Catholic Culture: Why are there so many postures during Mass?

Feb 27, 2023
Postures during Mass signify differnt things. Standing is a posture of worship, as seen in this 2022 file photo taken at the Vietnamese New Year Mass. (DUY-LINH VO | FC)

The Florida Catholic reaches out to local clergy, religious and seminarians and asks questions about the Catholic faith. This week seminarian John Triolo responds to the question:

Posture is important in any kind of ritual or act. Postures in prayer are especially important, most notably in the greatest form of public prayer, the Mass. This is why we have Catholic aerobics: Sit, Stand, and Kneel. When people are first exposed to the Roman Catholic Mass, they frequently comment on how much we get up and down during Mass. As Catholics, everything we do is to envelop our whole being. That is why we are both bodily and spiritual beings. When we see what these postures do, these movements not only make our bodies a part of prayer but call us to give our whole selves in prayer.

Sitting is a posture of listening and learning. When we sit in the pew before Mass or after Mass to pray, it is not a time to chit-chat with others and catch up on how the week has gone. It is an opportunity for us to encounter the Lord present in our midst and to speak to Him. The Lord wants to share how much He loves us and cares for us as His own.

Standing is a posture of readiness, a sign of unifying our service, namely to our Lord.

Kneeling is a posture of reverence. In the Medieval Period, you would kneel in front of a king. As kneeling is a posture of reverence to the king, so it is at the presence of Jesus Christ. But when we kneel before Jesus Christ, we kneel as a sign also of adoration.

May these postures during the Lenten season help us put aside passing things and allow us to focus on our Lord as we journey with Him into the desert.

By Seminarian John Triolo, February 27, 2023