Are we supposed to bow while in line for communion?

While in line for communion people have started bowing (bending over from the waist up) when they are the next person from the front of the line. In other words, while the person in front receives communion they bow. They don’t bow when it is their turn. I have been away from the church and am recently back. Is this something new that happened when the words of Mass got changed a couple years ago? I don’t ever remember being taught this when I made my first communion in the 80’s. I’ve also noticed that when communion first starts the line goes for a while with nobody doing the bow. But if one person does it, then everybody after them does.

I want to clarify that this is happening in a line that is not in the center of the church. It is all the way against the side wall. There is no crucifix or tabernacle in our vicinity. Why should we bow? Out of respect for the presence of Christ in the host?

We are instructed to give a sign of reverence before receiving communion. This is from the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM):

  1. …When receiving Holy Communion, the communicant bows his or her head before the Sacrament as a gesture of reverence and receives the Body of the Lord from the minister. The consecrated host may be received either on the tongue or in the hand, at the discretion of each communicant. When Holy Communion is received under both kinds, the sign of reverence is also made before receiving the Precious Blood.

At my parish most people bow or genuflect about when you describe - when the person in front of them is receiving. They are bowing to Christ in the Eucharist.

I think the timing evolved because then the Eucharistic Procession keeps moving and folks are less likely to bump or trip.

I agree. I was actually really happy when it started at our parish. Some people did, but it was far from a great number. But we’ve been doing a lot to increase awareness of the Real Presence in the past few years…it must be “paying off!” :smiley:

I’ll just note that it’s a bit more work when you’re holding a toddler and preparing to receive the Blood of Christ. No one has anything about my inadvertent curtsy.

Whatever happened to the practice of genuflecting right outside your own pew instead of waiting till you are at the head of the line?

It just seems more practical to me.

The GIRM tells us to bow out heads as a sign of reference. In addition, section 274 of the GIRM says not to genuflect during Mass. You probably won’t get tackled by an usher if you do your own thing, but it isn’t what we are asked to do.

People still do genuflect at the start and end of Mass. I think the difference is history, no one genuflected when going up to communion in the past 1) because you were going to kneel to receive and 2) because people left the pews at different times (that is, each pew didn’t empty in order). Now, instead of kneeling at the rail, you genuflect or bow. The action being replaced is the kneeling at the rail, not the recognition of Christ as we enter and leave the church proper.

Yes, you bow unless you are kneeling to receive.

What about kneeling when there is no rail–when you are in line at the OF Mass. I started doing this because I felt compelled to despite the fact it kind of embarrasses me but I do it any way even though I am sometimes afraid people will think I am trying to make a show of it. The Eucharistic ministers sometimes looked surprised when I do it. I started during lent out of a compulsion that I can’t stop. I just don’t want to receive standing any more. Is this appropriate though?

Ask your priest. It is fine as long as you don’t knock anyone over on the way back up. :slight_smile: Some priests prefer that people don’t kneel without a rail, but since no one has said anything to you so far it doesn’t seem to be bothering him.

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