Q: Part of GIRM #274 says, “A genuflection…is reserved for the Most Blessed Sacrament,” and goes on to note that the priest makes three genuflections during Mass. Then it says, “If, however, the tabernacle with the Most Blessed Sacrament is situated in the sanctuary, the Priest, the Deacon, and the other ministers genuflect when they approach the altar and when they depart from it…”
Is this because it’s assumed that the tabernacle would be located on the altar? Because further down the instruction is that the altar is bowed to, not genuflected to. Or is this a mistake, and it’s meant to say, “…genuflect when they approach the tabernacle?”
A: That sentence of GIRM 274 is referring to the beginning and the end of Mass. You can tell by the qualifier at the end of the sentence: “but not during the celebration of the Mass itself.”
During the course of Mass, there is no genuflection in the rubrics, except for the 3 made by the priest. All other ministers bow to the altar during mass.
I have more on this in my book Let Us Pray.