedience rather than inability.

      You may be letting a hundred “healthy” people pass to avoid being unjust to one person who is unwell, but I believe that to be the Christian thing to do.

  7. Yes, it deserves a shout. Whenever we sing we should be standing. Don’t the music ministers stand when they sing? That includes when proclaiming the mystery of faith and acclaiming the Amen. The Spanish-speaking celebrations in which I have taken part stand at those points.

      1. Maybe, but it’s not the only occasion when people sit and
        sing at the same time. Perhaps the ones who decided that the people were to sit at that time didn’t feel the need to resolve the matter. Or perhaps they remembered their experiences at folk and rock concerts when, seated, they sang along with the artists those tunes they knew from their youth.

      2. I know it’s not required, but I would guess it is the typical American Catholic experience for there to be a hymn during the Presentation of the Gifts.

        Ratzinger raised (but did not address) the question of whether sitting is the proper posture during the Preparation of the Gifts (“The Spirit of the Liturgy”, p. 196). Would not the congregation’s spiritual participation in the preparation and presentation of the gifts of bread and wine be better expressed through their standing along with the priest?

  8. I find this discussion fascinating but also frustrating. My own experience is that we stood for years after the ‘Amen’ until after communion. Then, some people seemed to take it upon themselves to kneel after the Agnus, and more followed and then it became semi official in the diocese to kneel. Similarly, it has become popular for the congregation to hold hands during the Our Father, and to raise them somewhat in triumph saying “For Thine is the Kingdom…”. Maybe I’m wrong but I don’t think that is part of any rubric.

    Stand, sit, kneel – mainly, I don’t care. I do kind of resent any suggestion that whatever I do it is irreverent if it doesn’t comport with someone’s perceptions. I know and appreciate that ritual has benefit, and agree as a rule that we should act as one. But this is a universal church. World Youth Day will see Catholics from six continents. Not cities, not countries, but continents. All those people can celebrate as one partially because they can also accept each others reasonable differences.

  9. CD: “Similarly, it has become popular for the congregation to hold hands during the Our Father, and to raise them somewhat in triumph saying “For Thine is the Kingdom…”. Maybe I’m wrong but I don’t that is part of any rubric.”

    You are right, and I would love to know whence and how this migrated so widely into US RC parishes. Has this infected other nations, too?

    I would much prefer to teach all to stand “orans” for the LP and whenever the presider is leading them in prayer.

    1. The orans posture is currently used in the reformed Roman Rite only when the priest is praying aloud on behalf of the community, with the sole exception of the Our Father when the whole church is praying aloud together.

      It’s been suggested that, since the whole congregation is praying the Our Father with the priest, the orans posture is not proper for the priest (or anyone) at that time.

      1. That seems backwards to me. If all are praying to God, shouldn’t all be using orans?

        You are not suggesting that orans be restricted to the ordained, are you?

      2. What I am saying is that, in the Roman Rite, the use of the orans posture (by the priest) has been when he is praying aloud on behalf of the people of God, not when the whole congregation is praying aloud. Thus, in the older Missal, the priest uses the orans during the Our Father, because the congregation is not praying it aloud. In the newer Missal, this posture is called for during the “presidential” prayers (as they are called in the GIRM) and the Our Father (which is not a presidential prayer).

        That’s how the Roman Rite has employed the orans for the past 500+ years. I’m not saying your recommendation of everyone using the orans is wrong. When would we use the orans, according to your model? When the whole congregation is praying aloud together, e.g., Kyrie, Gloria, Alleluia, various acclamations, etc.?

        As for whether the laity should use the orans in the liturgy (during the Our Father or at other times), I would first note that the deacon is not instructed to use the orans at all during the Mass, and that in places where the congregation adopts the orans for the Our Father, they continue this after the prayer, while the priest has joined his hands and is praying the embolism, which seems to me to be an inconsistent use of the posture by the congregation.

        I have nothing against the orans posture being used by the non-ordained. I don’t use it myself during the liturgy, for the reason stated above (its link to presidential prayers in the recent history of the Roman Rite).

    2. I can barely believe what I have just read about the widespread custom of holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer. The rubrics do not take into consideration customs that may and do arise in different local churches. When we stand to pray “our” Father, joining hands beautifully reinforces the reality that we are praying not merely as individuals but as a family of faith. No one “inflicted” this on anyone. However, I do know of brother priests who decided to inflict on parishes where this had become customary for decades their preference for an “orans” gesture–also not mentioned in the rubrics. I see this practice observed all over the country, not everywhere and by everyone, but really widespread. People know what to do if they wish not to hold hands, they just don’t extend them.

  10. It’s not at all clear to me that standing and processing are the same thing. For a true communal action, shouldn’t the congregation just keep processing around and around until all have received?

    1. We communicate 1200–1800 people at two Sunday Masses in my parish with four stations for receiving Christ under the sign of bread and eight stations for receiving Christ under the sign of wine—in less than ten minutes.

      All are standing throughout, and the procession forms from the back to the front (the “Mahony method” which continues with the approval of Archbishop Gomez). It often reminds me of the circulation of blood in the body—of Christ.

  11. I don’t understand why we are being so scrupulous about observing emanations from penumbras in the GIRM about making people stand until the last communicant has received. We don’t observe other things with such strictness.


    1) Holding Hands at the Our Father is a gesture that is not in the GIRM, but according to Jack Feehily (and I’m sure Jack isn’t alone), we shouldn’t care about this accretion.

    2) The GIRM and Redemptionis Sacramentum are clear that the purifications should take place at the altar or credence table. But Fr Jim Blue’s parish purifies in the sacristy. In fact he says above that the “Eucharistic ministers” leave the community to go to the sacristy for purifications.

    3) RS is clear that lay persons are not to be called “Eucharistic Ministers”, but Fr Jim still uses the term and he’s certainly not alone.

    This is not intended to be an attack on Fr Jim or Jack or anyone else. It’s just to make the point that we are trying to be so strict on one point while nor being so strict on others.

      1. I don’t think I understand your point. Or as my dear mother would say: “What does that have to do with the price of tea in China?”

  12. Just because everyone happens to be standing doesn’t mean we’re in communion. I feel like this whole discussion misses what being in communion with each other even means. It seems to miss the mark of what “communio” is all about.
    A few years ago, my home diocese began standing from the priest’s reception of Communion until the last communicant. It was not well-received, despite the fact that it was well communicated and explained from the pulpits. People wanted to kneel and pray after Communion, not stand.
    In real life, when people stand they just end up watching other people go to Communion. They may sing, but they mostly watch people go to Communion. And then by the time the last person has gone to Communion, the priest is aware that Mass has almost lasted an hour and therefore doesn’t pause very long for silent prayer. So there’s no time to pray to the God I just received.
    We can talk about these ideas all we want, but practically, it just doesn’t “work” well.

  13. John Drake :

    One would think the Practical Liturgist might be a bit more… well… practical!

    What is impractical?

    You need to be specific in your accusations.

    The practical thing to do is follow the GIRM and the teachings of SC rather than impose other values from outside the liturgy.

  14. I don’t have any problem with the idea that in general we should have some choreography so that we do the same or similar things, and that this enhances beauty.

    In general from what I have seen, people practice the choreography of whatever parish they attend, whether that is standing after receiving communion, kneeling after receiving communion, or sitting after receiving communion. I see very little individuality. In the parish where people sit after receiving, no one remains standing even if they personally continue to sing and no one kneels because there are no kneelers. We are more a nation of conformists than of individualists when it comes to this type of social behavior. We should not mistake conformity for mutual love.

    We live in a postindustrial society in which self expression and mutual toleration of diversity in self expression are highly valued. We no longer live in an industrial society where rules written by a central bureaucracy are highly valued. People are far more likely to see religion as relevant and authentic when given different ways to express themselves than when they are told to express themselves in only one way. Diversity can be even more expressive of community than uniformity.

    Things about the liturgy are written by bureaucrats (ecclesial and academic) who have not rethought all this in terms of postindustrial society. Of course, many societies are not yet postindustrial! The bishops’ decision to allow communion in the hand or on the tongue at the discretion of the communicant is the type of thinking we need for postindustrial societies.

    The bigger problem is that many people leave after receiving communion. Yes they continue processing after communion right out of the church into their cars! Some have choreographed clever and elegant ways of doing this. Being obnoxious about standing after receiving is going to encourage people to process right to their cars. Let them remain in church sitting or kneeling.

    1. Well, Jack, you make a couple good points. People practice what they are comfortable with. At a church in your diocese where they did the GIRM instructions 7.5 years ago a pastor presented the instruction from the bishop and asked everyone to vote if they wanted to follow the bishop’s directives or not. Since they saw standing as inconvenient, they voted “no,” and so they kept doing what they were comfortable with. It was basically the result of a lack of leadership, and the reality of a pastor who panders to the lowest common denominator because it’s all about the bottom line and getting new windows for the school building. With regard to leaving after communion, I have to admit I did that last Saturday on vacation. I went to a megachurch in the area and there was a baptism at mass. After the entrance song the presider omitted the Sign of the Cross and his cold opening was, “hello everyone.” That was the greeting. It was all very hard to take . . . I left after communion because by then it had all dragged on for more more than an hour including the baptism of an infant and the mission appeal. I could not take any more of the presiders’ “D.J.” voice.

      1. Actually since laity don’t do anything active after communion (watch the ordained wash dishes, sometimes listen to a choir piece, listen to post-communion prayer, receive the blessing, listen to announcements that are usually already in the bulletin which is now usually on the internet, and receive the dismissal,) there is little reason to stay after communion. The recessional hymn is not a part of the Mass.

        Head for the car, and brunch. Say the post-communion and a blessing before brunch; sing a hymn afterwards. In other words, reintegrate Mass and the Agape.

        Although I don’t leave Mass until the end of the recessional hymn, I have a lot of sympathy for those who leave early. From the sociological data, most of them say God is very important in their lives, and they pray daily. Like me, most of them are dissatisfied with the quality of our liturgies.

      2. You witnessed the welcoming of an infant to the Church and heard a plea to assist those in need, and “it had all dragged on for more more than an hour “?

        Now, the presentation could have been poorly done, and some presiders have grating personalities. Still, step back and ask whether the problem was with that Mass or whether it was with you. Is pride in knowing the “proper way to do things” keeping you from receiving the grace before you?

  15. JP: “That’s how the Roman Rite has employed the orans for the past 500+ years. I’m not saying your recommendation of everyone using the orans is wrong. When would we use the orans, according to your model? When the whole congregation is praying aloud together, e.g., Kyrie, Gloria, Alleluia, various acclamations, etc.?

    As for whether the laity should use the orans in the liturgy (during the Our Father or at other times), I would first note that the deacon is not instructed to use the orans at all during the Mass, and that in places where the congregation adopts the orans for the Our Father, they continue this after the prayer, while the priest has joined his hands and is praying the embolism, which seems to me to be an inconsistent use of the posture by the congregation.”

    What might have been the rules for the the very clerical Tridentine Missal may not be relevant to decisions for FCAP of all the faithful in a liturgy which is seeking to return closer to its sources.

    In that context, I look at orans as the classic position of prayer for all Christians, derived from the Jewish prayer posture. I like the idea of indicating the fact that the presider is speaking for the all the community by all having the same posture of prayer. I do not think there is anything in the GIRM to prohibit a community doing this if the community wishes.

    I would include many of the prayers of the liturgy, including the EP, as prayers addressed to God in the name of the community. I think asking all to stand in a prayer posture instead of in an observant posture is a move in the right direction for recognizing that the Eucharist is the prayer of the entire community, not of the clergy.

  16. Jeffrey Pinyan :

    “Do you think you might edit your comments for tone before pressing submit?”
    Besides, who are you to me to try to control my behavior, not my parent or employer, and not a friend communicating in private.
    With all due respect, Tom, that sentence seems to me to be one that you should have self-edited. Fr. Jack is not trying to control your behavior, he’s making a polite request.

    It seemed more patronizing than polite to me, judgmental, irrelevant, and out of place in public, a form of ad hominem attack.

  17. I would have more sympathy with Jeffrey P if priests did in fact use the orans position, in which the arms should be stretched out horizontally to each side, with the forearms pointing slightly upward and slightly forward, and the hands facing forwards. In other words, it looks a little like a crucifixion.

    This position requires effort to sustain, especially through something the length of the Eucharistic Prayer, and most clergy have never been taught to do it. It fell into disuse in the Middle Ages largely because of the weight of Gothic vestments; but with today’s lightweight materials there is absolutely no reason for not doing it.

    What most priests use is not the orans position at all but what I call the “penguin position”, in which the arms are kept close to the side of the body in a W configuration. Priests and seminaries need to attend to this and correct it.

    What most congregation members use during the Our Father is neither of those positions. There would be no room for them to use the true orans position because of their neighbours in any case (but see below). Rather, their arms hang down quasi-vertically in front of them, with the forearms extending horizontally to the front or slightly away from the body and the hands facing upwards. Some people have the forearms extending vertically with the palms facing outwards, like the classic Christ Pantocrator icons.


    1. Since the congregation are not using the orans position at all, I cannot see that censure needs to be attached to what they do.

      I myself try to use the true orans position whenever possible, and since the priest is in all probability using the penguin position I do not think that I am usurping a priestly gesture on such occasions. If priests change their posture, I would reconsider. In order to fit a true orans position into a row of people, I turn myself slightly so that one arm extends behind the back of the person on one side of me, and my right arm extends to the front of the person on the other side, if there is one. Since I often try to sit on the end of a row, this is not usually a problem.

      Finally, a comment on the “Pantocrator” position referred to above. Some priests use this as a posture for praying, without realizing that the palms facing outwards give a very clear signal: “Keep away from me!” is what they are saying. Simply turning the hands at the wrists through 90 degrees to that the palms face each other can fix this. However, it also needs to be said that the Pantocrator position is not actually a position for prayer at all. Icons are two-dimensional. What this position is actually depicting is a two-dimensional representation of the extending of hands over someone in a gesture of blessing.

      Try it. Adopt the Pantocrator position and then extend the arms and forearms so that they are almost horizontal, with the hands angled upward at about 45 degrees, and there you have it. Two dimensions become three.

    2. I thought the hand position was open palm upwards as if either lifting something or receiving something.

      In a crowd, I take this to be the more important element, so I adjust by holding my hands upwards in front of me and slightly wider than my body, as if I were lifting/offering/receiving a bundle such as a bolt of cloth.

      I think you are right about the interpretation of the Pantocrator pose.

  18. Sorry Tom,
    The Holy See has already beat you to the punch.

    Holy See Affirms Customary Kneeling During Communion Rite

    Concerning the practice of kneeling after receiving Holy Communion, Cardinal Francis George, chairman of the Committee on the Liturgy, submitted a dubium [question] to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments [CDW] on May 26, 2003:

    Dubium: In many places, the faithful are accustomed to kneeling or sitting in personal prayer upon returning to their places after having individually received Holy Communion during Mass. Is it the intention of the Missale Romanum, editio typical tertia, to forbid this practice?

    Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect of the CDW, responded to the question on June 5, 2003 (Prot. N. 855/03/L):

    Responsum: Negative, et ad mentem (No, for this reason). The mens [reason] is that the prescription of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani, no. 43, is intended, on the one hand to ensure within broad limits a certain uniformity of posture within the congregation for the various parts of the celebration of Holy Mass, and on the other, not to regulate posture rigidly in such a way that those who wish to kneel or sit would no longer be free.

    The dubium and response appear in the July 2003 edition of the BCL Newsletter, published by the US Bishops Committee on the Liturgy.

    1. I do not claim it is not permitted, just that it is not optimal or even desirable and indicates a lack of understanding of the communal nature of the communion, you know, doing things one-with each other.

  19. All this discussion of gestures by the assembly makes me wonder whether the Bishops who ‘asked Rome for the United States variants’ were not at least subliminally influenced by their memories of Catholic Parochial Grammar Schools where one of the Sisters had a ‘clicker’ to indicate to the children when to stand, to kneel, or to sit en masse. Even the real Prussians — or the generality of Germans — do not take part in the Mass in that way. The GIRM gives ‘general principles’ of congregational comportment. That should be sufficient for both piety and freedom for the Children of God.

    1. Indeed, Philip. And their desire to continue the pre-conciliar practice says to me that some of them have never read the documents of the liturgical reform deeply enough to understand the central insights of the reform.

    2. And, we should see, that there are those who, perhaps in reaction to those nuns, nevertheless mirror them in discomfort at the idea the lack of uniform posture/gesture among the PIPs along the lines of their new desiderata.

      1. I’m with those who wish to avoid rigid regulations when it comes to posture during worship. The folks in wheelchairs never stand. The folks with bum knees never kneel. Some of the infirm cannot walk in the communion procession. If all of these folks are clearly in communion with one another, it can’t be because of uniform postures.

        So the rubrics point out normative postures. Proposing that if everyone isn’t standing throughout the communion procession their unity is somehow dimmed is belied by what can otherwise be observed. Same can be said of insisting that the entire communion procession needs to include wall to wall singing in which all participate vocally. If the choir takes up a second song, I can participate by listening attentively and being uplifted.

        BTW, Tom, grace and peace right back to you.

      2. JF, I think there is a big difference between wanting rigid regulation and wanting people to act in a communal versus an individualistic way during liturgy, especially when we are in the sharing portion of the Eucharistic meal. Going into personal prayer mode by taking a seated or kneeling or head down position while all are being called to share in the banquet is to set oneself apart from the communal action for individual preferences.

        At a particular service, in so far as physically possible, it is good manners, and a good way to express communion with all present, for all to receive communion in the same physical manner.

        The communion rite includes all singing, all processing, all receiving [pace that some cannot, it is desirable that all receive]. Communion is not a matter of individuals getting in a queue to get personal treasures to admire. Communion is an expression of the unity of all with Jesus and each other and the entire and historical ecclesial membership. This union should be expressed as fully as possible in joined voices and postures.

        What is under discussion, from my point of view, is how do we best express in action the belief taught in words? Personal preferences do not fit the meaning to be expressed.

      3. Going into personal prayer mode by taking a […] head down position

        What do you mean by this? I can understand wanting everyone to have the same bodily posture (standing vs. kneeling vs. sitting), but requiring their heads be aloft as well? Watching everyone receive and consume the Eucharist? (Perhaps making sure no one does anything illicit with it? ;))

      4. Come on, Jeffrey. You know very well what he means. He’s talking about being visually aware of the celebrating community, the Body of Christ made incarnate in this time and this place, rather than being locked into one’s own private devotional world. It’s not about watching individuals receive and consume Eucharist (although that may well happen) but simply being aware of what is going on around one, so as to be part of the communal activity that is taking place. You can’t be properly aware if you’re not looking around, and it’s when people are not alert and looking at the communal activity that accidents (and even abuses) happen.

        When training liturgical ministers — all liturgical ministers, in fact — I always remind them that they need to be aware of what is happening in the assembly in order to function well. Their liturgical antennae need to be up and very receptive. I believe the same should be true for the community too.

  20. What about a parish where holy communion is received kneeling at a communion rail? Should the faithful at that parish stand and wait until everyone has received? (I assume here that the mass is in the ordinary form of the roman rite.)

  21. The people in my parish express their unity in song when they are processing, sitting, and kneeling. Earlier someone expressed a notion that when we sing we should be standing. I love to sing and am quite able to do so. Not surprisingly the parishes I have served love to sing and do their best to sing well. We sing the acclamation of faith while kneeling and the great amen–although they spring to their feet as it is concluding. Some sing part of the communion song while kneeling. We sing the psalm response while sitting and sit as well to sing the song during the procession and prep of gifts.

    1. This is perfectly true. There are some parts of the rite where singing is done in a seated position, some where singing is done while standing still, and some where singing is done while moving in procession. What composers and liturgy planners often do not realize is that this requires a different kind of music for each one.

      For example, while the Responsorial Psalm and Communion Psalm might look superficially similar — they both have an antiphon and psalm verses — the former should be designed to be sung while sitting while the latter should be designed to be sung while walking. That implies a different kind of music. You can see this difference exemplified in the Psallite project, by the way, where the Song for the Table was deliberately conceived as processional music, unlike the Song for the Word.

  22. I can’t get over some of the comments. Everyone stand together, everyone sit together, keep your arms this way or that way, no private prayer or devotion because you’re then absenting yourself from the community. Don’t prepare yourself for communion because you have to be singing on the way up to and the way back from communion. (Let’s not even consider what you have to do with your worship aid while receiving.) What are we supposed to be, unfeeling, unthinking robots? And if you don’t conform or do exactly the same thing as everyone else (or don’t move as directed by your presider, deacon, cantor, commentator-let’s not even go to the appropriateness of giving directions during a liturgy!) you’re not part of the community? That’s liturgy?

    If the act of communion is going to be a truly communal act, then we should adopt the Congregational or Baptist version, the elements are distributed and once everyone has them, then they all eat at the same time. That’s communal no? God is only present in a community that acts exactly as one? Give me a break and get real.

    1. John, no one who has replied to this post has suggested anything so robotic. Catholics at Sunday Mass are not like North Koreans entertaining their Dear Leader. Your model of preparing yourself for communion and returning from communion seems to be unaffected by the Church’s model spelled out in the GIRM 80 through 89. Shall I elaborate?

  23. Paul–Please elaborate, because what I see being held out as a model here is precisely that. And I am not speaking only of going to communion. What I sense is a model of conformity that makes one part of the community. If that conformity is broken, so is the community. GIRM spells out a lot of things that presiders, liturgy planners, musicians, those in the congregation, etc. consistently ignore. Why be so selective?

  24. Only comments with a full name will be approved.

    Jeffrey Pinyan :

    Going into personal prayer mode by taking a […] head down position
    What do you mean by this? I can understand wanting everyone to have the same bodily posture (standing vs. kneeling vs. sitting), but requiring their heads be aloft as well? Watching everyone receive and consume the Eucharist? (Perhaps making sure no one does anything illicit with it? )

    Paul said it better.

    1. But if everyone in the assembly has their attention concentrated on the Lord with whom they are in communion, how can they fail to be united?
      The person who is kneeling and has her eyes closed can be sometimes more in tune with what is happening in the liturgy then someone standing and looking around.

      1. The usual phraseology to describe this dichotomy is “It’s not ‘Me and Jesus’, it’s ‘We and Jesus'”.

      2. Very good point, Stanislaus. I would say that kneeling is the western Christian form of prostration. An act of prostration is most certainly suitable when the Lord is revealed to us at the Elevation and Holy Communion. Indeed, our minds, hearts, and posture should be focused on the Lord and not one another.

        The Torah (Pentateuch) offers an example of prostration that illustrates the close relationship between prostration and prayer. In Deuteronomy 9:1 — 16 NRSV, The LORD tells of the various ways in which Israel had disobeyed him. In Deut. 9:18 –29 NRSV Moses begs the LORD to spare him and Aaron despite their disloyalty to their God.

        The NRSV translates Moses’ humbling action before God as “prostration” at 9:18 and 9:25. At 9:18 and 9:25, the Septuagint (LXX, late antique Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible) uses the word ἐδεήθην in a past active sense. The LSJ (a comprehensive Greek lexicon) connects the first principal part, δέω, at A.II.2, notes that ἐδεήθην can mean either “to beg” or “to pray”. LSJ also notes the use of the word as a form of petition in Genesis 44:18 (e.g. ᾿Εγγίσας δὲ αὐτῷ Ιουδας εἶπεν Δέομαι, κύριε […])

        In the New Testament ἐδεήθην is used twice. At Luke 9:38 – 43 NRSV, Jesus’ healing of the possessed boy after the Transfiguration, employs ἐδεήθην in the sense of a father pleading for the cure of his son (9:40). Jesus’ rebuke of the man at 9:41 for seeking out his disciples first could be seen as a call to focus attention on God the Son.

        Both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament demonstrate perhaps a notable relationship between prayer and posture. Kneeling is due worship to God.

      3. Jordan

        I disagree on the equivalency of kneeling and prostration, and I believe they are their own thing, as it were. Kneeling in the West developed as a multivalent posture: loyalty, devotion, fidelity (all dimensions of “worship”) but also, very importantly, tender interpersonal love. That last item is part of the “discovery of the individual” in the renaissance of the 11th-12th centuries and remains very much part of the Western cultural heritage.

        By contrast, dancing in Western culture has largely been reduced from a social, communal activity to either a performance/audience thing or romantic (though couple dancing is but a shadow of what it used to be) and even largely individualistic form of expression. It’s why I think that trying to cultivate liturgical dance in Western culture betrays a lack of understand of what’s happened to dance in our culture. It would first have to be recovered well in the social culture for it to having a meaningful chance of inclusion in Western liturgy, and I see little evidence of that happening (pace the sprinkling of squares and contras dancing groups one finds here and there).

      4. I apologize for the 2000 character exegesis (what can be done?), but word associations do fascinate me. My example is quite easy to shoot down in a number of ways. Most notably, prostrations in either the Hebrew Bible or the New Testament probably do not resemble kneeling. Also, the verb δέομαι appears in verses not pertinent or even counterproductive to my argument.

        I’m a huge square and contra dancing fan. This is a dance that can’t be done in most churches (save cathedrals and basilicas with moveable pews.) I also don’t know if pastors or rectors would enjoy loud fiddle music, but perhaps they might. Anyway, if indeed kneeling is a form of individual piety and love directed at our Lord in the Eucharist, those who are so moved with this love should be allowed to demonstrate it with posture.

        There is no way to fully erase personal devotion from the Mass. The idea that there should be no kneeling except during the consecrations, or no kneeling at all, creates a pretend uniformity of heart and mind. In my opinion, many projects of the Liturgical Movement zealously overstep boundaries to avoid the personal devotions that predominated (and still predominate) in EF Low Mass. An occasional kneeler in a “standing Mass” is not a sign that liturgical reformation has failed. Perhaps that person is simply moved to love God through posture.

        Kim Bowes’s Private Worship, Public Values, and Religious Change in Late Antiquity contends that personal devotion and personal congregations were central to the early Constantinian church (4th — mid 5h c. CE). Although Bowes does not address this issue directly, it’s doubtful that the standing posture, or any posture, can be definitively labeled “early church”. Rather, those who with to impose standing as a means to demonstrate congregational unity will likely have to rely on a not necessarily historical ideology to bolster their assertion.

    2. Jordan

      Just to be clear: I love square and contra dancing, and other forms of social dancing. My reference to it concerns the reality that social dancing is on artificial life support in American culture (I should have been more careful about equating American with Western culture – I am sure there are places in Western culture where social dancing is more authentically alive and kicking, but not primarily where this blog’s audience is drawn from….)

      With the advent of “social media” the former social functions of dance – as an contrapuntal and harmonic expression of balance between the communal and individual dimensions of society and, very importantly, as a way to introduce strangers to one another under the hospitality of a host where a common activity somewhat displaces the reliance on exchange of information via conversation – are getting more and more remote from real life. And of course thereby getting even more remote from the possibility of acquiring a liturgical dimension and purpose.

      And I say this as someone who was very keen on liturgical dance for many years….

  25. “The usual phraseology to describe this dichotomy is “It’s not ‘Me and Jesus’, it’s ‘We and Jesus’”.”

    So if I close my eyes after receiving holy communion I retreat into a little living room inside my head where it’s just me and Jesus?

    You talk as though I’d be in a trance or on ‘shrooms…

    1. I can close my eyes and prayer and feel intensely close to Jesus lots of places. But prayer as delighting in the variety AND the community of the members of the Body is available primarily at mass, and primarily during the Communion processions — when I am NOT kneeling with my eyes closed.

  26. Until recent decades, the choreography of the Mass has been largely limited to the ministers, and details their movements according to their roles. Therefore the beauty of the choreography was found in interrelated movements more than in uniform movements. Unity was expressed in relatedness not sameness.

    The recent choreography of the laity has largely been one of uniformity. In fact “liturgical dance” which might provide some interrelated variety has been discouraged in Western countries. We do not let children work off their energy by dancing in the aisles at certain times.

    An anthropologist who taught a course on childhood and society did his field work among Native Americans. He was impressed by the creatively of their ritual dances. He attributed this to the fact that the children were encouraged to imitate them from early years. Of course, in learning by imitation, children actually develop their own style of choreography, and so many became very adapt as adults at improvising

    The present top down imposition of choreography upon the laity is an industrial age phenomenon. Of course the choreography of Fascism, and Communism are outstanding examples of the industrial age! A lot of the industrial age uniformity of Roman Catholicism (e.g. Latin Mass including its choreography) served an important purpose during the industrial age. However today we are headed into a postindustrial world where personalized self expression is primary.

    (Some religious people are trying to repackage some traditional aspects of their faith as industrial age uniformity, i.e. they have become fundamentalists).

    I am very comfortable standing after communion singing a hymn, next to someone who is kneeling with bowed head, and another person who is sitting watching the procession. We are all one body, showing our unity in interrelatedness not uniformity.

    1. I am very comfortable standing after communion singing a hymn, next to someone who is kneeling with bowed head, and another person who is sitting watching the procession. We are all one body, showing our unity in interrelatedness not uniformity.

      But apparently that’s not good liturgy.

      1. Certainly is not good liturgy in the eyes of many bureaucrats, whether they are ecclesiastic or academic, as well as people who want to escape the diversity of postindustrial society by adhering to these bureaucracies.

        But having spent time as an academic bureaucrat (researcher and faculty member) and mental health bureaucrat (researcher and administrator) and well as volunteer member of parish bureaucracies (senior pastoral staff and parish council) I am comfortable both working in bureaucracies as well as thinking outside them and encouraging others to do both as they see fit.

  27. It’s “we and Jesus?” That’s rich. It’s been “we and Jesus” since the start of Mass. But since the Eucharistic prayer, Jesus is with us in the most concrete and real way, in His body and blood. Yes, communion is a communal act, but it is also a very intensely personal one. Jesus is coming uniquely to me, as he is to Mary, John, Joe, etc. The thoughts, feelings, and emotions of each person upon receiving the Lord are personal and distinct, and cannot be communal. He is within you now, acting in you and through you. Why try and stifle that? And what of those not receiving? Are they part of the community or not?

    Tom Poelker: “Unity is not the same as uniformity.
    What it entails is eschewing individualism during communal prayer.”

    Tom, what is your “it?” Is it unity or uniformity? If at Mass I am inspired by devotion to bow my head at the name of Jesus, or bless myself at the end of the Gloria, Credo, or start of the Benedictus, or something else that the GIRM doesn’t regulate or even mention, my act of “individualism” breaks the unity of the gathered assembly?

    1. Jesus is coming uniquely to me, as he is to Mary, John, Joe, etc. The thoughts, feelings, and emotions of each person upon receiving the Lord are personal and distinct, and cannot be communal.

      What do you think communal means? I would have thought it obvious that communion is communal, at least in the minds of those who developed the English language.

      The first sentence I quoted captures the reason I think kneeling at communion is inappropriate. Why would Jesus kneel? Why would we, united with Jesus, kneel? Communion is a time of union with Christ, not of homage to another.

      1. Let me rephrase this Jim. Processing to communion (with the entire gathered assembled comunity) is communal. The reception of communion by the communicant is not. It is a personal moment, even though right next to you or several feet away, another person may be receiving communion too. That moment is personal to him too.

        I never brought up kneeling for communion, I only commented on the fact that it seems to be the latest liturgical opinion that everyone should stand (head up, eyes open, singing) and wait, until the entire gathered assembled community has finished processing to and from communion as well. Out of respect and solidarity to the rest of the gathered assembled community, right?

        As for receiving communion kneeling, since you brought it up, what better way to express that communal reception than kneeling next to, maybe even arms touching, other members of the entire gathered assembled community at the rail. That to me expresses more the communal aspect people seem to be trying to work up here. All of us together.

        Maybe kneeling evokes reverence or respect or awe for Him who we are receiving. That’s a bad thing? At the liturgy where we are worshipping that same Christ? Why wouldn’t we, united with Jesus, kneel? He did, remember? One final question, from your last statement, who is the “another” who is being paid homage?

    2. Unity entails eschewing individualism during communal prayer.

      Did you really fail fourth grade grammar concerning antecedents of pronouns or are you trying to score some silly rhetorical point here?

      We have been in the context of people receiving communion and separating themselves from the communal posture and communal song for the sake of enhancing their individual experience. That is the kind of individualistic seeking of the individualistic instead of the communal which should be eschewed.

      See my posting on continuation blog for mention of more natural and ephemeral and not sought out individual moments.

      1. Did you really fail fourth grade grammar concerning antecedents of pronouns or are you trying to score some silly rhetorical point here?

        Can we please avoid the knee-jerk reaction that every question is either the result of inadequate primary schooling or an attempt to score points? It’s just a nasty way to reply.

        What possible points could he have been attempting to score? What would he have accomplished?

  28. Mr Kohanski expresses some of my dismay at what I am reading here, and Mr Saur perhaps indirectly expresses my concern.
    I cannot believe how out of date the Missal of Paul VI is, based on the comments here. The whole idea of “community” expressed here, and somewhat criticized by Ratzinger, comes straight from the Hegelian/Marxist subculture movements of the 1960’s. Presider Lenin would have been proud of his liturgical committees had he been a
    Catholic. The unity of his comrades at the communal (party) meals would have been a marvelous sign of solidarity in the commun(ist)al cause.
    Seriously, the last time I passed through Vermont I saw the rotting remains of hippie communes of the 60’s and 70’s. The emphasis on “community” that I hear here is exaggerated and quite passe. This is the 21st century and
    apparently well educated Catholics are still living as if it were the 1960’s. Like the hippie communes it did not
    take long to show that, unlike the monasteries, the idea of community was people pooled together to create a super
    individual called the “community”. This community centers on itself and tends to be exclusive of all others outside that

    1. +1! Incisive. Brilliant. What I’ve wanted to say for years. I’ve refrained from doing so for reasons of charity, however.

      I do believe that the Ordinary Form is a child of 1968. It could be examined through a Hegelian or even Marxist lens in so far as the emphasis on human cognition, human activity, and “community” are an integral part of the rite. One might plausibly critique an overemphasis on the Eucharistic banquet, the destruction of altar rails, and Mass facing the people as false expressions of “community” held together by forced rationalism. For many traditional Roman Catholics, the decades-long de facto ban on the EF often felt like life under an ecclesiastical and liturgical totalitarianism.

      Today is the 50th anniversary of the commencement of the construction of the Berlin Wall. I’m sure many of us remember photos of Berliners attacking the wall with hammers, chisels, and bare hands in late 1989. There are many, like myself, who would want to take a metaphorical hammer and chisel to many aspects of OF rubrics and practice (or even destroy the rite completely). Yet, remember charity — which is so hard for all of us. Even the reunified German government permitted the former DDR regime to continue as a political party in the bundesländer of the former East Germany for a time. An echo of the former regime was allowed to participate in elections despite the atrocities of the Stasi.

      Certainly, there is no atrocious person on PTB, or atrocious people in the schools of liturgy. However, as a minority we traditional Catholics must respect the ideology of the new rite if we wish our ideology to flourish alongside. If a society fractured for forty years can allow a fragment of a criminal regime to remain within a modern democratic republic, we Catholics can certainly tolerate a begrudging respect for those on the other side of our individual ideological walls.

      1. Karl,

        Yes and no. First off, let me say that having a preference for one form of Mass or another is morally and ethically neutral. Participating in the atrocities of a Stalinist regime is morally evil, even if a person was merely an informer for the secret police.

        My example above fails. Nevertheless, I do hope that some might take away the notion that ideologies can coexist, even in the most trying of circumstances.

        In the case of Christian liturgy, I’d agree that ideology is mostly chosen. I grew up with bog-standard 80’s OF Masses until I was fifteen, when I attended a mumbled low Mass in a tiny schismatic chapel. From that moment, I chose to be a traditional Catholic. I suppose that many here chose to implement the OF as we know it today. Furthermore, many are still interested in continuing and expanding that implementation. I really don’t understand why, but many here don’t understand me.

        Over time, however, the walls between the two main camps of Roman Catholicism grow thicker and thicker. I +1’d Victor Wowczuk because that I what I truly believe. A repetition of that sentiment would indicate a failure in charity, however.

      2. Jordan

        Just realize that, if one consciously chooses an ideology, it is an action of modernity, not tradition, even if the choice is to embrace that which is a token of tradition. Real tradition is pre-ideological. For many (perhaps most) Catholics, their participation in the OF is non-ideological – they simply accept what they’ve received to do and be. To that extent, it may be closer in spirit to authentic tradition. Thus, you may necessarily be more aware of the ideologically driven aspect of your choice without that aspect being as present on the other side of things.

        I am sensitive to this because, in my 15 years of Catholic discussion (and then blog) participation, I’ve seen how the Internet medium encourages a baleful hardening of ideological walls as people push thoughts too far.

      3. Karl: Real tradition is pre-ideological.

        That is quite true. Thank you for that insight.

  29. After 50 years, the Missal of Paul VI needs a huge overhaul. Ironically the Rite of St Gregory even as modified by Trent is more relevant to this day and age than that of Paul VI. It understands that communion involves all the
    Saints, all the people of Faith everwhere, both living and dead, as they participate in the eteral heavenly banquet. Over the ages it incorporated those very good practices of the age, and dropped those that were less relevant. Unfortunately with the Protestant aggressions, Trent dropped perhaps too many wonderful practices of the middle ages in favor of Baroque ones, some of which remained for too long because of their irrelevancy. But the Missal of Paul VI went way too far in the opposite direction. It is the result of too many anachronisms based on wild historical claims, and the Bugnini people conned Paul VI into believing the need for these anachronisms in the reformed Mass.

  30. Jordan said: I do believe that the Ordinary Form is a child of 1968.

    This is typical of the misinformation that is out there. The preparations for SC (1963) and the 1970 Missal began as far back as 1910! The 1968 student riots were completely coincidental.

    1. JZ was speaking figuratively, using 1968 to represent a conglomeration of historical movements that included Hegel from the 19th century etc.

      It is like saying “the EF is a child of 1570” to evoke the religious wars in Europe (France, Scotland, Russia…) necessitating the imposition of a centralized rite. That does not mean that Luther, Henry VII, Gutenberg, Trent, etc are not influences, just that the violence of 1570 alludes to these things.

  31. Only comments with a full name will be approved.

    Jeffrey Pinyan :

    Did you really fail fourth grade grammar concerning antecedents of pronouns or are you trying to score some silly rhetorical point here?
    Can we please avoid the knee-jerk reaction that every question is either the result of inadequate primary schooling or an attempt to score points? It’s just a nasty way to reply.
    What possible points could he have been attempting to score? What would he have accomplished?

    It was just such a dumb question with such an obvious answer.

    1. Tom, I don’t know you personally and I hesitate to correct you publicly but I wince at the wording of some of your comments. Forgive me if I offend you but I do ask you to consider moderating some of your remarks which have at least the appearance of being combative, dismissive, or ridiculing.

      1. I, too, do not know Tom personally, but only through postings on the Notre Dame LitNetwork and here on Pray Tell. I think, PF, that like yourself Tom is a man of passion. But he sometimes gets carried away with that passion, risking the loss of the good points he makes among the occasional excrescences of his rhetoric.

      2. All this because someone asked what I identified as a dumb question? Someone who still has not offered a substantive comment instead? Why do you even think you have a dog in this fight? Why have you not instead read and commented on my postings on the continuation of this thread?

        If you were really hesitant to correct me publicly, you could have linked to my blog page and found my email address and made a private suggestion.

        Some of the postings on PTB need to be combated, dismissed, and ridiculed. They display so little knowledge of liturgy as to be mere personal preferences, completely separate from liturgical principles.

        Take a look at the series of dismissive remarks above by Kohanski, Zarembo, Wowczuk. The inaccurate history, judgmental attitude to real liturgical scholars and their communal efforts, the dismissal of the teachings of the RCC with which they disagree are atrocious.

        I, at least, do not name, or imply that, others are heretics, and I stick to liturgical issues on PTB.

        You and some others seem to want to allow the ignorant to take over PTB or any blog by sheer persistence. This is not, in my opinion, an appropriate place for everyone to be entitled to their own opinion, no matter how ignorant. Some things need to be dismissed because they are red herrings, and the only way to do so is to identify them as such.

        Why are you wasting time chastising me and not dealing with the content of my comments? As earlier, you are not my parent or employer, so by what right do you jump on me? I stay on topic and try to get others to do the same. I do not harp on a one size fits all solution regardless of the posted topic.

        Maybe what these criticisms mean are just that I am not part of your in-group, so you do not cut me the slack you cut people in your own network. I supposed that the content of my arguments would be more important, but you and others want to change my style. I think that is your problem to handle, not mine.

        Lets stick with the subject matter here.

      3. Tom, I see I have offended you with my effort at fraternal correction. Forgive me. I’m not very conversant with blog architecture. I did search for your email address but did not find it.

        On another thread I have made a plea for civility or at least verbal justice in the blogosphere. I assume that since you are such an active contributor to this blog that you would have read it.

        On still another thread, I very sharply corrected an outrageous comment (#10 by Paul Ford on August 13, 2011 – 5:53 pm) in what I hoped was a moderate way.

        It is not my job to police this blog. Father Anthony can bear witness that I have asked behind the scenes for threads to be moderated.

        I almost “corrected” Karl with his +1 remark but I didn’t understand it—as I say, I follow very few blogs and don’t know the culture. (On reviewing the entire discussion just now, I see that John Zarembo used it to praise one of Victor Wowczuk’s post—lesson learned.) Perhaps irresponsibly, I had passed over their remarks. I see that I should have responded vigorously to Victor Wowczuk’s posts and I may. I did not want to dignify their content with the attention it did not deserve. (John Kohanski’s remarks were more productive of good dialogue.)

        I will be more attentive and evenhanded in the future.

      4. Paul–I do appreciate your observations and balanced approach in all of this–but again it is kind of the nature of written words and what can be read into them and the fact we don’t see each other face to face. But it also illustrates that on Liturgy there are strong passions that sometimes go directly against the very purpose of the Liturgy. But aren’t liturgists, musicians and other artists on the “high strung” side of things without stereotyping anyone?

  32. With all due respect and with gratitude for his many helpful and constructive posts, it is becoming increasingly clear that Tom seems to have no awareness of his tendency to act like a liturgical bully. Being right is not the highest value, loving is. Love is patient and kind and bears with all things.

    1. Why are you and others jumping on me? There are a half dozen people, at least, on this blog who are more appropriately called bullies, all but one of them from the far right, citing heresy, condemning V2, pushing the EF as the solution for everything, pushing at great length for individualism in the communal environment of liturgy, repeatedly condemning, in all kinds of contexts, one translation or anther. Then there is Chris Grady and the poster who makes personal attacks on the status of others as converts.

      Indeed, rather than being a bully, what I have often done is stand up to the bullies who want to push others around to get their personal devotional preferences or musical preferences to over-rule the communal nature of liturgical prayer.

      I stay on topic, state clearly what is opinion and what is church teaching, and avoid labeling people. If you cannot respond effectively to my content, then just refrain, especially refrain from ad hominem attacks.

      What a waste of PTB resources for the many of your to gang up on me with nothing more substantial than you would phrase things differently while avoiding any substance regarding my positions or the current topic.

      It is not “policing the blog” to point out the rhetorical diversions from the topic of liturgy. I have not been telling people that they should or should not be posting. Unlike you, I have not made a personal attack on them, nor criticized their mentality in public.

      In public, at least, deal with the content not with trying to get pain relief for your tender egos. These attacks are judgmental,totally lacking in charity, mere emotional expressions, transference of blame for your discomfort to another. You guys can talk about me behind my back all you want, but you owe apologies for talking down to me this way and dissecting me in public.

  33. Paul Ford :

    It is not my job to police this blog.

    Nor is it Mr Poelker’s job to police the blog. If he had refrained from doing so, he wouldn’t have needed your fraternal correction.

    1. There is nothing on this thread which can be described as my policing the blog.

      If you think points I have called irrelevant are relevant, you are free to point out how that is true.

      By what right do you turn this into a place to assault me instead of dealing with the content of what I write?

      Or do you have a warrant to police me in particular and this blog in general?

      Your remarks are inappropriately patronizing. Please apologize.

      I have stated my opinions as strongly and clearly as I am able. That does not break any of the PTB guidelines. My language has not attacked others, only the weakness of their arguments.

      If you are taking offense, then you need to examine the fragility of your own ego.

      If you want all opinions treated as of equal truth and value, then you do not seem to be seeking to get better liturgy, just some less robust discussion.

      I have consistently defended SC and V2, yet the complainers here seem less willing to cut me any slack than for those who attack the teachings of the RCC.

      I cannot figure how they can justify themselves in publicly criticizing because they do not like me expressing strong opinions instead of poking around the edges.

      A public and patronizing criticism is not the same thing as fraternal correction. None of the complainants have followed Benedict’s guidance to first go privately to the brother. Calling this persecution and ganging up fraternal correction is just putting lipstick on a pig. It makes you feel better, but does not change the nature of what and how it was done.

      It is entirely inappropriate for any of you to publicly complain about my foibles based on your personal reactions and with no knowledge of me and with no reference to the content.

  34. Paul Inwood :
    I, too, do not know Tom personally, but only through postings on the Notre Dame LitNetwork and here on Pray Tell. I think, PF, that like yourself Tom is a man of passion. But he sometimes gets carried away with that passion, risking the loss of the good points he makes among the occasional excrescences of his rhetoric.

    This is a reasonable notation.
    Just because I get carried away and undermine the strength of my case thereby, is no cause for others to make paternalistic comments about how THEY would PREFER me to write.

    I continue to fight for good liturgy and continue to point out when non-liturgical values are clouding liturgical decision making.

    In contrast to the carping above, I also get direct messages from some who applaud my standing up for the actual principles of liturgy which they cannot do because of their employers.

  35. a Dubium was sent to Rome asking if it was the intent of the Roman Missal to rid kneeling after communion as there were many people upset that they were requested to stand till everyone received. “The Response was “Negative” Cardinal Arinze made it known that we are free to kneel. (or sit, or stand) Hope this helps

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