Pray Tell Poll: Kneel and Stand?

Should the congregation kneel and stand for each of the Solemn Intercessions on Good Friday?

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Share your thoughts in the comments below!


  1. I find that the constant standing and kneeling is disruptive to the flow of the liturgical action. Not to mention that the presider/deacon/reader usually only allows the congregation to kneel for only a few seconds before asking them to stand again. In one parish, we had the assembly kneel throughout the Solemn Intercessions. I believe kneeling throughout underscores that these intercessions are different than the normal Sunday Universal Prayer.

    1. I agree! The constant changing of position is not prayerful. If we’re not going to have at least a full minute of silent prayer for each intercession, we should just kneel throughout.

    2. When done right, the priest/deacon will allow more than just a few seconds so the action of kneeling will will be read as solemn and prayerful, not something to be gotten over with as quickly as possible. On that last note, there really is no reason to rush this liturgical action. Anyone who has to sacrifice a work day (as you do in my part of the wold) to go to Good Friday services positively wants to be there, at least more than your typical “Sun.-and-done” Catholic.

      1. Thank you for that common sense reply. The problem of haste seems to me to be an endemic one in the post baroque Roman Rite, where we seem to be terrified of silences. They always seem to signal alarm and a heightening of tension. Has someone forgotten what comes next? Has the celebrant/deacon/MC died?

        Rhythm is important. It is part of ritual. We enter it by repetition. You will only get into the rhythm of liturgical rites by allowing them time.

        My first impression of RC worship as a young Church of England man (60 years ago) was how rushed everything seemed to be, as if they just couldn’t wait to get it over and done with.

        I watched the Coronation of Paul VI on TV and was riveted by not only the haste but the high level of fuss and apparent confusion, not to mention that the altar looked more like a shelf for reliquaries, images and fancy hats.

        In the Church I serve, the deacon invites people to kneel, and since we are all elderly, we just can’t get up at once. So we stay down for a bit. Some people don’t get up at all, others don’t kneel. Blessed be God for advancing years.


    1. … but that is a practice unique to the U.S. church, as the practice of the universal church is to kneel at the consecration only.

      1. Which is precisely why the US practice, both in contravention of what GIRM formerly said and contradicting an understanding of the whole EP as consecratory, is a local throwback to preconciliar times. In other countries, people may well stand throughout, not even kneeling for the institution narrative but bowing deeply after each set of words as the priest genuflects (and by no means all priests do that).

        On the other hand, in Germany, people are kneeling, sitting standing, changing posture (bobbing up and down!) in a seemingly random fashion all through the Prayer. Everyone seems to do their own thing.

        We have not yet had the debate on Pray Tell on the whole EP being consecratory. Perhaps now is the time.

  2. I have to wonder how this breaks down nationally. I have literally only stood my entire life, for the entire prayer. Never knelt even once. And I think this has been in 10-12 churches, in the US and Europe. Yes, I self-select like most everyone else here on Pray Tell, but this been at a wide variety of places. But still it’s odd I never experienced it…just once…somewhere.
    I agree, I’d rather all kneel, than up and down–I’d get too distracted. (But then again, I never experienced it.)

  3. The up-and-down motion, pre-1969, was a kind of joke. As kids, we used to annoy each other by singing Flectamus genua at unexpected moments, when the others would be expected to kneel instantly. Even better if you then sang Levate, followed almost immediately by another Flectamus genua !

    Like Chuck, my experience since 1969 has been almost exclusively of standing throughout.

  4. Never been an issue in my experience, though it’s been a few years since I last participated in that liturgy. The key is not to rush it – the temporal space for silent prayer should be at least as long as a very deliberately offered Our Father and then some. It’s not disrupting the liturgical action, because it’s *part and parcel* of the liturgical action itself, not a mere adjunct to it. If you remember that the congregation’s participation includes that.

    I experience it rather differently than this kind of thing:

    1. Yes, the most important thing is to leave plenty of time for silent prayer. The posture is secondary. My own preference is for a single posture — kneeling or standing — throughout.

  5. People can wax elegant on how the back and forth is the best – but in real life, I’ve never encountered someone who enjoyed it. The change in posture is very hard on older people and those with health issues. The up and down becomes such a chore that you’ve lost any hope of praying the intercessions by the end… it’s just, “how many more are there?”

    Our parish kneels all throughout. While the normative posture during intercessions is to stand, it seemed appropriate with the gravity of the liturgy to simply kneel on this day, though if I encountered a solid reason to stand throughout, I would offer that suggestion to our liturgy team.

    1. Except they aren’t the same. They are slightly “inspired by” at most, shall we say, and in their current form they are not any precedent for the Good Friday form, as they postdate it.

      There are not only people for whom kneeling is an issue, but also people for whom prolonged standing is no less an issue (though it appears a lot of Catholic liturgy-talking folks are much less aware of the latter category). The solution is not in the problematizing or changing of the form – it’s simply letting people to adjust their own posture according to their reasonable needs. And for everyone else just to mind their own beeswax.

    2. I have found that a significant proportion of the congregation is getting uncomfortable after standing throughout the Passion Gospel. Since standing or kneeling for the whole of the intercessions is permitted, is seemed sensible to encourage a uniform posture of kneeling, otherwise some/many people just sat, if not immediately then when standing got too painful. As I approach my 81st birthday I would find it painful to stand for two long parts of the liturgy in succession (pain is not conducive to reflective prayer).

  6. I know what the rubrics say but I do believe the issue of standing and kneeling depends on the culture of the assembly and the status of their knees. My experience is that the “up and down” has become more of a “token” gesture than real prayer. With this said, my personal preference would be to prayerfully stand and kneel.

  7. Catholics stand to pray, a fact that becomes obvious at ecumenical services where “Let us pray” leads to half the congregation falling to their knees while the other half remains standing.
    Which leads me to the Eucharistic prayer, which is not preceded by “Let us pray.” Does that have implications for posture?

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