EWTN Catholic Q&A
RE: Posture after receiving Communion
Question from P.J. on 09-13-2013:

In our archdiocese the norm is to remain standing until all have received. Then one may either kneel or sit. I suggest the poster who asked the question of you become informed of the local norms before commenting to the priest or pastor. He or she should either ask the pastor or place a call to the chancery.

Answer by Catholic Answers on 09-13-2013:


Okay, this is going to be my final response on this issue. Readers, please stop sending responses as this is not a discussion forum.

As to this issue, while I didn't say so to begin with because I didn't want to encourage disrespect for the priest's authority, the fact is that this priest had no right to attempt to enforce a preference for standing after receiving Communion. Your archdiocese also does not have the authority to require congregants to stand until all have received.

In 2003, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments issued a clarification on whether people could kneel after receiving Communion:

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 mensum [No, for this reason]. The mens [reasoning] is that the prescription of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani, no. 43, is intended, on the one hand, to ensure within broad limits a certain uniformity of posture within the congregation for the various parts of the celebration of 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 (source).

There is no restriction on the priest that forbids him to ask people to remain standing, which is why I did not dispute his request. But there is a clear restriction on any attempt to bully laity into not kneeling. In a place where a "norm" has been promulgated "requiring" all to remain standing until all have received Communion, individual laity are free to sit or kneel if they prefer and should not be pressured to conform.

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers