To kneel or stand, that was the question for 21st-century massgoers

Put to us in 2002 by a prominent churchman:

There are groups, of no small influence, who are trying to talk us out of kneeling.“It doesn’t suit our culture”, they say (which culture?) “It’s not right for a grown man to do this — he should face God on his feet”. Or again: “It’s not appropriate for redeemed man — he has been set free by Christ and doesn’t need to kneel any more”.


If we look at history, we can see that the Greeks and Romans rejected kneeling. In view of the squabbling, partisan deities described in mythology, this attitude was thoroughly justified.

It was only too obvious that these gods were not God, even if you were dependent on their capricious power and had to make sure that, whenever possible, you enjoyed their favor.

And so they said that kneeling was unworthy of a free man, unsuitable for the culture of Greece, something the barbarians went in for.

Aristotle rejected kneeling, calling it “a barbaric form of behavior,” again referring to pagan gods.

Augustine agreed:

. . . the false gods were only the masks of demons, who subjected men to the worship of money and to self-seeking, thus making them “servile” and superstitious.

He said that the humility of Christ and His love, which went as far as the Cross, have freed us from these powers. We now kneel before that humility. The kneeling of Christians is not a form of inculturation into existing customs. It is quite the opposite, an expression of Christian culture, which transforms the existing culture through a new and deeper knowledge and experience of God. [Emphasis added throughout]

This isn’t any old kneeling, therefore. In the case of the mass, it’s something special.

For the rest in this vein, see for yourself, at


1 thought on “To kneel or stand, that was the question for 21st-century massgoers

  1. Reblogged this on Blithe Spirit and commented:

    Learned explanation . . . from a learned man . . .


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