The posture of standing as we pray to God began in the early church and has its tradition in our Jewish roots. It is a sign of respect and reverence to God as we voice our prayers. We stand as we pray and ask for forgiveness in the penitential rite, sing praise to God in the Gloria and as we pray the opening prayer. We stand as we hear the Gospel proclaimed in which we hear about and from Jesus. We stand again as we profess our faith praying the Creed and then address our needs to God as we pray the General Intercessions. We stand again as we join with the angels and saints in singing the Holy, Holy, Holy and as we arise after the Eucharistic prayer to address the Father in the Lord’s Prayer. Finally, we stand as we pray the collect after Communion and as we are sent forth into the world to glorify the Lord by our lives. All of these gestures of ris-ing to pray are a sign of respect and reverence and are a reminder to us that we are a people called to rise with Christ through the power of the Resurrection.
We sit during the times that we are being instructed during Mass as the Old and New Testament read-ings are proclaimed and as the homily is being given by the priest or deacon. The sitting position is a position of attentive listening that we may learn and grow in the ways of God. We also sit after everyone has received Holy Communion, to take a moment to listen to God as he speaks to our hearts.
Another physical gesture we do during Mass is bowing. This is a sign of profound reverence. So, as we recite the Nicene Creed we bow our heads as we remember the Lord’s Incarnation. We also bow as a sign of reverence as we approach to receive the Body of Christ and again as we approach the cup to receive the Blood of Christ. Even if you do not receive the Blood of Christ, you should bow as you pass the minister of the cup in reverence to Jesus’ Presence in the Precious Blood.
We kneel during Mass as a sign of humility. Kneeling is the posture of prayer during the words of Con-secration in the universal church as we hear the words of Jesus as the gifts of bread and wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ. In the United Stated the Bishops call for the faithful to remain kneeling as a sign of through the whole Eucharistic prayer.
Whether we sit, stand or kneel all the faithful are called to do the same action as if they were one body; and so they are as the Body of Christ. Now some people for health reason might not be able to assume cer-tain physical postures and this is certainly understandable. But, in general all should be worshiping together in the same position; this is a sign of our Unity in Christ.
Bishop Matano mentioned though that as he has traveled around the diocese he has noticed that the same practice is not observed by all the faithful after the Agnus Dei (“Lamb of God”). Bishop Matano has no-ticed that, “it has become increasingly evident that there is a wide divergence of practices in the posture of kneeling after the ‘Lamb of God” which causes confusion particularly at parishes which border other diocese or when visitors are present to worship with us from outside the diocese.” To stress our unity as one body as we prepare to receive Holy Communion he has asked that we assume the posture of the other dioceses in New York State and kneel after the Agnus Dei (“Lamb of God”). Thus stressing our oneness and unity in Christ.
Whether standing, sitting or kneeling, may we always pray to together in the Spirit as we worship the One True God in the Eucharist.
God bless you, Father Bill