Receiving Holy Communion with Dignity and Respect

Saw this in the bulletin today (with transferred boldness from the article). Thoughts?

Before we receive Christ in Holy Communion,
we are encouraged to make a gesture of
reverence. This is to be a bow of the head (as you say
Amen) and not a genuflection or a bow of the body.
do this before we receive the Body of the Lord and before
we receive the Precious Blood. Such a gesture helps us to
remember what a precious gift we are about to receive. It
is a sign of honor, dignity and respect. Our actions at
Mass should also reflect our unity with each other. This is
why we are asked to use the gesture of a bow of the head
only and not a genuflection or a bow of the body.
If you
have any comments or questions, please ask one of the
priests. This request is in response to the General
Instruction of the Roman Missal and its practical
implementation as presented by the Bishops of the United
States of America.
‘General Instruction of the Roman Missal, number 160’

I have a few thoughts.

I am shocked that it specifically stated that one is to NOT genuflect before recieving the Blessed Sacrament.

That is Jesus Christ - King of the Universe that we are about to recieve in Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. I am amazed that we are not required to lie prostrate before recieving Him.

In ye olde days (pre 1970) one would have to kneel on BOTH knees and recieve on the tongue. It was forbidden to even TOUCH the Eucharist. It was THAT sacred.

I am too young to remember what life was like before the Novus Ordo, but it is my personal opinion that Jesus Christ deserves a little more than a nod of the head. I genuflect, cross myself, rise, say ‘amen’, and recieve the Eucharist on the tongue every time I partake of the Sacrament.

I understand what the Roman missal says, but I am moved to a more reverant gesture. That is my two cents.

A parish needs to have only one instance of someone, possibly frail, tripping up over another person kneeling because their eyes weren’t so good or because they were looking towards the Host, to be extremely safety-aware.
We have had it happen to an elderly lady in our parish, and she never really got over it. it was distressing to everyone, so fortunately the genuflecting person gave up doing it after that.
We have already knelt for the Consecration. Our dear Lord already knows our hearts, and whether we are reverent and devout. He doesn’t need reminding.

The 1964 missal shortened the communion formula and that was supposed to be it. There was no document to order the wholesale destruction of the communion rail, which to many was the table of the Lord.

I think these abuses offend our Lord very much and many will have to atone for these and other travesties.

I was brought up kneeling at the communion rail, with the altar boy carefully holding the paten beneath each person’s chin, lest the Body of Christ accidentally fall. Nobody walked away with their arms hanging at their sides, saying “hi” to everyone they knew on the way back to their seats. Nowadays people go up with purse/belongings in hand so they can head right out the door. I can’t even believe how some people dress-- my mom says “at least they’re there”, but I’ve seen people in bathing suits with mesh cover ups at Mass! I don’t know why the priest allows it.

I don’t like receiving Christ in the hand, but our priest has made it clear that’s how he wants it, for hygienic reasons…also, Eucharistic ministers are always used, even when there are very few people at Mass. I thought they were only to be used when the communion service would be made extraordinarily long because of the large number of recipients.

Of all these things, though, the one that worries me MOST is the fact the the Precious Body of our Lord can now so easily be sneaked out and subject to satanic abuse as was recently the case in Oklahoma City. I think it happens a lot more than anyone imagines.

Our RCC has halted kneeling or genuflecting for various reasons

A GREAT post.

Several years ago at my parish, a priest mentioned that he prefers that people not genuflect. He said that during a Mass, a parishioner genuflected and lost balance and collided or nearly collided with him while holding the ciborium with consecrated hosts. If the concern is of safety to one’s self and others, then perhaps bowing the head would be better.

Which is why I attend the EF Mass.

The church is absolutely correct in explaining to the faithful how to bow.

In the Old Mass, a bow of the body or bow at the waist was called a profound bow. A bow where one inclined the shoulders and head was called a moderate bow. A bow where only the head is inclined was called a simple bow. Who was to bow, when and what type of bow they were to use were supposed to be clearly regulated, especially for altar servers.

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal still uses the term “Profound bow” many times. One example is when the clergy reverence the altar at the start of Mass. GIRM 160 clearly states:

*When receiving holy communion, the communicant bows his or her head before the Sacrament as a gesture of reverence and receives the body of the Lord from the minister. *

The normative gesture of reverence for the Ordinary Form is a bow of the head. The normative gesture of reverence for the EF is to kneel. Kneeling is a sign of adoration and one is always free to kneel when they receive in the Ordinary Form. If you don’t feel that a bow of the head is enough of a reverence for the OF then the correct action is to kneel in adoration.

My understanding is that the the only time the laity should genuflect in the ordinary form during Mass is on the Solemnities of the annunciation and of the Nativity of the Lord when everyone genuflects during the creed at and by the Holy Spirit . . . and became man (incarnatus). There could be other times I am not aware of.

I’d be happy to be corrected on any of the above if anyone has a better understanding, but the Church’s right to instruct the faithful when and how they should bow cannot be questioned.


I tried to verify this with the Latin but it seems a little different. It reads

Cum autem stantes communicant, commendatur ut debitam reverentiam, ab
iisdem normis statuendam, ante susceptionem Sacramenti faciant.

Loosely translated: When, however, they receive Communion standing, it is recommended that they give due reverence, from the the same norms, before the reception of the Sacrament.

Somehow this got translated as: However, when they communicate standing, it is recommended that the faithful bow in reverence before receiving the Sacrament. (UK)

When receiving Holy Communion, the communicant bows his or her head before the Sacrament as a gesture of reverence and receives the Body of the Lord from the minister. (US?)

The bow must be part of the “same norms” because there is no bow per se in #160.

Maybe tee or Vico can help me out here.

It is clear that you are not posting correctly, using the latest instruction #160 from the G.I.R.M. There is not such wording as you have posted above. Please review this before disseminating that interpretation to anyone else.
160. The Priest then takes the paten or ciborium and approaches the communicants, who usually come up in procession.When receiving Holy Communion, the communicant bows his or her head before the Sacrament as a gesture of reverence and receives the Body of the Lord from the minister. The consecrated host may be received either on the tongue or in the hand, at the discretion of each communicant. When Holy Communion is received under both kinds, the sign of reverence is also made before receiving the Precious Blood.

You are shocked that the parish is telling the parishioners what the instructions are from the GIRM?

Many of us wish that parishes would do more such education, not less.

It’s not so much a matter of translation as a matter of having written the country’s adaptation into the body of the GIRM.

Canon 390 says:
390. It is for the Conferences of Bishops to formulate the adaptations indicated in this General Instruction and in the Order of Mass and, once their decisions have been accorded the recognitio of the Apostolic See, to introduce them into the Missal itself. They are such as these:
• the gestures and bodily posture of the faithful (cf. no. 43);
• the gestures of veneration toward the altar and the Book of the Gospels (cf. no. 273);
• the texts of the chants at the Entrance, at the Presentation of the Gifts, and at Communion (cf. nos. 48, 74, 87);
• the readings from Sacred Scripture to be used in special circumstances (cf. no. 362);
• the form of the gesture of peace (cf. no. 82);
• the manner of receiving Holy Communion (cf. nos. 160, 283);

The GIRM for Malaysia seems more consistent with the original Latin; they apparently didn’t establish a separate norm like the Americans, Brits, and Australians did:

When they communicate standing,
however, it is recommended that they
make an appropriate sign of reverence,
as determined in the same norms,
before receiving the Sacrament.

So in a sense the “generalis” instructions of the universal Latin (I believe that’s what you called it in another thread) become “particular” instructions for a given country?

Then wouldn’t it make more sense to call them U.S. GIRM, U.K. GIRM, Canadian GIRM, or Malaysia GIRM to avoid confusion? It’s difficult enough when they make changes to the Latin IGMR, which fortunately hasn’t happened since 2002 AFAIK.

Also do these GIRMs apply in non-English Masses in those same countries?


For the US it’s a change from the 1975 GIRM which was printed with the all the adaptations listed in a separate section at the end.

Yes they do. When the English translation was implemented in 2011 the French translation was not ready but the norms were still implemented across the board in Canada. The adaptations apply to the country (or Bishops Conference) in which the Mass is celebrated, not the language in which it is celebrated.

Hmmm… from Canada we get

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, Canadian edition, copyright © Concacan Inc., 2011. All rights reserved.

The American version simply refers to itself as

General Instruction of the Roman Missal (Third Typical Edition)

However, it goes on to point out:

This text is confirmed for use in the Dioceses of the United States of America. Persons from other nations should consult the local Episcopal Conference regarding the appropriate text for their nation.

Regardless, in most cases where the episcopal conference has requested adaptations, it is spelled out as such in the text:
“In the dioceses of Australia…”

[quote=ProVobis]Also do these GIRMs apply in non-English Masses in those same countries?

The Decree of Publication for the US edition says

In accord with the norms established by decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites in Cum, nostra ætate (January 27, 1966), this edition of the General Instruction of The Roman Missal is declared to be the vernacular typical edition of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani, editio typica tertia in the dioceses of the United States of America, and is published by authority of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops…

Effective immediately, this translation of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal is the sole translation of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani, editio typica tertia for use in the dioceses of the United States of America.

The US version seems to be the most rigid one, more rigid than “recommended” and more rigid than “appropriate sign of reverence.” I’ve seen this in practice so that if one is required to bow, if he bows too early he bows to the back of the one preceding him in line, and if he bows too late he might hold up the line. Seems like the communion rail can avoid this problem but the US version doesn’t even excuse those who “kneel.” Hmmm…Maybe I should reread the entirety of US GIRM #160.

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