Bowing Instead of Genuflecting & Sign of Peace.

30 04 2008

While genuflecting upon entering and exiting a church may be on the decline in various countries in Japan, from what Ive observed, a sign of reverence is done by around 50% of the parishioners.  Instead of genuflecting people bow in the direction of the tabernacle upon entering and exiting the church.  At the sign of peace, at mass in Japanese, people bow to each other and say “Shu no heiwa” which means peace of Christ.  It certainly goes a lot faster than at some churches like in my hometown where people try to shake hands with half the church.  Ive been to English masses here where the priest shook hands with everyone in the front row.  There weren’t that many people but still is it really necessary to do that?

This post reminds me of something that really bothers me and that is how people act when going to adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and how they act when going to receive the Eucharist.  I am not aware of churches around me that have adoration so I have no comment on this for Japan but rather other places including my hometown.  When I last visited my parents I went to adoration and my mom instructed me that I should kneel down on both knees when entering and exiting the church.  That’s fine I can do that no problem.  The majority of other people there also did so, and that’s great but WHY NOT DO IT ALL THE TIME?!  The rule should be on your knees at communion time too!  Why are people instructed to be so reverential at Adoration but at Communion time they receive like the priest is handing out an ordinary snack.  Oh now there’s the instruction that people should bow to show reverence before they receive.  Ha just a bow?  Get on your knees and open your mouth for it is  your king, your God not a cookie.  I know a lot of people are just doing as they have been taught, heck I did the same for a long time too.  I know that years before I was born people received at an alter rail on their tongue but I doubt Vatican 2 said to throw all that out so who caused this mess?  I suspect that while people may not be fully aware of what they are doing/who they are receiving Satan is and he is very happy to see the Eucharist treated badly even desecrated.  


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4 05 2008
Viator Catholicus

I’ve been to Masses in Japanese here in the US. I notice that on entering the Church Japanese Catholics do not genuflect but bow. I am sure this must have been contrived by some liturgist in the 1960’s.
Barring a problem with the knees, there’s no excuse for Japanese Catholics not to genuflect. First, bending the knee is an authentic part of their tradition. Anyone who has seen a samurai movie can attest to that. [Just try bowing and then standing in the presence of the daimyo!] If in the Japanese tradition, someone can bend the knee to a mere man, why not to the living God? (Also, I’m pretty sure that Shinto ceremonies, in the past at least, involved kneeling.)
Second, if you bow to people all day long as a form of greeting, shouldn’t something more dramatic be done when in the pesence of the Blessed Sacrament? Offering the same gesture almost seems to blur the distinction between divine presence and merely human presence.

And I agree that we’re no better in the West. Assembly line Communion will hopefully give way to the traditional form, at the rail, on the tongue, while on the knees.

But, to answer your question I think we have the difference in kneeling between Mass and Adoration because most liberal liturgists and their kind don’t seem to like Adoration. They think it distracts from the Mass because the focus is on seeing not eating. Actually, the new liturgical books tried to make people genuflect only on one knee at Adoration. But, immemorial custom and the piety of the faithful has triumphed in this area.

PS God bless your mom for teaching you the double genuflection!

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