Kneeling After Communion

Boy Kneeling at Mass

Kneeling at Mass is one of many postures during the liturgy. At different times we are to kneel, sit, or stand depending upon what is taking place during Mass. Each posture takes on a certain significance within the liturgy, especially kneeling.

Kneeling is a very humbling posture. The very act of kneeling before someone is to put yourself in a vulnerable position recognizing the other person’s authority, or when we kneel before God, it is that we are acknowledging his holiness and greatness. In the Catholic Church we believe that the bread and wine are transformed into the true body and blood of Jesus Christ although remaining under the appearance, taste, and texture of bread and wine. The process is called transubstantiation and what happens is a miracle of faith given to us by Jesus and passed down through his disciples.

After we receive the body of Christ and his precious blood we return to our pew and kneel for a period of time. We kneel for one primary reason: it is a sign of respect for the real presence of Jesus Christ. We are to kneel until the Eucharist is stored safely in the tabernacle.

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), which is the main document that prescribes how a Mass is to be conducted, makes very clear that we are to kneel after receiving the body and blood of Jesus Christ in the eucharist. When I go to Mass I occasionally see some people kneel for a short time and then sit down on the pew. While the GIRM does make exceptions for people with certain physical conditions, those who are physically able to kneel should. We don’t kneel because of the priest and we don’t kneel until we are done praying even though the distribution of communion continues, we kneel when the blessed sacrament is out of the tabernacle, is being distributed to the faithful, and we may return to a sitting position once the blessed sacrament is no longer out, when the tabernacle door has been closed, signaling the end of the communion rite. Kneeling until the priest sits down is not necessary, but is permissible.

After communion there is often a silence (sometimes very short) and the GIRM says that “the faithful [...] may sit or kneel during the period of sacred silence after Communion.” (GIRM 43). Otherwise, kneeling has taken place from the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) up until this point. The diocesan bishop has the authority to decide if something other than kneeling will take place during the Mass. In most dioceses, kneeling during communion is the norm.

Comments

  1. Egesi Ugochukwu Christopher says

    I am a Legionary in St. Agnes Catholic Church, Maryland, Lagos in Nigeria. This will barely 10 months since I joined. And as you may be aware, evangelism is one of our core duties but often times I go out on visitations and evangelism, I’m often bombarded with questions about the catholic faith and why we do what we do and this is the reason I’m searching for answers as I do not know much.

    Thank you Jon.

  2. Sandy says

    I read the article on Kneeling after Communion and agree The Lord is with us. Our church but in the bulletin and made annoucements that we are to stand until everyone recievies Communion! I am very upset many people do not kneel they just sit and the Priest tells people to sit before the chalice is put away. They say this is what the 2nd Vatican said to do. I am very confused why are they taking away all the respect and Love out of church?? I feel very confused and empty Communion is my time with Jesus not the people in the church?

  3. Cha sena says

    Hi I would like to baptise myself. How can I get it done. I am an adult early fifties could you pl let me know the steps and an anybody to contact

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