Thursday, August 20, 2009


Catholicism for Dummies” states that a genuflection is a bending of one’s right knee to the ground while bending the left knee. (I would like to see someone touch their right knee to the ground without bending the left knee.) It also clarifies that such an action is only done before the Blessed Sacrament. Almost true. We do believe in the possibility of doing so before the Cross on Good Friday, when kissing the pope’s ring, and at an engagement as long as it is not a same sex marriage. A better word for this action would genuineflection as it is the genuinely proper way to do it.

That being said what are all the variations on this theme called? Could they still be genuflections or genuflectesque, or their own creature all together?

Take for example the almost genuflection: close enough to look almost like genuflection but not far enough to risk getting one’s pants dusty at the knees. I don’t think I buy that this particular maneuver is easier. It seems hard to get almost there, hold it, and then get back without the wonderful rest you get in between if the knee actually does touch the floor. Perhaps we could call this the “gymnuflection.”

The “Tightskirtuflection” could be the people who just do a little curtsy. People do it regardless of what they are wearing but it always reminds me of someone wearing a very tight skirt and so the closest they can get to an actual genuflection is to kind of do a miniature squat. If they were to go any further they would run the risk of a ripping sound and a trip home to change hopefully into clothes that are more genuflection friendly.

How about “Straybulletflection” for the very good souls who know that they should genuflect before entering into one’s pew but has lost the idea of why one should do it. Therefore the genuflection is not shot at Jesus but might go in any direction – to the wall, a lady’s hat, or even the end of the pew like water from a fire hose held by a 12 year old.

The “Forgotuflection” is epidemic among Catholics who visit other parishes where the Blessed Sacrament is kept in another room instead of in the main body of the church. Though a bow would still be appropriate they simply slide into their pew. It sometimes happens to students too and when I catch them I say, “Hey, get out here! You know better than that.” Then they do the “TIghtskirtuflection” and I say, “Hey, get out here, you know better than that.” This is sometimes followed by the “Straybullet” and by the time they are done they have had quite a workout and are allowed to skip gym.

There is the “Barely Ambulatory” in which a person who probably should not be walking without assistance goes down for a “Genuine” but once down are abaondoned by their body and must use the end of the pew and the assistance of two ushers and an altar server to get upright again. In this case a bow of the head would suffice. Funny however that often it is those who could get back up without assistance that opt for the bow.

“Both Barrels” or going down on both knees used to be reserved for when the Blessed Sacrament was exposed. It is no longer called for since the priest is not required to do so during the celebration of the Mass when he genuflects (hopefully) after Jesus becomes present on the altar. It is optional now. I like it. It feels right. Until you accidently step on your alb on the way up and choke yourself.

Kids are wonderful genuflectors. It’s great to watch one go down on his or her left knee, be corrected by a parent and with the slightest hop exchange it for the right knee to the ground without the rest of their body moving. How many gymnasts have been born of this move?

There could be more I suppose but none is more embarrassing (even more so than the alb choke and stumble) than the Habitualflection. Once in your life have you not genuflected at the movie show, or before entering the benches of some other venue covering by looking for a contact even though you don’t wear glasses?

Then there is the “Self-rightulfection.” This action is actually after the genuflection. It is done by those who think they genuflect correctly and then can comment on everybody else’s.


Anonymous said...

Thoroughly enjoyed this post, Father. But I didn't know that a "genuine" genuflection had to use the right knee. I thought I could alternate which knee I used on which day and thus get a good work out. (FYI, "genu" is the Latin word for knee. I wonder if anyone knows that anymore.)

Adoro said...

ROFL! Thanks Father! I'm going to have to link to this one later!

Michelle said...


I'm a "virtual" genuflector (mentalflection? wishfulflection? you need to coin another word!) these days, but I still loved this. I'm not a geezer yet, but since I don't wear my skirts short enough for anyone to see the scars on my knees now I know that I'm providing some fodder for the self-rightulfectors to chew on!!

Alas, I'm about to become a non-kneeling Catholic in toto.

Sharon said...

In Australia it is permisable to genuflect on both knees when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed for adoration.

Adoro said...

Sharon, it's permissable in the US, too, and in fact, I've never been anywhere where this does NOT occurr.

What Father V. is saying is that one is not REQUIRED to genuflect on both knees.

Anonymous said...

i dont have any personal idea but
as far as i know its permissible there
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