The ABC’s of Catholic Doctrine: A Sign of Respect By Lianne Tiu


In the Philippines, we have this beautiful custom of making the “mano po” gesture to “lolo” and “lola” (grandparents) upon seeing them. When Pope Francis comes to our country in January, the lucky ones who can go near him will have to genuflect (on the left knee) and kiss his ring before greeting him. These are signs of respect we give because of the dignity of the person.

When we line up for Communion to meet the king of Kings, to receive our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, have we ever thought of showing some kind of reverence for Him? In our country, most of us receive Communion standing. We can show reverence by bowing before receiving our Lord. A suggestion is to bow from the waist, not just a nod of the head. The Instruction Redemptionis sacramentum states: “If [the faithful] receive Communion standing, it is recommended that they give due reverence before the reception of the Sacrament…” St. Augustine wrote: “Let no one eat the body of Christ without first adoring it.”

There are some people who prefer to genuflect first then stand up to receive Communion. They should do so by stepping forward with their left foot, rather than backwards with the right, since the latter can interfere with the person behind them. They should genuflect while the person ahead of them is receiving our Lord so that they do not interrupt the flow of communicants.

Some churches encourage communicants to kneel at the altar rail or on kneelers. The act of kneeling is itself a sign of reverence.

Aside from Communion time, we should also show respect when we are in front of our Lord in the Eucharist. For example, when passing in front of the tabernacle, we genuflect on our right knee; and upon entering or leaving the place where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, we make a double genuflection (that is, kneeling on both knees and bow).

The Church respects our freedom on how we manifest our piety, even though she recommends a particular way of doing things. What is important is that we show great reverence for our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

(Reference: “Question Time” and “Question Time 2” By Fr. John Flader; “My Catholic Faith” by Rev. Louis LaRavoire Morrow)