Genuflecting


#1

I recently found out that when genuflecting (when getting in and out of a pew), you're supposed to have your right knee on the ground.

Am I the only one who didn't know that?

Oh, and does anyone know why its the right knee and not the left?


#2

There is probably a deeper meaning behind using the right side as opposed to the left (like how we use our right hand to do the sign of the cross), but so far as I know it is just the tradition (lowercase T) of how it has been done. I would assume it stems from the Roman Empire and how subjects or soldiers would kneel or bow (or genuflect) before their king.


#3

I recently began seeing this a new way, somewhat related to your post. I genuflect and wait there, saying to Jesus, “You are my King”. Then I wait there until (in my mind’s voice) I hear him reply, “come sit with me” (if I am coming to Mass) or hear him say, “go in peace”.

Presenting myself to my King is now meaning to me that I do not presume the next activity until my King acknowleges me and welcomes me or sends me on his mission.

It seems to make the entrance and exit more alive with relationship to Him.

John Martin


#4

At my Church, which is very traditional, we genuflect every time we pass the tabernacle, not only when getting in and out of the pews. I think its only right and proper that one should do this, as Our Lord is in the tabernacle.

I have been to other parishes where the priest and members of the congregation only give a nod of the head to the tabernacle, which I really dislike seeing.

Is their a Church teaching regrading this?


#5

Found this from CA Quick Questions. Glad I have been doing it right.

One is supposed to genuflect whenever one passes before the Blessed Sacrament reposed within a tabernacle (General Instruction of the Roman Missal 233). One is also supposed to give a bow of the body whenever one passes in front of the altar (Ceremonial of Bishops 72).

The former discipline takes precedence over the latter. Thus, if the Blessed Sacrament is in a Tabernacle on or near the altar, one genuflects and does not bow. If there is no tabernacle on or near the altar, or if the tabernacle is empty, one bows to reverence the altar and does not genuflect.

The Church’s laws state that one is supposed to make the appropriate sign of reverence whenever one passes in front of the altar or tabernacle. The exception it makes is for people who are carrying articles in procession (e.g., a cross, a candle, book of the Gospels). These people are not supposed to genuflect or make a bow of the body (Ceremonial of Bishops 70). A bow of the head, on the other hand, would be all right, though the law does not seem to mandate it specifically in this circumstance.

I would assume that the same would apply when carrying something in front of the altar (e.g., cruets, a ciborium, etc.) to avoid the danger of dropping the article or spilling its contents. So if you are carrying something in front of the altar, I would advise you to neither genuflect nor make a bow of the body, but merely a bow of the head. This is especially the case if you are carrying the Lord’s body or blood.

In former years, when Communion rails were common, during distribution of Communion the priest would pass in front of the altar and tabernacle without making a sign of reverence. His back would be turned to them, the tabernacle often would be empty and left open to signify this, and he had Jesus in his hands at the moment, which required his utmost attention and care.


#6

#7

One of my hugest regrets about being disabled is to not be able to properly genuflect and thus am limited to only a decent bow. I also cannot kneel at the appropriate times during Mass, which means on both counts, I assume as humble and reverential a posture as I can possibly manage and count on our Lord understanding my situation.


#8

I heard from Dr. Tom Curran in a talk he gave about the Mass that the right knee stems not only from the Roman Empire but because the sword was worn on the right side, so a soldier couldn’t pull his sword while genuflecting. In this day, I like to think of it as completely surrendering myself… that Christ has complete control.


#9

I was always taught that it is proper to genuflect on the left knee for humans, such as Church dignitaries, and that genuflection on the right knee was reserved for God alone. But nobody genuflects to churchmen anymore so I am not sure this is a thing anymore.

When greeting an Eastern priest, it is proper to make a bow, touching the ground with the right hand, and to present both hands so that he can place his in yours and then you kiss his hand. When doing this, I typically go down on my left knee.


#10

The way I heard it, back in the medieval days, you genuflected to your monarch with your left knee touching the ground. To distinguish between your king on earth, and Jesus, the King of Kings, the genuflection before the tabernacle was on the right knee…


#11

…In former years, when Communion rails were common, during distribution of Communion the priest would pass in front of the altar and tabernacle without making a sign of reverence. His back would be turned to them, the tabernacle often would be empty and left open to signify this, and he had Jesus in his hands at the moment, which required his utmost attention and care…

It is my understanding that when one is carrying the Sacrament, one is the Tabernacle; so should not make any gesture.


#12

[quote="Joe_Kelley, post:11, topic:297778"]
It is my understanding that when one is carrying the Sacrament, one is the Tabernacle; so should not make any gesture.

[/quote]

That is correct. For the same reason, the person carrying the crucifix may nod their head, but should not bow, because to do so would be to dip the figure of Christ on the cross. Being that the Blessed Sacrament does not dip in reverence to anyone or anything, the person who is carrying Christ in the Eucharist should never bow or genuflect while carrying the Sacrament. (Think of it the same way as carrying the American Flag, where the US Flag Code states that the flag shall never be dipped in salute to the flag of another nation).


#13

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