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Liturgy & Liturgical Law Forum: Kneeling during the Consecration

by Catherine Frakas 19 Jan 2001

Kneeling during the Consecration QUESTION from A. Basto on February 3, 2002 Dear Mr. Slavek,
Thank you very much for your answer to my recent question regarding the essential formula of transubstantiation.
I would like to know the precise moment when we are expected, and commanded, to kneel and to stand up during the consacration.
As I have told you in previous questions, I live in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I am stating that once more because I know that in America you have a particular law according to which you maintain the very beautiful tradition of kneeling during the entire Eucharistic Prayer. But that is not the case here in my country. Catholics are bound by the universal law, according to which we are to kneel only during the consecration.
My personal habbit has always been to kneel down after the end of the epiclesis and before the Institution. That is to say, (Using the Eucharistic Prayer I as an example), I am used to kneel down after the sentence: Let it become for us the body and blood of Jesus Christ, your only Son, our Lord, so that I am already on my knees when the Priest starts to say the words: The day before he suffered....
And I remain kneeling during the consecration.
After the Priest says the words: Do this in memory of me, I remain on my knees, until the Priest has made the elevation of the chalice, and then genuflected. When the Priest is standing up again after the genuflection, he speaks the words: The Mystery of Faith, and then I stand up and say the ICEL portuguese language translation of the words: Mortem tuam annuntiamus, Domine, et tuam resurrectionem confitemur, donec venias.
Is this the correct way to observe the law regarding kneelig?
Some people kneel at the start of the last sentence of the Epiclesis, which, according to your answer to my question on the formula of transubstantiation, is not part of the actual consecration. Others kneel at the middle of that same sentence, in the very moment when the Priest makes the sign of the cross over the gifts while saying the word body: Let it become for us the bo(+)dy and blood of Jesus Christ, your only Son, our Lord.
The Formula of Institution itself takes less than a minute and a half, so I wouldn't want to be standing in a moment when I should by law be kneeling, but it seems to me that the correct thing to do is to stand during the epiclesis, and kneel at the consacration itself, that is to say, to begin kneeling at the words that immediately surround the formula of Transubstantiation of the bread into the Body of Christ. Which means that the correct time to kneel down is, in my view, right before the words: The day before he suffered..., that narrate the institution of the Eucharist. Am I correct?
Also, I notice that some people do not wait as long as I do to stand up. They stand as soon as the elevation of the chalice is ended, sometimes before the genuflection of the priest.
Given that confusion, I ask you what is the correct way to follow the rubrics in that matter?
Also, is it true that there is no problem in kneeling at the parts of the canon in which we are expected to be sanding up?
ANSWER by Mr. Jacob Slavek on February 9, 2002 Dear Mr. Basto,
Your interpretation of the instruction is correct.
I have never attended Holy Mass outside of the United States, so I asked my friend who studied in Rome last year. He said that in practice, people began kneeling basically whenever they wanted. Some began to kneel at the beginning of the Canon, a little later others knelt, little bit later a few more, until eventually by the consecration everyone was kneeling. He said with laughter this was the Italian way of doing things.
So is there a problem with kneeling too early? I don't know. Strictly if you were to follow the GIRM (kneeling instructions are not included in the rubrics), you would begin right as the priest says The day before he suffered, however, in the past people have been kneeling more than they should and Rome has said officially (in certain cases) that this practice is praiseworthy and to be retained.
If I were to leave the United States and attend Mass, in order to follow the instruction properly, I would kneel at The day before he suffered and get up after the priest's second genuflection. Accordingly, I encourage you to continue what you are doing now.
Mr. Slavek
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