Kneeler courtesy


Our parish opened a new church only about five months ago, and prior to that we held mass in our ministry building using chairs, and no kneelers. The priest had given us all some reminders about when and why to kneel since for many people it had been years without kneelers.

Since I am a soon to be Catholic, I have only gone to mass in this parish, and only know what I’ve learned this far. So, here’s the situation. I know that we are meant to remain kneeling as long as there is communion being served, and until the priest returns the host to the tabernacle and closes the door. At that point, everyone sits back in the pew again. However, I have had the annoying experience a few times that a couple of people just don’t seem to want to continue kneeling, and sit back in their pew instead. This is very awkward if they are sitting right in front of me! They end up having their head right in my face and hands as I try to reverently kneel. What is the proper etiquette? I think since I am supposed to be kneeling, they should give way. What do you think?


Welcome to the Church, Grace.

If someone is sitting while I am kneeling at any point during Mass, I adjust my posture so as to continue kneeling.

We should not decide “why” the person is sitting. They have the right to sit if they feel so called.

Simply adjust yourself a little to the side or lean back so as not to be right against the seat in front of you.


:thumbsup: Sometimes people have physical issues, whether temporary or permanent, that either prevent kneeling, or prevent continued kneeling over a certain amount of time.


About a hundred years ago, German military officers wore the Pickelhaube, or spiked helmet. If you are female and covering your head is an option,… just an idea….:smiley:


I normally kneel until the priest says, “Let us pray.”

But sometimes, when my Lupus is having a hayday, kneel only until after I have finished praying. Sometimes I don’t kneel at all. And if I can’t kneel, I can’t “give way.” I am sitting because I need to. Leaning forward isn’t an option.

Please be patient with those in front of you.


I just learned about why Catholics knee during the whole time for Communion since I was rather confused on the matter and figured since the parish that I attend does Communion by station (there is not an alter rail for people to kneel at; not sure if this is a common thing across all Catholic churches).

The Catholic Church that I attend has some sort of hymn going on during Communion. Since I can't take communion because I am not Catholic while my fellow pew mates are taking Communion I usually sing along with my hymnal and then when my pew mates return and the song is finish. I move from sitting in my pew to back to kneeling. I do have the rule that I am not allow to sing after the first song is done. Usually the next song is a song I know so it makes it challenging to focus on prayer vs. wanting to sing along. I blame my Lutheran heritage for my love of hymns.


The Church does not require you to kneel after Communion, the default posture is standing with the option to sit or kneel if you wish. It’s up to you which one you do.

Since it’s not a requirement to kneel, if someone in front of you opts to sit down while you are still kneeling, you can just lean back a bit or move to your right or left. That said, if I sit when there’s a person kneeling in the pew behind me, I don’t rest my back on the back of the pew but lean forward slightly so as not to impinge on their space.


:thumbsup: Yep.

OP, I’m a young person (24) and by looking at me I look physically capable of kneeling the whole time. Both of my knees pop out of place, regularly. Some Sundays I can kneel the whole time and some Sundays, especially if my knee popped out of place that week, I can’t kneel the whole time.


I don’t kneel for the simple reason that I can’t. If I could I would. I had a bad stroke nine years ago and there are a lot of things I can no longer do It is not being rude to the person behind me, it is just reality. I cannot genuflect either. With the ageing of America and the rest of the world this will be more and more common. We have people at Holy Communion in wheel chairs and scooters as well.


Some people have brought up the matter of being physically unable to kneel the whole time, I’d like to add to that. I don’t technically have any sort of disability that would cause me to be unable to kneel, but so far in my churchgoing experience I have passed out twice while kneeling. Any time I feel dizzy I try to sit down immediately to prevent another episode, sometimes right in the middle of mass. I always sit while communion is being served as well, since it is not required to keep kneeling.

Maybe these people need to sit, maybe they don’t. But don’t judge, and always think the best :slight_smile:


It’s great that you are seeking the Catholic faith and welcome both to the Church and the forums! :thumbsup:

Regarding kneeling, I can understand your frustration, but at the same time, I would advise being charitable in this regard. Some of the people who don’t kneel at all or for long are older people or people with joint or some other health problem.

One solution to this would be to sit right up front. Frankly, I think that this should happen in every Church so that late arrivals, older people and people with kids can sit in the back.

There’s a lot to be desired in Church courtesy from seating to kneelers to the parking lot.

It really does amaze me at how people just seem to check their professional and common sense at the door when in comes to God. :rolleyes:

But you really can’t go wrong with charity.


I think my question was slightly misworded it so that the context was misunderstood. I made it sound as though I was annoyed that there were people who were sitting when what I meant to convey was that I wasn’t sure what I should do. Of course I know that there are physical reasons why someone can’t kneel for extended times. Often it is clear why the person in front of me is sitting.

I should have said, how important is it to be kneeling during the time that communion is going on? If I don’t kneel for one reason or another, including because the person in front of me isn’t, is that ok?


I see quite a lot of what used to be called “sneeling.” That is, half kneeling, half sitting. I presume right now there is no rule against it. It seems to work quite well when the people in front of you are sitting and the people behind you are kneeling. Of course if the Mass isn’t crowded, you may choose to sit elsewhere, though many don’t do it as that’s perceived to be rude. But is it if your health requires it?


Of course it’s OK, as long as you are “kneeling” in your heart. :slight_smile:

Depending on the design of your church building, you might be able to find certain pews that have no one sitting in front of you (e.g., the end of the pew sticks out, etc.). Try to use pews these if you wish to kneel all the way through the Communion.


Sneeling drives me crazy - I hate doing it! In my home parish though if i get stuck sitting in front of the book rack in the pew I have no choice. We have older pews - the kneelers are the most uncomfortable around and it puts me in a posture that it mis-aligns my back. I more than likely have to sit but choose to “sneel” instead (not always - just when I get stuck at the bookrack) I never bat an eye in my own parish just because I know how uncomfortable those kneelers really are. In cases where I “have” to sit I do my best to learn forward.


The direction in the GIRM is that it is **entirely up to each person **if he chooses to sit, kneel or stand after Communion. It is a nice sign of reverence to remain kneeling and it is the custom in many places but it isn’t “important” at all except to you personally. If you personally want to remain kneeling, you may find it easier to choose a different spot in Church or to kneel behind others you know will kneel as long as you do. :slight_smile:


Hi Corki,

You beat me to it! Great post - I didn’t see anyone else address the fact that the GIRM allows for those three postures at our individual choice. Though I do understand how uncomfortable it is when one is sitting and someone else is trying to kneel behind them. I have been on both ends of that and it is uncomfortable for both…


I think it is better to be courteous. If someone is sitting in front of me, for whatever reason, I am not going to poke my piously folded hands into their back! If I notice that the person behind me is still kneeling in prayer after the tabernacle is closed and Father is seated, I will also do the sneeling thing, adjusting my posture for those around me. Seems like the Christian thing to do. :slight_smile:


Thank you for the information above. It’s all so confusing since by all appearances, based on the majority of the congregation remaining kneeling until that certain moment and then simultaneously sitting back, it seemed like it must be a very important rule that we all kneel. I must admit I am pretty surprised that it doesn’t matter that much.

Meanwhile, when I have read other threads here and learned that in other parishes there are other things that are frowned on that our parish does do, like holding hands during the Our Father, having girl altar servers, or being given the Eucharist in the hands instead of directly in the mouth… I have a lot to learn and so far I can only really learn by watching.

In the future, I’ll just sneel. I don’t mind doing that at all since it isn’t disrespectful after all!


In spite of the fact that some people don’t like either of them, female altar servers and Communion in the hand are both allowed by the Church.

Holding hands at the Lord’s Prayer has not yet been addressed by the Church and those who think it’s the best thing since sliced bread see nothing wrong with it. Those who don’t want to do it and are forced to by pushy pew mates or those who feel that it’s an addition to the Mass, something no one is allowed to do, see everything wrong with it.

I have to admit that the liturgy courses I’ve taken made it clear that focusing on ‘community’ by holding hands at that moment is wrong and takes away from the community moment that is Communion but since it’s not something that I’ve ever seen done in any of the parishes where I’ve attended Mass in 2 decades I haven’t had to deal with it at all.

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