Saturday, August 29, 2009

To me every knee shall bend (all the way ;-)

"Needless to say, the simple genuflection should never be reduced to a sudden spasm in the right knee. The right knee should touch the place where the right foot stood while head and back remain straight. The gesture of adoration should be performed with due pause."

I was reading a book over the summer called "Swimming with Scapulars (Loyola Press)". In the book the young author shares his traditional Catholic faith and confesses to seeing certain things at church that bother him, but perhaps shouldn't. It hit home as he could have been speaking for me. That being said... I find it troubling that people don't genuflect properly.

To genuflect [Latin genu flectere, geniculare (post-classic), to bend the knee.

- To briefly touch the right knee to the floor. This is done whenever passing in front of the Tabernacle.

- We don't genuflect to the altar. We genuflect to the presence of the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle. If the tabernacle is not in the main part of the church, we just bow to the altar.

- Genuflection is to be the bending of the right knee in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, with the right knee touching the heel of the left foot.

When I should be praying my attention is taken away to those who feel they must quickly genuflect, as if they are being timed - that if they take longer than a nanosecond they'll be serious consequences. Their knee never hits the ground (actually they don't even come close), and it becomes a sort of side-ways curtsy. I'm not talking about older people who may not be able to physically genuflect (although they always seem to), nor those who have a disability that may prevent them from doing so. I'm talking about your average, healthy parishioner who for some reason is in a real hurry to show reverence to our Lord, or unknowingly -- not show reverence. This act is usually coupled with a sign of the cross that has the acceleration of a Dodge Hemi. More of a circle then a cross really, but hey -- that oh so comfortable pew awaits -- lets git 'er done.

With respect to the genuflection: Since a genuflection is, per se, an act of adoration, the general liturgical norms no longer make any distinction between the mode of adoring Christ reserved in the tabernacle or exposed upon the altar. The simple single genuflection on one knee may be used in all cases.

I still "do a double genuflection" when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed in a Monstrance, as they do every day after 8:30 Mass at
St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, run by Capuchin Friars on 13th Street. This was changed to a "single genuflection" in 1993 the USCC/NCCB Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy - the Order for the Solemn Exposition of the Holy Eucharist, but I figure it can't hurt to show too much reverence ;-)

Don't be in a hurry to show Him reverence. It's not a race. Right knee bends, all the way. Make the sign of the cross... and take your time. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

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