Our parish was told not to kneel during Mass about 14 years ago. A few still knelt but they were in the minority. I have to confess I didn’t for many years but since the new GIRM I’ve started kneeling from the Epiclesis to the Mysterium Fidei (the Canadian norm per the GIRM) at most Masses.
Tonight our pastor (of two years) asked about the history of kneeling in our parish and we told him. We also told him that everyone would kneel if he requested it. He was surprised by this, though I’m not sure why – nobody in this parish does anything unless it’s requested by the priest. So it appears that starting Sunday we’ll be kneeling from the Epiclesis to the Mysterium Fidei.
I have always knelt, even though it has become the “fashion” not to. I just cannot stand in presence of Our Lord’s Body and Blood. I always had to find a kneeler that I didn’t share with anyone, because folks thought they had to slam the kneelers up (loudly).
I thought we were supposed to kneel at the Sanctus. That’s what I have always done. I am in the US.
Maybe Canada is different but the Epiclesis seems a bit late to me, and many people never heard of the Epiclesis or don’t know how to identify when it happens. It is my favorite part of the Mass. I always bow my head in reverence to the Holy Spirit.
It’s the way it’s done in Canada. Always has been for as long as I can remember. For me it’s easy to figure out, I kneel when the monks do
I usually sit in the first pew so I don’t sing over people’s heads when I chant with the monks, and there’s no kneeler. I have to kneel on the hard floor. It isn’t easy but when a 90-something monk who otherwise uses a walker can manage to kneel on the hard floor (they don’t have kneelers in the stalls), I figure I can tough it out (I’m 55). But I have to grab the pew to propel myself back up
One could always wear thin knee pads under his pants and no one would know the difference. Don’t think of it as “cheating” though. If anything, kneelers allow one to cheat as well. As does snelling (half-sitting, half-kneeling) which I see very popular these days.
At my home parish, it has always been that we kneel right after the Sanctus straight through to the Pater Noster, for which we stand. Then after singing the Agnus Dei we kneel again. My family continues to do this when we attend Mass at other parishes as well. Trust me, we got some sideways looks from the C&E crowd on Christmas Eve last year when we were visiting another town for Mass.
Snelling drives me nuts! So does that little half-squat thing that my friends call a genuflection. Not even close… Sister Mary told me when I was 10 or so that if your knee doesn’t touch the floor it doesn’t count as a real genuflection… God bless her, she was wonderful! But yes, when it comes to kneeling and genuflecting, go big or go home: do the real thing or don’t do it at all.
P.S.: I can understand if you are 9 months pregnant, kneeling straight up can be impossible. Or if you have joint problems, I’m pretty sure you can sit for a while (a few older fellows at my home parish do). But please, don’t snell!
Haha, never heard of “snelling”. Sometimes it’s a necessity.
If the person ahead of you sits back against the pew, it can be impossible to kneel straight up.
Or, sometimes, the pews and kneelers are designed poorly or for a different generation (perhaps skinnier and shorter). If the rows are spaced closely together or if the kneeler is really close to the back of the pew, then one must “snell” to avoid injury to a knee.
Interestingly, some ergonomic office chairs are designed for “snelling”. Kneeling/sitting at a downward angle distributes the weight on the seat and calves, and properly aligns the spine. It could be a much more free and prayerful position
Though you can’t paint Canada with one brush - there is no universal norm (as in, every diocese). I know from personal experience that both the Archdioceses of Vancouver and of Toronto follow the US norms of kneeling from immediately after the Sanctus all the way through to the great Amen…and then again after the Agnus Dei. These two archdioceses are most likely the largest English speaking dioceses in the country, so it certainly counts for something! It gets confusing as I spend time in both the Archdiocese of Vancouver and in the neighbouring Diocese of Nelson…and a number of things vary between them, kneeling being the most obvious.
In the dioceses of Canada, the faithful should kneel at the Consecration, except when prevented on occasion by ill health, or for reasons of lack of space, of the large number of people present, or for another reasonable cause. However, those who do not kneel ought to make a profound bow when the Priest genuflects after the Consecration.
Where it is the practice for the people to remain kneeling after the Sanctus (Holy, Holy,Holy)until the end of the Eucharistic Prayer and before Communion when the Priest says “Ecce Agnus Dei” (This is the Lamb of God), it is laudable for this practice to be retained.
In the document “An Introduction to the New Edition of the Order of Mass and the General Instruction of the Roman Missal” issued by the CCCB National Liturgy Office (this is a Word document which can be found under “What’s new in the GIRM”) we find the following:
Note the levels of language employed in the law:
*] IS (present tense of verbs) - does not admit exceptions
*]MUST - strong statement of requirement
*]Present tense + ALWAYS … NEVER …
*]PERMITTED - not the same as required.
*]RECOMMENDED … PREFERRED … sense of strongly encouraged
*]MAY - admits that there is an option indicated
*]LAUDABLE … NOBLE … something good; but not required or necessarily encouraged; these are not a legislative terms
*]DESIRABLE … something to be encouraged; but not absolutely required.
I would note that what applies in the English Mass may not necessarily apply in, say, the Spanish Mass. The bishops I believe translate IGMR for their own congregations and it’s not that easy to translate the levels of language in their Latin subjunctives and indicatives into another language. But your analysis under supposedly English law is worthwhile to note.
This may interest those who are heavily into translations of modal verbs.
At this point I would like to give short quotation on the verbs which express “irreality” in English which are called in English The Modal Verbs. (C J Bailey: Grammar Series I, l992, Appendix.). Irrealis is the term is what we use in English to equate with the Latin Subjunctive:
The English “modal verbs” are will, would, can, could, may, might, must, should, ought (to) and the now rare shall. The forms and grammatical usages of modal verbs differ in several important ways from those of non-modal verbs — e.g. modals are uninflected – as grammars are obligated to show in terms of an intelligible system,. Modal verbs express modal or unreal (irrealis) situations: those which are not yet existent, viz. futurative - - willed or forbidden, denied and so on. Modal need and dare convey modal overtones, viz. volitional force, advice or warning. Contrast needn’t (and obsolescent daren’t) with doesn’t need to and doesn’t dare to, and note the advisory vs. neutral thrust of the respective variants. Contrast negated modal needn’t with doesn’t before non-modal need . Another syntactic difference is that the modal takes a short infinitive (i.e. without to).
Tough sledding as this statement is, it covers accurately the use of the special English verbs which match the range of the Latin Subjunctives and several other Latin verbs as well. Nothing like Bailey’s analysis is found in standard English grammar books, which still tend to describe English grammar in terms of the format and terminology of traditional Latin grammar. It is especially in the analysis of the “unreal” that English grammar differs so strongly from Latin usage.
In Canada the GIRM exists in both French and English.
The English GIRM is official since the promulgation of the new translation of the Roman Missal in 2011. The changes do not apply to the French sector since the French translation of the third typical edition of the Roman Missal is not complete. The French GIRM that accompanies that will not go into effect until the Canadian version of the French Missal is promulgated.
Thanks for sharing the official instructions. I can only assume that the Archbishops of Vancouver and Toronto have given specific instructions to their archdioceses as kneeling from after the Sanctus until the Great Amen and again after the Agnus Dei seems to be universal. I can’t speak for Toronto with as much confidence as Vancouver, but it is certainly universal in Vancouver.
I remember in one Vancouver parish several years ago the pastor had given the congregation the instruction to kneel only during the epiclesis / consecration, as is done in much of Canada…several weeks later he reversed his instruction. I am quite confident the Archbishop gave him a call. I know for a fact that His Grace instructed various pastors who had moved the tabernacle to a side chapel to return it to the centre of the sanctuary. A memo was sent out to all parishes several years ago forbidding the use of side chapels unless there was a true pastoral need or the architecture of the sanctuary absolutely prevented the tabernacle being front and centre. So there are certainly local norms in place that you won’t find in the GIRM.
Ironically, the cathedral itself is one of the exceptions. The tabernacle is still in the sanctuary, but off to the side, as the cathedra occupies the area behind the high altar. There is, however, no lack of reverence for the Real Presence at Holy Rosary Cathedral…at least half of the faithful kneel at the altar rail to receive Our Lord. There are 7 packed masses on a Sunday and 4 well attended masses per week day. Confession twice a day 6 days a week - and there is always a line. In the neighbouring more liberal Diocese of Nelson I’ve heard complaints about how "conservative"the archdiocese is.
So he addressed it just before Mass started. He started by saying that since his arrival he had noticed two things in our parish that he didn’t see anywhere else. First he dealt with the lack of reverence for Christ in the Tabernacle and asked us to remember His presence, reminding us that is indicated by the burning lamp in the sanctuary, and to please genuflect before slipping into our pew.
Then he said he couldn’t understand why we didn’t kneel for the Consecration and instructed us to kneel from the end of the Sanctus to after the Amen. He seemed almost embarrassed to have to mention these things but in the end I’m sure he made 98% of those who were there happy.
Eventually I may inform him of how we came to be ‘non-kneelers’: someone bullied a former pastor into it. Two women, the diocesan catechetical coordinator (one of our parishioners) and the parish administrator, waged a campaign to stop kneeling during Mass. When that succeeded and the Pastor finally let them have their way, they tried to have the kneelers removed, supposedly to ‘save the carpet’. I suggested that they had to poll the parishioners to see how they felt about it and in the end there was such an outcry that the kneelers stayed, but for the most part they were unused during Mass.