Genuflection

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yinekka

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When the lector or extraordinary minister come from the congregation to perform their ministry during Mass, is it ok for them not to genuflect towards the tabernacle (behind the altar) but bow?
 
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yinekka:
When the lector or extraordinary minister come from the congregation to perform their ministry during Mass, is it ok for them not to genuflect towards the tabernacle (behind the altar) but bow?
Readers (lectors are rather rare) and extraordinary ministers of holy communion, as well as everyone else should genuflect (if they are physically able to) to the Most Blessed Sacrament reposed in the tabernacle. Bowing is not a substitute unless the individual is unable to genuflect.
 
Actually, according to the new GIRM, ministers in the procession are to genuflect (if there is a tabernacle) at the begining and then at the end of Mass, technically they should only bow (to the altar+tabernacle together) during the Mass itself. Here in Australia we are still on the old GIRM, which prescribes genufection whenever passing the tabernacle, but upon the promulgation of the new GIRM it wil be, technically, incorrect to genuflect to the tabernacle during the Mass.

Obedience and conformity to the rubrics is important though, we can’t say ‘well, we’ll genuflect because that’s more correct’ even though it is against the rubrics, otherwise, others can say ‘well, we’ll do this… or that…, because its more correct’.
If we want to enforce the rubrics on people who habitually break them according to their own whim or opinion, we must practice what we preach.
 
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Trevelyan:
Actually, according to the new GIRM, ministers in the procession are to genuflect (if there is a tabernacle) at the begining and then at the end of Mass, technically they should only bow (to the altar+tabernacle together) during the Mass itself. Here in Australia we are still on the old GIRM, which prescribes genufection whenever passing the tabernacle, but upon the promulgation of the new GIRM it wil be, technically, incorrect to genuflect to the tabernacle during the Mass.

Obedience and conformity to the rubrics is important though, we can’t say ‘well, we’ll genuflect because that’s more correct’ even though it is against the rubrics, otherwise, others can say ‘well, we’ll do this… or that…, because its more correct’.
If we want to enforce the rubrics on people who habitually break them according to their own whim or opinion, we must practice what we preach.
I am in Australia too, When will the new GIRM be introduced?
 
Is everyone neglecting the genuflection, or only some? I am unable to genuflect because of a knee injury, so I profoundly bow to the Tabernacle when appropriate.

'thann
 
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Trevelyan:
Actually, according to the new GIRM, ministers in the procession are to genuflect (if there is a tabernacle) at the begining and then at the end of Mass, technically they should only bow (to the altar+tabernacle together) during the Mass itself. Here in Australia we are still on the old GIRM, which prescribes genufection whenever passing the tabernacle, but upon the promulgation of the new GIRM it wil be, technically, incorrect to genuflect to the tabernacle during the Mass.

Obedience and conformity to the rubrics is important though, we can’t say ‘well, we’ll genuflect because that’s more correct’ even though it is against the rubrics, otherwise, others can say ‘well, we’ll do this… or that…, because its more correct’.
If we want to enforce the rubrics on people who habitually break them according to their own whim or opinion, we must practice what we preach.
Well said. 👍 Which, since the subject line was genuflection… are we still supposed to genuflect before entering the pews at the beginning of Mass? This might be a silly question, but in my old parish everyone did, and in my new parish it seems as though almost no-one does… are there guidelines for that as well?
 
bowing to the altar or tabernacle?
Question from Theresa on 04-24-2003:
It was recommended that I ask the following question of the Liturgy Forum. Thanks in advance for all you do in answering the many questions that come your way.
My children, who are altar servers, were told by the lady in charge of training that when they pass in front of the altar before mass begins (to light candles or for whatever reason), they are to bow to the altar. When I asked if she meant they are to bow to the tabernacle, she said “No, the altar is where the sacrifice takes place and so we bow to the altar”. I didn’t say anything, because even though I always believed we were bowing or genuflecting to the presence of Jesus in the tabernacle, I thought that maybe she knew something I didn’t. Is there any time when we should bow to the altar? I told my kids I would find out from an authority and let them know the answer. Again, thanks!

Answer by Colin B. Donovan, STL on 05-13-2003:
The rubrics state that the ministers, which would include servers, genuflect to the Tabernacle, IF it is in the sanctuary, at the beginning and end of Mass, and bow to the altar during the course of the Mass. This is due to the fact that the Mass is an unfolding mystery of Christ, first His Word in the Scripture, then His Sacrifice on the Altar, His Communion with us, and finally His abiding Presence. Outside of Mass, however, the normal tradition applies, we genuflect whenever we cross before the Lord. The very fact that genuflection at the beginning and end of Mass is obliged shows that the special rubrics, meant to sacramentally unfold the mystery of the Eucharist, apply only during the Mass.
So, as they set up the altar before Mass, the servers and others should continue to genuflect. The exception would be when impeded, such as carry chalices and the like, when there is danger of dropping them. They may bow in such a circumstance. Otherwise, at the Offertory and during the Mass generally, when approaching and departing the altar they bow.

GIRM 274. A genuflection, made by bending the right knee to the ground, signifies adoration, and therefore it is reserved for the Most Blessed Sacrament, as well as for the Holy Cross from the solemn adoration during the liturgical celebration on Good Friday until the beginning of the Easter Vigil.
During Mass, three genuflections are made by the priest celebrant: namely, after the showing of the host, after the showing of the chalice, and before Communion. Certain specific features to be observed in a concelebrated Mass are noted in their proper place (cf. above, nos. 210-251).

If, however, the tabernacle with the Most Blessed Sacrament is present in the sanctuary, the priest, the deacon, and the other ministers genuflect when they approach the altar and when they depart from it, but not during the celebration of Mass itself.

Otherwise all who pass before the Most Blessed Sacrament genuflect, unless they are moving in procession.

Ministers carrying the processional cross or candles bow their heads instead of genuflecting.
 
Genuflecting
Question from Greg on 10-14-2002:
I was always taught that after arriving at church when you enter the pew, and also at the conclusion of mass, to genuflect to the tabernacle to recognize Jesus presence. However, there are a couple of churches (new modern ones) that I have gone to lately where the tabernacle was way off to one side (the first time I couldn’t even find it until before communion when the EM went to it). To genuflect to the tabernacle you practically have to turn sideways in the aisle to do so, which doesn’t bother me in the least, but I also know there should be some uniformity in the church, and I don’t want to come off looking like I am trying to be a spectacle. Am I right to do this?
Answer by Colin B. Donovan, STL on 10-15-2002:
You are justified in genuflecting. If it is awkward to point that way, or dangerous for others, then just genuflect in the normal way, even if it is not exactly in His direction. You can always turn your head. You know where He is, and He knows you know, so don’t worry about the exact geometry of the situation.
God bless.
 
So are we supposed to genuflect after receiving communion? I thought no, but now I am confused.

A couple of months ago we were told to bow before receiving communion and I thought they said not to genuflect afterwords.

(really, it was so much easier to be a protestant - you just sit there!) 😃
 
To answer a few questions above:
We genuflect upon entering the Church, going into a pew or whenever we pass before the tabernacle, including servers before Mass.

We bow to the altar instead of genuflecting to the tabernacle only during Mass, because the presence of Christ is ‘unfolding’. So the altar of sacrifice is honoured, and not the reserved Sacrament which is not strictly part of the ‘unfolding’ presence in the actual Mass itself.

We can either stand or kneel for communion, (and either bow or genuflect before if standing), but we don’t genuflect after communion, because Jesus is within us.

As for the new GIRM in Australia, I don’t know when it’s going to be promulgated here, but Cardinal Pell heads the Vox Clara committee overseeing the translation of the new Missal (which is to come soon, presumably along with its GIRM at the same time)
 
Most of these comments indicate to me how much the adoration, awe, and respect for the Real Presence has deteriorated during the past 40 years. When I was serving Mass during the 1940’s, altar boys were required to genuflect EVERY time we crossed the center line of the tabernacle. The only exception was when we were carrying something so large or awkward that it would have caused instability in our balance. Even when we moved the large Missal on a heavy stand from one side of the altar to another, we genuflected. Every time we entered or exited the sanctuary from the sacristy we moved to the center in front of the altar and genuflected. Immediately after receiving the Sacred Body in Communion we did not genuflect because the Real Presence was within our bodies.

The same was true of the laity in the Church. Every time upon enterring or exiting the church or a pew (except going to and from Communion), every time crossing the center line of the tabernacle, they genuflected. These not only were our personal acts of respect and adoration, but more importantly these gestures demonstrated to all observers that we believed that the Risen Christ was truly present.

Of course, silence, except for absolutely necessary, brief communication was observed. People did not greet one another inside the church. That was done outside before and after Mass or in the church hall for coffee.

Another important custom that **showed the world ** how much we believed in the Real Presence was the head coverings. Head coverings for men in ancient times represented for many a rank or position in society. Therefore, as an act of humility in the Real Presence, men uncovered their heads. A woman’s hair was considered her crowning glory, so their act of humility was to cover and hide her hair.

We have disgarded almost all of these acts of adoration and humility and **now show the world ** that we do not regard the interior of a Catholic Church with its Tabernacle to be anything special.
 
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GeorgeCooney:
Most of these comments indicate to me how much the adoration, awe, and respect for the Real Presence has deteriorated during the past 40 years. When I was serving Mass during the 1940’s, altar boys were required to genuflect EVERY time we crossed the center line of the tabernacle. The only exception was when we were carrying something so large or awkward that it would have caused instability in our balance. Even when we moved the large Missal on a heavy stand from one side of the altar to another, we genuflected. Every time we entered or exited the sanctuary from the sacristy we moved to the center in front of the altar and genuflected. Immediately after receiving the Sacred Body in Communion we did not genuflect because the Real Presence was within our bodies.

The same was true of the laity in the Church. Every time upon enterring or exiting the church or a pew (except going to and from Communion), every time crossing the center line of the tabernacle, they genuflected. These not only were our personal acts of respect and adoration, but more importantly these gestures demonstrated to all observers that we believed that the Risen Christ was truly present.

Of course, silence, except for absolutely necessary, brief communication was observed. People did not greet one another inside the church. That was done outside before and after Mass or in the church hall for coffee.

Another important custom that **showed the world **how much we believed in the Real Presence was the head coverings. Head coverings for men in ancient times represented for many a rank or position in society. Therefore, as an act of humility in the Real Presence, men uncovered their heads. A woman’s hair was considered her crowning glory, so their act of humility was to cover and hide her hair.

We have disgarded almost all of these acts of adoration and humility and **now show the world **that we do not regard the interior of a Catholic Church with its Tabernacle to be anything special.
Yeah, but now we have liturgical dancing!
 
Okay, but help out those of us who weren’t catechized properly growing up and have only the limited experience of RCIA behind us which while it is wonderful is hardly exhaustive…

I want to show proper respect but need to know the specifics of how and when and why… and what’s obvious to you guys when reading the catechism isn’t so obvious to those of us who really don’t understand some of the basics.

Obviously I know what and where the altar is, and I know where the tabernacle is. So I think what I’ve culled from the posts is that it IS still appropriate to genuflect both before and after Mass, the intention of which is to show the respect for the the unfolding of the mystery of the Eucharist. The orientation of the genuflection ought to be towards the tabernacle? I’m not yet certain I understand this part, can someone further clarify it for me? Also you guys refer to the sanctuary and the sacristy, and I’m not sure that any of that refers to me, but can you tell me which parts they are so I can make sure that I’m being properly respectful at those times?

I know we can lead by example, and I really do want to be a good example. The way I see it is if they could pick up bad habits from the pews they can pick up good habits too. I attended church for years before going through RCIA because I didn’t know any better. Most of what I do I do because I mimicked others. How ought one to approach Eucharist? Is it appropriate to continue singing the communion hymn or not? I’m know I’m supposed to make the sign of the cross and say amen, and I think you all are saying it is also appropriate to either kneel, bow, or genuflect as well but to definitely do at least one of those?

Sorry, I think I’ve taken this all a little personally! Maybe I’ve shown more respect after receiving communion than before, but it hasn’t been an intentional lapse 😦 .
 
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Maggie:
Okay, but help out those of us who weren’t catechized properly growing up and have only the limited experience of RCIA behind us which while it is wonderful is hardly exhaustive…

I want to show proper respect but need to know the specifics of how and when and why… .
I was just reading about this not long ago, but now can’t find the site I was on, so I can’t quote or cite the source. But here is the gist of what I read:

We genuflect (right knee) to show adoration and humiliation before the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. So when we enter and leave the Church, we genuflect toward the tabernacle containing reserved consecrated Host.

The altar is holy as the place of sacrifice, and so we bow to it (unless there is consecrated bread upon it - then genuflection is called for).

But there’s no need for a bow to the altar and a genuflect to the Body of Christ, so as long as consecrated host is present in the tabernacle, we genuflect. If I’m not mistaken, on Holy Thursday the tabernacle is empty when we enter the Church and no genuflection is called for (although I always see most people do it anyhow, out of habit I suppose). This is the only time I can think of when we would enter the Church and only bow, to the altar, instead of genuflect. But I’m not 100% on that, so someone please correct me if I’m wrong.

As far as posture during communion (again, I can’t cite my source, 'cuz I can’t find it again!), while the generally accepted practice in the US is to receive standing, communion cannot be refused to anyone who kneels to receive it. What I was reading went on to say that if we don’t receive kneeling (does anyone?), then some type of adoration gesture is appropriate…a profound bow, or even a genuflection, before receiving.

I’ll keep looking for where I read this. I wish now I’d bookmarked the page, but I figured since I’d answered my question, I wouldn’t need it anymore. Who knew??
 
Maurelian: the source you need is the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM). It is not very expensive, and can be bought from most Catholic bookstores.

One does not genuflect when going up to receive Communion (the norm is to bow the head), nor upon returning to your seat.
 
Well, I don’t have a hard copy, but I do have an online version bookmarked: usccb.org/liturgy/current/revmissalisromanien.htm 👍

Actually, the cite I was referring to is a letter from the Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship: “When the faithful communicate kneeling, no other sign of reverence towards the Blessed Sacrament is required, since kneeling is itself a sign of adoration. When they receive Communion standing, it is strongly recommended that, coming up in a procession, they should make a sign of reverence before receiving the sacrament. This should be done at the right time and place, so that the order of people going to and from Communion is not disrupted.” (For the complete text, see adoremus.org/InaestimabileDonum.html

It doesn’t specify what type of sign of reverence. I just assumed when I read that, that a genuflection wouldn’t be forbidden. But I don’t do that, and have never seen anyone else do it either.
 
Crusader said:
Readers (lectors are rather rare) and extraordinary ministers of holy communion, as well as everyone else should genuflect (if they are physically able to) to the Most Blessed Sacrament reposed in the tabernacle. Bowing is not a substitute unless the individual is unable to genuflect.

Can somebody please clarify I doubt I have? I’ve heard the word lector, and the word reader sometimes used synonymously and sometimes used as different offices. What exactly is the difference between the two?

I ask, because where I live the only Masses are all in Spanish. The word used in Spanish for a reader is lector (Spanish for reader).

I’d appreciate any explanation.

TIA
 
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DrCat:
Can somebody please clarify I doubt I have? I’ve heard the word lector, and the word reader sometimes used synonymously and sometimes used as different offices. What exactly is the difference between the two?

I ask, because where I live the only Masses are all in Spanish. The word used in Spanish for a reader is lector (Spanish for reader).

I’d appreciate any explanation.

TIA
I believe the word “lector” comes from the Latin word for “reader,” so I always thought they were synonymous. Are they not?
 
Do we still have the minor orders? I thought they were discontinued at the same time that the office of subdeacon was discontinued.
In any event, if there is still a minor order in effect of lector, does anyone know what it actually constitutes, as prior to the changes, no one but the priest (or deacon, or possibly sub deacon) read the Epistle and/or the Gospel reading; or at least, I never saw anyone do it.
The term lector is used interchangably with reader in common parlance. If there is still the monor office, then one would be more correct to only use the term lector for one who had received that minor order.
 
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