Thursday, October 7, 2010

Should I stand or should I kneel?

So I'd like to face another controversial topic: Why do we kneel at Mass?

Especially at my parish, this has been a bit of a bone of contention over the past two decades.  For a while, we had one priest who stuck to the rubrics, and the other who had everyone stand through the entire Eucharistic Prayer, which led to the compromise - stand up right before the proclamation of the Mystery of Faith and the Memorial Acclamation.

In discussing this, I've heard such comments on how it should be up to the community, or up to the individual, for varying reasons.  Many of them are actually quite well thought out, with basis in scriptural passages and such, and may make my answer seem unsatisfactory.

My answer?


Told ya.

Okay, that's my shock value answer.  My real answer is, because the church said so.

There are actual theological reasons, as well as some small-t traditions that go into things like when we kneel and for how long.  However, at the heart of it, we should be kneeling because the church says that at that point in the Mass, the laity kneels unless impeded by location or infirmity.

But why is that important?

As the Master said, he who is trusted in the small things will be trusted in great things, but he who is distrusted in the small will be distrusted in even in the great things.

Simply put, it is an exercise in obedience, which reminds us that this is not about being comfortable, or having a good time, or even of recharging the battery and getting a spiritual boost.  Experience teaches that if those are your reasons, you'll find yourself unsatisfied.

Rather, the Mass is when we come to worship our God, to put ourselves at the foot of the table and the foot of the cross, to adore and place ourselves in the presence of our creator, our redeemer, our bridegroom, I AM.

I once read a quote from a Protestant minister that went something like this: "If I believed what you Catholics believe about the Eucharist, I would crawl up the aisle every Sunday."  Why?  Because we proclaim that our GOD is on the altar itself.  Not a placeholder, substitute, imitation, image, but our very God.

I'm not recommending that we do that, but what I am saying is that through His Church, which we affirm at Mass to be One, Holy, Catholic (Universal) and Apostolic (Having Authority), to which he gave authority in His name, he asks us to take maybe 15 minutes a week to kneel before him in adoration.

There are theological reasons, spiritual reasons, wonderful reasons to go down on your knees.

My question is this: why do we need a better reason than that it has been asked of us?

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