05 October 2011

On bending the knee

In the ancient world the knee symbolized the strength of a man.  Why?  Take a stick and whack a man on the knee and see what happens.

To genuflect, then, - to literally "bend the knee" - is bend one's strength to God.  To genuflect before God serves both to place oneself at his service and to honor his authority.

Too many Catholics genuflect far too lightly, both exteriorly and interiorly.  Sometimes I wonder - without judging individuals - if too many of the elderly too lightly opt to bow instead of genuflecting.

This morning at the altar of God the importance of genuflecting hit me, as it were, in a particular way.

After the consecration of the host and then of the chalice the priest is instructed to make a genuflection.  With my arthritis, genuflecting in the morning is not always a simple effort and this morning I had to muster additional strength to place myself back at a standing position (the weather forecast, by the way, seems to be missing something).

As I worked my way back up, I said offered a little prayer: "What strength I have, Lord, little as it is, I give to you."

It seems to me this is not a bad way to start a day, if the reminder of weakness is not always welcome.


  1. I know that when I would train altar servers, I would always teach them how to genuflect properly on their right knee. You know, I was told to not teach them that a few times (not by the priest, mind you) because a bow suffices.

    I taught them that anyway. I told them that whenever they approach the sanctuary, they are to genuflect carefully and say a short prayer to Our Lord.

    So many times, I think that people tend to "dumb down" reverence to our young people, as if they don't need to do it. Humility is no longer emphasized. Genuflection is a sign of humility before God.

    Thank you for posting this, Father! :)

    As a non sequitur, I can tell when the weather is changing when my hearing gets worse. When I have to keep asking people to repeat themselves, they all go, "Weather must be changing."

  2. Thank you for teaching the servers anyway! Bowing "suffices," yes, but only for those who cannot genuflect (or for servers who are carrying something).

    Isn't the weather fun?

  3. Since having knee surgery three weeks ago, it's been difficult to genuflect - but I do the best that I can. I can appreciate how difficult it is for you.

    It unnerves me when people enter a pew with out first genuflecting or for those who are in-firmed, bowing. I was taught to always genuflect before the tabernacle, except with in the mass, then to bow. We have altar servers who don't know this and no one seems to care to instruct them.

    Hoping you have a gentle weather winter and another trip to Hawaii in the middle of it.

  4. Yeah, I was the drill sergeant. If we were not within the context of Mass or any other liturgical event, if they did not genuflect or genuflect properly, I would have them do it over until it was perfect. lol

    Yeah, the weather can be oodles of fun. Sometimes I cannot help but tell the Lord to make up His mind about how He wants the weather. One day it's seventy. The next week it's rainy and in the forties. Then ... wam, bam, thank you, ma'am, it's in the eighties and humid. God has a sense of humor that I think can get kinda wry and/or dry. lol

  5. (the weather forecast, by the way, seems to be missing something).

    I was wondering, just a couple of hours ago, if you were feeling it too. I keep watching the weather and thinking, "I think your machines are broken."

  6. Yes, I do think their machines are broken.

  7. Yay for genuflecting! Remember to genuflect with the left knee for bishops!