Kneeling in the Mass 

In some dioceses the faithful are still being told that they must stand at various times during the Mass when they are accustomed to kneeling by the liturgical tradition of the Roman Rite, by universal law, or are moved by devotion. They are told to do this for the sake of unity, and it is sometimes stated, or strongly implied, that they are disobedient if they do not. These occasions include: when an entire parish or diocese unlawfully institutes an adaptation at some point in the Mass, such as standing at the Consecration, or, when a bishop lawfully establishes a particular norm for his diocese to stand after the Agnus Dei (as permitted by GIRM 43), or, when a parish or diocese insists that everyone must stand after their Communion until all have received, and similar instances. See Authority in the Liturgy for some general legal principles.

The below letter from the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments clarifies the obligation of the faithful in such circumstances.

Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., Chairman of the Bishops Committee on the Liturgy, received the following clarification concerning the right interpretation of the "General Instruction of the Roman Missal" on the posture of the faithful from their own reception of Communion until the period of sacred silence after all Communions have been received (at which time they may sit or kneel as they prefer).

Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments

5 June 2003

Prot. n. 855/03/L

Dubium: In many places, the faithful are accustomed to kneeling or sitting in personal prayer upon returning to their places after having individually received Holy Communion during Mass. Is it the intention of the Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia, to forbid this practice?

Responsum: Negative, et ad mentem. The mens is that the prescription of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani, no. 43, is intended, on one hand, to ensure within broad limits a certain uniformity of posture within the congregation for the various parts of the celebration of the Holy Mass, and on the other, to not regulate posture rigidly in such a way that those who wish to kneel or sit would no longer be free.

Francis Cardinal Arinze

Related Documents:

Congregation Responses on Denying Communion

Congregation Responses on Posture and other Matters

Answered by Colin B. Donovan, STL

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