Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Genuflection – An Agnostic’s Prospective.

On my still relatively short journey in faith I have experienced a great deal of variation in certain practices, so much variation in fact I was surprised when I learnt that Catholic meant united/unity.

When I was still very new to the Mass one of the things I noticed that differed greatly was the practice of genuflection. Of course the first time I saw someone do it I actually thought they were simply tying their shoe lace but soon realized it was something entirely different when everyone kept doing it.

Sitting at the back of church following along to the Mass with my little prayer book I would watch the priest, altar boys, and people intensely as I was very eager to learn but to shy to ask questions and wanted to be respectful and careful not to accidentally offend by acting inappropriately. I was especially eager to watch how people behaved and what they did, for example when to stand sit or knee during Mass, and once I knew what genuflection was I would watch people do that also.

I would watch in amazement as people crossed before the high altar and tabernacle. Some would genuflect planting their right knee firmly to the floor, some would do a half hearted curtsy, some a head bob as if they were gesturing someone in the street and some would simply pass by without any acknowledgement.

At a time I was still gathering my thoughts together regarding my faith and would probably have regarded myself as an agnostic or simply rather confused by it all, nonetheless I thought to myself:

'If these people (Catholics) honestly believe that the true presence of Christ is contained within that tabernacle on the high altar then why are they not falling to there knees'

I would even place a little bet with myself when I saw someone approaching as to how they would genuflection. Without exception the only ones who planted their knee to the floor were the priests (although I must add that was only in one particular church and have noted irregularity even among religious).

At the time and even now I remain a little disheartened, here I was being careful not to offend by trying to respect the Churches customs and all around me there were Catholics who did not even respect them themselves. In the end I came to my own conclusions:

I may use a quick head bob to acknowledge a friend I see on the other side of the street.

I would certainly try to do a curtsy if I ever meet the queen.

HOWEVER in the PRESENCE of OUR LORD I will ALWAYS GENUFLECT with my right KNEE to the GROUND for long as I shall live (or my health permits me to do so).


berenike said...

Have you any summer plans? I was thinking the other day that e this was practically designed for you. It'll be the conference's second year, and I think it would please you immensely.

Catherine said...

berenike - I can't seem to follow the link could you post it again perhaps

thank you

berenike said...



sorry about that.