For many Catholics, we do things automatically because that is what we were taught to do as children. But, do you understand why we do the things we do when we enter a church to celebrate the sacraments? Through a series of articles, I hope to help you understand the “why” so that we can enter more fully into the celebration of the Mass.
Why do we genuflect when we come into church before entering a pew and when leaving the pew when Mass is over? When we enter and leave the Church, do we genuflect to:
(A) The altar?
(B) The crucifix?
(C) The tabernacle?
The answer is C. The tabernacle holds the hosts that were consecrated at Mass but not consumed – the real presence of Jesus commonly referred to as the Blessed Sacrament. “Genuflection is the act of kneeling down on one knee as a sign of reverence to the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle” (Introduction to Catholicism for Adults, p. 916). That means, when you enter a church, you face the direction of the tabernacle if it is visible when you genuflect. In our church, the tabernacle is now in the Reservation Chapel, but it will be moved to the sanctuary underneath the Crucifix after Pentecost. Watch for additional information as the date approaches.