A few weeks ago, my wife and I drove to Ponca City, OK to visit our daughter and our two grandsons while her husband was away for two weeks working on the natural gas rigs. On Sunday, my wife and daughter, who are Anglican (were raised Baptist) went to an Episcopal church and I went to the Catholic Church of St. Mary in Ponca City.
All was as I’m used to doing up until the priest had processed out of the church as we finished singing. When the last note had ended, I placed the hymnal in the rack on the back of the pew in front of me and stepped out into the aisle to genuflect and leave. Much to my chagrin, EVERYONE else in the packed church knelt back down and there was COMPLETE silence as I stood ALONE in the aisle, facing the back of the church (and I had sat about 2/3 of the way toward the front). I looked around for the Southwest Airlines logo and the little sign that said “Want to get away?” Not finding it, I meekly stepped back into the pew and knelt down. I don’t know what everyone else was praying for at that moment, but I was praying to wake up from this bad dream.
After a few moments, upon some unknown-to-me sign, everyone stood up and SILENTLY left the church. No one acknowledged my gaffe, for which I am grateful. I have since learned that it is the custom in some churches to kneel for a moment at the end of Mass in thanksgiving for being in Christ’s presence. I wish it were so at my home Parish. It is a nice custom.