Genuflection on Sundays in the East

was sitting at my Roman Liturgy today and the thought came into my head that the east dont genuflect on a sunday. It is to do with the ressurection of Our Lord. But why not genuflect? I cant seem to tie the two together in my head. I’m not questioning it, I accept it just would like to know why is all.


The east doesn’t because

  1. genuflection itself is a uniquely western thing
  2. kneeling on sundays, and on all days from easter to pentecost, was forbidden by the 1st EC.

Was just wondering what the theological conept was for it is all.

Thanks for you replies so far.


Sunday is the Lord’s Day. Jesus resurrected on Sunday. We celebrate Easter every Sunday, therefore our posture must be like that of the Risen Lord.

Hi Stephen,would just liketo add that I was always taught that bowing was the ultimate form of reverence/respect in the East.

The “not kneeling” points toward are friendship with God and us being heirs to His very glory and divine life. It emphasizes a glorified versus a penitential posture.

On Sundays we do not weep over our sins, beating our chest, but rather we experience the victory over sin and death of the resurrection.

It’s the same reason there’s no strict fasting on Sundays.

Yes. And while we don’t kneel those days we do Cross ourselves, then bow from the waist, with great frequency, during the Diving Liturgy those days, or Cross ourselves, then touch the ground with the right hand. This Church Etiquette -> The Sign of the Cross page gives a basic description of the times in DL when we Cross thus, which do, in my experience, vary somewhat from one parish to another.

I see the Subdeacon do this, I always follow him for proper posture. Why is this done? And when is it appropriate to do so?

Also bowing during consecration, should it be a deep, forehead-down-to-waist level?

If you can safely manage it. During weekdays, depending on particular church, it might be the profound bow or might be a full prostration. (I’ve seen video of Melkites doing full prostrations during the words of institution.)

Our subdeacon bows down to his waist but everybody else doesn’t. Should I follow him or does he doso because he’s the subdeacon?

I think several of us have already tried to answer this for you.

My suggestion is that you speak with the clergy in this parish to see what they suggest you do because it does vary. Vico posted a reference which listed “g.) Whenever one receives a blessing from the priest;” as one of the times to make the sign of the Cross, whereas both the Jordanville Prayerbook section I mentioned and the “The Sign of the Cross” section of “Church Etiquette” on the St Elias I posted say this is a time never to cross oneself. An ordained clergy who sometimes visits our parish kneels during the words of institution, the rest of us bow from the waist, etc. I’m sure the clergy would be happy to speak with you, tho you might get the response I said I got from the clergy at both the Russian parishes I’m part of when I began worshiping with them. :slight_smile:

I’m still confused at this point. I do get to chat with the Reverend Subdeacon after Divine Liturgy but so much to talk about and little time. I hope I can make some ground by asking here.

I’ve never asked about the cross and touching the ground before. I did see it on the St. Elias website but it never mentioned when it was appropriate to do so. I’m actually reading it right now.

Same with the bow. As my question states, is it appropriate for me to do it when the Reverend Subdeacon does it? Again, St. Elias website explains it but isn’t really clear exactly when its appropriate to do so. Vico’s post didn’t mention consecration. Also Alexander said that parish to parish might have different traditions. That is why I try to follow the subdeacon. But I wonder if everything he does is appropriate for myself, or does some of it is reserved to the ordained.

Look to the other servers, cue off of them. However, in my home parish, the Subdeacon and the other servers all make the same bows and crosses, when not engaged in other duties. But each Church Sui Iuris may have differences, and some bishops may have made rubrical changes.

I’ve started touching the floor at the words of institution, because the Servers and Subdeacon all do so. Several others now have started doing so; and I’ve been told it is stated to do so in the reference text of the Recension… predating the massive latinizations of the 20th C.

It has, however, suddenly become much more difficult as of a week ago… Rev. Fr. had pews installed…

How sad. I’m sorry you have to put up with that now. I keep hoping the local Greek Orthodox Cathedral will remove a section of their pews as I find when I’m there occasionally, never a Sunday, that a few people do move out into the aisles to prostate and bow properly, which I do also. I can’t help but wonder if they’d have more people doing so if a section were provided for that option.

St. Lawrence is a parish I’ve been to which has a fairly large temple and has to the left and right of this photo fairly large banks of chairs, not, I think, pews, but my memory may be wrong on that. Still I’d guess that the percentage of people standing and the percentage of those filling the chairs is not much different from the smaller parishes, and the Russian Orthodox Cathedrals here in SF, I’m used to which just have a bench around part of the perimeter and a few chairs for some elderly and those requiring seating for some physical reason. When I was spending a weekend in the area I chose to worship at St. Lawrence because it didn’t seem to have pews and the other Orthodox parish a couple of miles away appeared to be filled with pews.

Dear Friends,

Genuflecting on the right knee is a tradition of the West that comes from the secular tradition of going on one knee before one’s overlord, be that a king, prince, duke etc. Genuflection in such a manner was formally codified by Alexander the Great (who also placed a piece of toasted bread into his wine goblet before offering it to heaven - thus, “giving a toast.”).

Since bishops and others were equal to secular princes (“princes of the Church”), soon the practice of genuflecting before them became dominant - but with the difference that one went on one’s right knee to God in Church, and on one’s left knee to others.

I’ve gone on my left knee before my secular sovereign, Queen Elizabeth the Second, the Queen of Canada (and have a picture to prove it! :slight_smile: ).

So genuflecting would not be practiced in Eastern Catholic or Orthodox Churches at any time. (I was once forced to genuflect at my Latin Rite Catholic school even after I told the Reverend Sister that this was not in accordance to my Rite - she said she didn’t care :confused: ).

Many Eastern Catholic parishes will see the people kneeling during the Consecration and at one or two other times. Kneeling is ideally only practiced on the one Sunday of Pentecost at the “kneeling prayers.” That’s an easy rubric to understand :slight_smile:


Well we do have pews in our parish. There are those who would kneel during consecration and before and after Communion as in the Latin Rite. I had to signal my wife several times to remain standing as I do and after the Mass I reminded her that Eastern Catholics do not kneel on Sundays. Also I pointed to the text where the Deacon calls for everyone to “stand in fear of the Lord” and “keep upright”.

This is similar to what is given in the [FONT=Calibri]Ordo Celebrationis 1944 – English 1955 – Ruthenian Prenotations[/FONT]. Four actions are mentioned there, the sign of cross (e.g., at the Gospel), small bow (hand not down, the usual), profound adoration (hand down, just at consecration), and great bow - metanija (to the ground).

11. The small bow, whereby one makes a sign of the Cross upon himself, inclines his head and shoulders a little, and does not protend his hand to his knees or to the ground either before of after the sign of the Cross…”

[FONT=Calibri]“It is proper to make the sign of the Cross upon oneself without, however, inclining the head or shoulders, at the beginning and also at the end of the gospel.”[/FONT]

[FONT=Calibri]“12. The great bow or the great metanije, whereby one makes the sign of the Cross upon oneself, and prostrates his entire body to the ground, is used only in the Great Fast (Lent) and in the Office of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts.”[/FONT]

[FONT=Calibri]"134. … The choir: Amin. “The priest, together with the deacon, adores profoundly, making the sign of the cross (upon himself).”[/FONT]

[FONT=Arial]However 134 above (twice during the consecration) is done by all in the 2006 Byzantine Divine Liturgy, plus an additional profound bow (actually prohibited by the 1941 recension) is done after the epiklesis.[/FONT]

So you can see degrees of crossing-bowing with the deepest with penitential significance.

I’ve gone lately to a Maronite Catholic Church which has pews. Because I’m disabled, I sit in the front pew… I’ve found I can maintain a “Profound Bow” (From the waist - body parallel to the ground) if I lean on the part of the railing in front of me. I do this during the Consecration and the “Blessing of the Mysteries”.

At one point, my spine just wouldn’t allow me to kneel in the Western position (upright on a kneeler or on the floor) for more than a couple of minutes… That’s when a few of the Orthodox Brothers suggested that I either go almost completely supine (flat on the floor) or stand for the Consecration and other prayers requiring Reverence and Attention… I found it to be much easier to focus on the Consecration, etc. when I didn’t have to deal with a combination of stabbing and throbbing pain…

So, In the end, I believe the important thing is that our Lord be adored, worshiped and glorified, and that we do so in “good order” as St. Paul directed…

In Christ, Michael

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