The direction to say the Lord’s Prayer in preference to any other, or at least previously to any other, is very natural. Under the Old Law the practice was otherwise. The custom of placing the Sacred Particle in the mouth, rather than in the hand of the communicant, dates in Rome from the sixth, and in Gaul from the ninth century (Van der Stappen, IV, 227; cf. Sanct., c. xxvii); St. Maximus (Horn. Thank you! It may be added that, both in the East and in the West, certain extensions of the exemption from the penitential practice of kneeling appear to have been gradually insisted upon. Of both the Pharisee and the publican it is stated in the parable that they stood to pray, the attitude being emphasized in the case of the former (Luke, xviii, 11, 13). Thereupon, the deacon in attendance subjoins: “Flectamus genua” (Let us kneel down). cit.) 9, c. 2) cited above. xlix). And as late as the end of the sixth century, St. Gregory the Great describes St. Benedict as uttering his dying prayer “stans, erectis in coelum manibus” (Dial., II, c. xxxvii). The learned Bishop Van der Stappen (Sacra Liturg., II, Q. lxv) is of opinion that anciently on all days alike, there was a pause for silent prayer after every “Oremus” introducing a collect; and that on Sunday other non-penitential days this same silent prayer was made by all standing and with hands raised to Heaven. The act of falling down, or prostration, was introduced in Rome when the Caesars brought from the East the Oriental custom of worshipping the emperors in this manner as gods. The invitation Flectamus genua merely reminded the faithful that the day was one of those on which, by the custom of the Church, they had to pray kneeling. This is a tradition many are familiar with, but it is optional. If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible. The short prayers called “absolutions” in the Office of Matins are a survival of this discipline. Et clamor meus ad to veniat” (Ps., ci, 1). The unwritten teachings of the Catholic Church, the Tradition, has always been, when you enter the Church, you walk to your pew, genuflect… It must not, in this connection, escape attention that, in proportion as the faithful have ceased to follow the liturgy, replacing its formulae by private devotions, the standing attitude has fallen more and more into disuse among them. Orthi) is frequent at this point of the liturgy. This has given occasion to the Missal rubric, requiring the clergy and by implication the laity, to kneel in Lent, on vigils, ember-days, etc., while the celebrant recites the collects and post-communions of the Mass, and during the whole of the Canon, that is, from the Sanctus to the Agnus Dei. On Good Friday, when the Blessed Sacrament has been removed to the altar of repose, we do not genuflect before the empty tabernacle. This is extremely important as it explains that the genuflection is a gesture ultimately directed towards God, truly present in the Holy Eucharist. If you’re not Catholic, or have forgotten why you take these actions and make these gestures, check the following list for explanations: Kneeling: Kneeling is the most profound sign of reverence and Roman Catholics kneel at the most sacred points of the Mass. cxix ad Januar. Eccl., VII, ix). "Caium Cæsarem adorari ut deum constituit cum reversus ex Syria non aliter adire ausus esset quam capite velato circumvertensque se, deinde procumbens" (Suet., Vit., ii). Catholics genuflect only in front of the Holy Eucharist. That, in the early Church, the faithful stood when receiving into their hands the consecrated particle can hardly be questioned. Sacr. It is far more likely that the kneeling was limited to Lent and other seasons of penance. II. ). A glance at the attitude of a priest officiating at Mass or Vespers, or using the Roman Ritual, will be sufficient proof. 2, ch. We need you. (II Par., vi, 13; cf. This is gone through three times and the catechumen having shown that he has learned how to comport himself during the “oratio fidelium” of the liturgy in which he will henceforth take part, the baptismal ceremony is proceeded with (See Roman Ritual, De Baptismo Adultorum; and Van der Stappen, IV, Q. cxvii). On the other hand, examples are not wanting of Christians who pray standing. (John, xvii, 1); but of His Agony in the Garden of Gethsemani: “kneeling down, he prayed” (Luke, xxii, 41). What precisely were the prayers which the Fathers of Nicaea had in view when insisting on the distinction of days is not at once evident. The canon thus forbids kneeling on Sundays; but (and this is carefully to be noted) does not enjoin kneeling on other days. However, it isn’t always communicated to the lay faithful when a person should genuflect. x, 17). (3) The clergy in liturgical functions genuflect on one knee to the cross over the high altar, and likewise in passing before the bishop of the diocese when he presides at a ceremony. The faithful are indeed bidden to kneel down; but straightway follows the order to stand up again, the impressive pause being suppressed. They have retained the name “Orationes solemnes” (usual prayers) because, in primitive ages, gone through in every public Mass. It symbolically reaffirms two essential Christian doctrines: The Holy Trinity — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — and humankind’s salvation through the cross of Christ. They are probably the “genuflectiones”, the multiplicity of which in the daily life of some of the earlier saints astonishes us (see for instance the Life of St. Patrick in the Roman Breviary, March 17). contra Lucif., c. iv); St. Epiphanius (Expos. For Catholics in the Roman Rite of the Church, bending the knee to the ground is a common gesture that is steeped in religious symbolism. This is the “Oremus, flectamus genua” of the liturgy. Genuflecting: Another telltale sign of a Catholic is genuflection, which is touching the right knee to the floor while bending the left knee. Note, however, with Hefele (Councils, II, ii, sect. Of Christ’s great prayer for His disciples and for His Church we are only told that “lifting up his eyes to heaven, he said”, etc. “And when ye pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, that love to stand and pray in the synagogues”, etc. And when forgiveness of offenses has to be besought, Origen (De Orat., 31) goes so far as to maintain that a kneeling posture is necessary. Basil (De Spir. It simply recognizes that Jesus is no longer behind a door, but is before everyone in a more visible way. Making the sign of the cross: The most common Catholic gesture is the sign of the cross. Read more:Perpetual Adoration, the closest thing to walking with Jesus, Read more:4 Incredible Eucharistic miracles that defy scientific explanation. This, then, is the attitude symbolical, among the ancients, of prayer. The term prayer (euche) used at Nicaea, has in this connection always been taken in its strict signification as meaning supplication (Probst, Drei ersten Jahrhund., I, art. St. It appears to have been introduced and, gradually to have spread in the West during the later Middle Ages, and scarcely to have been generally looked upon as obligatory before the end of the fifteenth century. They having done so, the celebrant summed up, as it were, or collected their silent petitions in a short prayer, hence called a collect. Nor is it unlikely that since standing has always been a posture recognized, and even enjoined, in public and liturgical prayer, it may have survived well into the Middle Ages as one suitable, at least in some circumstances, for even private devotion. That, in our time, the Church accepts kneeling as the more fitting attitude for private prayer is evinced by such rules as the Missal rubric directing that, save for a momentary rising while the Gospel is being read, all present kneel from the beginning to the end of a low Mass; and by the recent decrees requiring that the celebrant recite kneeling the prayers (though they include collects which, liturgically, postulate a standing posture) prescribed by Leo XIII to be said after Mass. “The knee is made flexible by which the offense of the Lord is mitigated, wrath appeased, grace called forth” (St. Ambrose, Hexaem., VI, ix). Eccl., II, xxiii; Brev. Genuflecting: Another telltale sign of a Catholic is genuflection, which is touching the right knee to the floor while bending the left knee. Nor have we any grounds for believing, against the tradition of the Roman Church, that during the Canon of the Mass the faithful knelt on weekdays, and stood only on Sundays and in paschal time. Consult Mansi, xiv, 89, for a similar modification made by the Third Council of Tours, A.D. 813. The same honor is paid to a relic of the True Cross when exposed for public veneration. Latin (Western) Catholics make the sign of the cross by using their right hand to touch the forehead, then the middle of the breast, then the left shoulder, and finally the right shoulder. They are the Western analogues of the Eastern diaconal litanies, and recur with great frequency in the old Gallican and Mozarabic uses. (4) On Good Friday, after the ceremony of the Adoration of the Cross, and until Holy Saturday, all, clergy and laity alike, genuflect in passing before the unveiled cross upon the high altar. of Rites (n. 3402) of July 7, 1876, insisting that women as well as men must genuflect before the Blessed Sacrament. Rom., May 1). Another instance of kneeling prayer (probably replaced by one said standing, on Sundays and in paschal time) is that of the benedictions or short collects which, in early ages, it was usual to add after the recitation of each psalm, in public, and often in private, worship.