When In Real Presence


This has been a week of many questions coming to my new catholic mind. This question is in regards to genuflecting and other actions when in the sanctuary.

Answer these for me please:

*do you cross yourself with holy water upon entering and leaving the church (even if you are there for choir practice or non-mass purpose

*what about after taking Eucharist, do you kneel and genuflect upon returning to your seat

*and when you cross in front of the altar, what do you do?



After receiving the Eucharist, kneel in pew and make thanksgiving. No need to genuflect at that point as Jesus is present within you.

Simple bow to altar.


Yes, of course. Jesus is present in the tabernacle. The first thing I do when I enter a Catholic church is genuflect toward the tabernacle and cross myself with holy water.

If it’s a low Mass I kneel until the end. If it’s a high Mass I have to sing the Communion propers right after communion so might not get to kneel if I’ve just received Holy Communion.

The tabernacle should be behind the altar in which case one should genuflect, not bow. In some churches for some reason the tabernacle has been placed off somewhere else in which case one should bow to the altar.


Below is a link you should find very helpful.



It is not required to bless yourself with holy water when you enter a church. I have seem some pretty nasty holy water in some parishes. I would not put my finger in there. It should be cleaned out every day.

We genuflect upon entering the church if the tabernacle is present. It has nothing to do with going into the pew although that is when most people do it. I have seen so many people genuflect each time they go in and out of the pew and it is just not necessary.


Yes, every time I enter the church.

No, I do not genuflect (or bow) at the pew after receiving communion.

I bow (I cannot genuflect due to bad knees) whenever I pass before the altar/tabernacle. If I am in the sanctuary and am between the altar and the tabernacle (I’m never between them during mass) I bow to the tabernacle. When I enter the sanctuary during mass (as psalmist or cantor) I bow to the altar and the tabernacle behind it.


Frequent use of holy water for blessing oneself is a reminder of baptism – which is very good, if it DOES remind you of baptism.

Using it does not, in itself bring grace, so it is called a sacramental – something extra, but not a sacrament.

Bowing is a substitute for genuflecting, which is a scriptural item “at the name of Jesus every knee shall bend” or something like that.

When you say “real presence” I know what you mean, but we are always in the real presence of God.



You can use holy water whenever you want to. Some people have it in their home actually. For most of us, the only place is at church.

I just kneel

Since our church has a tabernacle with a candle that indicates when the consecrated host is inside, I bow in recognition, similarly as entering the adoration chapel. If the light is out, which it often is for meetings etc., then no.


Yes, when I enter and leave the church, I cross myself. If there’s holy water, I also use it when entering and leaving. As far as I know, the use of holy water is not required for doing this.

No, I don’t. There’s no need since Christ is already inside me. It’s not bad if you do it, though, especially if it helps you to always revere God’s presence.

No genuflection, but bow, since the Body of Christ is in a separate chapel. If it was behind the altar, I would genuflect. However, if Jesus Eucharist is exposed, when crossing in front of the altar I would kneel briefly.


First, welcome to the Church!

As a kid in the 50’s I was taught to do so. It is a reminder of our baptism, and a (very) short confession of it.

It was said, in another thread, that one (might not) (should not) do so upon exiting, particularly if one has just attended Mass, as one has not only done so at the beginning, but confirmed that baptism by participation in the Mass.

However, assuming that to be correct (if makes sense, but again is not what I was taught long ago), one can rest assured that there are no liturgy police hovering around the font to determine if you did, or did not, cross yourself upon exiting. Think it through, and determine what you wish to do. You won’t be graded.

First, words are important, and this is one of my pet peeves. One receives; one does not take. Not your fault, certainly, and all too many people say “take”. I can’t figure where that came from; back in the day we would have had our ears boxed by the good sister had we said that. As an aside, it comes from a specific; in a Mass, the priest takes the Host and receives, and if you attend a concelebrated Mass, the priest will take the ciborium and let each of the other priests take a Host from it (or alternatively, they will approach the altar and take one as the ciborium sits there). No one else - deacon, Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion or anyone else is permitted to take a Host and receive it;it is handed to them or placed on their tongue.

Having said that, no, I do not genuflect after receiving and returning to the pew (and we did not do so in the 50’s). As noted, you have received Christ.

Additionally, should you whip around and go down on one knee, you are apt to have the person behind you run smack dab into you as no one is expecting the person in front of them to do so.

I kneel. The question was posed to Rome several years ago about what posture we are to take upon returning to the pew. Rome’s answer was we could stand, kneel, or sit. Most parishes I have been to, they kneel. A (very) few have some standing (it is disconcerting, but within the law) and some occasionally sit. Your choice; but if you are out of sync with others, someone likely will ask why you do so, or tell you that the “law says…” and likely as not they are wrong. And usually, they are doing so because they don’t like anything different from what they believe is the “right” way.

No one let them in on the really big secret: if you put your head down, and maybe put your face into your hands, you won’t see what others are doing, and if you don’t see it, you should not be bothered by it. #thingsmymothertaughtme

If I am doing so during Mass, I bow to the altar. If it is before Mass, or after, and I am moving from one side of the Church to the other I genuflect; however, my knees are getting older than my mind and they are becoming a bit obnoxious. That may or may not be the exact law; but the point is to give honor to the presence of the Blessed Sacrament and both do.


Final example, what if you have to do that all too necessary thing (use the restroom)? What is one to do? Ideally this business is taken care of prior to the service starting but there are those unexpected emergencies. Walk me through it starting from leaving the pew to re entering the sanctuary and sitting down in the seat. My son did this recently but I don’t think he did it correctly. I want to teach him but I have to be correct before I can instruct him and his twin sister.


For starters, it is easier to get out of the pew when everyone is sitting, than when they are kneeling - which may cast a vote for sitting at the end of the pew. Then again, every once in a while someone will come along who thinks they paid extra pew rent on that exact spot… amazing how testy some people can get at Mass…

Anyway, what I was taught was that you genuflected at the point where you left the pew, before turning around and walking out; and when coming back, genuflected again at the point of entering.

And if they make a bow, that probably is going to be sufficient. They are kids, which may mean that they held it until near crisis point, and their minds are on getting to the toilet before it is too late. Focus, focus, focus…

It a amuses me to watch altar servers; some will make a bow that appears to be a bit more solemn than others who do a sort of jerky head bow. Teaching kids to be reverent is a bit like teaching them to be polite. There is a difference, a bit but not completely subtle, between going through the motions, and actually being polite - or here, reverent. Don’t be too hard on them. Teach, don’t preach, and use compliments when appropriate.

And hopefully, you won’t find :onpatrol:


Thanks again. I must say I’m proud of myself. What I thought was correct was indeed the right answer. Now we continue; its onward and upward around here!



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