Bowing head at the Name of Jesus

As kids the nuns taught us that you reverently bow your head at the name of Jesus. I do that but I don’t see many people doing that anymore. You are supposed to do that also when you hear the name of Jesus (profanities excepted I suppose).

I don’t know if it’s just the parish I attend or if it is something peculiar to this country these days but you rarely see people bowing their head when saying or hearing the name of Jesus.

What’s the custom elsewhere?


That’s what I do. I’m not really sure what you’re supposed to do anymore. The priest never bows his head at the Name of Jesus? "

I believe in the Bible it says that we should kneel at the Name of Jesus.

I’m 58, and when I was a kid I was taught at home, and at school by the nuns, to bow my head at the name of Jesus. I also remember that my dad always tipped his cap whenever he went by a Catholic Church, and I’ve followed his example. Take care.

Funny story…

I was at Bishop Rifan’s Pontifical Mass from the Throne in NYC a few weeks ago, and during the Mass all the ministers, servers, etc turned towards the tabernacle and bowed their heads at the name of Jesus, even if ever so slightly, it was noticable. When Bishop Rifan gave his sermon it was all about ‘Jesus.’ Very good sermon but he must’ve said the word “Jesus” no joke like 100 times. I noticed one of the FSSP priests assisting on the altar continued to turn and bow during the sermon. Bishop Rifan would keep saying “Jesus” repeatedly and this priest would have to keep turning around to bow over and over and over and over again. It got to a point where it was just getting out of hand so he ceased turning to the tabernacle and just bowed his head where he was. Just goes to show that as pious and beautiful as this practice is, sometimes you just need to be reasonable. I mean this priest would turn, bow… and then before he even turned back around the bishop would say “Jesus” again and he’d have to pivot towards the tabernacle again.

Many do this at our parish, but it is the ONLY parish I’ve ever been to where anyone even cared enough to know they were supposed to do this (aside from what we consider to be our sister parish north of us - only these two). Most of the time I think folks just show up and go through the motions - by no fault of their own mind you - but only because they are never taught anything more from their priest than to shake hands at the sign of peace with AS MANY people as possible, and…

…ok - stopping there, I’m starting to sound nasty and uncharitable. :o But you get my drift.

We all need to get back to this level of reverence and respect for Christ. My goodness, what if He came to us tomorrow? Would we all just look the other way? Sometimes I do wonder because the vast majority of American Catholics are never taught anymore about their Faith - such a pity. :frowning:


I am 53, and the Irish Sisters of Charity, who taught at my grade school in Southern California, taught us to dip our heads at the Name of Jesus, especially when saying the Hail Mary. I have never seen anyone do this again, except myself, and I have lived all over the US.

I am glad to hear there are others who were taught as I was. Sometimes I feel like a pre-Vatican II freak.:frowning:

I was taught to do that. I can’t help it, it’s a habit. It’s really funny when I’m talking to some nice fundamentalist who’s trying to show me the error of my ways and he keeps saying ‘Jesus’ and I keep nodding and he thinks I’m agreeing with him. :smiley:


Hahahahaha! :smiley:

I believe at Anglican Use Catholic parishes they bow their heads at the name of Jesus. At least from my video it looks like it. They also genuflect when the crucifix goes by in procession.

As a former Anglo Catholic we always bowed our heads at the name of Jesus and bowed when the crucifix went by and when the priest did. At the Creed in the AU parishes they genuflex when we say “conceived by the Holy Ghost and born of the Virgin Mary”.

I still bow at those times at the OF Mass. I did notice one other person doing the same.

Yours in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary


This used to be required by the rubrics of the Latin rite, namely to bow at the names of Jesus, Mary, and the Saint of the day when mentioned in the Liturgy.

It still is required in the current missal, but few seem to pay any attention to it.

Most traditionalist venues that I know employ either the “three” or “five” rule. After the third or fifth time the preacher mentions the Holy Name, the clergy in choir stop doffing their birettas and those standing (typically an MC) stop turning toward the altar, and just bow in place. This is recommended by Fortescue in his classic work.

This is why most traditional preachers utter the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary infrequently, only when context suggests it. Otherwise they refer to Our Lord (or Divine Savior, or something similar) and Our Lady (or the Blessed Mother, Sorrowful Mother, etc.)

I grew up in the 80s and 90s and we were taught to bow our heads at the name of Jesus. I still do it today at mass, in everyday life, and even when I’m working as a musician in Protestant churches, I will bow my head whenever I hear the name of “Jesus”.

I do the traditional bow of the knee touching the ground.

I remember one Sunday around 1959 one of our parish priests going on about piety (he seemed a bit cranky that day) and the due reverence for the Eucharist. I’m pretty sure he said that you should cross yourself when passing a Catholic church or at least bow your head… and certainly that men should tip or raise their hats when passing.

I don’t wear a hat. Some times I remember to cross myself or nod my head when passing a Catholic church. These are all good customs because they keep our minds on a level of prayerful awareness.

I was talking to a lady the other day and she also agreed that it was the nuns that instilled the proper customs of the church into us. Now that the nuns are gone the children don’t learn the proper forms and details of daily worship… it’s not that they don’t want to do them.


From the *General Instruction of the Roman Missal (2002)

[LEFT]275. A bow signifies reverence and honor shown to the persons themselves or to the signs that represent them. There are two kinds of bows: a bow of the head and a bow of the body.[/LEFT]

*] [LEFT]**A bow of the head is made when the three Divine Persons are named together and at the names of Jesus, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of the Saint in whose honor Mass is being celebrated. **[/LEFT]

Our priest does this at Mass.

So does ours and so do some of the congregation (and it’s not a traditional parish at all!)

I was born in 1970 so, big surprise, was never taught to bow my head at ANY point during the liturgy. It was only recently that I learned about it, and I don’t think I ever noticed anyone doing it before at my parish. But now I see about a dozen or so people bow their heads when Jesus is mentioned by name.

One person at a time, slowly but surely…

1 Like

Oh, yes!
I learned from a grandma,
and that I almost bow down most the time at the name of Christ, I thought that-:blush: I should bow down at the every time at the name of the Christ.
Praise the LORD! Hail Mary!:harp:
O mother of God! O Most Holy Mother!
Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit