A recent post I wrote entitled Bowing Instead of Genuflecting… received an interesting comment that I though might as well be answered as a new post.
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!]
Ive read articles online with comments by the late Cardinal Hamao for one who said things along the lines that Japanese should worship in their own distinct Eastern way etc. This article gives outrageous quotes by him http://qien.free.fr/2007/200704/20070412_ucan.htm so I’m wondering if even the Japanese bishops and cardinals had a hand in this? Good point about posture before the daimyo and other cases in the past. Of course posture before the daimyo was a matter of keeping your own head or not but still I agree the bow they do at mass is not extraordinary.
This brings me into my main point and why I started a new post for this. Even at St Peter`s basilica the posture of Catholics is not uniform. At the very heart of Catholicism it is striking how much disunity there is in our postures at mass. I attended a weekday evening mass at the altar of the chair I think it`s called. This chapel has the famous holy spirit window and the chair of St Peter, and here at consecration our posture was not one as most knelt and some stood. During the agnus dei some knelt again while most stood, and during the Our Father some held their hands up in the orans position while many others didn’t. Yes I was paying attention to the priest but while looking at him it is very easy to see everyone is not doing the same thing. I know a lot of parishes have been rocked by seemingly constant changes in the last fourty, even the last ten years, and I think it leads to a lot of confusion! I will give my parents home parish as an example because almost every time I visit they are doing something new. Thinking back they have gone through praying with hands in orans, holding hands during the Our Father, a lot of crap from life teen (which is out of there now thankfully) and a bunch of changes as when to sit stand and kneel during the liturgy of the Eucharist. I am all for any pope approved changes but some of the ones that have come through probably aren’t (life teen) and it can be very confusing for both Catholics and non Catholics who might be looking in.