Sitting during Gospel

The last few weeks Father asked that we all sit due to the length and beauty of the Gospels so we could better appreciate them.


That’s a nice idea that might have some merit to it, but it’s plainly illicit.

I think it’s a good idea. I think the main reason we stand is to show that we want to hear the Gospel, but if Jesus knows that in our hearts I don’t think it matters too much.

Our parish priest has invited the elderly to sit down during the past few readings because of their length.

Can I ask how it is illicit?

my thoughts? watch like a hawk for this or any other minor abberations, inconsistencies and be alert for anything that can distract you from the message of the Word and the action on the altar. Otherwise you might miss out on opportunities for the Mass to engender anger, resentment, confusion and criticism, rather than peace, unity, charity and communion.

Are you serious? My opinion isn’t worth much but I think the priests need to be given a break. They do the slightest thing differently and all of a sudden they have federal agents watching them… I’m sure he would of made the change out sincerity and love…

It might be one of these things that are good in intent but not in outcome.

The elderly and infirm as far back as I remember sat if they were not able. Now we have people that jog and bike and are physically fit, stand for long hours for other reasons, and now they cannot stand for a 10 minute Gospel? Something just doesn’t feel right.

Are we just wimpy Catholics and getting wimpier?

From the GIRM:

  1. The faithful should stand from the beginning of the Entrance chant, or while the priest
    approaches the altar, until the end of the Collect; for the Alleluia chant before the Gospel; while
    the Gospel itself is proclaimed
    ; during the Profession of Faith and the Prayer of the Faithful;
    from the invitation, Orate, fratres (Pray, brethren), before the prayer over the offerings until the
    end of Mass, except at the places indicated below

Does ‘should’ mean you must?

I see your reasoning.

Maybe if priests would simply say the black and do the red, we wouldn’t have to get in to this entire situation. There is simply no reason to tell the entire congregation sit down to “appreciate the gospel more”. Seriously! If you need to sit that badly to appreciate the gospel, read it at home, and “appreciate” it there.

If you are an elderly person or pregnant lady, go ahead, sit if you must. There’s plenty of them at my parish, and you’ll often times find them sitting, especially at long Masses. But there is not an excuse for something like this.

The highest thing a priest can do is offer Mass. The most important thing he can do in his entire life is to offer Mass. However, some priests do not treat it that way…

Yes, in this case, should means must.

Not sure if you want to hear it but I figured I would share my Lutheran perspective. :slight_smile:
I am not sure how it works in a Catholic Church as I have never been, but in the Lutheran Church of which I am a member we do a Gospel Procession. The acolyte with the Crucifix and the Pastor walk to the center of the aisle and read the Gospel then go back to the sanctuary. The congregation usually stands during the whole “process”(for lack of a better word)
On Palm Sunday the Passion according to Matthew was read, as it is quite lengthly we stood for the procession and then were seated during the reading and then stood again after it was read. As it was practiced with reverence I did not see a problem with it.

**We are suppose to stand for the gospel…that’s what I was taught. But if you physically can’t do it that’s different altogether. If it’s so painful that all you think about is the pain not good…you then aren’t hearing the message of the Gospel. Very few elderly in our church sit for the gospel.



The paragraph/section immediately prior to my excerpt provides some guidance:

  1. The gestures and posture of the priest, the deacon, and the ministers, as well as those of
    the people, ought to contribute to making the entire celebration resplendent with beauty and
    noble simplicity, so that the true and full meaning of the different parts of the celebration is
    evident and that the participation of all is fostered. Therefore, attention should be paid to what
    is determined by this General Instruction and the traditional practice of the Roman Rite and to
    what serves the common spiritual good of the People of God, rather than private inclination or
    arbitrary choice.

Coupled with the previously posted paragraph, this implies that you should stand during the Gospel unless you don’t desire the celebration to be resplendent with beauty and noble simplicity, or you don’t want the true and full meaning of parts of the celebration to be evident, or you don’t want to foster the participation of all.

The rubrics clearly call for all to stand, with a separate rubric (in the GIRM) noting that posture may be dispensed for the infirm or incapable.

The faithful, when instructed to sit for other reasons, do not err themselves by so doing, since yet another rubric (also in the GIRM) directs the faithful to obey the instructions of the clergy about the postures.

The cleric giving those instructions, however, has committed an act that he is not allowed to do, namely, to dispense from posture rubrics for the whole of the faithful present. It doesn’t even come close to invalidation, but it is a sin for a priest or deacon to violate his promises of obedience.

Many times I am in pain. One look at the Crucifix puts in all in perspective and I just offer it up.

If so, then they must say “must,” not “should.” They don’t. They said “should.” The choice was deliberate, and the two words do not mean the same thing.

During the summer I am a long-distance bicyclist. However, summer or winter if I have to stand still for more than a couple minutes, my back muscles sieze up, and that’s what doesn’t feel right. I stood for the 7-1/2 page Gospel last Sunday, but I was seriously in pain. There is a wide difference between being fit while in motion, and being able to stand still comfortably.


Don’t assume that because I rode my bike 3000 km last summer that I can automatically stand through the entire Passion. I have a terrible back, and last Sunday was agony for me as I cannot stand still in one place for extended periods of time. In fact biking is my therapy for it, but unfortunately a very long winter and miserable spring weather has meant that I have not really been able to seriously bike yet this year. Hence, last Sunday, I found myself having to sit for a good part of the Gospel.

In fact prior to long Gospels like Palm Sunday or Good Friday, I often pop a couple of Advils before going to church. But I forgot last Sunday.

We should accept our infirmities with humility and if we need to sit, false pride shouldn’t keep us standing.

Anyway I think that this is such a minor issue compared to some of the abuses of liturgy that I see. We aren’t Pharisees. Jesus kept the spirit of the Sabbath, not the letter of the Law, and was soundly rebuked by the Pharisees for helping the handicapped on the Sabbath. I am certain He understands errors committed in charity.

Those that cannot stand have always sat, it is not a problem. I am speaking of the rest of the congregation.

No one said people in your situation were wrong to sit. We are talking about when the priest tells everyone to sit, not people need to sit during a long gospel.

This is a very common thing people say. “We aren’t Pharisees.” So… we aren’t Pharisees, so we don’t need to follow the rules? The spirit of the law (in this case) is even in the letter of the law! (Namely: stand, unless you’re infirm.)

The church has been quite clear that “all abuses” (their words, not mine) are to be “thoroughly corrected” (again, their words). Your “we aren’t Pharisees” attitude clearly doesn’t fit with the church’s position. Don’t forget it goes on to say this is a “most serious duty,” incumbent on “each and every [member of the faithful].”

  1. In an altogether particular manner, let everyone do all that is in their power to ensure that the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist will be protected from any and every irreverence or distortion and that all abuses be thoroughly corrected. This is a most serious duty incumbent upon each and every one, and all are bound to carry it out without any favouritism.

You are right. We aren’t pharisees. But there’s something else we aren’t: obedient to Holy Mother Church. And that is simply unacceptable.

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