Q: A friend of mine is on retreat at a monastery right now. Going to mass yesterday, he witnessed the altar server leave the sanctuary prior to the epiclesis and prostrate in the main aisle until the Doxology and Amen. I’ve never heard of something like this, but, then in liturgical practices nothing really surprises me these days. Have you ever heard of this practice?
A: There is no provision for anyone to prostrate during the Eucharistic prayer. The postures change from one conference of bishops to another, but I’m unaware of any conference that promotes this practice.
Prostrations are performed in rites of ordination, rites of religious profession, and on Good Friday. Never by the faithful.
In the United States, the faithful stand for the beginning of the eucharistic prayer through the Sanctus, and then kneel until its conclusion. Deacons stand for more of it, kneeling only from the epiclesis till the memorial acclamation, which matches the posture recommended for all the faithful in the universal GIRM. Priests stand throughout the prayer.
I’m sure that the server was well intentioned. But the church does not call this “the adoration prayer.” It’s “the eucharistic prayer,” and it calls for a posture of praise and thanks.