Friday, September 9, 2016


Once, when I was a kid, we were at some sort of Mass that was not in a church building (probably some polka Mass at some festival or something) so of course there were no kneelers.  When it came time to kneel and nobody did my Aunt Milly said something like, “By God, I don’t care if nobody else is kneeling!  I am going to kneel before my God!”  And she did so.

There is some confusion in our diocese from parish to parish when it comes to kneeling.  There is universal law.  There are exemptions for the United States of America.  There were changes, which an ordinary has a right to do, that changed what we did in the Diocese of Cleveland.  There were the pastors that were not interested in going along with the (previous) bishop and those who were not.  Then there was a decree sent out by (now) St. John Paul II that, at a certain part of the Mass, we could make up our own mind concerning our posture.  

Some people like this.  Some people HATE this.  (I will be offering a class on gestures at Forest Lodges on the 15th of September at 7:00PM to explore these mysterious things.)  In today’s paragraph (96) it further refines what it means not to have certain personages “standing out” at the Mass - the mystery is pushed deeper.  We are, in fact, to become One Body in the listening of the readings, participating in the prayers and singing, and in the participation at the Lord’s table.

Then it says, “This unity is beautifully apparent from the gestures and bodily postures observed together by the faithful.”  If it is a sign of our unity, it is at least understandable why people get upset when someone decides to be a lone wolf and stand when others kneel or sit when others are standing.

There is SOME room for individual expression here, but not a lot - that is not what the Mass is about.  If you are going to buck a tradition, make sure your choice is legitimately available.  If you are too feeble to kneel or stand, of course people are going to understand.  If the setting makes kneeling impossible (such as squished lack of space), then of course you don’t have to kneel.  But one’s choice should never be to make a point to everybody else.  Hold a sign in the parking lot after Mass if there is a theological injustice you think is going on (and be ready to be confronted) but not at the Mass.  This is a place to become one body.


Anonymous said...

This is easily solved, Father.

Give the kneelers time to kneel. How long do we kneel here in the Cleveland area? A couple of minutes? I was going to time it once but thought that would be uncharitable.

There is plenty of time to sit and stand during the Mass. And we have more than enough time to lift our voices up in song and praise.

But the amount of time we kneel seems to grow shorter every few years.

I recall when I was young (I'm only in my 30s) and people were outright nasty to the older folks who wanted to kneel more. I still remember this female extraordinary minister who was almost yelling an an elderly man. I have countless examples like that. The older generation is dying off or unable to kneel now.....and suddenly we don't kneel anymore.

I'm convinced the push to get Catholics off their knees is nothing short of diabolical. If we one to be one body, that's great. But let us kneel!

doubletrouble said...

I needed to jump in here for a couple remarks.
We attend a TLM every other week, more often if possible. When we do attend the local NO parish, we kneel at the start of the Sanctus, and at the start of the Agnus Dei. We strongly believe that the praising/adoration of our Lord (in the Sanctus) and the supplication of his Mercy (in AD) is worthy of kneeling before Him. In both instances, kneeling at these times is the common practice in the traditional Mass.
When attending NO, we do sit as near to the back as practicable to avoid drawing attention to our actions.