Posture for Mass

(A pdf copy of this post may be found on the “Educational Downloads” page.)

The 1962 Missal does not specify postures for the congregation: local custom prevailed on this topic for much of history, and those customs varied widely. Even authorities, guides, and hand missals tend to disagree with one another as a result of the influence of such customs.

Twentieth-century liturgical authorities such as Adrian Fortescue, however, reasoned that what the congregation ought to do was to follow the norms for clerics assisting in choir (which were set out in official rubrics). This approach yields a pattern of postures closely analogous to that found in the Novus Ordo (and from which the latter is likely derived). While there are some differences in the appearance of the sanctuary at analogous times between the two forms, the points of divergence (highlighted in red below) are few.

Extraordinary Form

Ordinary Form

Point in the Mass Posture Point in the Mass Posture
The Asperges Stand N/A N/A
Beginning of Mass (introit etc.) Stand Beginning of Mass Stand
Epistle Sit First Reading Sit
Gospel[1] Stand Gospel Stand
Homily Sit Homily Sit
Creed Stand Stand Stand
“et incarnatus est…” Kneel “and became man” Bow
N/A N/A General Intercessions Stand
Conclusion of Offertory Verse Sit Conclusion of Collect Sit
Incensing of Congregation Stand (if applicable) Incensing of Congregation Stand (if applicable)
“Oratre fratres . . .” Maintain Posture “Pray, brothers & sisters, that my sacrifice …” Stand
“Per omnia saecula saeculorum” (conclusion of the “Secret”) Stand or remain standing N/A N/A
Sanctus Kneel Sanctus Kneel
Pater Noster[2] Stand Our Father Stand
Agnus Dei Kneel Agnus Dei Kneel
Postcommunion Prayer Stand Postcommunion Prayer Stand
Final Blessing Kneel Final Blessing Remain Standing
Last Gospel Stand N/A N/A
“Et Verbum caro factum est” Kneel N/A N/A

—————-
The posture norms presented here are derived from Richard Friend, Understanding When to Sit, Kneel and Stand at a Traditional Latin Mass: A Short Essay on Mass Postures, available at https://sanctatrinitasunusdeus.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/understanding-when-to-kneel-sit-and-stand-revised-april-25-2014.pdf.

[1] If the Gospel is preceded by a sequence or tract (e.g., the Victimae Paschali on Easter) sung by the choir alone, remain seated for it.

[2] The priest concludes the Canon by saying aloud “Per omnia saecula saeculorum,” and the congregation responds “Amen.” The congregation stands, and the priest then introduces the Our Father by saying “Oremus.”

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