Genuflection toward altar during OF Mass

Why is it during a OF Mass that the Priest (and everyone else for that matter) genuflect toward the altar … even when they are between the altar and the tabernacle? It seems as though they should genuflect toward the Blessed Sacrament and not the Altar. Granted, there are (or should be) relics in the altar, but still, I would think that reverence should be shown toward the tabernacle, not the altar. In the EF Mass, since the altar is ad orientem the genuflection is to both. Just a little confused.

Thank you.

In the EF Genuflection is not made to reverence the altar but the crucifix behind it/Sanctissimum in the Tabernacle if Tabernacle is on the altar.

When the Sanctissimum is not in the Tabernacle (from Good Friday until the end of the Easter Vigil), lay people must genuflect to the crucifix, those ordained are to bow, not genuflect.

In the OF- yea…very confusing if the Tabernacle is not directly behind the altar and off to the side somewhere- need some Novus Ordo expert for this one.

Ken

Yeah, exactly. This is why we used to have tabernacles and altars in the same place! :slight_smile:

This has always annoyed and frustrated me. I asked the question in the Liturgy forum once, but I don’t think I ever received a very good answer. As a server in the Traditional Latin Mass, I was trained to never put my back to the Tabernacle unless it was necessary. I just don’t understand why priests will put their back to the tabernacle and bow to the altar. Some have said that it is because the Altar is the main focus of the Mass, since that is where Christ’s sacrifice will be renewed again. However, I don’t see why that should mean ignoring (in a way) the Blessed Sacrament behind the altar. Christ is already present there.

Others may also answer that it is to honor the relic inside of the altar. Again, I cannot see how turning your back on the Tabernacle to honor the saints is better than simply bowing to God. The priest already kisses the altar to honor the relics.

Yeah, exactly. This is why we used to have tabernacles and altars in the same place! :slight_smile:

Yes, that solves the problem quite nicely. :wink:

At my parish, a large stained glass window of the risen Christ seperates the sanctuary from an adoration chapel, with a sanctuary lamp shining through the window showing where the tabernacle is. So technically, although it isnt in the sanctuary, it is in view that you can see the back of the tabernacle, although it would be nice to be able to see the front of it. Looks odd though because the front of the church has no statues or decoration, except for the stained glass. Although it would be nice the options would stop and we could have one uniform rule on what should be done with genuflecting and bowing. Too many options in the ordinary form.

Well, we were taught (take this for what you will, but I have no reason to doubt it I suppose) that during the Novus Ordo, we are to pretend that a giant curtain falls between the altar and the tabernacle. ie during Mass we are to pretend the tabernacle isn’t even there. That is why the rubrics call for a genuflection at the beginning and the end of Mass, while during Mass the priest is always supposed to bow to the altar. It should not be a genuflection, but a profound bow (in which the celebrant should be able to touch his knees).

IMO, I think that is kinda goofy. For one, I don’t like ignoring the tabernacle. Just another reason ad orientem Masses make sense to me.

Even in the EF or an ad orientum OF the priest is not making genuflections to the tabernacle. He is genuflecting toward the newly consecrated Body and Blood of Christ. So even ad orientum there is a sort of “ignoring the tabernacle” in a good way. There is a sense that once Mass begins the importance is on the altar and not the tabernacle. And this is a good focus as the grandest moment of the Mass is when Christ becomes present. Sure, he’s present in the tabernacle right there, but there is something more momentous that occurs at the instant when he becomes fully present to us. This may be one of the reason why many of the greatest churches have no tabernacle in the sanctuary and never have.

During Mass, there are three genuflections by the priest - after the elevation of the Host, after the elevation of the chalice, and before he receives Communion. At least that is what he’s supposed to do, and all three times the Body and Blood of Christ are on the altar. Before Mass, if the tabernacle is there, the priest should genuflect before it, as he enters to say Mass, and the same on leaving after Mass (as we would also do).

On a thread a few days ago about genuflecting, I referred to two books that are good resources: Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite, and Mass Confusion.

Funny that there was no confusion 40 years ago - the altar and tabernacle were there in the same place we always saw them, at least here in the States. Then you weren’t confused about genuflecting or a lot of other things! :smiley:

When I genuflect I do it at where ever God’s presence might be. Just, in general towards the front of the sanctuary. Which I suppose would be the Tabernacle, but He is there in more than just the presence of bread and wine. I never really thought about where I was genuflecting towards.

I am referring to before the consecration. In the EF the priest genuflects about a dozen times to the tabernacle before the Canon begins. He makes these genuflections during Mass. Not to mention every time one of the servers/deacon/sub-deacon passes in front of the tabernacle he genuflects.

He is genuflecting toward the newly consecrated Body and Blood of Christ.
So even ad orientum there is a sort of “ignoring the tabernacle” in a good way. There is a sense that once Mass begins the importance is on the altar and not the tabernacle. And this is a good focus as the grandest moment of the Mass is when Christ becomes present. Sure, he’s present in the tabernacle right there, but there is something more momentous that occurs at the instant when he becomes fully present to us.

Correct. But that only happens after the consecration. After communion, when he puts the Hosts away, he once again resumes genuflecting to the presence of our Lord in the tabernacle.

In the OF, there is no genuflecting to the tabernacle during Mass. The only exception to this might be as the priest puts the Hosts away after communion. As I said before, and as we are taught in seminary, we are to pretend the tabernacle is not even present. The presence of our Lord in the tabernacle is completely ignored. When passing between the altar and tabernacle, you bow to the altar, turning your back on the tabernacle. Even ad orientem in the OF, there is a bow to the altar, not a genuflection. I do not consider the entrance and recessional genuflections as during Mass.

While our focus is on the Mass, this is true, it does not make sense to me to ignore our Lord during the Liturgy of the Word, etc. Just because we are reading Scripture does not mean that the Lord is not physically present behind/in front of us.

Actually having the back toward the Tabernacle, as far as walking, is no problem. There is nothing in what I have read that suggests not to have your back to the Tabernacle. However the rubrics for when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed call for no back to the Sanctissimum- such as Mass before the Blessed Sacrament exposed (which happens at the end of 40 hours devotion) or during Exposition and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

Ken

:eek: :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek:

Absolutely scary to see this being taught in the seminaries!

Ken

I genuflect towards the Tabernacle, no matter where it is located in the church. Sometimes, depending uon the church, it is difficult to find!

Eh, don’t worry too much about it. They said they will teaching us the EF soon enough, things are being polarized in the right direction. :smiley:

What does the priest do in the EF if there is no tabernacle on the altar??? Does he still make the genuflections? Or does he omit them?

Thanks!

The OP’s ministers seem to be confused if they are genuflecting to the altar, so the first step would be letting them know that the rubrics call for them to bow to the altar. Beyond that there is no prohibition on coming between the altar and tabernacle to do this, but I always find things much better if those who are going to pass by the altar do so at the front, thus not causing the “conflict” between tabernacle and altar. (And then, of course, why not allow those people, who are facing and passing the tabernacle, to genuflect toward Christ present there? - but that is another question for another thread)

edited–I was confused!

Sorry, some correction is in order here… Our priests bow toward the altar … I guess I lumped everything into genuflecting. For me, though, whether it is genuflecting or bowing, it is a sign of reverence and respect … I was confused (and still am a little) as to why this sign of reverence and respect is shown to the altar and not to the tabernacle at all times.

Apologies for the confusion.

Don’t worry Roman, most of us are confused too.

To be honest, I only know what is from Fortescue’s book, which is not the actual rubrics (Though he is about the only authority left on the EF). I am pretty sure if the Blessed Sacrament is not there, you bow to the altar. However if the Sacrament is present in the Church/Chapel, you always genuflect to the Sacrament and ignore the bow to the altar.

We have always made it a point to move the tabernacle onto the altar when the EF is being celebrated. Or, if it is too heavy or obscure, use a secondary tabernacle and just move the Blessed Sacrament.

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