Friday, February 6, 2009


I, for one, though I loved the architecture of the old movie houses, am very glad they build theaters with the seating going up steps now. This saves the practicing Catholic the incredible embarrassment of walking down the theater aisle and genuflecting to the screen before entering a row of seats. (I just realized I’ve never heard of anyone accidently bowing to the screen for whatever that is worth.)

The genuflection is an ancient tradition in the Church. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia it goes back to the time of John Cassian. In the early years of the Church there were not pews or chairs (with kneelers in them) and the people would genuflect at the consecration. Later this was elongated into the kneeling position that we have today.

Genuflecting, or the momentary lowering of one’s right knee to the ground, has many meanings from veneration, to penitence, supplication, honor, reverence, submission, and love (think of a man kneeling and proposing.) There are three times that a genuflection is called for. That would be during the two times the sacred species are elevated at the consecration and whenever passing before the presence of the Blessed Sacrament whether exposed or in the tabernacle. (One need not genuflect every time if vacuuming the sanctuary carpeting or some such thing however. Not that there should be carpeting in a sanctuary. But that’s just my opinion, not Church law.)

The double genuflection is no longer called though you are free to do it if you wish. I do on Tuesdays during exposition. The reason for this, as I understand it, is because a double genuflection is not required of the priest during the Mass so in order to be consistent it is not required of anyone outside the Mass. To do so is a private devotion.


Anonymous said...

I have genuflected at a movie theater, and worse, I once mechanically dipped my fingers into the ashtray on the wall at the exit and made the sign of the cross.

Lillian Marie said...

You know, I never really understood the 'Catholic calisthenics' until I attended a Tridentine Mass. Yep - Calisthenics in True form. *grin*

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, surely we were separated at birth. I've never done that.. but NOW I will! My most embarrassing moment (well, if you count not understanding that the Precious Blood cup was empty when I got there) was saying "Thank you" instead of "Amen" when hearing "The Body of Christ." I was so lost in thought, but the EMHC's sudden start tipped me off and I amended it. You can't bring us anywhere, Anonymous.

By "double genuflection" you mean to go down on both knees for a bit, as in greeting the Lord exposed in the monstrance for Adoration? As in greeing a King?

Anonymous said...

The bishops of Australia petitioned Rome to allow us to retain the double genuflection when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed.