When to sit after Holy Communion

We are wondering if there are any church guidelines on when to sit after Holy Communion.

If there is just a priest, we sit when he sits. If there is a Deacon and he is purifying the sacred vessels while the priest sits, are we to sit being the priest has the highest power? Or do we wait for the deacon to get done with the purification and sit?

If there is a document, please let me know that also.

Thank you so much!

You can sit wheneven you want after returning from receiving Holy Communion. Generally people kneel while the tabernacle is open. Of course this is difficult to do if the tabernacle is not located in the sanctuary of the church and cannot be seen.

I think what the priest does would normally be the best indication.

The Ceremonial of Bishops has “166 When the bishop returns to the chair after the communion, he puts on the skullcap and, if need be, washes his hands. All are seated and a period of prayerful silence may follow, or a song of praise or a psalm may be sung.”
(Ceremonial of Bishops, Liturgical Press, 1989, ISBN 0-8146-1818-9, page 60).

This is for a Stational Mass of the Diocesan Bishop and it describes deacons doing the purifications.

The direction “All are seated” could be understood to mean that the bishop should not sit until the deacons are ready to sit. But I think it is reasonable to understand it as his judgement about when to, which others should follow as soon as they reasonably can.

From the 2002 General Introduction to the Roman Missal (GIRM) which can be accessed from romanrite.com/girm.html has that people should stand except “as circumstances allow, they may sit or kneel while the period of sacred silence after Communion is observed.” My view is that the “period of sacred silence” does not begin until after the priest stops saying “The Body of Christ” (i.e. when everyone has received Communion).

In my parish, everyone stands after they receive Holy Communion and remains standing until the Sacred Hosts are returned by the priest to the tabernacle and he closes it. Then the congregation sits for a few moments to pray/meditate while the priest finishes purifying his chalice and while he is sitting after the purification. We stand again when the priest stands up and says “Let us pray”.

So when do the faithful who wish too, exercise their option to kneel after receiving Holy Communion, kneel? While everyone else is standing or when everyone else sits? Or is that option to kneel after receiving Holy Communion, which Cardinal Arinze seems to clearly say is their option, not permitted to be exercised by them?

In my parish, most people return to their pews and kneel in prayer after receiving the Eucharist, and while many sit back down after a few minutes, many of us kneel until the priest returns to his seat as well. I think it’s a matter of personal choice.

In our diocese we kneel until the priest returns to his chair. I prefer this myself, even though it is harder for some of the elderly maybe.


There are maybe about 10 people who kneel while everyone else is sitting. Not a whole lot of people kneel in my parish.

We have some elderly parishioners who are unable to kneel also. I am always (positively) amazed when I see some who are clearly not having an easy time of it still kneeling or doing their best to while maybe leaning back on the front of the pew seat for support… very moving to see such respect and devotion. When I get to that point physically, I know that I want to be doing the same :slight_smile:

I would wonder how many don’t kneel because they think it is not allowed, or they shouldn’t and those who simply don’t want to. Of course there would be no way of determining this really.

As long as the body and blood of Christ remains outside the tabernacle, I kneel. After, the bread of Christ is placed into the Tabernacle, and the precious blood is consumed, I sit. It doesn’t matter if the priest is not sitting at that point.


i sit back down after the tabernacle is closed and after i’m done praying. if this is after the priest sits down, fine. if it’s right up until the time that we stand for the final blessing, then i just stand up when i’m done praying.

just curious, as i’m still not buying this whole standing after Communion thing…do you pray while you’re standing, too? or do more people just look around waiting for the tabernacle to be closed? i don’t mean to sound rude, but i would think that it would make more sense to begin your prayers right after receiving Communion, rather than waiting to sit back down.

i know it’s possible to stand and pray, and sit and pray, but it seems much more reverent to kneel after we receive.

Me also. But if it looks like the Priest is on his way to sitting down after this (in the nice senario when he actually puts Our Lord away himself) I wait for him to sit. This is what happened today and I was so glad that most of the congregation did the same!

In churches where people remain standing, I kneel.

Me too.

I believe this is in full accordance with the GIRM although it is not universally practiced. I wonder why that is?

If you are wondering why people are kneeling or sitting when they return from receiving Holy Communion—Rome stated they can.


Holy See Affirms Customary Kneeling During Communion Rite

Concerning the practice of kneeling after receiving Holy Communion, Cardinal Francis George, chairman of the Committee on the Liturgy, submitted a dubium [question] to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments [CDW] on May 26, 2003:

Dubium: In many places, the faithful are accustomed to kneeling or sitting in personal prayer upon returning to their places after having individually received Holy Communion during Mass. Is it the intention of the Missale Romanum, editio typical tertia, to forbid this practice?

Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect of the CDW, responded to the question on June 5, 2003 (Prot. N. 855/03/L):

Responsum: Negative, et ad mentem (No, for this reason). The mens [reason] is that the prescription of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani, no. 43, is intended, on the one hand to 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 way that those who wish to kneel or sit would no longer be free.

No, that was NOT my question. By universal I was not suggesting the impropriety of some people kneeling or sitting while most of the congregation stands (according to the GIRM). My query concerns the many churches in various dioceses in which do not abide by the GIRM.

My concern is about the rule itself not its exception.

In what manner --do you say these churches do not abide by the GIRM.

In many churches EVERYONE either sits or kneels–not as a matter of personal preference but simply because they do not know they should/could do otherwise.

I’m not sure how I can clarify my rhetorical question further for you …

Since Rome has already spoken --that people can kneel or sit --the people who kneel or sit are already doing what they should. This Can be the whole congregation.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.