Standing vs Kneeling after Receiving Communion

Standing vs Kneeling after Receiving Communion

I was assigned to my current parish July 1st last year.  Before I even arrived the previous pastor handed me their pastoral priorities.  The Archdiocese had all parishes do that, and St. Pius X took that very seriously.  The main points were 3 pages long and with all the clarifications was much longer.  What does this have to do with Standing vs Kneeling after Receiving Communion?  Let me tell you….

Two if the items presented to me were to increase reverence during Mass and music.  At a conference two presenters talked about remaining standing after receiving communion and the great impact it had on the assembly.  I talked to many people and we decided to give it a try.  After mass, there was a very positive response and I think a total of 4 people against.  I liked the prayerful sense I felt during communion this weekend.

The whole time I have said that we are trying this for a few months to see if it fits this community.  I was surprised that this morning there were a few emails and letters of people wanting to leave the parish if we keep doing this.  Then I find on Facebook that a parishioner quoting a priest saying that what we are doing isn’t Catholic.  I just don’t get how easy it is for people to manufacture truth online.  Part of me longs for simpler days, but then I lose this forum and I realize it is just part of life today!

That said, here are the directions from the GIRM (General Instruction on the Roman Missal or the instruction book for our liturgies), if you click here, it will take to to link I got this from on the USCCB website.

From the GIRM:

43. The faithful should stand from the beginning of the Entrance Chant, or while the Priest approaches the altar, until the end of the Collect; for the Alleluia Chant before the Gospel; while the Gospel itself is proclaimed; during the Profession of Faith and the Universal Prayer; and from the invitation, Orate, fratres (Pray, brethren), before the Prayer over the Offerings until the end of Mass, except at the places indicated here below.

The faithful should sit, on the other hand, during the readings before the Gospel and the Responsorial Psalm and for the Homily and during the Preparation of the Gifts at the Offertory; and, if appropriate, they may sit or kneel during the period of sacred silence after Communion.

In the Dioceses of the United States of America, they should kneel beginning after the singing or recitation of the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy) until after the Amen of the Eucharistic Prayer, except when prevented on occasion by ill health, or for reasons of lack of space, of the large number of people present, or for another reasonable cause. However, those who do not kneel ought to make a profound bow when the Priest genuflects after the Consecration. The faithful kneel after the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) unless the Diocesan Bishop determines otherwise.[53]

For the sake of uniformity in gestures and bodily postures during one and the same celebration, the faithful should follow the instructions which the Deacon, a lay minister, or the Priest gives, according to what is laid down in the Missal.

Note:  Communion isn’t over till the prayer after communion where we now are all all seated together and I guess if people wanted to kneel they could.

In Short:

The time after we receive communion isn’t really private prayer time.  It is communal.  We are to be signing and praying together.  I hope we can give this enough time to see if this works for us.

What does your Church do?

39 thoughts on “Standing vs Kneeling after Receiving Communion”

  1. You and the archbishop’s advisors apparently have the pastoral sensitivities of a salamander.

  2. Since I am in the choir, I am always standing after communion. Actually, when we lived in Hawaii, this was the custom — to remain standing after receiving communion, so I have no problem with it.

  3. Hello, Father Pat. I was a chorister at your parish for roughly 6 years before your arrival. Since you asked: “What does your Church do?”

    I’m currently an instituted acolyte for a parish of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter (http://ordinariate.net/about) in greater Philadelphia. Communicants kneel at a rail to receive Communion (in both species), then return to their pews kneeling. During this time, the proper Communion antiphon of the day is sung first by the choir, and then a polyphonic motet. After the motet and the last communicant has returned to their place, while the priest (or deacon) is purifying the vessels at the altar, the congregation sings a hymn, 1940 Hymnal in hand, still kneeling.

    Granting that we don’t use the Ordinary Form of the Mass, our unique Ordinariate Missal, fully approved by Rome, still has the GIRM printed in the front. What I’ve described above is a perfectly acceptable model even in an Ordinary Form Mass.

    In your particular case, Father, even if you find that the majority of people prefer to remain standing after Communion, I would observe that the GIRM does not allow an individual priest to mandate a specific posture here. The question of standing or kneeling after Communion was brought before Rome in 2003. Francis Cardinal Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, answered it thus in a letter dated June 5:

    “‘Responsum: “Negative, et ad mentem” [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.'”

  4. In our travels last year, we found several churches in the northwest where standing during communion was the norm. While it seemed strange to us, because we weren’t used to it, the congregations at these churches were very comfortable with the practice. I suppose that one could sit or kneel if standing bothered them. It is not so much your posture, but your reverent participation that matters.

  5. Personally, I think it’s a terrible idea. First, you are outside of a huge military installment with many other military installments in the area. And you’re in a large metropolitan area with tourism as a huge industry. You have visitors at every Mass, I’m guessing. The norm in the Catholic (universal) Church around the world is to kneel before the presence of the Lord. And he’s still present for all to see until that tabernacle door is closed. And to change that and add your (not you specifically, anyone) own ‘culture’ to it even if allowed by the USCCB will mean that all visitors will do something different. So you will always have what you think are dissenter present. I’ve visited such parishes, ok just one, and I hope and pray you won’t do as that priest did to my family and tell folks they are wrong in front all of those present. It also seems grossly irreverent (barring no physical limits on the individual) to simply stand before Christ as if He were just nothing, a symbol. I too used to work in a parish and I know the desire to make things ‘better’ that folks want. I’ve even attended The Southwest Liturgical Conference. But changing the Mass isn’t ever a good idea. A part of the beauty that is the ‘universal church’ is that we can attend Mass anywhere around the world and know what we’re doing even if we have no clue what is being said. And in my personal opinion to change those universal norms just because we can, causes havoc, confusion, and anger. Those who are leaving are probably just noticing how it seems we care nothing for Christ and care more about the people STANDING around us. Should we even attempt to cater to folks in a parish? Is that even possible? I don’t think so. Folks will always want something else. And it usually isn’t about God at all, but about them. Every time a parish attempts to do just that, we lose what is most important….Christ. And I know that’s not the intent. Most Catholics don’t even believe He’s truly present in the Eucharist. How can we teach them if we appear to not worship Him? Which is more important the community or Him? Both are important but isn’t one far more than the other? I hope so. But it APPEARS to be something different when we do such things. And ‘causing a scandal’ is still something the church teaches is wrong. If we could truly see Him in bodily form wouldn’t we fall down fully prostrate and truly worship Him in His presence? To stand just seems too lazy and too relaxed to me. He is God, we should care more than just standing there. And I think it’s confusing to the young who are still learning. If we don’t act as though He is truly present, how will they ever believe it? Folks are leaving the Church in droves. Trying to change the wheel seems to be making things worse not better. This is why so many ‘traditional’ parishes are growing. Take a look at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Houston. They are enormous and just recently installed permanent communion rails. No one is forced to kneel to receive, but it does send a beautiful message about that parish and what/who is their priority. And last I heard they were the largest (by member count) parish in the USA. When I visit it is ‘wall to wall’ folks and they have 10 Mass times not including their weekday Masses. Just food for thought. Sorry, but you ask. 🙂 BTW, I’ve never noticed kneeler noise in any parish, and I travel a lot. What I have noticed however is a total lack of reverence from folks, walking around, talking before, during and after Mass. Not showing proper respect during the Eucharist as if it’s social hour or their just plain bored and doing something mundane. Folks don’t even know what the sign of peace is. They truly think it’s a like a welcome moment. We need to evangelize, not confuse.

    1. I even included the GIRM that says that the correct posture is to STAND except in the Dioceses of the US. So the argument in the beginning of your post falls flat. I guess I will keep typing this till my fingers don’t work. We are trying it. It is actually what the GIRM calls for. I have that above, I am not making it up, I included the link. Kneeler noise is a small part, the main point is that we stand in communion, we kneel in private prayer. We don’t kneel and hold hands, but we stand that way. We usually don’t put our arms around each-other kneeling, but we do standing. See other posts, there are others doing this!

  6. Since it is the local custom to kneel after returning from communion and out of reverence for the fact that the Eucharist is out of the tabernacle and being distributed, I prefer to kneel. I do not stand at benediction nor adoration. To me, standing is a less reverent posture than kneeling. I appreciate that Fr. Pat is attempting to bring more reverence to the mass, but I am not convinced that this is the way for our parish. We should also address issues such as behavior and noise level before and after mass, lack of appropriate dress, and lack of genuflecting upon arrival and departure as well as lack of reverence when crossing in front of the tabernacle.

    1. It has worked in many other places. All I am asking is to give it a few months. That is all, a few months to try something that has worked for many others…what can that harm?

      1. Well, You must see that it has done some harm. Some are feeling confused or even angry.
        My 13 year old, who has been in Catholic school since Kindergarten, is now asking if her former pastors were wrong, if her teachers at school have been wrong, if her parents have taught her incorrectly. She is unsure of what to think or what to do. She felt compelled to kneel at school mass, but was fearful that she would get in trouble for it.
        It’s too late now, but perhaps it would have been prudent to explain the GIRM clearly and effectively before making a change and then putting out a survey monkey asking for input. Based off of those results you could have then said, OK, the feedback was overwhelming positive and we’re going to try it.
        I have many friends who are at other parishes in San Antonio. So far, all of those parishes kneel upon returning from receiving communion. St. John Neumann, OLPH, St. Monica’s, Our Lady of Grace. One friend, who is a parishioner OLG, attends daily mass downtown and they also kneel at St. Joeseph’s and San Fernando. St. Patrick’s in New York, they kneel. Every mass I have ever attended with any Archbishop or Bishop in San Antonio…we have knelt.

        1. I just read a response you had to another parishioner where you said “just because something is different doesn’t mean the other was wrong.” Thank you for that, because I think there is some misunderstanding that you are saying that it is wrong. This helps me explain to my 13 year old more clearly the situation.
          I still prefer kneeling, but in the spirit of things, we will try standing on Sunday.

  7. From Fr. Richard Heilman, who has grown the size of his parish while increasing the reverence being shown to our Lord.
    “While all of this is meant to assist the soul in being raised to a sense of transcendence, it also speaks of a “seriousness” of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. In such transcendent beauty and grandeur, it becomes difficult for the soul to remain flippant about their faith any longer. In many cases, this exposure to a sense of transcendence “flips a switch” in people’s faith lives, and they “get it” (they are illuminated) … they now know their relationship with God is the highest priority of their lives. Many, including myself, are moved to tears of indescribable joy in beholding the “Real Presence” of God in this most sacred liturgy. It is a union one never wants to lose.

    This is the gift of “Awe and Wonder.” NOW, one has moved from unspiritual man to spiritual man. NOW, he can receive all of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. NOW, the truths of God are no longer foolishness but a “way of life.” NOW, the soul hungers for “the more” of God. NOW, has the man been truly and authentically evangelized.”

    https://www.romancatholicman.com/authentic-love-wills-greatest-good/

    1. Agree 100%. The goal is to stay on a path that helps people to get it. If we are stuck in our ways, and can’t look at any change and are not getting it, there is then no way to get it…

      1. Changing things doesn’t help, especially when the traditional ways were rich and beautiful. Look at data comparing pre and post Vatican 2. There are many young folks who prefer The Latin Mass and Baltimore Catechism, it is growing and attracts even Protestants. Why not try keeping the Faith and fighting for it from a place of love and charity (For Christ) instead of changing to accommodate? Christ is first, not annoying creaking noises. San Antonio is such a beautiful city with a beautiful Catholic history and it is so sad to see clergy seemingly so against tradition. Tradition is what brought me back.

        1. I am not changing to accommodate…Not sure where that is coming from. I have the ONLY Mass in Extraordinary form in a large diocese, maybe 150 people are there regularly. My move is actually going back to the way things were done! So not clear what the point is here….

  8. “the faithful…may sit or kneel during the period of sacred silence after Communion.” GIRM

    “The time after we receive communion isn’t really private prayer time. It is communal. We are to be signing and praying together.”
    Fr. Pat

    So let’s see, the GIRM say sit or kneel in silence (presumably in private prayer). Fr. Pat says stand up and sing because private prayer isn’t appropriate.

    Did I miss something?

    Oh yeah, only four people were not in favor over the course of all Sunday Masses, yet it’s such a contentious issue that people are threatening to leave St. Pius and he’s left longing for “simpler days”. Pray, pay and obey ye olde peasants. The liturgical “experts” know better than you.

    1. Yes you did, it says sit or kneel after communion, communion isn’t over till after the prayer after communion which ends communion. Then you sit or Kneel. The not I put in makes that clear.

    2. Jason, count the number of actual parishioners upset here too, just because the number is small even a salamander can care and work to help them understand. And you asking “did I miss something” made me laugh, thanks!

      1. Replies from the Congregation of Divine Worship to the question of the validity of this practice, have made abundantly and emphatically clear that requiring the congregation to stand during Communion is wrong and people are to either sit or kneel during this time.
        There are always those at the ready to provide “positive feedback” and puff up the pride of those who seek to bring in liturgical innovation. Pastors who insulate themselves from criticism by surrounding themselves with fans of this sort are unlikely to be changed in their approach, even in the face of reasoned arguments. Allowing people to voice their opposition, after the fact, when there is no intention of reversing course, is quite insulting to your congregation

          1. Father, just curious. What do the faithful do at San Fernando, the Archbishops home church?

  9. It is my opinion that everybody has a very sensitive feeling on this particular topic, change is never easy but if we allow our minds to be opened and know that the learning process never ends then perhaps it might be more understandable in that we are sharing in the most Holy Communion as a community…. I believe was the objective.

    Personally seeking out a personal relationship with Jesus Christ Our maker with our Blessed Mother exemplifying kindness, loving our neighbor, and stewardship in our everyday lives then we can hope to find a deeper unity in Christ which is ultimately what God would like us to do. “Love one another as I have loved you”. Imitate a gentleness that comes from The Graces of our Blessed Mother so as to when something like this is put in front of us we work together united to achieve a positive result.

    I don’t think that Jesus, the Vatican, the Archbishop places anybody in a position to lead a congregation if they didn’t have the right intent in their heart. As well as a comprehensive study of Theology.

    Lots of sidelines debates going on this topic, but this is where it belongs here on our Parish Community blog.

    It’s sad that anyone would want to leave there Parish instead of building it up. I pray that all hearts are softened.

    1. Grace, we’re creatures of habit, we do not want to change. However, I don’t think that is the issue here. Change should be driven by something that’s going to make things better. What is the problem we are trying to fix by standing instead of kneeling, what wasn’t working? From what Fr. Pat has said, is a matter of reverence. And I’d like to add here, in response to your comment, that the church does have a lot of examples of people who have guided the church who have done very bad things… the church is guided by the Holy Spirit but we are human and can choose to ignore Him. Free will. I have no reason to believe this is the case with Fr. Pat, I strongly believe he has the parish’s interests at heart, I just wanted to point out that the are many examples of when this hasn’t been the case. Anyway, if the problem we are trying to solve is one of reverence, how is standing more reverent than kneeling? How is standing there staring at other parishioners more reverent than silently giving thanks to the Lord and worshipping Him for having just received Him? Father mentions community time but what does this mean, are we expected to talk to our neighbor while we wait for everyone to receive, are we to hold hands, stare and smile at each other to make everyone feel welcomed? I think my time would be better served in worshipping the Lord or praying for those that were not able to receive. It’s not social hour. I’m one of the people that Fr Pat is talking about, I think. Not that I want to leave the parish, just that I don’t think I can attend these Masses if this is the case. I feel I’m being told I can’t worship the Lord, especially during such an important time in the Mass, because I have to think of how those around me will “feel.”

      1. It isn’t out time, me and God, it is our time, us as community and God. It is my time of reverence, but out time of standing together in faith, community time.

        1. Fr. Pat, on one hand you have been saying that this is about reverence and on the other that it is about community time. Which is it? Is mass not community time by virtue of the fact that we are all gathered together to worship? Does a particular posture make this time communal or the fact that all in worship are engaged in the same posture? If our brothers and sisters at surrounding parishes are not taking the same posture..are we in communion with them?

      2. Carolina,…I too am a creature of habit as most who live very active productive lives are. I completely agree with you that all are entitled to their feelings. I am optimistic by nature I chose to look on the positive side of any given issue. I can also feel very strongly in many areas of life, however when it comes to our faith, our prayer life, our Church I can most assuredly say without a question of a doubt that our Father in Heaven would not want us bashing one another or to be at such odds. I am confident that a discussion could be shared with a great deal of calmness as everyone shares their input. Ultimately I am sure that in the end its always Gods will that will be done. I prefer to take the stance of a peacemaker, have a blessed evening.
        On Change that was something our Heavenly Father made….time changes, season change, feelings change, a cocoon then becomes a caterpillar then a butterfly. Flowing buds blossom through change into beautiful flowers, when change stops occurring one thing is sure to take place….

  10. Carolina,…I too am a creature of habit as most who live very active productive lives are. I completely agree with you that all are entitled to their feelings. I am optimistic by nature I chose to look on the positive side of any given situation. I can also feel very strongly in many areas of life that I may not agree with, however when it comes to our faith, our prayer life, our Church I can most assuredly say without a question of a doubt that our Father in Heaven would not want us bashing one another or to be at such odds. I am confident that a discussion could be shared with a great deal of calmness as everyone shares their input. Ultimately I am sure that in the end its always Gods will that will be done. I prefer to take the stance of a peacemaker, have a blessed evening.

    On Change that was something our Heavenly Father made….time changes, season change, feelings change, a cocoon then becomes a caterpillar then a butterfly. Flowing buds blossom through change into beautiful flowers, when change stops occurring one thing is sure to take place….

  11. There are very heavy emotions over this subject. That in itself should indicate just how serious a matter this is. I told Father Pat in a private email that he like to deal in semantics, in that conversation it was pertaining to my use of age old tradition. He wanted to refer to my statement as not being correct because the age old tradition, early church, was standing. I was referring to the 300+ years it has been practiced specifically here in south Texas and particularly San Antonio. I took the time to go online and read part of the GIRM. For those of you who do not know what the acronym stands for it is the General Instruction of the Roman Missile prepared by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The part that Father Pat keeps referencing is from ChapterII: The Structure of the Mass, Its Elements, and Its Parts. The very last paragraph reads: For the sake of uniformity in gesture and bodily postures during one and the same celebration, the faithful should follow the instructions which the Deacon, a lay minister, or the Priest gives, [ according to what is laid down in the Missal.] For many years I have used my own personal Missal rather than the Missalettes provided by the parish. My Missal is called the New St. Joseph Sunday Missal. It has the NIHIL OBSTAT and the IMPRIMATUR . It is published with the approval of the Committee on Devine Worship United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Throughout the Missal, in the Order of the Mass, it has clear instructions, IN BOLD, to what posture is to be taken by the faithful for each part of the Mass. Entrance, STAND. The Liturgy of the Word, First and Second Readings, SIT. Gospel Acclamation, STAND. Homily, SIT. Profession of Faith, STAND. The Liturgy of the Eucharist Presentation and Preparation of the Gifts, SIT. Invitation to Prayer, STAND. Preface Acclamation, (Holy, Holy, Holy), KNEEL. The Communion Rite, ( the Lords Prayer through the Lamb of God) , STAND. KNEEL after the Lamb of God. Prayer after Communion, STAND. The Concluding Rites, STAND. These are the instructions set forth by the USCCB. No where does it state to remain standing during the distribution of Communion. When you first came you told us that St. Pius was our parish, that you were here to serve us and address our needs as a parish community. Although your intentions may be good, this has created an unsettling atmosphere in our parish. There are many who dislike and disapprove of your choice, but for whatever reason, they are willing to just quietly leave their parish OR in my opinion worse, will silently let a change occur that they know and feel in their hearts is wrong. Simply because the Priest said it. A Priest yes, but also a human man, who is capable of making wrong choices. You said you made the decision to try this based on two families who had gone on vacation and experienced it in the church they visited. Ok. First, that has nothing to do with reverence. Second, I know you have received more negative input from more than two families . I know you say you want to ‘try’ it for a few months, but at what cost to the faithful?

    1. change is hard, but all I am asking is to try it for a few months. Many of those against, have not even tried it yet. I found two on facebook the first week that were out of town. Please all I am asking is that many places of loved this, give it a few months. that is all.

  12. Fr. Pat, by your arbitrary decision, you are needlessly causing dissension within your flock. Stop, for the sake of Jesus. You aren’t even competent to do what you’re doing according to the GIRM.
    390. It is for the Conferences of Bishops to formulate the adaptations indicated in this General Instruction and in the Order of Mass and, once their decisions have been accorded the recognitio of the Apostolic See, to introduce them into the Missal itself. They are such as these:

    • the gestures and bodily posture of the faithful (cf. no. 43);

    1. I will not stand after Holy Communion. It is irreverent to me and personal to my relationship with my Lord.

  13. Fr. Pat,
    I have enjoyed reading the debates regarding standing vs kneeling after communion. However, I would like to know your thoughts about leaving right after communion which seems to be the third option exercised by some parishioners.
    Looking forward to your response.

    1. When asked i respond. Only one person left the last supper early! I realize for work and other issues some have to leave, but there are many, just not wanting to wait! I am torn as I am glad they are there, but I really don’t get leaving early, ever! (Of course unless there is work or other issue beyond your control!

  14. Fr., I have a concern about this standing business. As a person who sometimes finds himself in a state of sin, and not able to get to confession before mass, I don’t go up to communion. I normally kneel and try to make a spiritual communion when everyone in my pew goes up, or I sit and try to blend into the seat to avoid the embarrassment I feel. I am not sure what I will do now. Stand up and stick out like a sore thumb? Everyone will be able to see me, as I am a fairly tall guy. I can’t imagine how beet red my face will be. I know the simple solution is to walk up with everyone and get a blessing, but I don’t feel right getting a blessing from one of those Eucharistic ministers that are normal folk like me, they don’t have the authority to bless me like you do. I just don’t know what to do Fr, but I sure don’t feel like this is going to be very communal for me. I know the easy solution is don’t fall out of grace; I’m trying!

    1. You could sit waiting for your pew to return, but I would much rather you came to see me and figure out a way to get you to communion! Only a mortal sin precludes you. The Pope, echoing words for our patron, wants us receiving communion. We need the grace in this world. Mass starts with a penitential rite and when priest says, “May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins and bring us to everlasting life!” your sins are forgiven. Many used to teach that certain things were automatically mortal sins, that just isn’t true. Please check the Catechism, I would like to give less blessings, (another option to just come up for a blessing) and more of the Body of Christ. Please come see me!

  15. I will not stand after Holy Communion. It is irreverent to me and personal to my relationship with my Lord.

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