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Our readers asked:

The USCCB has stated that we should stand after we receive communion–so why does no church I’ve been to do it?

Julianne Wallace Answers:

Standing together after the reception of Holy Communion is a sign of unity that we are truly the Body of Christ, which we have just received. However, in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, there are no specific guidelines for a posture after the reception of Holy Communion. There are posture guidelines for the Eucharistic Prayer leading up to the reception of Holy Communion, however, there are no guidelines mentioned for what the assembly should do after they receive the Body and Blood of Christ. There is one note in the Roman Missal that is helpful for us in determining what our posture should be: “With a view to a uniformity in gestures and postures during one and the same celebration, the faithful should follow the directions which the deacon, lay minister, or priest gives according to whatever is indicated in the Missal.” (GIRM, 43). So, no matter what our posture, we must take our lead from the Presider of the celebration and most importantly, we must all make sure that we are performing the same, uniform postures throughout the Mass. After all, we are One Body in Christ, despite our many different parts and personalities. When we are celebrating the Mass, we must be sure to present our unity through not only our word and song, but our postures as well.

Editor’s note: Cardinal George also recently questioned whether people are “forced” to stand as opposed to kneeling or sitting. The purpose of any such direction is to encourage uniformity, not division, nor should it restrict freedom for those who have trouble standing for long periods of time. His letter to the Congregation for Divine Worship can be found here.

The Author : Julianne Wallace
Julianne E. Wallace is the associate director of faith formation, worship, and ministry at St. Bonaventure University in Western New York. She earned an M.T.S in Word and Worship from the Washington Theological Union in Washington, D.C. and a B.A. in Music Performance from the University of Mary Washington in Virginia. Julianne is passionate about sharing the joy of liturgy with others and helping everyone to worship well.
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