Can you receive Holy Communion kneeling down?

I am posting this because just a couple of weeks ago. Last month probably? I had gone to daily Mass on a Saturday morning at my local parish. As it was time to receive Holy Communion I decided to receive kneeling down. I was not the only one, there had been a couple of people as well receive on their knees. After we had gone back to our pews the priest celebrating mass, which happened to be the pastor of the church as well, had told us that we are not to receive Holy Communion kneeling down because the bishops in the United States had spoken against  this. I was disappointed that the pastor had said this. I was disappointed because I had always loved to receive Holy Communion kneeling down, but I was also confused and sure that what he had said was wrong.

Later that day I did research and spent a number of hours seeing what the Catholic Church taught regarding this, as well as of any documents, videos, and any other thing I could get my hands into to be able to find the official teaching regarding receiving Holy Communion. I had found two documents and several videos by well-known Catholic clergy including Cardinal Arinze, as well as laity, including apologists such as Jimmy Akin that specifically state that the Catholic faithful have the right of receiving Holy Communion kneeling down.

The sad part of this is that I had talked to my priest a couple of days after, in order to show him that he was wrong to say that people are not to receive Holy Communion kneeling down. The priest had simply reaffirmed what he had stated several days prior. I even tried to show him the documents, which he tried his best to ignore.


It seems that many have lost the idea of showing reverence for Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and our Lord in general. There are quite a few examples of Holy People in the bible prostrating themselves before our Lord, as well as examples of people in the Church throughout the ages showing their most due reverence. I think the best example is the angel at Fatima.

 1)” Then the Angel appeared to us for the third time. He was holding a chalice in his hand. A Host was over it, from which fell some drops of Blood into the chalice. Leaving the chalice and Host suspended in mid-air, he prostrated himself on the ground”.

2) In his third and final apparition to the children, the Angel gave them Holy Communion, and demonstrated the proper way to receive Our Lord in the Eucharist: all three children knelt to receive Communion; and Lucy was given the Sacred Host on the tongue and the Angel shared the Blood of the Chalice between Francisco and Jacinta.


Because of this incident I will post the documents and the videos that specifically state that the Catholic faithful have the right to receive Holy Communion kneeling.


3) The priest then takes the paten or ciborium and goes to the communicants, who, as a rule, approach in a procession.

 The faithful are not permitted to take the consecrated bread or the sacred chalice by themselves and, still less, to hand them from one to another. The norm for reception of Holy Communion in the dioceses of the United States is standing. Communicants should not be denied Holy Communion because they kneel. Rather, such instances should be addressed pastorally, by providing the faithful with proper catechesis on the reasons for this norm.

When receiving Holy Communion, the communicant bows his or her head before the Sacrament as a gesture of reverence and receives the Body of the Lord from the minister. The consecrated host may be received either on the tongue or in the hand, at the discretion of each communicant. When Holy Communion is received under both kinds, the sign of reverence is also made before receiving the Precious Blood. ( GIRM 160)

4) The faithful should receive Communion kneeling or standing, as the Conference of Bishops will have determined”, with its acts having received the recognitio of the Apostolic See. “However, if they receive Communion standing, it is recommended that they give due reverence before the reception of the Sacrament, as set forth in the same norms

In distributing Holy Communion it is to be remembered that “sacred ministers may not deny the sacraments to those who seek them in a reasonable manner, are rightly disposed, and are not prohibited by law from receiving them”. Hence any baptized Catholic who is not prevented by law must be admitted to Holy Communion. Therefore, it is not licit to deny Holy Communion to any of Christ’s faithful solely on the grounds, for example, that the person wishes to receive the Eucharist kneeling or standing. ( Redemptoris Sacramentum 90-91)

photo credit: <a href=””>Latin Mass Society Office</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>cc</a>

1) Taken from Father Gruner’s The True Story Of Fatima: A complete account of the Fatima apparitions

2) Taken from the website The Message in general

3) Taken from GIRM ( The General Instruction For The Roman Missal)

4) Taken from Redemptoris Sacramentum


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  1. This reminds me of a grand ole story about a bridge. Once, in the city of Lower Ungston, there lived a humble cobbler by the name of Meebers. Meebers worked night and day making the finest shoes in the city. On Saturdays, though business had been poor, he would carry his shoes across the bridge so that he could offer them at the central market. One particular day, a would be patron, a young man not know to these parts, stopped to inspect his wares. The young man inquired if he might simply have a pair of shoes for free. Poor ole Meebers became indignant. Yet the young man persisted until Meebers gave in and let him take a pair of shoes. The young man chose the most expensive pair and then handed them to Meebers as a gift. Surprised, Meebers asked the meaning of this gesture. The young man said, “Sir, I noticed that while you are about the business of telling others they need better shoes, you have neglected to look at your own. This is why you have difficulty selling your shoes. Everyone can see that you do not practice as you preach.” Meebers looked at his own ragged shoes and then hung his head in shame. He went home and tied a rope to his ceiling fan.

    I suppose that story isn’t really about a bridge but it has a bridge in it.

    In a recent debate with a former friend over this story I encountered a very serious issue on exactly the matter of Communion. I was confronted with the argument that since the priest, himself, stands and commingles both species on the altar after consecration, then there is nothing sinful about doing the same in one’s mouth while standing. I quickly retorted words that could have only been divinely inspired. I said, “Do you eat that way?” Do you stand up and publicly stuff in a fist full of M&M’s while you already have a mouthful of Skittles?” Although this did not change his mind, it did seem to make him think. In fact, he got up and left. Getting a person of faith to think is a great accomplishment in my book.

    I feel I must add one more thing. We must not, in discussing this matter, confuse illicit Public Oral Commingle or Asynchronous Tongue Intinction with the form of these acts made licit by valid petition to the local ordinary’s faculty to dispense with the demands of Canon Law regardless of posture. For a licit and properly sanctioned POC or ATI is in no way to be understood as contrary to Catholic orthodoxy and orthopraxy. As long as it is sanctioned you may even hop while doing it. It is the illicit form of these which rightfully draws our righteous and utterly justified rebuke and condemnation.

    Yes. The pope, himself, might agree that the mouth must be clear and that some part of the body should be touching the floor. Otherwise, the same thing will touch the same thing and become one, big thing of sameness whether up or down. I think this is the biggest problem facing the Church today. Too many people are refusing, sinfully I might add, to swallow on time and while kneeling. In some sense, this is a theological nightmare if you think about it too long. Christ wants those things separate until they are well past the epiglottis. Let them touch and who knows what might happen. I for one do not wish to find out.

    Come to think of it, if you read the Synoptic Gospels closely, you’ll see that Judas was in a big hurry at the last supper. He stood up from the table. No doubt, he also committed an illicit Public Oral Commingle or Asynchronous Tongue Intinction, if you prefer. I use both terms as I think something this terrible requires great description. When we think of Judas, we tend to only focus on his betrayal of the Lord. But I think this standing while chewing was even worse.

    Thank you for bringing this atrocity of sinful mouths swallowing the Eucharist while standing erect to the attention of many who were worrying about it. I hope the Pope does something about this blatant epidemic of impiety.

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