Standing v. Kneeling During Eucharistic Prayer


I’ve been attending a parish where almost no one kneels during the Eucharistic Prayer. Instead, everyone remains standing. I find it mildly, I don’t know. Unnerving? It definitely doesn’t engender within me a spirit of sacredness. It makes me feel as if I’m at some kind of prayer service, not Mass.

In other words, I think there is something very appealing about kneeling during the Eucharistic Prayer. It leaves me with a sense of humility and reverence that standing just does not. On top of that, you have about 1/4 of the parishioners who probably, like me, prefer to kneel, so they go ahead and kneel while everyone else stands.

It creates this weird mood of divisiveness. It could just be that I’m feeling that way.

My question is: do other posters’ parishes stand during the Eucharistic Prayer? is it just mine? Am I wrong to think that we should all be kneeling at appropriate times during the Eucharistic prayer?


In my experience (North Dakota, Washington, Oregon, California, and Utah) it has pretty much died out. According to the rules, there are limited circumstances where standing is permitted, with a whole lot of emphasis on “limited”. As in, most situations are not within the “limited” definition. A hanger on from the liberalism of the past, and most likely an issue you are not going to be able to change.

And no, you are not wrong.

Eventually that pastor will no longer be there; it will be up to the next one to try to correct the matter, and sadly, there is a fairly good chance that some people there will stop going to Mass, if it is similar to other situations where rule violations have been challenged. And so, while some would have someone - the pastor, the bishop or whoever, come down and “fix this”, one has to consider that the fix has consequences. It is easy to just shrug off those who would quit going to Mass over this, and that may not be the most Christ-like response.

All of which speaks to issues of humility, among other things.

We all need prayers, including the liberals.


Thanks for teh reply! I’m definitely not someone who feels the need to play tattletale, so to speak. If the priest doesn’t attempt to correct everyone at Mass, then so be it. It’s not up to me.

Also, I grew up in the NW, and this standing phenomenon is something I’ve only encountered since moving out to the Midwest. Very strange.

Two additional thoughts that might be of interest:

  1. I’ve noticed that young Catholics are more likely to prefer to kneel. And by “young,” I mean, younger than, say, 35 or so. Most of the Catholics who stand are older. I don’t mean that the standers are somehow too old to kneel - they are just generally of a greater age. I wonder if this is something to do with people who were raised in the years immediately after Vatican II. I’ve noticed that younger Catholics tend to be more traditional.

This could be because younger Catholics, as members of a generation that is generally not religious, are more likely to enjoy tradition. They might not go to Mass because they feel compelled by social pressure or something (as compared to older members of a parish, who might attend more out of a sense of social obligation).

As a younger Catholic myself, I think this might be the case. I’ll have to keep thinking about it, though.

  1. I tend to be more liberal politically (and maybe theologically?) than others on this board, though maybe not among members of our faith generally. However, I do feel very conservative when it comes to the Sacraments. I think it’d be great if Mass were in Latin, or if at least parts of it were (perhaps just the Eucharistic Prayer, or maybe parts of it, I’m not sure). I really enjoy more traditional music, rather than the typical, modern music I hear so often at Mass.

I wonder why I feel that way.

Anyway, I’m just sort of rambling at this point. But thanks again for your response - it makes me feel much better about how I’ve reacted to standing.


We all kneel at my parish. From what I have observed, most of the neighboring parishes do the same. This is in Pacific Northwest.


I’m referring to the Masses of England and Wales (which are ever so slightly different) when I say that nearly all churches over here, as far as I am aware, kneel during the Eucharistic Prayer.

I do agree though - there is a definite sense of humility and reverence towards the Blessed Sacrament that should be observed.


Of those who “prefer” kneeling, many do so by cheating (half-sitting, half-kneeling). I’m not in favor of standing, though. My back takes a beating there, especially in some of those pews.


There is not a choice of posture in this matter unless one has some good reason why they cannot kneel, such as, health issues. In the United States the posture during the entire Eucharistic Prayer is kneeling. Even during the time when our parish was doing a renovation to our church and Mass was in the gym, our pastor requested that we kneel on the hard floor if possible. Sponge garden pads were provided if we wanted them. And obviously some older people with health issues could not kneel. It may vary from country to country what posture their bishops have chosen but here is a quote from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website on Postures and Gestures at Mass:
The posture of kneeling signified penance in the early Church: the awareness of sin casts us to the ground! So thoroughly was kneeling identified with penance that the early Christians were forbidden to kneel on Sundays and during Easter Time when the prevailing spirit of the liturgy was that of joy and thanksgiving. In the Middle Ages kneeling came to signify the homage of a vassal to his lord, and more recently this posture has come to signify adoration. It is for this reason that the bishops of this country have chosen the posture of kneeling for the entire Eucharistic Prayer.


Pax Christi!

At every Mass I’ve attended, everyone knelt. I would prefer everyone, everywhere, to always kneel whenever possible.

The time I couldn’t kneel because I hurt my knee while drunk was when I realized I had a drinking problem.

Just sharing.

God bless.


My old diocese in Southern California, where I was raised, had issued a change that we were to remain standing after The Lord’s Prayer. I was too young to know that this was the case when the change was made, so when I recently moved and everyone went back to kneel again, it caught me off guard. I do prefer the kneeling, though. I wonder why the other diocese changed it.


That is a different topic. Our diocese is one of those that changed the posture , and actually it is after the Agnus Dei, to remain standing. The bishop has the authority to decide the posture at that point. The topic of this thread is regarding the correct posture during the Eucharistic Prayer which is the same everywhere in the United States.


I think it makes a great deal of (to me, obvious) sense to allow people with ailments to sit or perhaps stand during the Eucharistic Prayer. But I’m talking about the entire parish standing. There is literally no point in the Mass during which people kneel, aside from most folks kneeling after receiving Communion. Even then, some folks just sit.

I don’t know. I guess I should try not to be bothered by it, and just focus on the Sacrament. If I were more active in the parish or knew the priest better, I might feel some sense of entitlement to ask about the procedure. Maybe there’s a good reason for standing I just don’t know about (though from the posts in here, it sounds like there isn’t any).

Blargh. I also just hate feeling like I’m being some kind of nitpicky, grouchy old man for thinking about all this. :stuck_out_tongue:


Well, I did a bit of research, and here’s some information (in case someone else out there is wondering about these issues):

Yes, it is the standard practice, worldwide, to stand for most of the Eucharistic prayer. That is the general rule, and a country needs a dispensation for additional kneeling. The general, worldwide rule is also for people to kneel during the consecration itself, then resume standing for the rest of Mass, not to stand during the consecration.

The bishops of America sought and obtained permission to require kneeling not just at the consecration but through to the Great Amen, and that is the rule here. Liturgical practices that apply to other parts of the world do not subvert the liturgical law that the Vatican and the American bishops have hammered out for this country.

So that’s one answer. I wish the article would cite the sources! Here’s another, with some better citation:

The law on the posture of the people is as follows:

1. Universal Law. The General Instruction on the Roman Missal #43 establishes as the universal norm of the Roman Rite the practice of kneeling for the Consecration. This is understood to mean from the Epiclesis (the prayer calling for the sending down of the Holy Spirit) to the Mysterium Fidei (The Mystery of Faith).

So, it appears that the CA article above is consistent with this post. In most countries, they kneel until the Mystery of Faith; but here in the US, we kneel all the way through to the Great Amen.

And so:

2. American Particular Law. The U.S. Bishops adapted the universal norm with Roman approval, retaining the practice of kneeling from after the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy) to the Doxology (Through Him, with Him, in Him), in other words for the entire Eucharistic Prayer. Thus, while in Italy and many other places they stand until the Consecration, at which time they kneel down for the Consecration, in the US we have knelt for the Canon in the past and continue to do so.

And then it cites:

The U.S. version of the General Instruction n. 43 therefore reads,

43 … ** In the dioceses of the United States of America, they should kneel beginning after the singing or recitation of the Sanctus until after the Amen of the Eucharistic Prayer, **except when prevented on occasion by reasons of health, lack of space, the large number of people present, or some other good reason. Those who do not kneel ought to make a profound bow when the priest genuflects after the consecration.

These sound like the exceptions that otjm may have been referring to. And finally:

Local norms. Since the law governing adapting the norms to a particular church (diocese) or nation are spelled out in the General Instruction, and require obtaining Roman approval before implementation, the existence of an adaptation departing from the norm for the US, such as standing for the Consecration, is easily verified: a Roman document granting approval.

Hm. Maybe my parish has a special document from Rome? I kind of doubt it…

Finally, this guy says something slightly different:

Q. 1. Should I stand or kneel during the Consecration of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ?

A. 1. Unless specific instruction has been given by the Bishop of your diocese to stand, the proper thing to do is to kneel during the Consecration.

That seems to imply that each diocese can determine the rule, not Rome.


Not sure where you got the idea that in Oregon kneeling has pretty much died out but I can tell you we’ve been kneeling here during the Eucharistic Prayer for as long as I can remember and we still do.


I don’t know why we torment each other over this, communion by the hand vs by mouth, even EF vs OF.

I have a feeling the whole discussion is a matter of (lacking) humility, that seems to matter those engaged in the discussion, but probably doesn’t matter to God.

My hunch is God is more concerned with your display of reverence through how you life the other 23 hours of the day than with your posture one hour each day at Mass.


No, you must have missed his update at the bottom of the page. Also I recommend going to the source. Here is the link to the General Instruction for the Roman Missal on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop’s website: See: Gestures and Bodily Posture 42-44


I attend mass in Oregon (and twice a year in California) and have never attended a mass where we did not kneel for the Eucharistic prayer. What changed (in Western Oregon at least) a couple of years ago–is that, at the direction of our previous bishop (which our new bishop has not changed), we no longer kneel after the Agnus Dei. All in accord with the GIRM.

If one looks at the GIRM paragraph 43 I think you will find that kneeling beginning after the Sanctus until after the Amen of the Eucharistic Prayer–is something the GIRM allows for Diocese of the United States of America. Actually if you were to read the GIRM what is quite limited is not standing but kneeling as is done in the United States.

The GIRM states that we are to stand from the “fratres (Pray, brethren), before the Prayer over the Offerings until the end of Mass, except at the places indicated here below.” Aside from what is allowed for the United States the GIRM only mentions that kneeling is permitted during the period of sacred silence after Communion–as is sitting.

It should also be noted that the cannon 20 from the 1st Council of Nicea states: “Since there are some who kneel on Sunday and during the season of Pentecost, this holy synod decrees that, so that the same observances may be maintained in every diocese, one should offer one’s prayers to the Lord standing.”

So let us not be so quick to cast dispersions on others. Standing for prayer was at one point ordained for the whole Church as the required posture for prayer–do you know better than those bishops did? Was the early Church somehow a “liberal” Church? It is your heart not your posture that is important when you offer your prayers.

The peace of Christ,


Actually their concerns are valid and maintained by Church teaching.
I understand what you’re trying to mean, but please rethink what you’re actually doing.

During the Eucharistic Prayer that is Jesus’ body and blood up there on the altar. Heaven literally transcends earth. There is a proper position for us- kneeling before the Most Heavenly Host. Church teaching maintains this pretty explicitly as we can see in the earlier posts. This is the Church Christ Himself started.

Now you’re saying that your “hunch” and this unique insight you somehow have of what God must be thinking trumps that?

That’s false humility and you err my friend.


I agree with you in everything, but no one on this forum was casting dispersions on others, but on actions. Which is right: kneeling or standing, is a valid question. No one called anyone “liberal”. That’s kindof putting words in people’s mouths.

Furthermore our physical posture does matter. In that if we did anything other than kneel or stand- that would be wrong. It is not right to sit (unless you have a medical reason why you must sit).
As human beings we consist of a body and a soul. Our whole selves, not just our souls, are called to offer reverence to the Host during the Eucharistic prayer.

You are very right- the reverent posture of our body is either kneeling or standing- both postures are congruent with the reverence within our souls at that time.


My church in Ohio took out the kneelers in the 1980s. They still don’t kneel and no one genuflects at the tabernacle either. At the time the church was being updated and we
were told that every church would be removing their kneelers. We moved to New England in 2003 and every church here has kneelers and we kneel.


I didn’t mean to cause a fuss. I just was curious about other people’s preferences, or if others had experienced something similar.

I have a feeling the whole discussion is a matter of (lacking) humility, that seems to matter those engaged in the discussion, but probably doesn’t matter to God.

Maybe not. But as other posters pointed out, it can definitely influence how we perceive and understand the Eucharist ourselves, which certainly matters to God. I mean, I imagine it does, anyway.

My hunch is God is more concerned with your display of reverence through how you life the other 23 hours of the day than with your posture one hour each day at Mass.

Sure. That doesn’t mean a group of people can, in the span of mere forum post in the great whole of the Internet, think about and talk about an issue?

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