Posture after receiving Communion

After receiving communion and returning to the pew, what is the proper posture?
Our priest recently said that the proper form is to sit or kneel and to join in with the hymn. But then went on to say that many people stand because of the tradition of teh church that when in started out at various schools didn’t have kneelers. He sounded like he was trying to say that we shouldn’t be standing… but didn’t quite go that far.
I prefer to stand… but what’s the proper posture?

In our parish, starting 3 years ago, after we receive, we continue to stand until everyone has received and our priest sits down.

Before then, most people knelt and said an after communion prayer, and then sat down.

Traditionally, it was the custom to kneel when coming back from Communion. In the early 2000’s there were many changes made in the way we celebrate the Mass. I believe that the purpose of most of these changes was to correct Liturgical abuses. However, in some dioceses, such as ours, we were also instructed to remain standing after the Agnus Dei until everone came back from Communion. While the G.I.R.M. does state that people were to kneel After the Agnus Dei unless the bishop determines otherwise, the posture upon returning from Communion was questioned. The Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments responded in this manner.
"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."

So in our diocese, we remain standing After the Agnus Dei, but the posture to remain standing when coming back from Communion until everyone received was never enforced. In our parish everyone kneels when coming back from Communion.

If you don’t mind, could you please help me understand why you prefer to stand?


Actually I think you are free to do whatever you prefer, stand, kneel, or sit.

I understand the bishops can recommend their preference for the posture during and after communion, since the operative word is recommend I continue to obey my original catechism training. I keel during the consecration, I kneel until it’s time for my pew to approach the altar, I kneel when I return to my pew and I remain kneeling until the tabernacle is resealed. Sure Mass is a “communal” event but to me it’s the most sacred occasion I experience during the week, I receive Him in the Eucharist, how could I do anything but fall on my knees in thanksgiving and praise? If I ruin the aesthetics of the congregational assembly by doing something other than what the rest are doing, too bad.

You’re right.

Since the advent of the 1975 GIRM, the posture at that time has been standing, but it was pretty much ignored in all the parishes where I’ve worshipped. When the 2002 GIRM came out, the wording was a bit confusing and that concerned one priest so much after the publication that he wrote to Rome asking if that meant that the people returning from Communion were not allowed to kneel. The Vatican clarified that while a common posture was a good thing, that item in the GIRM was not meant to be so rigidly enforced as to prevent someone from kneeling or sitting if they wished when they returned from Communion.

For years, our former pastors strove to correct liturgical abuses that had crept in. We had made nearly all of the corrections and were already doing things right, but our parish would not be exempt from making changes along with the rest of the parishes in our diocese at the time that the USCCB directed that certain changes and corrections of liturgical abuse be implemented. And that was a humbling experience to be obedient to the directive set by our bishop. He did notify our pastor that the posture when coming back from Communion was not to be rigidly set. So we now remain standing after the Agnus Dei but everyone continues to kneel for the most part when coming back from Communion.

I know the norm is standing, but people are explicitly allowed to kneel or sit.

The ‘concerned priest’ was Cardinal George of Chicago, and wrote on behalf of all the US bishops. :wink:

Because I am just a baby Catholic, I can say that in my parish they are to kneel, unless we cannot kneel. I do not know many who stand even what I call the old-school of the bunch (which I am considered old-school by many). I kneel and my boyfriend and I pray together a prayer that St. Thomas Aquinas wrote for after communion and then I wait until the celebrating priest is sitting back down.

While standing is the norm, its almost never followed. The only time I stand after Communion is if I’m in and Eastern Rite Liturgy. I would kneel after Communion, as with most people. Others would sit soon after.

There’s nothing wrong with it as we are explicitly allowed to kneel or sit instead of stand.

I have traveled all over the world and the only place where people stand after communion is in the states. And even in the states, only in certain places. Right now my family are “weirdo’s” because we kneel after the Angus Dei while everyone else stands. After communion it’s halvsies of standing and kneeling. We just moved from KS to WA and that’s a big adjustment in itself trying to find a normal parish.

It belongs to the diocesan bishop to say whether the faithful in his diocese are to stand or kneel after the Agnus Dei. You may be in a diocese where the bishop has decided that you are to stand.

Exodus 3:5 : And he said: Come not nigh hither, put off the shoes from thy feet: for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.
I won’t take my shoes off, but I will remain on my knees after reception of the Eucharist.
As long as the species remain… “Holy Ground”

Oh wow… just remembered a woman who used to come to Mass and take her shoes off…I wondered why, and she got a lot of strange looks. I never thought about that passage from the OT! Thanks!

These posture discussion seem to go constantly. Does anyone know why the posture changed from kneeling? Please, I hope not to hear “because the bishop said so”, or “because it’s polite to the other communicants”, there should be a valid liturgical issue being addressed when making such changes.

I take it that you mean why did it change 35 years ago?

This is the only time during Mass when the community is split into two distinct groups: those in the pews and those in the procession. Since uniformity of posture was called for as a sign of the community and the unity of the assembly, the only common posture possible was standing.

Well, in the Archdiocese of Boston (my first home diocese) and The Diocese of Springfield MA (my second home diocese) We always kneel when we get back from communion. Once the vessels have been cleaned and the Eucharist has been placed back in the tabernacle, we sit.

Is this uncommon in the rest of the States?

That sounds like a social excuse, the aesthetics of the assembly, rather than a valid liturgical reason. The community is never split into separate groups, it is always praising the Lord regardless of posture. If it was more important to have the assembly look pretty the Vatican would not have allowed personal discretion in the matter of posture.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit