Standing for communion

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q:  I read with interest your recent blog post on the posture for receiving the Eucharist during communion I have observed the same trend, as the original question stated, of priests seeming to encourage kneeling by bringing up kneelers or even installing a communion rail. My understanding of the Mass, and in particular, the Communion Rite, is that we are praying, receiving and celebrating as one unified whole. We sing a communion song so that our voices and prayer are united as one, rather than each individual praying alone. If silence is maintained after communion, individual prayer is then appropriate, or after Mass ends. People kneeling rather than the rubric for people to stand to receive has always disrupted my attention while moving forward to receive. It leads to a focus on the recipient of our Lord, rather than Our Lord. It leads to distracting thoughts and mental comparisons of who is more holy than another. For those who suffer from joint and back problems, attempting to kneel and stand back up are major distractors for both the communicant and those around who observe the struggle. Excellent catechesis as originally recommended might center on our being saved as one Church, the Mass being primarily a group prayer and that we all receive Jesus as One Body. As we work to generate Eucharistic amazement, sharing Eucharistic miracles, the words of the Church Fathers and homilies on John 6 may lead to stronger faith in the Real Presence than simply kneeling to receive. Just my thoughts to share.


A:  Well said. GIRM 42 says, “A common bodily posture, to be observed by all those taking part, is a sign of the unity of the members of the Christian community gathered together for the Sacred Liturgy, for it expresses the intentions and spiritual attitude of the participants and also fosters them.”

In the US, GIRM 160 allows an individual to kneel, but it does not present standing and kneeling as equal alternatives. It presents standing as the norm.