LIBERA ME, Domine, Iesu Christe, ab omnibus iniquitatis meis et universis malis,
fac me tuis semper inhærere mandatis et a te numquam separari permittas. Amen.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

I Don’t Understand . . .

. . . why so many Catholics apparently suffer from serious injuries to their knees.

I say this because I don’t wish to be uncharitable, and I therefore assume that anyone who doesn’t genuflect properly does so for some legitimate and unavoidable reason – which I would assume must largely be the result of physical restriction; and indeed I have a number of friends to whom I know that applies – knee replacements awaited, things like that.

Being honest, though, I also know that those people go to great lengths to make a much of a reverence as they’re physically capable of, and I am perfectly certain that God is more than satisfied by that.

What I’m commenting on is the quite large number of people, with no apparent physical inability, who seem to feel that a modest ‘bob’ of one knee or other is sufficient reverence to make to the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle – even, sometimes, to the Blessed Sacrament solemnly exposed.

For me, the Most Holy Sacrament – Jesus Christ, truly present, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity – is the ultimate treasure of the Catholic Faith, and I find it extremely hard to understand why anyone who actually believes in the doctrine of the Real Presence would seek in any way to moderate the prescribed gesture of reverence to Our Blessed Lord . . . and yet one sees it all the time.

I hesitate to ascribe this to ‘Vatican II’; but I do wonder whether the liturgical changes have been at least partly responsible for a regression in faith in the Real Presence, which in turn has meant that people see a genuflection less as an act of devotion, and more as just another symbol – more about ‘being Catholic’, in other words, and less about Our Lord.

Thomas Arnold, the Headmaster of Rugby School famous from ‘Tom Brown’s Schooldays’, wrote :

‘It is idolatry to talk about Holy Church and Holy Father, to bow to fallible sinful man, if you do not bend knee and lip and heart to every thought and image of God manifest as Man.’

. . . and it seems to me that there’s something in that. I’m sure, myself, that the Holy Father would be horrified to think that there were Catholics out there who made much of him, but would not even make the effort to make a proper genuflection to Our Blessed Lord on the altar . . . and a bow whenever they heard Our Lord’s name, or passed a crucifix.

Can't all of us Catholics make a point of giving the sincerest, most careful, reverences to Our Blessed Lord . . . both out of love for Him and His Church, and in reparation for the insults (often unwittingly) heaped on Him by all those who don’t love and care for Him ?

I think we can, if we want to – don’t you ?


  1. I agree wholeheartedly...I once watched a religious (non-habited of course), bow to the Altar and ignore the Tabernacle, odd isn't it? I am waiting for the day when I'll be permitted to kneel to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion, and not be forced to line up like I was getting a movie ticket...

  2. This has been on my mind for two weeks, Father. Thank you for raising the point. I gave a spiritual talk at a Catholic men's group recently about how physical externals such as genuflecting ENHANCE my faiths by reinforcing my beliefs with physical action. I made it VERY clear that the physical act alone is not a substitute for belief.
    Well, I'm sorry to say that everyone in the group (7 men in their 60s-70s) reduced the discussion to me being like the pharisees. These guys missed the point entirely. And one of the guys said, "well, people are getting away from genuflecting these days". Which, ironically enough, helped prove my point about how externals helped me come back to the faith I was never properly taught (I'm 38).

  3. Mickey;
    I don't know whether you're in the US or not - although I suspect you may well be : but in any event, you ARE permitted to kneel lto receive Holy Communion - and no-one may say otherwise.

    I'll post about this later today or early tomorrow, quoting 'chapter and verse' so that you know !

  4. Great post Dominic, and good for you, reminding us.

    I notice my attention, and reverence at Mass becomes much more apparent, when I, myself, or children, are suffering and also, in contrast when praying regular Rosaries, when for me, the joy of being close to Mother, seems to make up for my usual moans and groans.

    My attitude, of gratitude needs serious maintaining at all other times.

    God forgive me, a sinner.

  5. Lack of respect for the Blessed Sacrament is, I fear, almost endemic these days.

    It's fed, of course, by the "spirit of Vatican II/bus-queue/receive standing and in the hand" attitude to communion. I feel very sad when I see people (and even altar severs who should know better - or have been better instructed) giving the tabernacle a cursory nod (or not even that).

    My faith in the real presence was wonderfully enhanced late last year on a pilgimage to the Holy Land; at the Church of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor I was - quite unexpectedly - absolutely floored by an overwhelming awareness of the presence of God in the Blessed Sacrament.