Kneeling During Eucharistic Prayers


#1

Greetings all. Recently my church has started doing a Q&A section in our Sunday Bulletin. Essentially explaining why we do what we do at our parish.

This week, the Q&A tackled something I was wondering about. I’m curious about your thoughts:

"Why don’t we kneel during the Eucharistic Prayer during 9:30 Mass?

Standing – the practice of the early church – is actually the rule for conduct for the universal Catholic Church. However, during the feudal period kneeling was instituted, as the ordained took over the liturgical functions of the Mass further separating the lay people from action of the liturgy. While at the same time, a sense of unworthiness was added to the lay Catholic understanding and not receiving the Eucharist also became common practice. Vatican II dropped the ‘innovation’ of kneeling as part of its overall retrieval of the community aspect of Mass. Yet, many parishes today continue to kneel. In modern times kneeling is understood as an individual act of piety, and many feel it is ore reverent and respectful.

However, since the Eucharist is a communal act – not an act of personal piety – it is more appropriate to stand. Standing is communitatrian, expressing our unity in the body of Christ. It also recovers the notion from the early Church that we stand justified by the saving act of Christ’s death and Resurrection. It implies readiness to respond to the call to live our lives in the light of what we celebrate at Eucharist."

Given that I attended an Orthodox Church for 3 years before returning to Catholicism, I fully appreciate and understand this response. It jives with Orthodox theology and is, in fact, the far more ancient practice.

Thoughts?


#2

That Q&A is full of the same tired old “Vatican II isms” that simply aren’t true.

First, the liturgy is an organic whole. It doesn’t make sense to say, “What was the case in the liturgy in year ____ is the gold standard and nothing can ever deviate from it.” Otherwise we’d still be speaking Aramaic at Mass. Or Greek. Or, hey, Latin ;).The liturgy is most of the time in a state of creeping change. Some people make the point that this or that is the more ancient practice. Sometimes it’s true, sometimes it’s not. However, even if it is true, so what? What makes something necessarily better just because it’s older? It certainly may be better, but you’d have to make that point on different terms; “older ergo better” is a complete non-sequitur. The Church does not and has never said this.

Furthermore, as far as I read, Vatican II says nothing, nothing whatsoever, about not kneeling anymore during the Eucharistic Prayer. The universal requirement is to kneel during the consecration. In the United States, I believe the universal requirement is extended to kneel from the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer until after the consecration. Additionally, in many (most?) dioceses of the United States, especially in the east, the bishops have determined that we should kneel for the entire Eucharistic Prayer, up until the Pater noster. To repeat, Vatican II did not drop kneeling at Mass. In fact the constant universal practice in the Roman Rite since Vatican II, notwithstanding parishes that have for ideological (or practical as the case may (perhaps) be) reasons decided to stop kneeling, proves this.

Now we can argue about “kneeling means personal piety and standing means communal action” all day and night but it doesn’t mean anything because I can just as easily say, “Kneeling is as much a communal act as standing because, hey, the vast majority of the people in the church are doing it.” If everybody pats their heads and rubs their stomachs during the Eucharistic Prayer then that makes it a communal act… doesn’t it? In short, because the Church doesn’t say kneeling is wrong–and neither did Vatican II which is certainly part of the authentic magisterium–and because kneeling has been for many centuries part of the Roman Rite up to this very day, then well, kneeling isn’t wrong, in fact it’s good. The rubrics explicitly prescribe kneeling. If it was so icky and personal piety-ish and Vatican II really “dropped” it as the Q&A says, then the Missal wouldn’t say to do it.


Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying standing in Mass is per se bad–of course it’s not–I’m just saying the article is mostly incorrect.

Also, I get a faint whiff of cultural superiority any time I read about “feudal” stuff; it’s kind of like “ew medieval=yucky!” although the article only says the former, not the latter. It just rubs me the wrong way though, like when people say, “That is medieval!” with a giant =O shock! face. Well I say, “And, your point is?”


#3

Good thoughts. I agree that Old doesn’t necessarily mean Best.

For the record, we have people who kneel in our parish during those prayers, too. It’s a minority, but we have them and they are not judged.


#4

May I ask, since the article only references one Mass, are there other practices at other Masses?

Also, I would like to clarify something. I am not casting aspersions against what happens in the Eastern liturgies, including those of the Orthodox. I think their liturgical traditions are perfectly legitimate. However, they are not Roman. That does not mean that we don’t share certain practices, it just means, “Look the Orthodox/Eastern Catholics do it so we should too!” doesn’t work for me personally.


#5

I’ve never attended the other two masses on Sundays.

I have, however, attended noon mass. It’s been a while though and I do believe we kneeled for part of the prayers. Don’t take that to the bank though. I’m about 80% sure.


#6

My honest thoughts, as I read this?

“However, during the feudal period kneeling was instituted, as the ordained took over the liturgical functions of the Mass further separating the lay people from action of the liturgy. While at the same time, a sense of unworthiness was added to the lay Catholic understanding and not receiving the Eucharist also became common practice. Vatican II dropped the ‘innovation’ of kneeling as part of its overall retrieval of the community aspect of Mass.”

I doubt anything was instituted, since rubrics for the laity never existed until 1970, that whole section just sounds like tired fear mongering about anything pre-Vatican II, and the rest just sounds a bit condescending.


#7

In fact there was a trend condemned by Ven. Pius XII in Mediator Dei called Archaeologism/antiquarianism. About recovering or removing practices from the Liturgy, just because they did or did not exist in the Early Church.


#8

Hmm, if you are in fact in Baltimore, a better answer would have been “Because we think we know better than the USCCB who have mandated that we kneel from after the Holy, Holy to after the Amen.”


#9

I’ll suggest that for next time. Though I don’t think Archbishop Lori would be all that surprised at seeing this at our church.


#10

I hear Abp. Lori is pretty great.


#11

I don’t have a ton of experience with him. I love my archdiocese – that I know. Lori is great on a lot of issues, indeed.


#12

Just curious, based on this comment. Would you consider your parish “conservative/orthodox” or “liberal/progressive”? I find this very intersting :hmmm:


#13

I think our priest would characterize our parish as orthodox/progressive.

:wink:


#14

Arch of Balt has a rich history of being a very, let’s say, “diverse” archdiocese. And we’re proud of that. We’ve always been slightly less uniform, in some ways, than our archdiocean neighbors to the north.


#15

I just can’t imagine NOT kneeling during the Eucharistic Prayer.


#16

Don’t worry, if you ever visit my parish, you’re more than welcome to do so. You won’t be alone.


#17

Correct. I hate to use this comparison, but it’s probably akin to playing baseball as it was played at the time it was invented. No foul lines, no real bases. Very few would recognize it, much less show up. Actually we don’t even know who really invented it or how it started.


#18

Except almost the entire Eastern Church continues this practice. So it’s not like we can just dismiss it as a relic.


#19

I don’t see kneelers at the Protestant churches either, for that matter.

My guess is that the Latin Rite wished to sustain its own identity.


#20

"Why don’t we kneel during the Eucharistic Prayer during 9:30 Mass?

Standing – the practice of the early church – is actually the rule for conduct for the universal Catholic Church. However, during the feudal period kneeling was instituted, as the ordained took over the liturgical functions of the Mass further separating the lay people from action of the liturgy. While at the same time, a sense of unworthiness was added to the lay Catholic understanding and not receiving the Eucharist also became common practice. Vatican II dropped the ‘innovation’ of kneeling as part of its overall retrieval of the community aspect of Mass. Yet, many parishes today continue to kneel. In modern times kneeling is understood as an individual act of piety, and many feel it is ore reverent and respectful.

However, since the Eucharist is a communal act – not an act of personal piety – it is more appropriate to stand. Standing is communitatrian, expressing our unity in the body of Christ. It also recovers the notion from the early Church that we stand justified by the saving act of Christ’s death and Resurrection. It implies readiness to respond to the call to live our lives in the light of what we celebrate at Eucharist."

Thoughts?

This reads like a load of nonsense to me.

Implying that kneeling represents a sense of unworthiness? Maybe we should also ditch the line, “Lord I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed”? And Vatican II did not ‘drop’ kneeling. I would ask your parish priest to quote whereabouts in any of the Vatican II documents was kneeling dropped.

This sounds to me like a lot of unsubstantiated ‘spirit of Vatican II’ nonsense, using Vatican II to justify things that were never written or referred to in Vatican II. Nothing stated here has any grounding in anything written at Vatican II. If that was my parish I would bring this to the attention of the parish priest and ask him to substantiate such claims. I wouldn’t let that go.


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