Bowing vs Genuflecting - Need Someone To Check Me


Hey forum folks.

A family member is getting married and my DD is doing the second reading (1 Cor 13 - nice!). As they are having a marriage ceremony and not a Mass, I think it is correct for her to genuflect to the tabernacle when she enters and leaves the Sanctuary instead of bowing to the altar (as she would if it was during Mass).

I want her to do the right thing but I am not 100% sure. Thoughts please?


You always bow to the Altar.


I believe that you usually only genuflect upon entering and leaving the church building. When approaching the sanctuary at any time after that, you simply bow toward the altar/tabernacle (if the sanctuary is properly set up, they should be in the same direction) both before and after entering the sanctuary.


I was told by my priest that you always bow toward the altar. Generally the tabernacle is behind the altar, but in some churches including mine its in a side chapel.

He said since that is where the consecration takes place it is appropriate to bow toward the altar. The lectors always do that at my church.


I thought the rule was genuflect if:

  1. It’s not during Mass, AND
  2. The sanctuary lamp is lit (really if there’s consecrated host in the tabernacle)

If either condition is false. So if the sanctuary lamp isn’t lit or it’s actually during Mass, you bow to the altar instead.


She should ask the priest.

We can all give our opinions, but the priest will likely tell her during the rehearsal. He will want everyone to do the same thing.


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