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.