Saturday, 14 June 2014

Bowing wrong - genuflecting, right!

It seems that every time I enter a church (for a visit, nor for a Latin Mass) these days, there is someone bowing rather than genuflecting.

And because I am of a certain age and disposition, I get cross and irritated by such crass behaviour - why?

Because it is plain bad manners to bow before the Lord, it shows a lack of knowledge of the teachings of Holy Mother Church and a diminished sense of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament.

Why would you not wish to bend your knee?

Which, in your view, is the more humble form of greeting, a bow or going down on one knee?

Exactly, not a case that can be argued although many try.

This brief video clip shows simply how to do it (not for you my dear reader(s) as I know that you all are committed to reverence when approaching the Lord, but, just in case the odd Sushi Catholic stumbles across this post......



33 comments:

  1. In an age of broken hips and many other bone problems as well as problems with balance due to age and blood pressure etc..... I think we should be very slow to make any judgment on people who bow.
    I also understood that a solemn bow was equivalent to a genuflection.

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    1. Father,

      My understanding is that only the celebrant is allowed to bow but all others should genuflect.

      The idea that a solemn bow being equivalent to a genuflection is not something I have seen before.

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  2. Thanks for that as I was just getting into bowing! (Even though I'm only 40 all my bones ache!) Shan't do bowing any more.

    I'm loving the bit about saying' Adoro te devote, latens Deitas' ('I devoutly adore you, my hidden God') at each genuflection. I had been saying 'I adore you my crucified Master' as per St Faustina which was good too.

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    1. Try apple cider vinegar with honey and hot water twice a day.

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    2. Works for arthritis but rots the enamel on your teeth as I know only too well from personal experience.

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  3. In my church the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in a side chapel, so I bow to the High Altar when I arrive for Mass, is that incorrect? I always genuflect when passing the Tabernacle.

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    1. Yes I believe this is correct. I used to be a member at a parish where the Tabernacle was well off to one side by a door. People would walk right passed the Tabernacle and genuflect towards the altar before sitting. I couldn't help but recognize the ignorance.

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  4. When in Rome, one genuflects...When in Byzantium, one bows or prostrates....if one needs help genuflecting, grab on a pew or if the parish has altar railings, use them.

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  5. At the Name of Jesus, every knee shall bow...

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    1. The genuflection was sadly eliminated from the new lectionary. In fact, most priests don't make any noticeable head bow at the Holy Name anywhere in the liturgy, and the NO uses it much more randomly than in the traditional rite. In fact, one can't anticipate it as one can at "Per Dominum nostrsume Iesu Christum..."

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    2. Bruvver Eccles, it is one step towards becoming a saved pusson.

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  6. Ummm. .. dont be too quick to condemn here. It's not always physically possible to genuflect no matter how much one may want to do so... and it's not always obvious who is unable to genuflect and who just doesn't want to. Holding on to pews and altar rails doesn't always help either. I speak from experience...

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  7. My husband has arthritis in his hips, right knee and ankle. He can't genuflect anymore. A bow is all he can do.

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    1. He can still make the sign of the cross during, doing so would suggest to someone like me that he had a physical impairment preventing him from kneeling. Just a thought.

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  8. EFPE2, Mulier Fortis and Dymphna: of course, the aged and infirm are not obliged to even make an attempt at genuflecting and no one is in a position to judge the fitness of the individual.
    As I understand it, you bow to the tabernacle when the Blessed Sacrament is absent eg Good Friday. Sorry, I never meant to suggest that it was unbending (groan) rule.

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  9. might there also be a little room for cultural differences? After all in Japan they Bow to each other at the Sign of Peace in the Novus Ordo, surely outside of Mass a solenm bow would be the equivalent of us Europeans Genuflecting

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  10. I can understand some cannot bend, but at my parish and I am sure this is the same in other places, people will not even bow, a slight head nod is all the Lord receives. It says not many people really believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.

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    1. This is common across the Church unfortunately - a quick nod, much as one might do when passing someone in the street one recognised, but didn't want to talk to.

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  11. "The venerable practice of genuflecting before the Blessed Sacrament, whether enclosed in the tabernacle or publicly exposed, as a sign of adoration, is to be maintained.This act requires that it be performed in a recollected way. In order that the heart may bow before God in profound reverence, the genuflection must be neither hurried nor careless."

    INAESTIMABILE DONUM—Instruction Concerning Worship Of The Eucharistic Mystery
    http://www.ewtn.com/library/CURIA/CDWINAES.HTM

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  12. If Our Lord Jesus appeared to us so as to be perceptible by our senses would we just bow???

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  13. Of course this is not in reference to people who literally cannot genuflect but those who can, but do not.

    I was told once by a priest not to genuflect. I was going up to do the readings (in a NO mass. I don't do it anymore). He said that for the sake of uniformity, we should all bow instead of genuflect! For the sake of uniformity! So wrong.

    I don't really care about cultural differences. Culture does not trump God. He made you, you only exist because He wills your existence. As with the reception of Communion, get on your knees or do as much as you physically can! As with money, we give what we can. If you are riddled with arthritis, God knows what your limits are. That seems obvious to me. Richard was not picking on those people who cannot kneel but pointing out that the vast majority of those who don't kneel, undoubtedly could but don't...for whatever reason.

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    1. Ros the only reason I brought it up is that in Far Eastern Culture a solenm bow is the equivalent of getting down on your knees and that the human members of the Church have on occasion acted idiotically in trying to squash long standing cultural idiosyncracies by imposing Latin customs and as such ended up driving people out of the Church. I think of the Papal Legate who told the Ethiopeans who'd been incommunicado from Rome for centuries informing them that they could no longer have married Priests, and the supremely idiotic Nuncio who tried to Impose mandatory celibacy on Eastern Rite Catholics living in the United States. In both cases it caused more trouble than it was worth.

      Surely Our Lord isn't offended by the fact that his children in the East give him a long, solenm and respectful bow rather than getting down on their knees.

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    2. I see what you're saying, but as Lynda said, if we could really fully understand what and Whom we pass when we walk in front of the Blessed Sacrament, would anyone (be they Japanese or any other nationality) do anything but fall to their knees? This is about human nature and what we all naturally do when overwhelmed and amazed. Culture does not separate us at these times. It is at these times, that we forget cultural practises because our natural human instinct takes over. That is what I say to people when I kneel in front of abortuaries for the 5th mystery of the sorrowful mysteries: if I could see Christ crucified in front of me right here and now, I *could not* stay on my feet, I would have to fall to my knees.

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    3. Believe me Ros I understand completely, what I'm trying to get across (perhaps unsuccessfully) is that we shouldn't get caught up in pronouncing ourselves better Catholics because we do something that others don't. Surely dispositions of the Heart matter more than physical actions.

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    4. Oh no, please don't think that I'm a better Catholic! I'm not :(

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  14. I often watch a frail, sick elderly priest who always without fail genuflects right down in front of our Blessed Lord in the tabernacle, and then with great difficulty, and deep sighs, struggles to get up again.If there is anyone who would be excempt from it would be him.He would not dream of doing anything less.He humbles me.Catrin

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    1. Same! Anyone who goes to the TLM at Maiden Lane in Convent Garden on a Monday will witness that priest, who is very old and frail, genuflecting each time, though sometimes you worry that he won't be able to get up!

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    2. I have not been able to completely genuflect for a number of years now due to physical disabilities, but maybe if I were more faithful with my exercises and practiced every day, I may be able to do better. Sometimes I must admit, I just bow reverently because I'm having a particularly painful day. It grieves me in a way that I no longer am able to fully genuflect but that too I offer up to Our Lord.

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  15. The Sarum Use had no genuflexions and in the Dominican Rite the server makes a 'moderate bow' when passing in front of the tabernacle. In the age of feudalism going down on one knee had secular connotations - it was the act of homage from the vassal to his lord.
    In the post-medieval Roman Rite we genuflect to the Bl. Sacrament of course, but also to the altar and its crucifix. In a Pontifical Solemn Mass where there is a tabernacle on the altar the tabernacle is always empty, but notice that during the incensations the bishop (as celebrant) bows to the crucifix but the deacon and subdeacon both genuflect.

    In churches where the altar has been replaced by a dining table, a butcher's block or a Star Trek podium, even a slight bow would be showing excessive reverence.

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    1. . . . or a horse-fence, as in the case of my parish church!!! (You'd have to see it.) However, the sign of reverence is not to the dining table or horse-jump, but to the sacred consecration of the Blessed Sacrament that takes place on it.

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