May I kneel at Mass in the gym?

At the parish where I usually attend daily Mass, the church building is under refurbishment for the remainder of the month. Mass, therefore, is being celebrated in the school gym. The setup involves folding chairs with no kneelers. I would still like to kneel for the Eucharistic prayer, and feel rather disrespectul not doing so, but at Mass this morning the priest briefly said, “Remain standing,” before proceeding into the Eucharistic prayer.

As I said, I would really prefer to kneel but don’t want to be disrespectful to the priest. He is probably saying this out of deference to the ages of many of the daily Mass attendees, which looks to be sixty years and upwards. Can I still kneel? Should I?

Yes, you can kneel; yes, you should kneel. The absence of kneelers does not excuse anyone from the rubrical requirement to kneel. As for your speculation about the priest’s intentions, that speculation is charitable and may well be his intent, but he is actually being less deferential than he could be. Let me explain:

At Catholic Answers, we have a private chapel in which Mass is said most days. We do not have kneelers, so everyone kneels on the floor during those parts of Mass that call for kneeling. Personally, I have a bad back that makes it difficult for me to kneel on the hard floor for an extended period of time. It would be even more difficult for me to stand for the entire kneeling period. So, I remain sitting with head bowed in prayer during the kneeling times.

In other words, your priest has only to explain to the congregation that those who can kneel on hardwood floors should do so and that those who can’t should feel free to sit. There is no need for anyone to stand and it is more accommodating to the physically frail to allow them to sit.

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