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Why aren't people kneeling at church?

Nothing to do with church furniture

Father David Jones

Catholic Practices

Once in a church that had no kneelers a bishop asked a pastor, “Why aren’t the people kneeling?” The pastor responded, “Because we have no kneelers.” The bishop asked, “So why aren’t the people kneeling?”


Kneeling is a profound gesture in liturgy. In the early Church it signified penance, in the Middle Ages, homage, and today, adoration. The act maintains a semblance of all of the above.

In kneeling and genuflecting we quietly yet immediately acknowledge the awesomeness of God and of being in His presence. The wise gesture reminds us that we cannot stand toe to toe with God and ought not desire to foolishly try and do so. It is always our privilege to look up to God.

The moments of the liturgy that call for kneeling are the moments when the best we can do is kneel still and let God be God and do what only God can do. We practice the faith by “watching and waiting, looking above” hoping to receive and be filled with whatever God is preparing for us. Kneeling is the perfect posture to be “lost in His love” because it is not lying down, it’s not lazy. It’s attentive and requires us to be more aware that God is real and actually present. Kneeling says in this moment I only see God.

For good reason, earthly beings don’t live on God’s mountain. But when we find ourselves taken to that holy of holiest place, any act short of adoration misses the moment.

Kneeling doesn’t reveal the agility or fragility of the kneeler. It reveals that our eyes are watching God and we actually see Him. It has nothing to do with church furniture.

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