Dear Ms. Etiquette,
I am a teenage cradle Catholic who lives at home. My mom is insisting on making me go to church with her. I don’t think the standing, sitting, or kneeling is important in keeping good with God. If you can give me one positive reason why these things are important, I will consider going back to church.
– Rebel Catholic
I gather you still believe in God, but you want to honor him in your own way, not what is traditional. So, let’s start with the knees. Did you know that the devil has no knees? This is according to Abba Apollo, a desert father who lived about 1,700 yrs ago. The devil has no knees; he cannot kneel; he cannot adore; he cannot pray; he can only look down his nose in contempt to those who bend their knee at the name of Jesus. This is the essence of evil. When we kneel at Jesus’ name we bow down in service of others, and when we bend the knee in adoration, we are following in the footsteps of the Magi and other saints and angels in heaven. Bending the knee is a decisive act of those with athletic souls and humble hearts, there is nothing passive about it. When the knees act in response to a heart that loves Christ, there is unleashed a force so strong it can change the face of the earth. Grace is the name we give to this force.
Now about standing. We rise to our feet and stand for the proclamation of the Gospel. Our standing in attentive and prayerful expectation is also done during the intercessory prayer (when we offer up our petitions), to show how we anticipate that the Father will hear and answer the petitions we bring with confidence before Him. The posture of standing reminds us of that great multitude from every nation and race that “stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes” joyfully crying aloud in praise of God the Father on His heavenly throne and in praise of Jesus, the Lamb of God. (cf. Revelations 7:9) Also remember: “We thank you for counting us worthy to stand in your presence and serve you” as said during the Second Eucharistic Prayer.
Both the Sacred Scriptures and our liturgical tradition look upon standing, comparable to genuflecting and kneeling, as a reverential posture to express our faith in God and our love for Him. We need to keep this in mind when we process forward and stand to receive Holy Communion, with a bow of the head as a sign of reverence prior to reception. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen teens go up to receive communion with gum in their mouths and their hands in their pockets. One needs to walk as if he were going to meet the King, with slow, deliberate and attentive steps.
I could certainly go on and on, but you get the picture. Praying involves more than just the soul. This is called “active participation” in mass. Our bodies show God our attitude in communication with him. Far from being trivial, what we do with our knees, whether we sit or stand, whether we genuflect or kneel, greatly impacts our inner attitude before the Lord. It can stir our devotion or diminish it. If done sloppily or ignored, it hinders our openness to God’s grace. But if done out of love, it assists us in humbly seeking God’s mercy and in entering into loving communion with the Lord. We all know how much we need God’s mercy now. So, please seek the God of Mercy now before he comes as the God of Justice.
Irma Wolcott is the owner of Fun With Etiquette. Call her at 956-492-4762 for more information. Website: www.funwithetiquette.com e-Mail her at: email@example.com