Thursday, 26 May 2011

Reflections on genuflection - and mantillas!

It seems that more and more Catholics are refusing to bend the knee when they enter their pew in church. I find their reasoning very hard to comprehend.

There, in full view of them is the tabernacle (normally) housing the Body and Blood of Christ, the Son of God. What is it that causes them to walk in as though it was Saturday night at the Odeon?

If Mother Teresa could do it.......?
It would be interesting to conduct a survey to determine the true reason. I suspect that the main one is pride. They are too proud to go down on one knee in respect and veneration of God. I don’t believe that it is generally a lack of belief in the Sacred Species; these are not just young Catholics, they are of all ages and some of them have had their faith for very many years. I speculate also, whether they are cradle Catholics. My guess is that converts are usually well informed on practices and custom and it’s us Papes born with the faith who treat it with disdain.

My next query is – why do the priests not speak out? Why do they not teach reverence from the pulpit? Come to think of it, I have rarely heard a priest give any sort of practical guidance to his flock.

And Francis Phillips of The Catholic Herald has re-ignited the mantilla debate; not the veil, please note, that is certainly not on the cards. But women covering their head as a mark of respect must be a good thing? No? Is it too demeaning?

One argument that never seems to see the light of day is the one regarding men and headgear – strictly a no no in Church! Yet, if we were to walk into Mass wearing a hat we would be given short shrift by all on Sunday! If it is disrespectful for men to wear a head covering why should not women abide by the same but different custom (not rule) and cover their glory, their hair?

Francis Phillips arrives at a compromise which I find quite strange. Basically, at OF Masses, wearing a mantilla is seen to be overly pious and a way of drawing attention to oneself. Whereas, at EF Masses it is quite acceptable if not de rigeur. I cannot determine the logic there.

Perhaps a role model is what is needed; a leading Catholic woman, well known in the public eye….

.....well...the Mother of God always covers her head! 

Posted by Richard Collins Linen on the Hedgerow


  1. The OF Mass I go to in Sheffield now and again, when visiting the area, (the one with the piano and the violin) well, anyway, there's a lady there who wears a mantilla, but she doesn't come across as trying to be pious to me. The congregation is very respectful all round. Infact, I considered getting a head covering myself. What people think of me is beyond my control and frankly not my concern. If God would like it, then I will do it. Where do you buy them from anyway? This lady wers a white one. Is there any particular reason for choosing white as opposed to black? We need mantilla user guides Richard!!

  2. Shadowlands - I will get back to you!

  3. What sort of ass doesn't genuflect before the Blessed Sacrament?
    Not one who has met St Anthony of Padua!

  4. >One argument that never seems to see the light >of day is the one regarding men and headgear – >strictly a no no in Church! Yet, if we were to >walk into Mass wearing a hat we would be given >short shrift by all on Sunday...

    Maybe that's because nobody, male or female, wears hats on a regular basis anymore -on my side of the Pond, anyway ?

  5. I've noticed that the lectors at my parish will turn, face the tabernacle, and bow rather than genuflect. I was taught to genuflect to the Blessed Sacrament, or else to bow facing the altar in cases where the Sacrament is not present (reserved in a separate chapel or on Good Friday). Have these rules changed? Or are there different rules for lectors?

  6. Donna - what? Not even a Panama? Come to England and civilisation :)

    Anonymous - the rules have not changed - you are correct. The rules are the same for priests and lectors.

  7. One of the great joys and great sorrows for me as a substitute primary school teacher is realizing that children aren't being taught the reasons why we genuflect or bow before communion. After I passionately explain the reason is because we are faced with the body of Christ they are literally amazed and full of awe. That is my joy but I'm saddened by the lack formation of these students.


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