Thursday, February 06, 2003


I went to Mass yesterday at a local shrine, where the chairs in the chapel didn't have kneelers. This is a common practice in the United States, even though the USCCB has consistently voted to retain the practice of kneeling for the Eucharistic prayer. As is usual in such cases, some of us knelt, while most stood. I encourage you all to kneel in similar situations, barring medical complications, in order to comply with Church law, which mandates kneeling. Don't worry if there isn't a kneeler--you aren't made of glass, and your knees will survive the five minutes it takes for priests to rush through Eucharistic prayer II. Offer up the pain for liturgical renewal.

But that isn't what I want to blog about. After communion, it is the general custom for communicants to kneel in prayer until the close of the Mass. Since there were no kneelers, few of us knelt. But nobody sat either: They snelt! See, sitting normally somehow feels wrong after having received the Body of Christ, but kneeling is impossible since there are no kneelers. People sneel instead: they sit, but only at the edge of their seat, perhaps with hands folded. It isn't quite sitting, and it isn't kneeling.

Have you noticed sneeling? Perhaps its prevalence is a clue that the "reforms" of the liturgy as practiced in many parishes are out of tune with the fundamental human sensiblity of reverence. Perhaps we should buy chairs with kneelers, or perhaps even pews!

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