Expert Answer Forum

Posture when receiving Communion QUESTION from Kimberly Huffman April 18, 1999
It is strongly recommended in the GIRM that we make the appropriate reverence before receiving the Blessed Sacrament if we do not receive kneeling. As we do not receive kneeling in our parish, I have begun genuflecting in communion line. Is this the correct application of the suggestion and/or can you offer further commentary? Thank you and God Bless your work. ANSWER by Mr. John Miskell on April 18, 1999
Dear Kimberly, Thanks for an interesting question. In addition to the instruction in the GIRM, in 1980, Pope John Paul II issued the following statement; When the faithful communicate kneeling, no other sign of reverence towards the Blessed Sacrament is required, since kneeling is itself a sign of adoration. When they receive Communion standing, it is strongly recommended that, coming up in procession, they should make a sign of reverence before receiving the Sacrament... This statement of course concurs exactly with the GIRM, however it goes on to say; This should be done at the right time and place, so that the order of people going to and from Communion is not disrupted. [Inaestimabile Donum. Approved and Confirmed by His Holiness Pope John Paul II April 17, 1980] This statement is revealing. First, we know that the traditional sign of reverence for the Eucharist in the Western Church is the genuflection. Secondly I can't think of any other sign of reverence short of prostrating oneself in the aisle that could potentially disrupt the order of people going to and from Communion other than a genuflection. The Cermonial of Bishops tells us; A genuflection, made by bending only the right knee to the ground, signifies adoration, and is therefore reserved for the Blessed Sacrament. . . The local bishop can mandate a particular sign of reverence to be shown prior to receiving Communion. Recently a bishop in Pennsylvania mandated that the faithful in his diocese stop and make the sign of the cross BEFORE receiving Communion instead of genuflecting or bowing (or as in most cases, doing nothing). He has every right to insist on this and the way I see it at least he's making everyone make a sign of reverence as opposed to the mish-mash that I see in most places. My family and I genuflect (when my back cooperates) before receiving and we will continue to do so until our bishop tells us otherwise. God bless you. John Miskell Back to Index Page

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