Sitting, Standing, and Kneeling

The Catholic Church teaches that the liturgy celebrated here on Earth is a participation in the heavenly liturgy. Certain postures, along with other gestures, words, and symbols, let Catholics pray with their entire person as they interact with God at Mass.

The postures used during Mass are not random or arbitrary but have traditional and biblical meaning. Catholics sit, stand, and kneel as they actively participate with their body and soul as they encounter Jesus in various ways during Mass.

At Mass, the priest acts in persona Christi or in the person of Christ. Catholics come to attention as he enters Mass and out of respect as he leaves. Catholics also stand when the priest leads them in prayer to God or when he reads the words of Jesus from the Gospel.

Sitting is a posture of receiving, listening and reflecting. Catholics sit and listen to the Word of the Lord from the Old Testament and New Testament letters, and during the homily.

Recognizing the Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist, Catholics kneel in humility and adoration. Beginning when the Lamb of God is proclaimed and through the high point of Mass when the bread and wine become the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, Catholics are on their knees. Catholics also kneel before and after receving Holy Communion.

More fully participating:

Praying with our whole body:

Enter, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the LORD who made us. For he is our God, we are the people he shepherds, the sheep in his hands.

Psalm 95: 6-7

Reflecting an encounter with God:

Postures based on tradition and custom:

The Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium of the Second Vatican Council represents a pivotal point in this long journey. It comprehensively and organically reaffirms the importance of the divine liturgy for the life of Christians, who find therein that objective mediation required by the fact that Jesus Christ is not an idea or a sentiment, but a living Person, and his Mystery a historical event. The prayer of Christians passes through tangible mediations: Sacred Scripture, the Sacraments, liturgical rites, the community. In Christian life, the corporeal and material sphere cannot be disregarded, because in Jesus Christ it became the way of salvation. We could say that we should pray with the body too: the body enters into prayer.

Pope Francis, General Audience, 3 February 2021

Postures that have a purpose:

The need to involve the senses in interior prayer corresponds to a requirement of our human nature. We are body and spirit, and we experience the need to translate our feelings externally. We must pray with our whole being to give all power possible to our supplication.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 2702

Praying as the Body of Christ:

Reflecting a particular piety:

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