Reverence Matters – With Illustrations

Proper Postures During Mass

By Father Richard Frank:

From time to time it is a good idea to be reminded of the proper postures we should have when we celebrate Holy Mass.

During one of the Penitential Rites at the beginning of Mass (“I confess to Almighty God . . .”) we are supposed to strike our breast three times when we say: “Through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.” Simply follow the example of the celebrant.

There are a couple of times when we should bow from the waist and not just a nod of the head. One is during the Profession of Faith, as indicated in the missalette, at the words “and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.”  There are two times in the year when we genuflect instead of bow – Christmas & Annunciation March 25. The other bow is before we receive Holy Communion either on the tongue or in the hand before we respond “Amen.” Some try to say “Amen” when the Host is already in their mouths.

Receiving the Eucharist Correctly

If you receive Holy Communion in the hand, the hand you use to put the Host into your mouth is the hand underneath. You are not supposed to switch the Host from one hand to the other. Nor are we to receive Holy Communion with only one hand. We are not supposed to palm the Holy Eucharist.

I have been following the practice of giving Holy Communion on the tongue when someone is holding a baby, using a cane or walker, or has an arm in a sling since it is more dignified that way and keeps a person from having to make twists and gyrations in order to hold the hands properly.

Some Catholics have adopted the practice of the “orans” position of the hands during the Our Father, holding the arms outstretched with palms upward, similar to the priest celebrant. Also, some like to hold hands with those around them during the Lord’s Prayer. These practices have probably developed at the encouragement of some priests or religious educators in the past, but they are not prescribed postures in the liturgy for congregations. (Learn more here and here.) As far as I know, they are not forbidden either. I do not promote these postures myself because the Church’s liturgy does not promote them, but I do not say anything one way or the other if people have been assuming those postures and like to do it. However, when I am asked, I do tell people that they should not feel obligated to hold hands or to hold their hands up like the priest if they choose not to do so.

Reverence Incorrect Palms


Reverence Mom with Baby


Reverence Hand


Reverence Tongue


Reverence One Handed



P.S. – Would you do Courageous Priest a favor and share this info with your friends on Facebook, Twitter or Email right now? We truly appreciate it. Or leave a comment, we would love to hear what you think.

5 comments to Reverence Matters – With Illustrations

  • Bonnie Waletzko

    When things changed at Mass from the way it was when I was a girl [I’m 74]it was not always easy. However over years, prayers have been changed, too, but it becomes ‘natural’ and holy. I do not like ‘mimicking’ the priest with the ‘orans’ position of the hands and so I do not practice it as half the congregation does not either; We are not priests in the same fashion as he is. It becomes a frivolous act with people doing it their own way. It looks like Protestants who have turned Catholic enjoy it and perhaps they did more physical antics during their past Protestant services.
    Regardless of how we participate at Mass it should always be with reverence and awareness of the Presence of Jesus Christ. Thanks be to priests like the Good Father Frank who is willing to teach us what we need to know or to bring us back to what is proper behavior at Mass where we may have become negligent.

  • Jon

    You seem to be upset that the Church as you knew is disappearing. You say that Vatican II make a mistake by allowing Holy Communion to be taken in the hands. I happen to believe that Paul VI made a mistake with the alleged ban on contraceptives. Be that as it may, with all the people living in poverty and a host of other problems, the Communion issue isn’t very important. I suggest you pull yourself together and send a check to Catholic Charities and if you own a business, give everybody a nice raise

  • Jon


    Wow,where does one start? Your basic problem is that you are very troubled by the disappearance of Church as you once knew it. To take it upon yourself to declare that Vatican II made a mistake is interesting and it is possible that you might be correct. I’ll give you that one if you give me that Paul VI made a mistake with the alleged ban on contraception.

  • Colleen

    The term “most reverent” is a judgment call by the writer. Personally, I don’ think sticking one’s tongue out at the Priest isn’t very reverent.

    • Ryan

      Wow, please allow me too educate you. You say the term most Reverent. Is a judgment by the writer. Then you go on to say sticking one’s tongue out at a priest isn’t very reverent. Well before you criticize the author of this article. You should at least read his name. In this case his name is FATHER Richard Frank. Yes that’s right a PRIEST wrote the article you are criticizing. Believe me when I tell you it’s not just less than Reverent to insult a priest it’s damn rude. Now the reason the photo is labeled most reverent. Has absolutely nothing to do with her sticking her tongue out. It’s because her eyes are shut and her head is slightly bowed. From your comment its obvious your one of those people who have a issue with receiving the blessed sacrament on the tongue. Did you notice the photo of the woman with the baby receiving the host on her tongue is labeled correct. And the photo of the man receiving the host in his hands is labeled acceptable. I have a feeling if you were to ask father Frank he would recommend all Catholics to receive on the tongue. For the following reasons. Allowing people to receive our loving savior JESUS CHRIST on the hand was a major mistake committed by Vatican two. There is absolutely no way that parts or fragments of the host will not come off on people’s hands and then fall on the floor. And because we’re Catholics. We believe the blessed sacrament is the true body, blood and divinity of Jesus Christ. How could anyone ” anyone ” want to risk dropping our Lord and Savior on the ground. So that people behind us will trample all over him. Thank you so much for a wonderful article father Frank. I will pray for you and your ministry. God bless you Colleen. I pray that you read my reply and you change how you receive communion.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>