Last week, I started a short series of articles about the reasons behind our actions in churches and during Mass. This week, I’d like to continue by talking about an often-overlooked, but very important gesture – the “profound” bow.

Bowing towards another person as a sign of respect exists throughout the world. We took it up from the ancient Near East where it was used as a sign of gracious respect for earthly masters. One would bow in the presence of the king and in the presence of one’s god. It shows deference, but also trust – one who bows makes himself defenseless, after all.

In the Roman Church, we make use of what is called the “profound” bow. It is a moderately slow bow at the waist. Primarily, we bow two different times during the Mass. First, we bow during the Creed during the words “and by the Holy Spirit, was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.” We bow as a sign of respect and adoration in the face of the greatest mystery in the created world – the moment when God Himself took on our flesh. Second, we bow right before the reception of Holy Communion and for a similar reason. It is an act of adoration before our Eucharistic Lord. Additionally, during the celebration of Holy Mass, people entering or leaving the sanctuary bow towards the altar, as the altar itself is a sign of Christ’s presence among us.

Remember, too, that a slight bow of the head (kind of like a simple nod) is made when we hear the Name of Jesus as a sign of reverence and respect for that “Name which is above all names.”

Fr. Ryan





















































































































































































































































































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