Monday, December 21, 2009

Bishop Tells Parishioners to Kneel During Consecration #Catholic

When I was thirteen, I visited a few Catholic all-girls high schools, taking examinations and evaluating their facility. One in particular was ultra-modern - even for 1976. The classrooms were "mobile," with movable wall separators and the courses were categorized as "modules." There seemed to be a very loose, transient flow to the educational schedule, which I imagine appealed to some. But for me, the deal-breaker was the chapel.

I walked into a spartan, large room that could easily pass for a multi-purpose room within a YMCA. A simple, modernistic altar was in the front and behind it was a cross that really looked more like a "plus" sign. There was no image of Jesus on the plus sign. What further concerned me was that there were upholstered chairs scattered around the room, missing something that I thought was pretty important. There were no kneelers. And yes, the irony is not lost on me that I ended up leaving the Catholic Church at age twenty to worship in some of the blandest "multi-purpose" rooms around, courtesy of the non-denominational church.

Since my return, I've visited several other parishes in my hometown. (I'm up to 9.) One, which not surprisingly, is the "university" parish, also did not have kneelers. When the time came for the consecration, I knelt and was touched to see a man and his son kneel in front of me.

What I would like to know is this: what is the justification for not kneeling during such a somber and holy moment? If a parish removed the kneelers, what was the reason why? I've heard that the Catholic Church in the early days had all the parishioners standing during consecration, so I realize it may not have been a consistent practice in our history. But still, my thought is if we have the resources now to retain kneelers, why aren't they in every church? Was this a part of the "wreckovation" some refer to when some of our most architecturally beautiful altars were destroyed in the 60's and 70's to make way for the abominable, ugly, altars that were supposedly the result of the "new life" that Vatican II brought?

All I know is that I still get teary-eyed when the consecration occurs and am in awe of God's provision for a Perfect Sacrifice. To be honest, if there was room, I would rather bow low, prostrate on the ground than kneel. It is that holy and in my opinion, we're on hallowed ground at that point in the liturgy.

What do you think? Catholic apologists, I especially appreciate hearing from you on this issue.


Iggy said...

I largely agree with you - I prefer to kneel myself. But it's a mistake to judge motives. The Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholics not only don't kneel (they stand) they consider it WRONG to kneel, since kneeling is the position of penitence, and Sunday and the Eucharist are matters for rejoicing.

Kevin Whiteman said...

Iggy, The Eastern Rites and the EO stand because of the passage out of Sacred Scripture "I stand before my Lord". Their posture IS that one of pennance and humility.

The Novus Ordo lack of kneeling, on the other hand, is arrogance and self-worship/self-importance.

Mary Rose,
Your post was spot on!

jean said...

I totally agree with you, especially the bit about a longing to be prostrate at the consecration. In OUR church they not only removed the kneelers but they put the seats closer together so that it's almost impossible to kneel. But I do, as do one or two others, but it's hard especially as I'm small (so my arms hardly reach the high backs of the seat in front) and elderly so I have to wiggle my stiff body to actual get down in such a tight space. But I'm happy do this for Our Lord and in the meantime I pray that things will change.

X said...

When they built our new parish in 1972 they not only ditched the kneelers but put in a sloped floor. Try kneeling on that! But we do it because it's the right thing to do. And kneeling IS coming back. For everyone unless they have bad knees,etc. They get to sit.

Janny said...

I was one of the conservative "holdouts" who helped keep kneelers in our "new" church building (in my former parish) in 1993. Supposedly the vote to have kneelers over NOT having them was only decided by about 40. (And this is in a church of 9000 parishioners...a quarter of those being regular Mass attendees.) It to me was a prime example of using one's power in constructive ways. :-)

That being said, there was NO space to kneel on the choir risers, so we stood. I tried to be as reverent as possible during that point, but it never felt right to me and still doesn't.

Glad to see common sense and reverence may, in small increments, be returning.