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.

Monday, 10 May 2010

I Don’t Understand . . .

I was always under the impression that reverence dictated that, unless compelled by infirmity (which is, of course, an entirely legitimate reason), one should never turn one’s back on the Sanctissimum, or sit down before It.

And yet I constantly seem to have that belief challenged by people I either know, or at least have good reason to believe, are pious, devout, and reverent.

At Mass (EF) yesterday, for instance I was surprised to notice that several people – including those sitting in front of me, who were clearly knowledgeable and devout – sat between the ‘Domine non sum dignus’ and going up to make their Communion; and then again sat – rather than knelt – down as soon as they got back to their places.

Similarly, one would assume that anyone who will get up in the middle of the night to spend the small hours at Quarant ’Ore must be at least reasonably devoted to the Blessed Sacrament : and yet when I went to one a few weeks ago, several of those present were sitting, rather than kneeling.

Again, I have seen notably well-trained servers turning their backs on the Most Holy – indeed, I have even seen priests do so – during the course of the Mass.

I can’t believe that they’re all wrong; so it clearly must be me. I just wish I understood what the rules really are – and why.


  1. To be fair, you don't always know whether someone is incapable of kneeling... even very young people can have knee problems... sometimes these come and go, which can give the wrong impression if one is seen kneeling on one occasion and not on another.

    At one point, I was in this situation. Some days I could kneel, some days not, and sometimes only for a very short period. However, I looked ok to the casual observer. It caused me quite a bit of grief. Similarly, I have days when I can genuflect quite reverently without any support, and days when I can barely manage a bob (I usually try to bow instead)... and on some days I stiffen up during a Mass, so I start off ok and get less and less (apparently) reverent.

    It's best not to judge...

  2. Well, kneeling, of course is commendable...but don't forget Mary Magdalen sat at the feet of Jesus.

  3. I wonder if Jesus accepts our poor offerings and actions, if indeed, that is what they are. Look at His walk to Calvary, stumbling and falling three times. A terribly irreverent affair that Our Saviour endured for us. No-one offered to help Him, indeed a man had to be forced to. Yet Our Lord accepted this pitiful 'offering' of help. He is so humble. When you get upset, offer the emotions to Him, as a sharing in how He felt at that moment. Perhaps this is a small part of your own 'way of the Cross'. Of course, I may be talking absolute nonsense, as I am the worst correct observer at Mass, that I have yet to meet.

    I do know that part of your love for God, is shown in the way you observe, to the very best of your ability, the correct rubrics ( is that the right word? ) of the Mass.

    God bless, and keep the faith.

  4. But we sit during the Liturgy of the Word, whilst the Sacrament is present.

    I know what you mean, actually, but custom may have a role to play here. I had some delightful 'discussions' with an Australian friend when he came to visit about why people in Scotland sit during some orations...

  5. I must admit that I have rarely seen sitting at that point at the old mass. The ideal would be to kneel from the Domine non sum dignus until after communion. Sitting would be a concession to infirmity.

    A visit to Harvington Hall last Friday reminded me that seats in church for the laity at all are a fairly recent invention, and that our forefathers either stood or knelt. The clergy had seats on sanctuary, as a symbol of their office. No doubt there were seats for the infirm.

    I would recommend personally that the laity who are able should not sit at all at low mass , except during the sermon if there is one. That is, to kneel at the epistle and the offertory. At sung mass, of course, the customary rules should be followed.