On Standing After Communion…

In the early 00’s, with much anticipation, the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (the GIRM — fondly pronounced “germ” to most who reference the work,) was published with revised guidelines that set everyone abuzz with talk of change.

Some were afraid we were going backwards; others were afraid we weren’t going backwards enough. The situation was fraught with drama and intrigue. Kind of.

A point of confusion is paragraph 43, which says that the Faithful should stand from the end of Offertory (Pray brethren that my sacrifice and yours…) until the end of Mass; although “if appropriate they may sit or kneel during the period of sacred silence after Communion.”

Also, “In the Dioceses of the United States of America, they should kneel beginning after the singing or recitation of the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy) until after the Amen of the Eucharistic Prayer, except when prevented on occasion by ill health, …et cetera… The faithful kneel after the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) unless the Diocesan Bishop determines otherwise.”

So, while it’s written that the Faithful should stand from the end of Offertory to the end of Mass, perhaps sitting after Communion, the Dioceses of the United States of America, have permissions for some other occasions of sitting and kneeling, which respects our tradition of doing so.

And, although people in the United States have historically never returned from Communion to remain standing, there was for some reason a general confusion about whether this was mandated or not. In fact, the confusion reached such a fever, that Cardinal George of Chicago wrote in complaining about the matter.

The Holy See responded, “[The rule, for the universal Church] is intended, on one hand, to ensure within broad limits a certain uniformity of posture within the congregation for the various parts of the celebration of the Holy Mass, and on the other, to not regulate posture rigidly in such a way that those who wish to kneel or sit would no longer be free.”

In other words, when you return to your place after Communion, it is perfectly acceptable to sit or to kneel. And in fact, it has long been customary in the US to do so. May God bless you with a beautiful weekend.

+Fr. Kenneth Allen

The Rev. Kenneth Allen