Sitting during Gospel

At Good Friday service, the priest allowed us to sit til the time in the Gospel reading that Jesus was being crucified then dies. After the priest read the portion about the death, he asked us to kneel, and it was painful on my knees due to me having taken some recent tumbles that landed me on my knees. After a minute or so of gritting my teeth, we were asked to stand again till the reading was done. We then sat down as usual for the Homily.

Father knows his congregation. Perhaps he has seen large portions of them not paying the least attention as they painfully shifted from foot to foot in the past for less lengthy gospel readings. Rather than embarrass some by reminding those with infirmities that they are permitted to sit, he just asked everyone to do so.

I agree that “should” is not the same as “must.” As for it being a sin for the Priest to do this… that decision would lie with the Priest or his Bishop, not the laity. If you have concern for the priest’s soul, you could mention it to him. Personally, I doubt Jesus gives a rip. He wasn’t one to stand by the letter of the law, but on the intent. The intent here is to concentrate on the gospel, not your lower back pain.

I notice those that many who insist on following the letter of the GIRM (which is fine) often flinch on this one distinction, that which we shall do and that which we* should* do.

A priest once told me that the GIRM was like the signs he saw on buses in Rome. When he first entered a bus he saw the sign that says: ALL PASSENGERS MUST BE SEATED WHEN THE BUS IS IN MOTION. After he was seated he saw the other sign which read: ALL STANDING PASSENGERS MUST HOLD ONTO THE HANDRAILS WHEN THE BUS IS IN MOTION.

I got it. :smiley:

English doesn’t handle the subjunctive reliably. I would be interested to see what the original Latin says. But not interested enought to go looking for it tonite.


The only times I have seen this is during the Passion reading. Frankly, though, if the Church says we “should” do something as simple as stand, why not just do it?

I know, right? [edited] the meaning of the GIRM when it says we “should stand” [is clear].

The Church differentiates between the proclamation of the Gospel (intoduced by Initium.Sequentia Sancti Evangelii) which can be read only by the priest or diacon; and other reading from the Gospels, like the Passion, which is read by more than one person.

Rules witch apply for the first group not apply automatically to the second category.

God wants us to think, and handle different things differently.

One thing is sure: If the priest decides that the faithful can be seated, they can be seated, and the zeal of a laymen does not precedes his authority. The pride is strong temptation, and sire way to hell, surer that the break of some rubrics.

Interesting theory, laszlo, where do you get this idea of differentiation?

And I must admit, I have had priests at Mass who not only broke the rules of the GIRM but, even worse, encouraged the congregation to do so.

This discussion reminds me of a former political character commenting that his potential response to a direct question posed to him would depend on the definition of the word “is”…

Relativism is rampant in this culture. Just do what is asked if you want to participate as a full member. It (GIRM) is suggested that we stand, so stand if you are able. If you need to rebel at such minor details, what happens when the topic of birth control and cohabitation are presented with rules to be followed? (it’s a rhetorical question…I know the answer)

Classically Roman! I love it.

I think it allowed people who were unable to tolerate the standing the freedom to sit without embarrassing them. I know a lot of people who would not sit, even though they should, because they were too embarrassed. Just because people appear healthy on the outside does not mean they are healthy on the inside. To me, standing that long, and being uncomfortable is more of a detraction. To me, it’s more important to focus on the Gospel, and if sitting rather than standing the whole time accomplishes that, then I think it would be better to sit. But that’s just what I think. So I don’t have a problem with it at all.

Ha! I’ve always been tought to ask for definitions in discussions, particularly heated ones, but that might be a little overboard! :smiley:

That’s not right.

To state that a priest who allowed his congregation to sit during a long Gospel desires that the celebration be grotesque and complicated, that he desires the meaning be obscured, or that he is overtly trying to diminish participation is just rediculous.

You can claim anything you want about the judgement of the priest in light of his duties to the Church in general and his parishoners in particular, but stating that there is some sort of desire on the part of the priest to diminish the celebration in the way you have stated is an absurdity, and a bit presumptious if you ask me.


I’m not making any such claim. It is the GIRM that implies that. My claim is merely that the move is unwise in light of the rules.

My post above was a response to whether the GIRM meant “must” when it said “should.” The answer being “yes”, but the GIRM says that in the tedious long-winded way that lawyers and liturgists are fond of.

Really? The Latin? I’m not sure how helpful that would be as the Church gives each Bishop the right to adapt the GIRM for his people and the Bishop can extend to the Pastors the right of choice/discernment in certain matters.

I really don’t think anyone ITT has anything to say on this specific incident except that it occurred.

I think that if Jesus could go through what he did for me… I can manage to stand a little longer than normal to listen to the word of God.


[edited] You actually ignored the point of the distinction, unlilke Dave’s insightful question.

I believe the wisest course of action is to defer to the judgement of the priest and bishop who have both the experieince and the education in this area.

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