September 13th

In last week’s article, I offered a reflection on the Sign of the Cross that we make with the holy water as we enter the Church.

The next thing that most of us do upon entering the Church is we ‘genuflect’ before we enter the pew.  The word ‘genuflect’ comes from two Latin words, which literally mean: ‘to bend the knee’.  It is a pious custom to touch the right knee to the ground as a sign of adoration and love for the Blessed Sacrament.

It is a praiseworthy custom to genuflect towards the Lord, truly present in the tabernacle, before entering or leaving the pew.   Some people, who are unable to bow due to health concerns, may choose to bow towards the tabernacle instead of genuflect.  The ordinary way to show our adoration and love for the Lord is by a genuflection.  If we are physically unable to genuflect, a bow towards the tabernacle is just fine. The Lord does not ask us to do the impossible, but it is good to do something to acknowledge the Presence of the Lord when we first arrive and before we leave the Church.

Genuflecting is a simple way that we can remind ourselves of God’s Presence in the Eucharist.  We should always try to genuflect with devotion, paying attention to what it is that we are doing.  As we genuflect, we should be aware of the reason that we are genuflecting.  The significance of the genuflection may be lost on many today, but it may be helpful to think of the chivalry of old: it was customary for a man proposing to a woman to get down on one knee to ask her hand in marriage.  Getting down on one knee was a sign of devotion and love.

The external actions that we perform at Mass are meant to help us enter into our worship with both our bodies as well as our souls.  The external actions should be reminders and indicators of our interior dispositions.  I’ll write more on that subject next time.

God bless,

Father White


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