Why do we kneel at Mass?

Steven PutmanQandA

Question: Why do we kneel at Mass?

Answer: Since the beginnings of the Church, kneeling has been a key posture of prayer. We see Sts. Peter and Paul in the Acts of the Apostles kneeling in prayer. Early in the 4th century, the Council of Nicea prohibited kneeling on Sundays and special feasts. Kneeling began more as a posture of penance for our sins, but in the history of the Church, it has become more a posture or reverence and solemn prayer.

You will notice that the times we kneel at Mass are tied to the consecration of the holy Eucharist. We kneel in both anticipation of what will occur and then in awe of what has taken place: Jesus Christ becomes truly present to us under the guise of bread and wine. The profoundness of this event has over time led the Church to mandate in the current General Instruction of the Roman Missal that kneeling is the only posture allowed during this time. The sheer awesomeness of the holy Eucharist leads us to fall to our knees in wonder and thanksgiving.