Genuflecting to nothing?

I just went to Mass at a very modern Catholic church (it felt very Protestant). There was no tabernacle! People were still genuflecting! I didn’t. My grandma (very Catholic) turned to me before Mass and told me she hates churches without tabernacles. My question is, is the taking away of the tabernacle disrespectful and what were those people genuflecting to?

Some “new, so called modern churches” have moved the tabernacle to a side altar. Something I just don’t get. :shrug: Did you happen to notice where the priest went to get the hosts for consecrating? There most likely was a tabernacle somewhere near the altar.

When the tabernacle door is open, there are no hosts in it. We then bow to the altar as it is consecrated to show reverence where the Mass is offered. When the door is closed, we genuflect; during adoration when the host is exposed, we kneel on both knees before entering the pew.

Of course, some always just bow, this may be due to a physical limitation; others are just lazy. Some come into the pew with perhaps just the sign of the cross.

If I have to cross over the center aisle after genuflecting and entering a pew, then I just bow as I cross over. I sometimes am asked to lector or help with the chalice after I have sat down, which is why I may have to cross over.

A fellow Buckeye here. :smiley:

We attend one of those very modern churches you’re talking about, built in the 1970s sometime, and the tabernacle in a side chapel. I know that a simple bow would suffice when entering and exiting the pew, but I genuflect as a personal devotion to the crucifix. I don’t know why the people you’re referring to were genuflecting.

This is simply my opinion, but churches that don’t have the tabernacle behind the altar look somehow incomplete to me.

Christ is the centre of the church.
He should be in the centre of the church.
Not hidden away in the corner.

At the college I am right now, the closest church doesn’t have a tabernacle in the church…and I cannot tell you how many people genuflect…:mad:

I tried cordially pointing out to a few that they didn’t need to genuflect and they responded by saying it was “more reverent.”:confused:

Alas the situation didn’t allow itself for me to explain that it was not actually more reverent and was actually a sign of disrespect.

Maybe another opportunity will present itself.

Our Church is quasi-modern…well nah it’s modern.

The Tabernacle is off to the left side of the main altar.

It actually requires doing a left-flank genuflection to the Tabernacle. Which, kicks out your right leg into the aisle and can trip people behind you, if they don’t realize that you’re an anal retentive genuflector.

We also have a bronze modern art statue of the woman who washed Jesus’ feet next to our Reconciliation rooms. I had no idea what the statue was until someone explained it to me. :blush:

Statues should explain themselves…

I know you don’t intend it, but you are actually making an act of worship to an inanimate object, which is a form of idolotry.

You should only ever genuflect towards the living God - Christ in the Tabernacle - never to an inanimate object.

Our church has the tabernacle off in a lonely little side room. We mostly bow to the crucifix, as I understand it, we should only actually genuflect to the Real Presence.

I miss the old church so much.

Many thanks for pointing this out! I have been genuflecting to a statue of Jesus for months now as I did not even stop to think it might constitute idolatry.
Should I confess this, or is it a venial sin that does not need confessing as I did not have full knowledge of the sin?

We genuflect toward the tabernacle as rule, but we may genuflect as sign of our humility in the Church, where God is present is a special way even if the tabernacle is removed for the sake of better flow of the people.

This people oriented Church came in the seventies, and eventually, (hopefully soon) will go away, it should not remove our reverence toward God. We do not genuflect to statues, we do to the invisible God.

Close, but we also genuflect to the cross on Good Friday.

Is it okay to genuflect (on the left knee) as the Priest and servers process out of the church? I have seen some people bow and some genuflect.

Also, are we genuflecting to the Priest or the cross that is being carried down?


You’re supposed to be genuflecting to the living Christ who is residing in the Tabernacle - very God from very God - not to any human being or inanimate object. :wink:

We normally genuflect on the right knee.

When receiving a blessing from a priest or a Bishop, it is customary to go down on the left knee, but this isn’t considered the same kind of a genuflexion as when we are worshipping Christ in the Tabernacle.

This is what the GIRM says about genuflections and bows:

  1. A genuflection, made by bending the right knee to the ground, signifies adoration, and therefore it is reserved for the Most Blessed Sacrament, as well as for the Holy Cross from the solemn adoration during the liturgical celebration on Good Friday until the beginning of the Easter Vigil.

During Mass, three genuflections are made by the priest celebrant: namely, after the showing of the host, after the showing of the chalice, and before Communion. Certain specific features to be observed in a concelebrated Mass are noted in their proper place (cf. above, nos. 210-251).

If, however, the tabernacle with the Most Blessed Sacrament is present in the sanctuary, the priest, the deacon, and the other ministers genuflect when they approach the altar and when they depart from it, but not during the celebration of Mass itself.

Otherwise all who pass before the Most Blessed Sacrament genuflect, unless they are moving in procession.

Ministers carrying the processional cross or candles bow their heads instead of genuflecting.

  1. 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.

*]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.
*]A bow of the body, that is to say a profound bow, is made to the altar; during the prayers Munda cor meum (Almighty God, cleanse my heart) and In spiritu humilitatis (Lord God, we ask you to receive); in the Creed at the words Et incarnatus est (by the power of the Holy Spirit . . . made man); in the Roman Canon at the words Supplices te rogamus (Almighty God, we pray that your angel). The same kind of bow is made by the deacon when he asks for a blessing before the proclamation of the Gospel. In addition, the priest bows slightly as he speaks the words of the Lord at the consecration.

My goodness so what are people doing?

How about the bow to the Priest as he leaves? This from Fish Eaters:

Cross yourself and bow the head when the priest and the Crucifer walk down the aisle before and after Mass. After Mass, as the priest leaves the Altar, it is also customary to pray for him. (Some make a profound bow instead at these times)

“Therefore, the place where the eucharistic species are reserved, marked by a sanctuary lamp, should be readily visible to everyone entering the church.”


I like this term; I never thought of it in that term, but I’m one! :slight_smile: But seriously, to be aware of the Real Presence is nothing to take lightly. It is my absolute honor and privilege to genuflect before my God.

And I don’t like having to look for the tabernacle! I’m Catholic; I’ve come for, (amongst other importants reasons) the Holy Eucharist. It is why we gather in this building.

Glennonite, newly proclaimed; anal-retentive genuflector

In some churches , that tabernacle is off to the side, or doesn’t look like one. Even with the light, it can be hard to recognize. I would assume that the regular parishioners though do know where the tabernacle is and were genuflecting properly. Whenever I go into a different Catholic church I do look for the tabernacle. If I don’t see or recognize it right away, I assume it is there anyway.

Churches that have an adoration chapel that opens off the sanctuary sometimes reserve the Blessed Sacrament there only, instead of having two tabernacles. That might also be the case where you were.

The hosts for consecrating are never placed inside the tabernacle anyway. They are brought to the altar during offertory, either brought via the offertory procession, or by the servers from a side table.

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