Expert Answer Forum
Genuflecting at communion - Ceremonial of Bishops QUESTION from Jacob September 28, 2000 Hello, Mr. Miskell, good to see you back. Say, I want to genuflect before I receive communion in line like I believe you do. Can you help me with a problem? How do you reconcile genuflecting with The Ceremonial of Bishops, Section II, number 71? those who pass before the Blessed Sacrament genuflect, except when they are walking in procession? Please, I'll take any interpretation you can think of. :-)
ANSWER by Mr. John Miskell on September 28, 2000 Dear Jacob,
It's nice to be back, and thank you for this interesting question.
The Ceremonial of Bishops, Section II, number 71 is referring to group liturgical processions which is different than that which occurs when the faithful process individually up the aisle to receive Communion. What the individual faithful should be doing at this time is spelled out in Inaestimabile Donum. The English title for this authoritative document is; THE INSTRUCTION CONCERNING WORSHIP OF THE EUCHARISTIC MYSTERY. This document says;
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 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] Note that the instruction says that the sign of reverence before receiving the Sacrament should be done in such a way as to not disrupt the order of people going to and from Communion. There is no specific requirement to genuflect when receiving Communion but it is clear that a sign of reverence must be shown. This being said, genuflecting and kneeling have always been the signs of Eucharistic adoration in the Latin Church. One can see from the document that genuflecting or kneeling is what they have in mind; otherwise why would they be concerned with people possibly being disrupted? The choice to genuflect or kneel or to receive on the tongue or in the hand is left up to the person receiving Communion, not the priest. It's similar to whether or not you wish to confess your sins face-to-face or from behind the screen; IT'S UP TO YOU! But common sense has to be exercised.
I go to Mass at a very large parish and normally my family and I genuflect before we receive. Sometimes the Mass is exceptionally crowded and there are additional stations for Communion or more than one priest, deacon, etc… giving Communion at the same station. When this happens there are people moving in all directions at the same time and bumping into one-another. Once upon a time at such a Mass I genuflected and a lady tripped over my foot as she tried to pass behind me. Therefore I've learned that in such RARE situations I must limit my sign of reverence to a profound bow instead of a genuflection.
I hope this helps.
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