Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Is Genuflecting on Both Knees Necessary When There is Adoration of The Blessed Sacrament?

Q - I notice that most students at St. Mary's genuflect on both knees when they go to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Is this necessary?

A - Thanks for the question. The short answer is no, it is not necessary. The Vatican issued the following comments on genuflection during Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament several years ago:
"Genuflection in the presence of the blessed sacrament, whether reserved in the tabernacle or exposed for public adoration, is on one knee."
In the past, the popular custom was to genuflect on both knees during Adoration, but the liturgical norms direct us to genuflect on one knee, because Christ is no more or less present to us whether in a tabernacle or in the monstrance (during Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament).

While there is nothing wrong in genuflecting on both knees, different kinds of genuflections in different circumstances give a somewhat confused message, and this is why the Vatican issued the directive above. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is tied to our liturgy - the prayer of the Church - and just as we would in Mass, our movements ought to show our unity as one Body of Christ.

While on the subject, a proper genuflection should be one where the right knee touches the ground, where the right foot was standing, while the back and head remain straight. This gesture is one of adoration and should have a slight pause, but it should not be one that is for show either. Those who are unable to genuflect (because of age, health, etc) should bow, if possible. All too often genuflection is more of a curtsy.

One of the desert fathers who lived about 1,700 years ago, Abba Apollo, once said the devil has no knees because he refuses to kneel before God. When we bend a knee, it is a sign of our humility before our Lord.


Joe Potillor said...

I was taught to do both knees for Christ exposed...not because he's more present when exposed, but precisely because he's exposed, not hiding in the veil of the Tabernacle...made sense to me.

texas said...

As someone who *never* remembers the correct knee, "The right knee goes right to the ground!" for help in keeping it straight.

Marcel said...

Many of us were taught the same, which is why the Vatican thought it necessary to issue the directive.

Gwen said...

Why is it specifically the right knee?

Marcel said...

This is from The General Instruction of the Roman Missal #274:

"274. A genuflection, made by bending the right knee to the ground, signifies adoration, and therefore it is reserved for the Most Blessed Sacrament, as well as for the Holy Cross from the solemn adoration during the liturgical celebration on Good Friday until the beginning of the Easter Vigil."

Catherine said...

I still like to genuflect on both knees. It seems like even more a sign of adoration, and so that seems appropriate when I am coming to adore!

Greg Aitchison said...

Texas, the way I teach/remember it is: "The right is always right!"

Sister Mary Margaret said...

Also, one should NOT make the Sign of the Cross when genuflecting. That is a separate action. When one genuflects, an interior prayer of adoration should accompany the action (such as, "My God and my all," or "I adore Thee, O Christ.") When one makes the Sign of the Cross, the accompanying words are, "In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."