Q. After the reception of Holy Communion, what is the correct posture? Are we to sit or to kneel?
A. When we receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, we have received an unimaginable gift. The Lord has intimately united himself to us under the appearance of bread and wine. The Eucharist is what holds our relationship with Jesus together, as Jesus said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him” (John 6:56).
The most important posture after receiving Holy Communion is our spiritual disposition. It’s a time of reflection upon the one whom we have just received. After we get back to our pew, it’s very easy to be distracted: to watch our fellow parishioners receive Communion or perhaps to think about what we are going to do for the rest of the day.
Parents with small children would most certainly have the greatest difficultly in having a time of quiet reflection after receiving Communion, but it should be the goal for all of us because it is such an intimate moment with the living God.
In regard to the specifics of your questions, we look to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM). The GIRM gives instruction for how the Mass is to be celebrated. The GIRM says, “…as circumstances allow, they may sit or kneel while the period of sacred silence after Communion is observed.” (43).
In 2003, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments said the following about GIRM #43: “The [intention] is that that the prescription of the [GIRM], no. 43, is intended, on one hand, to ensure within broad limits a certain uniformity of posture within the congregation for the various parts of the celebration of the Holy Mass, and on the other, to not regulate posture rigidly in such a way that those who wish to kneel or sit would no longer be free.”
While it is good to have uniformity in posture during the Mass, it is also good for an individual to have some flexibility in posture at certain parts of the Mass, like after the reception of Holy Communion. It would be permissible for a congregant to sit or kneel after Holy Communion. One should choose the posture that would facilitate a time of intimate prayer with the Lord.
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