When are we required to bow or genuflect?

I was called upon impromptu to take the gifts up during offetory at Easter Vigil. It’s been at least 20 years since I did this as a child. The priest bowed in my direction so I bowed back before handing him the wine and water, but I was a little embarassed because I didn’t know if or when I was supposed to bow. Can we make a list of all the times in the mass we’re required to bow or genuflect so that I can avoid embarassment again? Here’s all I can think of right now:

Genuflect when entering the sanctuary, before entering pew.
Bow or genuflect every time you pass the tabernacle if you are participating in the mass.
Bow during the creed during “by the power of the Holy Spirit He was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man.”
Bow after (or before?) handing the bread and wine to the priest during offetory?
Bow to the Eucharist before receiving communion.
Bow heads during final blessing.

Am I missing anything?

From the General Instruction of the Roman Missal:

Genuflections and Bows

274. A genuflection, made by bending the right knee to the ground, signifies adoration, and therefore it is reserved for the Most Blessed Sacrament, as well as for the Holy Cross from the solemn adoration during the liturgical celebration on Good Friday until the beginning of the Easter Vigil.

During Mass, three genuflections are made by the priest celebrant: namely, after the showing of the host, after the showing of the chalice, and before Communion. Certain specific features to be observed in a concelebrated Mass are noted in their proper place (cf. nos. 210-251).

If, however, the tabernacle with the Most Blessed Sacrament is present in the sanctuary, the priest, the deacon, and the other ministers genuflect when they approach the altar and when they depart from it, but not during the celebration of Mass itself.

Otherwise all who pass before the Most Blessed Sacrament genuflect, unless they are moving in procession.

Ministers carrying the processional cross or candles bow their heads instead of genuflecting.

275. A bow signifies reverence and honor shown to the persons themselves or to the signs that represent them. There are two kinds of bows: a bow of the head and a bow of the body.

a. A bow of the head is made when the three Divine Persons are named together and at the names of Jesus, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of the Saint in whose honor Mass is being celebrated.

b. A bow of the body, that is to say a profound bow, is made to the altar; during the prayers Munda cor meum (Almighty God, cleanse my heart) and In spiritu humilitatis (Lord God, we ask you to receive); in the Creed at the words Et incarnatus est (by the power of the Holy Spirit . . . and became man); in the Roman Canon at the words Supplices te rogamus (Almighty God, we pray that your angel). The same kind of bow is made by the deacon when he asks for a blessing before the proclamation of the Gospel. In addition, the priest bows slightly as he speaks the words of the Lord at the consecration.

From the Ceremonial of Bishops:

“72. A deep bow is made to the altar by all who enter the sanctuary (chancel), leave it, or pass before the altar.”

“76. The bishop is greeted with a deep bow by the ministers or others when they approach to assist him, when they leave after assisting him, or when they pass in front of him.”
(Ceremonial of Bishops, Liturgical Press, 1989, ISBN 0-8146-1818-9, page 38).

From the 2002 General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) approved for the USA, which can be accessed from romanrite.com/girm.html :

“277. … Before and after an incensation, a profound bow is made to the person or object that is incensed, except for the incensation of the altar and the offerings for the Sacrifice of the Mass.”

“275. A bow signifies reverence and honor shown to the persons themselves or to the signs that represent them. There are two kinds of bows: a bow of the head and a bow of the body.
a. A bow of the head is made when the three Divine Persons are named together and at the names of Jesus, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of the Saint in whose honor Mass is being celebrated.
b. A bow of the body, that is to say a profound bow, is made to the altar; during the prayers Munda cor meum (Almighty God, cleanse my heart) and In spiritu humilitatis (Lord God, we ask you to receive); in the Creed at the words Et incarnatus est (by the power of the Holy Spirit . . . made man); …”

“160. … 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.”

“49. When they reach the sanctuary, the priest, the deacon, and the ministers reverence the altar with a profound bow.” (This is for the entrance procession.)

“274. … If, however, the tabernacle with the Most Blessed Sacrament is present in the sanctuary, the priest, the deacon, and the other ministers genuflect when they approach the altar and when they depart from it, but not during the celebration of Mass itself.
Otherwise all who pass before the Most Blessed Sacrament genuflect, unless they are moving in procession.
Ministers carrying the processional cross or candles bow their heads instead of genuflecting.”

“43. … Those who do not kneel ought to make a profound bow when the priest genuflects after the consecration.”

“185. If a prayer over the people or a solemn formula for the blessing is used, the deacon says, Inclinate vos ad benedictionem (Bow your heads and pray for God’s blessing).

“90. The concluding rites consist of …
d. The kissing of the altar by the priest and the deacon, followed by a profound bow to
the altar by the priest, the deacon, and the other ministers.”

The GIRM’s index lists the following for the word “bow”:
43, 49, 90, 122, 132, 135, 137, 143, 160, 169, 173, 175, 185, 186, 195, 211, 222, 227, 230, 233, 251, 256, 262, 272, (Heading before) 274, 274, 275, 277, 330

I think I have included everything that would apply to an altar server. There are more instructions on bows for priests, deacons and concelebrants.

Hopefully, those who read this thread and the plentiful info provided , will remember to acknowledge the Sacred Blood of Christ as they pass by when not receiving it. (those who receive the Host only, which is ok)

It does not appear in the GIRM, but I believe it is in the rubrics that, similarly, in those places or times when the Apostle’s Creed is used rather than the Nicene Creed, the faithful bow at the words “He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.”

tee

So if I take the host, but do not take the cup, I should still bow as I pass it? Will it confuse the minister that they think I will receive it?

No.

Confuse? :confused:

They don’t need to do anything unless you TOUCH the cup. :stuck_out_tongue:

If you even were to (this would be so odd) take the cup and not drink and pass it back, it would not be confusing

Also, esp if you are at a church where you normally go, after a while, all the EMs would know that you are just passing and nodding.

Yes, it is in the GIRM.

  1. The Creed is sung or recited by the priest together with the people (cf. above, no. 68) with everyone standing. At the words et incarnatus est (by the power of the Holy Spirit . . . became man) all make a profound bow; but on the Solemnities of the Annunciation and of the Nativity of the Lord, all genuflect.

Also note the requirement to genuflect (instead of bow), on March 25 and December 25.

GIRM #137 is appropriate to the Nicene Creed. The phrase *et incarnatus est *does not appear in the Apostles’ Creed.

tee

No, just make a gesture of reverence as you walk by. Don’t get in line or approach the Precious Blood as if you are going to receive. Even a short ejaculation (a brief prayer) such as “My Lord, my God, my All” is enough. Whatever you feel is a sincere gesture of reverence or adoration. Slight bow, hand over heart, anything you feel is sufficient. Don’t stop and genuflect suddenly or anything similar. Those behind you may not be expecting you to stop and could stumble.

Thanks, this is really helpful. I had not thought of acknowledging the Precious Blood when I am not receiving it, and you are very clear in ways in which I can do it.

God bless you.

I’m glad you mentioned the point about the precious blood. It is a great reminder.:slight_smile:

Are we suppose to bow at the cross during the entrance procession? I still do this because this is what we did at my Anglo-Catholic church but dont ever see anyone other than myself really do this, is it common practice?

I have a somewhat similar question here.

Do we have to make the Sign of the Cross everytime we get in/out of Church? Since I work in a youth group and in the music group, I’m constantly going in and out of the Temple, but by the sacristy, not by the main door. Do I have to make the Sign of the Cross everytime I go in/out?

Also, there’s a little room (outside the Temple but inside the parish) that’s beside the little Chapel where the Blessed Sacrament is, and our youth group uses that room a lot. It’s odd, but no one ever shows reverence to the Blessed Sacrament when passing by, even if the room and the tabernacle share the same wall, but they’re different rooms. I should bow/genuflect to the Sacrament when passing by, right?

The GIRM does not list this as one of the times where one must bow:

Genuflections and Bows

  1. A genuflection, made by bending the right knee to the ground, signifies adoration, and therefore it is reserved for the Most Blessed Sacrament, as well as for the Holy Cross from the solemn adoration during the liturgical celebration on Good Friday until the beginning of the Easter Vigil.

During Mass, three genuflections are made by the Priest Celebrant: namely, after the elevation of the host, after the elevation of the chalice, and before Communion. Certain specific features to be observed in a concele-brated Mass are noted in their proper place (cf. nos. 210-251).

If, however, the tabernacle with the Most Blessed Sacrament is situated in the sanctuary, the Priest, the Deacon, and the other ministers genuflect when they approach the altar and when they depart from it, but not during the celebration of Mass itself.

Otherwise, all who pass before the Most Blessed Sacrament genuflect, unless they are moving in procession.

Ministers carrying the processional cross or candles bow their heads instead of genuflecting.

  1. A bow signifies reverence and honor shown to the persons themselves or to the signs that represent them. There are two kinds of bow: a bow of the head and a bow of the body.

a) A bow of the head is made when the three Divine Persons are named together and at the names of Jesus, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of the Saint in whose honor Mass is being celebrated.

b) A bow of the body, that is to say, a profound bow, is made to the altar; during the prayers Munda cor meum (Cleanse my heart) and In spiritu humilitatis (With humble spirit); in the Creed at the words et incarnatus est (and by the Holy Spirit . . . and became man); in the Roman Canon at the Supplices te rogamus (In humble prayer we ask you, almighty God). The same kind of bow is made by the Deacon when he asks for a blessing before the proclamation of the Gospel. In addition, the Priest bows slightly as he pronounces the words of the Lord at the Consecration.

keep in mind that many chruches no longer keep the tabernacle behind the alter or in the sactuary at all. It is not necessary in these circumstances to genuflect before entering the pew, since there is nothign that you are genuflecting at. It is appropriate to make a profound bow to the alter in this case where the sacrifice will take place.

Anyone?

I think by “Temple” you mean the Sanctuary. Yes, you should show reverence to the Blessed Sacrament each time you pass by. If you are going to pass by 1 or 2 times, then genuflect; if you are going to pass it 20 times in a day, you can bow to Him.

Well, I think I explained myself wrong… English is not my first language. :slight_smile:

I think that Sanctuary is the place where the altar is, right? When I said Temple, I meant the whole church where the Mass is celebrated, but I wanted to distinguish between that part of the parish and the part where there are rooms and stuff (they are both in the same building.)

I have only seen people make the Sign of the Cross when they bless themselves with holy water as they go in and out of the church building. I don’t think you have to do this any time, much less every time you go in and out of the building. :slight_smile: I usually only do when attending Mass.

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