Bow down before the blessing?


I had a question about last weeks mass, 21 April. Right before the closing, I heard the deacon say something about bowing before the blessing. I don’t think it was very well heard as there was a bit of confusion and only slight bowing at the waist by a few people in the front. Can anyone explain what was said, why, and what the appropriate response was?


It’s a solemn blessing, typically used on Sundays and high feast days. The deacon says “Bow your heads and ask for God’s blessing.” So it’s not a full waist bow, just a head bow.


“Bow down for the blessing” is what was said. (There was slightly different wording in the prior version of the Missal, but off-hand, I don’t recall the exact wording of the prior version.) (Edited to add: Ahh! There it is! Ad Orientem wrote the previous version of the line!)

It’s said by the priest (or the deacon, if present) prior to the priest’s solemn blessing. There isn’t any response by the people.


Thanks all.

I assume you mean besides bowing your head.

I liked the old wording better. To me to bow is to bend at your waist, to bow your head is simply tha,t and to bow down means get on your knees. Which is why I looked to see what everyone else was doing around me.


Should one not always bow before the blessing?

I mean, before the reform of the Roman Rite, people would kneel for the final blessing…I would expect that in the new order, people at least are expected to bow their head.


Nope, the posture for the Blessing and Dismissal are rather heavily regulated. If one wishes to take a strict approach (I do) then it is required to bow one’s head at the mention of the Three Divine Persons, as at any other point of the Mass.


I like to bow anytime I receive a blessing from a bishop, priest or deacon. I like to be prepared to receive it, and bowing generally puts me in a humbler place. I’ve seen older folks genuflect to receive the solemn blessing, as they used to do in the Latin Rite. The point is: one never knows, it could be the last blessing I ever receive!



Do you mean that (regarding the final blessing) there are norms in the OF as well? Is the norm to bow? Thanks


What I mean is that the posture for the Blessing in OF Mass is regulated, that the posture is standing and that, strictly speaking, one should bow one’s head any time one hears the Three Divine Persons mentioned together, thus necessarily at the Blessing and some other parts of Mass. That is the rubrics regarding this.


Hmm… for the congregation, you mean? The GIRM specifies postures for the priest and ministers, but in the case of the blessing and dismissal, IIRC, there’s nothing there that prescribes a posture for the people. Do you have a citation to back up your claim? Thanks!


Of course: there’s no spoken response. :wink:

To me to bow is to bend at your waist, to bow your head is simply tha,t and to bow down means get on your knees.

Hmm… to you, perhaps. The language in the GIRM simply distinguishes between a profound bow (that is, bowing at the waist) and a simple bow of the head. Neither is specified as a response by the people to the priest’s (or deacon’s) invitation to “bow down for the blessing.” I might suspect that a simple bow of the head is the appropriate response, but since no direction is given, it would seem that either bow (and by that, I mean a bow, not kneeling) would be reasonable.


:). Yup I mean specifically to me through my filter! My understanding of terms and such is largely based on my Baptist upbringing and experiences. I’m still learning “Catholic” as my second language. Some things are obvious differences like own of my first question “what on earth is a Eucharist”, others you think you know what they mean until you suddenly realize you don’t!


“275. A bow signifies reverence and honor shown to the persons themselves or to the signs that represent them. There are two kinds of bow: a bow of the head and a bow of the body.” It doesn’t say who, so it certainly applies to the priest, and I’d say also to the people by implication.


I understand now, thanks!


Yes, the section “bows and genuflections” defines what is meant by the term ‘bow’. However, you claimed that “the posture for the Blessing and Dismissal are rather heavily regulated”. I’m not seeing anything like that in #275. The blessing and dismissal aren’t even mentioned among the examples of bows during the Mass.

It doesn’t say who, so it certainly applies to the priest, and I’d say also to the people by implication.

I think I’d quibble with you on that – I don’t think there’s the notion of “to the people by implication” here. As I mentioned, #275 gives the examples at which the ministers bow (simply or profoundly). It does not mention any gestures made by anyone other than ministers. Therefore, I don’t think there’s any “by implication” here.

Is it a good thing when those in the congregation bow their heads at the mention of Jesus, Mary, the Trinity, and the saint of the day? Of course. Is it “rather heavily regulated” for the congregation? Not at all. :wink:


Sorry about that. I don’t usually go to the Ordinary Form. In the Extraordinary Form we still kneel, but I believe it’s just custom; IIRC there are no rubrics for the people, at least in the EF. Are there rubrics for the people in the OF?


Why not just obey the priest or deacon when he says, “Bow your heads and pray for God’s blessing?”


Ummm…because that is not what he said (says)…hence the question.

closed #19

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