The new norm will be to kneel after the “Lamb of God” (“Agnus Dei”). (Ed Langlois/Catholic Sentinel)
The new norm will be to kneel after the “Lamb of God” (“Agnus Dei”). (Ed Langlois/Catholic Sentinel)

Aiming to bring even more reverence to Mass, Portland Archbishop Alexander Sample has said the faithful in western Oregon will kneel after recitation of the “Lamb of God,” or “Agnus Dei,” prayers.

The shift, a return to previous practice, takes place the weekend of June 2-3, the solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.

“This change will unite us with the Universal Church, the majority of the dioceses in the United States and indeed the other diocese in the State of Oregon,” the archbishop wrote in a letter to priests April 18. “More importantly, I believe it will aid the reverent participation of the faithful at Holy Mass and increase their devotion to the Holy Eucharist.”

The current “General Instruction of the Roman Missal” says that the faithful will kneel after the “Agnus Dei” unless the diocesan bishop determines otherwise. In 2000, the archdiocese instructed Catholics to remain standing.

“Archbishop Sample has determined that a more reverent celebration of the Eucharist will be aided by a change in this posture,” says a letter to parishes from Msgr. Gerard O’Connor, director of the archdiocese’s Office of Divine Worship. “Kneeling is a posture of adoration and has been part of the Communion Rite for many centuries. By kneeling after the Lamb of God, the faithful prepare for the moment in which the priest presents to them the Sacrificed Lamb. This posture of adoration is most appropriate before the reception of Holy Communion.”

After the “Lamb of God,” the faithful should remain kneeling until they move from their place to receive Communion, Msgr. O’Connor wrote. He added that the tradition of remaining kneeling after the reception of Communion until the priest has returned to his seat “is to be commended.”

According to new norms, those who cannot kneel because of infirmity or other impediment should be seated so they don’t block the view of those who kneel.

The change is official as of June 2-3, but the archbishop has asked priests to make the revision as soon as the parish is prepared.