When should we sit?

I often wonder if people at liturgy are thinking about what they are doing or if they are just following the crowd.

I have been wondering for a while, what is the correct time to sit down after communion? It seems to me that most people sit down when the priest sits down. However, I don’t think that this is always correct.

I understand that we are kneeling during communion because we are in the presence of Jesus - more so than usual that is. Therefore, in my mind I think that we should be kneeling until the Body and Blood have been removed from the altar. Whether that be through consumption by the EM’s or at the closing of the tabernacle.

Unfortunately I have been to a liturgy where parishioners were still receiving the Eucharist when the priest and consequently the rest of the congregation sat down. I felt so bad for those still receiving communion. How could they help but feel like their experience in receiving Jesus was less Holy than everyone else. People make mistakes and it is possible the priest didn’t see that people were still receiving…but why did the congregation have to follow suit?

There have been other times that the tabernacle is closed and the chalices are cleaned but the priest still hasn’t sat for some reason and everyone else is still kneeling while I sit back.

Obviously, if a person feels like they need to pray longer then by all means…kneel as long as you need.

Is there documentation on when the appropriate time to sit is? What are other peoples feelings? Should we just follow the priest?

I’ve wondered this myself. I don’t sit until the the Host has been placed in the tabernacle and the Precious Blood consumed or covered. But the other day both had happened and Father hadn’t sat down yet so the rest of the parishioners hadn’t either :whacky: Felt kind of silly kneeling when it wasn’t called for.

I don’t think those still receiving would feel slighted - or if they did then they weren’t paying enough attention to the sacrament.

As for praying longer, my parish has added two minutes of silent prayer after communion has completely finished - the result of having a liberal visiting priest for several weeks who experimented on us :mad: woops guess I’m still kinda upset about that. Anyway there is no need to pray longer at my parish (although we are sitting not kneeling during this little addition) and parishioners should follow the priest and Mass order even if they want to pray longer. They can always stay after.

:frowning: I seriously doubt most are thinking about what they are doing - I use the fact that my parish, as a whole, stood out of pure habit at a previously taught time to stand several months after the change had been made :p.

Each individual is free to choose when to sit when they return to their pew. I personally kneel in prayer until my prayer is done, then if the tabernacle is still open I remain until it is closed. If it is already closed when I finish my prayer than I will sit.

We sit after the remaining hosts have been placed in the tabernacle and the tabernacle is closed after making the sign of the cross first.:signofcross:

I’m not sure what is absolutely correct.

But what I see the most is that after communion, people kneel until the priest sits down.

What I see next most often is that people kneel until the tabernacle door is closed, then they sit.

What I’ve seen once is that people remain standing after communion, and don’t sit down again.

And then there’s me…I usually stay kneeling until the priest stands up and says “Let us Pray.”

Of course some people have trouble kneeling, so they sit rather than kneel in general.

It would be nice if all the postures were uniform from parish to parish, and diocese to diocese. But that issue is a real can of worms. Just look at all the threads on that subject.

In my parish most people kneel. But we must remember that there are many people who have problems kneeling due to a physical condition. We should be paying attention to our thanksgiving prayers, not what others are doing after they receive communion and then make judgements on them. We don’t know whether they choose to sit or must sit.

Our focus should be on Christ not others.

Yours in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary


The general custom in my parish is to continue knelling until either the Tabernacle is closed or the priest sits down, whichever happens last. Usually for week day Masses it is the priest sitting and for Sunday Mass, the Tabernacle being closed. This is what most people do, there are plenty of exceptions.

I believe the official answer is that one may do as they like after communion, kneel, sit, or stand.

In my church the tabernacle is not near the altar, it is at the back of the church in it’s own seperate alcove. The priest does not leave the sanctuary to place any unused hosts in the tabernacle, one of the EMHC’s does that. He sits when that is done, and that is when the congregation sits, although some sit before, mostly those who cannot kneel for long.So when the priest sits, that is the signal that the tabernacle has been closed.

Now I really don’t want to hear how awful and untraditional this arrangement is, it is what it is, and it is legitimate, so let’s not derail the thread with howls of protest;)

Cardinal George sent a question (a dubium) to Rome, because the rules appeared to say that people were to stand for Communion, and it was written in such a way that it appeared that they would be required to continue standing after receiving until all others had received.

Rome’s answer was that they had no intention of being that strict. They could do as they wished.

Custom usually is that all remain kneeling after receiving until the priest sits. That is custom, with a small c. There is no specific rule; but most people kneel after receiving (I remember going to one parish where something like about 10 - 15% remained standing after receiving - really seemed odd). However, as there is no express rule, one could legitimately sit after receiving. One might however get some strange looks or feel awkward.

Americans have a tendency to want a rule for everything. There isn’t necessarily a rule for everything; then a lick of common sense comes in handy.

However, to paraphrase Voltaire: The problem with common sense is that it is not all that common…

GIRM 43. 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.
They should, however, sit while the readings before the Gospel and the responsorial Psalm are proclaimed and for the homily and while the Preparation of the Gifts at the Offertory is taking place; and, as circumstances allow, they may sit or kneel while the period of sacred silence after Communion is observed

We’ve been instructed by 3 different priests in my parish, one who works with the bishop, that “after Communion is observed” is until the last person has received communion, however tho not in keeping with the intent of a common posture it is not disallowed to kneel/sit for reasons of piety when returning to the pew.

From Let Us Pray: A Guide to the Rubrics of the Sunday Mass author Father Turner says “Many people assume the Communion ends when the tabernacle door is shut or when the priest sits down, but Communion ends when the last person has received.” (P751) “The CDWDS attempted to clarity the matter in a later statement permitting these devotional postures after each person receives Communion. The intent of GIRM 43 is 'on the one hand, the ensure within broad limits a certain uniformity of posture within the congregation for the various parts of the celebration of Holy Mass, and on the other, not to regulate posture rigidly in such a was that those who wish to kneel or sit would no longer be free"Prot.N.855/03/L). However, this did not eliminate the posture the GIRM had in mind all along, namely, standing. The documents, therefore, permit three different posture after receiving Communion.” (P748)

CDWDS Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments

It’s not a “can of worms” Rome has instructed that it is up to each individual if they want to stand, sit ot kneel after returning from Holy Communion. It is interesting that it seems people can’t handle being given this simple decision to make for themselves.

Well, in our church, after Father sits down, then the parishoners sit down. This is after the tabernacle is closed and all the hosts and precious blood is put away. I thought that you could sit down after the tabernacle was closed, because that was always how I was taught, but now I just do whatever everyone else is doing and sit whenever the celebrant sits down.

Thank you for quoting the documents. Having attended Masses in Oregon, Washington, North Dakota, Utah and northern California, it has been my observation that with the exception of some churches in northern California, everyone has practiced the status quo ante; they receive, return to their seat, and kneel until the time when the Eucharist is reposed and the priest sits. In short, it would seem that the GIRM and whomever was in charge of that specific section anticipated all standing after receiving, and given the apparent reaction to that (resulting in the dubium), the vast majority of people did not wish to stand and saw fit to return to previous practice either before the dubium was answered, or immediately thereafter. The reaction may not be unanimous, but it seems close enough that anyone to the contrary strongly appears to be out of sync with everyone else.

It is interesting, given the other issues that have changed posture, that this one seems to have the strongest and most obvious rejection. the rest of the changes seem to have been accepted by the large, if not vat majority of people.

I was referring to can of worms being the issues of posture in general. Not just what to do after communion.

e.g. receive in hand, or on the tongue. While kneeling or standing. This is just one of many examples.

If it’s not a can of worms, why are there so many threads on it?

I was told by someone that we are supposed to kneel until the Tabernacle is closed. That was fine for me. :)When I wanted to tell someone else, I decided to look it up in the GIRM. That said that you can sit when you choose after you have returned to your seat. :stuck_out_tongue:

We don’t get to change what the Magesterium has decided. There are LOTS of issues where I find them vague. This is not one of those. :thumbsup:

You may sit or kneel as you choose after receiving. It is best to be engaged in your own prayer and not tracking who else is doing what when and then getting distracted by thoughts of why they are doing whatever whenever. :whacky:

There are so many threads because there are individuals who believe, rightly or wrongly, that the postures we have been directed to are (pick and choose):


Less holy



Prone to abuse


The causation of loss of Faith

Protestantization of the Faith

If from the early Church, overruled by later and more sound theologically decided postures

Cause of disrespect for the Eucharist

Of the Devil

The work of Liberals (which perhaps is synonymous with the work of the Devil)

A complete break with Tradition (never mind that it is only tradition, not Tradition)

Absolutely forbidden by the True Church (the one issuing changes thereby proved to not be the True Church)

Actually, secretly doctrinal in nature although called disciplinary, and thus not subject to change

Not in accord with their feelings

Or any combination of the above.

The majority of people who attend Mass have no significant problems with the rules; however, in some areas, nomally given the appelation “liberal” the rules themselves may be ignored. Other areas, where the rules are followed, there simply is not an issue with the fact that there is not one hard and fast rule. Prior to Vatican 2, when we had a lot of nuns and a lot of them were still involved in education, we were taught hard and fast rules. What most people did not realize (because they were not sophisticated enough to ask) was that the “rules” often were more cultural than anything; that is, there was not a specific rule but rather a common cultural way of acting. An example was the “rule” taught by the nuns that one absolutely must not chew the Eucharist.

A lot of the issue is that there is a lot of emotion behind the questions. Coupled with this is the fact that in general, in the US, we tend towards a rather germanic philosophy of law: whatever is not permitted is prohibited. Another way of saying it is that in terms of psychology, we tend towards the anal side - we want to know what the rules are, then we follow.

Coupled with this, but on a much deeper level is the issue of the question Christ asked: “Who do you say I am?”. We have struggled throughout our history with that question; we have God Incarnate. And those two words, on the gut level, on the level of where we operate, seem to be oxymorons. We can get so lost in the issue of God that we lose sight of the fact, as St. Paul tells us, “He was like us in all except sin”. We lose sight of His humanity. Or we can get too close to the humanity issue, and end up with “Jesus my buddy (or God forbid, my homeboy)” and lose sight of His divinity. It is both/and, not either/or; but a certain amount of the ink that is spilled sources from this underlying issue.

And coupled with it all, at times, is a lack of humility, the ability to humbly do what our bishops direct instead of what we feel.

Actually, having been raised pre Vatican 2, there are not all that many issues of alternatives in the OF. But there are some who insist that there be none.

Being an adult is such a hard issue.

I believe it’s also that people in general do not know what the Church requests/requires and therefore are open to being mislead by others who use this as an opportunity to insert their own ideals.

Thank you all for input. I have found reading your posts very interesting.

To be clear I do not worry about what others are doing I am concerned about what I am doing. Perhaps my original question could have been better stated: “I notice that at mass we sit down when the priest sits down. Is this following the crowd or is there some sort of formal guidance from the fathers of our church.” Which I now know that the answer is it doesn’t matter what I do…I just need to do what I feel is right.

As a father of young children I want to make sure that I am not leading my children to follow the crowd unless there is a good reason for it.

Well, if we are back to discussing the time after reception of Communion and the period of silence (which begins when the priest has sat), then yes, you are offered two alternatives. There are other times where the direction is specific; and there are other times where the direction may be specificly other than sitting, but sitting is permitted (upon return from reception but before all have received).

All of which generally translates somewhat along the lines of “When in Rome, do what Rome does”. Generally.

And I suspect, as a good father, that you do not necessarily micromanage your children, but give them guidelines, with occasional specific directions.

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