The significance of kneeling in prayer

Aurelio Porfiri

For many years I have noticed how in the faithful the need to kneel in certain moments of the Mass, such as the Consecration, is less and less fervent. This confounds me, as the much publicized “participation” of the faithful should have led to a greater understanding of this gesture and its more prompt implementation. There are those who say that you should stand up during these significant moments of the Mass, and some even think that you should sit down (I swear to you …). In reality, there are sort of anthropological reasons why I believe you must kneel.

When we kneel, we make ourselves small, like the Eternal One, who makes himself small in the Holy Host. But ours is to make ourselves small in front of the maximum spiritual concentration in the smallest space. St. Elizabeth of the Trinity said: “After Communion, we possess all the sky in our soul, except the vision.” And again: “The Eucharist is the height of divine love. Here Jesus does not only give us his merits and his pains, but all of himself.”

When we kneel, we submit, in the sense of being put under someone or something higher, that is, we recognize that the creature depends on the Creator. If we are seated, we are comfortable. Standing up for the Almighty is an act of respect, but in kneeling we recognize the Lordship of him, and we give him, with our sacrifice, the worship due to him.

When we kneel, we recognize the meaning of our life in God. Fyodor Dostoevsky said: “Living without God is a puzzle and a torment. Man cannot live without kneeling before something. If man rejects God, he kneels before an idol.” Let us recognize that “he” is the meaning of everything, and let us give him those moments in which he, above all, gives himself.

When we kneel, preferably without a pillow to reduce the discomfort, we accept that sacrifice to atone for all those sins we have surely stained ourselves with. We place ourselves unworthily before him, who sacrifices himself supremely, and we make a small symbolic sacrifice to rejoin the drama of redemption.

(Photo: geralt at Pixabay)