Bow head when Eucharist is held up

Someone just told me that you are not supposed to look up, but you are to bow your head in reverence when the priest holds up the consecrated Eucharist during the mass. I always look upon it in adoration and reverence. I did not want to argue, however. What is the proper thing to do?


I personally do look up at the elevation and adore the Lord, but then bow when the Priest kneels/genuflects to adore the Lord after he lowers the Blessed Sacrament back onto the paten.


Yes, we are instructed to look at the Host, and then at the Chalice, at the moment of the Elevation.


I remember a time when they use to ring a bell so you’d know when to look up.


^^^ This.



I now before and after but when Father raises Jesus’ Body & Blood that when look up in Adoration and say silently to myself:
“I believe , I adore, I hope and I love Thee and beg mercy for those who don’t…”

And " My Lord and My God please have mercy on me and all fallen away Catholics"


It is proper to LOOK at Jesus and adore him when he is held up.

Then when the priest lowers Jesus and bows, you bow when the priest does.


It is a matter of personal spirituality, but at the consecration, I offer “Praise to You, Most Holy Spirit, for in Your goodness, You have changed the substance of this bread into the saving Body of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. Alleluia.”

Same with the wine, except “You have changed the substance of this wine into the cleansing Blood of our Lord and Savior…”

Normally, my head is bowed and my eyes closed. When the priest declares, “Behold the Lamb of God!” I snap to attention, and focus on our Lord, as I am gradually increasing in appreciation of just Who it is I contemplate.


Keep in mind that you are already kneeling at this point, a big sign of reverence. You are not required to bow your head. The priest was standing, kneels, then stands again. But that’s the difference. You’re already kneeling.


Someone told you is not ever a reliable source. Act as you see fit in the presence of your Lord and God.

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This is the right answer.

These are personal opinions. The GIRM doesn’t specify a posture for the congregation at this point in the Mass (aside from “standing” / “kneeling” as appropriate, depending on where the Mass is celebrated).

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I often close my eyes. Sometimes just out of awe, sometimes the thought is: ‘be with us forever Lord’ or ‘we thank you for this wonderful spiritual gift’. But that is just me.


Bowing While Kneeling - “The practice of bowing while kneeling is not a novel custom. In the extraordinary form it is a general rule that kneeling does not substitute a prescribed bow. But the vast majority of the ritual gestures where this might occur refer to ministers and clergy in choir rather than to the faithful in general.” And yes, the servers on the Sanctuary bow at these points in the Mass.

"In the ordinary form the practice of bowing while kneeling is not common except for celebrant and acolytes before and after incensing the Blessed Sacrament exposed. It is not foreseen while incensing the sacred species during Mass.

I would hazard to guess that some people have acquired the practice of bowing when the priest genuflects after showing the host as a consequence of seeing concelebrants bowing at this moment. This bow while kneeling is not required, but I don’t think it does any harm and would likely be very hard to eliminate once someone has acquired the habit."


“The same cannot be said for those who bow during the showing so as not to look at the host. While such a gesture is understandable in the light of the divine majesty, the practice contradicts the very reason for raising the host and chalice in the first place. They are raised precisely in order to be seen, contemplated and adored.”

The “Follow up” comment is also interesting.

It may not be in the GIRM for the current OF form, but Dom Prosper Gueranger in his explanations of the previous Tridentine form made clear that the point of the Elevation was to show Jesus to the people so that they could look and adore. Obviously since the priest was saying Mass ad orientem, his back was to the people and the elevation was necessary if the people were to see Jesus at all, otherwise he would be hidden from them by the priest’s body.

…Rising from his own act of Adoration, the Priest uplifts the Host, raising It above his head, to show It to the Faithful so that they too may adore.
Formerly the Host was not elevated at this part of the Mass, but only just before the commencing of the Pater. In the Eleventh Century, Berengarius, Archdeacon of Angers, having dared to deny the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist, this Showing of the Sacred Host to the people, in the Mass, immediately after Consecration was introduced, in order to excite them to adoration.

Now presumably one can also adore Jesus with their eyes shut (especially if you have some idea, either by hearing the bells or by hearing the words of consecration, that the consecration has just taken place) or even if the Mass is too crowded for you to see, or you have impaired vision, etc. and I am not one to tell people what they have to do during Mass. But I prefer to keep to the traditional practice of viewing the elevated Jesus, since the whole point of even doing an elevation is to focus the congregation’s attention on the Lord for adoration.

Plus, it is a gift to be able to look at God. The Jews in the OT generally couldn’t do that, with the exception of a handful of holy priests and other holy prophets and patriarchs; seeing God usually meant you would die. Here we can see him at every Mass and not worry at all. Why would we miss that opportunity?


These are “personal opinions” of priests who need to remind their congregations, from time to time, of what is expected of them during Mass.

What if, for whatever reason, you aren’t kneeling at this point?

The bells are still used in many parishes.

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Still do in the EF.


They still do it at quite a few OF Masses as well. I’m aware of some very small OF Masses where the priest always has someone ringing the bell, even though there may be only 5 people at the Mass and you’re about 5 feet from the altar so you couldn’t miss it even without bells. And of course any big Mass or bishop’s Mass will have bells all over the place.


Yes, you’re quite right Tis - I’d just forgotten that as I usually attend the EF at my parish. When I attended the OF at another Church which is part of my parish, there wasn’t an altar server there last Sunday week ago when I went to Mass, and there usually isn’t on the occasions when I have been there. It doesn’t happen at the Churches closest to me when I’ve attended the OF Mass, even with altar servers.

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