Kneeling after Communion

So, in all of my travels, I have always experienced that, in Roman Catholic churches, people return to their pews/chairs after Communion and kneel until the Blessed Sacrament is removed from the altar to the tabernacle. I am visiting Hawaii where everyone stands instead. I found out from a parishioner that the Bishop told them they are no longer to kneel after communion. Any thoughts?

It may vary from diocese to diocese. Where I am in Oregon, if there are kneelers, we sit when sits or when the deacon completes the ablutions. As far as I know there has never been a requirement to kneel after communion. I would call it a long-held pious custom. Now that my knee is giving out, I sometimes sit.

When it comes to the liturgy (i.e. the official public worship of the Church) I tend to follow the directives of the local bishop as long as all three of the following conditions are present:

  1. it is within his authority
  2. it is not sinful
  3. I am physically able to comply


The official directive from the Vatican is that after Communion, it is up to the individual to kneel, sit or stand as he/she chooses.

Here is the directive

The July 2003 Newsletter of the Bishops Committee on the Liturgy (BCL) noted the "controversy … over the proper posture of the faithful at Mass after receiving Holy Communion. “In several dioceses people have been instructed that they must stand until the last person has received Communion, despite the long-standing custom that people knelt during the distribution of Communion”.

“Numerous inquiries” received by the BCL led Cardinal Francis George, chairman of the BCL, to submit a dubium (doubt, question) to the Holy See’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (CDW) on May 26, 2003:

Dubium: In many places, the faithful are accustomed to kneeling or sitting in personal prayer upon returning to their places after having individually received Holy Communion during Mass. Is it the intention of the Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia, to forbid this practice?

Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect of the CDW, responded to the question on June 5, 2003 (Prot. N. 855/03/L): “Responsum: Negative, et ad mensum [No, for this reason]. The mens [reasoning] is that the prescription of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani, no. 43, is intended, on the one hand, to ensure within broad limits a certain uniformity of posture within the congregation for the various parts of the celebration of Holy Mass, and on the other, to not regulate posture rigidly in such a way that those who wish to kneel or sit would no longer be free.”

The BCL Newsletter continues: “In the implementation of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, therefore, posture should not be regulated so rigidly as to forbid individual communicants from kneeling or sitting when returning from having received Holy Communion” (p. 26. emphasis added.) - See more at:

I will kneel until I can I no longer do so. Our priest does not specify that any posture is a must or a must not.

Different dioceses do things different ways at the direction of their bishops. In the Los Angeles Archdiocese we have been asked to stand until everyone has received communion so that’s what I do. Some people sit or kneel after communion and that’s their choice.

I have always knelt after receiving Communion and will continue to do so until I no longer can. I say my own personal prayers and have a conversation with Jesus.

I am in the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois. At our parishes we usually kneel after communion, or some sit. It isn’t regulated- it’s just what most do. At a local Benedictine Monastery it is the custom to stand after receiving Communion. We don’t sit until the Main Celebrant sits.

Suscipe, the bishop can certainly ask.

But per the instruction from Rome, he must do it in a way where the people do not feel free to kneel if they wish.

Would you say that the people generally do feel free to kneel or sit if they are inclined to do so. Or does the instruction convey a sense of obligation?

One question I would have is what’s required if one chooses not to receive communion for whatever reason. Are they to stand during the whole time too?

Frankly I don’t think most people think about it, just as I don’t think most people read liturgical documents or have an opinion about them. They go to Mass and do what the people around them do. So if others are standing, people generally stand. If others are kneeling then they kneel. They don’t make exceptions of themselves.

“A sense of obligation” is an interesting phrase. Why wouldn’t I have a sense of obligation to obey my bishop? I’m a Benedictine Oblate, and one thing Benedict sees as a virtue is obedience. Standing for a few extra minutes during communion time hardly seems like something to make a fuss about. The priests around here give a time of silence after everyone has received communion for private prayer.

Mostly because there is no obedience or disobedience involved in standing, sittling or kneeling.

As Aquinas noted, the Virtue of Obedience is that by which we habitually conform our wills to the one who has authority.

So one of two things is true.

  1. The local Ordinary IS, in fact, expressing a directive. In which case, per the dubium from the CDWDS, there is no actual authority being made present. Rome elected to define the authority given to the bishops in a particular way, and what the bishop is electing to do is outside that scope of authority. Ergo, there is no Virtue being practiced in conforming one’s will to that of the bishop in this matter.

  2. The bishops request was in fact made with the directive in mind, and that it is not actually the bishop’s intent to go against the Vatican, and the intent of the directive was merely to state a personal preference, and no conformation of will is expected. In which case the Virtue of Obedience is practiced by the conformation of one’s will to the authority, namely Rome, and thus making a free choice.

Your statement is a bit troubling. “Why wouldn’t I have a sense of obligation to obey my bishop” if it presumes a directive by your bishop to stand that would obligate you under obedience, it presumes that your bishop is actively disobeying a Vatican directive (and actually Canon 16 as well ). I am very hesitant in making such a claim, so my though would be that #2 applies, and that I am, per my bishop, free to sit, stand or kneel as I see fit and that the bishop would expect nothing else.

Here is Canon 16 BTW

Can. 16 §1. The legislator authentically interprets laws as does the one to whom the same legislator has entrusted the power of authentically interpreting.

§2. An authentic interpretation put forth in the form of law has the same force as the law itself and must be promulgated. If it only declares the words of the law which are certain in themselves, it is retroactive; if it restricts or extends the law, or if it explains a doubtful law, it is not retroactive. (Brendan here - a dubium, by definition, is a request for an authentic interpretation, and publication in Notate is the means of promulgation for the CDWDS)

§3. An interpretation in the form of a judicial sentence or of an administrative act in a particular matter, however, does not have the force of law and only binds the persons for whom and affects the matters for which it was given.

=kevinkuck78;11524863]So, in all of my travels, I have always experienced that, in Roman Catholic churches, people return to their pews/chairs after Communion and kneel until the Blessed Sacrament is removed from the altar to the tabernacle. I am visiting Hawaii where everyone stands instead. I found out from a parishioner that the Bishop told them they are no longer to kneel after communion. Any thoughts?

That is a Bishop’s “right”

But kneeling IS MORE appropriate IMO:)

Actually, it is not even that. see the posts above. A local bishop has no actual authority to mandate a posture. The faithful are to ‘feel free’ to stand, kneel or sit.

I think the local custom varies by diocese. If I was visiting someplace else, I would probably follow local custom, but if I got tired of standing I would sit. In Oregon, it seems to vary by parish. The parish I go to usually kneels, another one close to it does the same but the parish closest to my residence stands.

This is one of the reasons I dislike the “everybody stands” thing. I think it encourages the “everybody goes to Communion” attitude since it is much harder remain in your seat if you can’t sit. :shrug:

I don’t get that. Unless you’re in a diocese that kneels after the Agnus Dei you’re already standing at that point and it’s much easier to step out of the pew to let someone out than if you’re kneeling, have to get up, etc. For centuries people have been letting others out while they stay behind, why has it suddenly become such a problem???

One could then ask why do we even need pews at all after that point if we have to stand anyway. I often stand in back when I sense congestion after communion.

Since the OP mentioned Hawaii, I made the assumption that this was the US. Almost all of the diocese in the US kneel after the Agnus Dei. And in those that do not, at least where I have visited, those not receiving Communion sit when the Communion procession begins in order to make it easier for people to pass by. In fact, that is my experience in South America and Mexico too where kneeling after then Agnus Dei is not the norm.

Sorry if I further confused this.

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