Small But Important Posture Change at Mass
One of the many delights I have had these past four months at Holy Redeemer Parish is the celebration of Mass, especially the Saturday night Vigil Mass and on Sundays. We come together for Eucharist as God’s family, in joy and in hope, in need of forgiveness, grateful for our many blessings, and eager to do the work Jesus shares with us as his Church. At Mass we offer ourselves with Jesus to the Father in word and in song, in gesture and in silence. We prepare carefully for Mass and our celebrations are always reverent and prayerful.
Common posture at Mass is a sign of our unity in Jesus Christ. We worship the Lord with our whole person: with our hands, our feet, our bodies, as well as with our eyes, ears and mouth. Gestures and postures have an unspoken power and deserve as much care as the words we use.
The appropriate times we stand, sit, or kneel at Mass, were set over 46 years ago in the General Instruction on the Roman Missal. I was surprised to notice since coming to the Archdiocese of Portland last January, that folks here remain standing after the Lamb of God (Agnus Dei) is sung (or spoken). This is not the case in the Diocese of Austin, TX where I last served, or in the dioceses and archdioceses of the Midwest. The faithful kneel after the Lamb of God until getting up to receive Holy Communion.
We read in the General Instruction on the Roman Missal that “the faithful kneel after the Agnus Dei unless the Diocesan Bishop determines otherwise.” (#43)
Archbishop Sample has recently written to all the priests of the Archdiocese that at the celebration of Mass we join the rest of the Church in following this directive of the General Instruction. The Archbishop has asked that by the first weekend of June, the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord (June 3, 2018), the faithful in the Archdiocese of Portland kneel after the Lamb of God is sung or spoken until they come forward to receive Holy Communion. As Archbishop Sample says in his letter to the priests: “Kneeling is a posture of adoration and has been part of the Communion Rite for many centuries. By kneeling after the Lamb of God, the faithful prepare for the moment in which the priest presents to them the Sacrificial Lamb – Behold the Lamb of God.”
Fr. Tom Jones, CSC, Administrator