Thursday, 8 November 2012
Curtseying and Genuflecting
This photograph, in case you are wondering (except if you are visiting from Australia), shows Her Excellency Mrs Quentin Bryce, Governor-General of Australia, curtseying in a beautiful, elegant, dignified manner to Her Majesty the Queen. I like that very much!
It struck a chord, too, because these days, being rather creaky, I could just about manage that kind of curtsey if ever I were to be introduced to the Queen. In fact, I make my genuflections in church just like that.
What am I on about? Well … …
There is a certain church where until recently I was very reluctant to attempt to receive Holy Communion on the tongue. I tried twice, and on each occasion the priest accidentally knocked against my chin, once with his knuckles and once with the ciborium. The priest was not very tall, and the altar step on which he was standing was quite low; and I might in addition have presented a difficult “target”, as it were. Whatever the cause, it was something I had never encountered before, and these experiences put me off trying again for a good long while.
But things are better now. This has happened because of my visits to St Mary-on-the-Quay in Bristol, which as some readers may remember is my preferred church for Confession. I happily wear my mantilla for the Ordinary Form Mass there, and I have no difficulty at all in receiving Holy Communion on the tongue. But there came a day, as I recall, when I saw a communicant in front of me bend his knee to receive. Not kneel down, just bend his knee. And I thought that was really effective: devout; not very conspicuous; and with no risk of tripping anyone up. So I thought I would try it too, and it was very good.
Interestingly, this is not a feminine thing, even though I have used the illustration of the curtsey. As with the example I have just given, men can do this too.
A few weeks ago, with some trepidation, I decided once again to receive Holy Communion on the tongue from the priest from whom I had received so awkwardly before. To make my wish clear, I held my Mass book in my clasped hands. I made this slight dip of the knees, and raised my face a little, in the hope of making things easier for him. And it worked beautifully. I returned to my pew, very happy, and not only for having been able to receive on the tongue. That slight genuflection at the moment of receiving had filled me with joy. And that is they way things have continued, at whatever church in which I have attended the Ordinary Form. I can recommend it.