Why do some people kneel during the Divine Liturgy?
Father has told us not to, but I don’t remember why. Does it matter?
Can’t we do what we want?
Our Divine Liturgy is an ancient practice of collective prayer that we have preserved for centuries because of its value to us as a community of Faith. Its enduring relevance lies, to a great extent, in its symbolic richness. The Divine Liturgy is a joyous celebration of Christ’s Resurrection: the Good News of our Salvation.
It is a collective prayer of and for all creation in gratitude, love, and joy. Standing symbolizes reverence: We stand with our Resurrected Lord and this is our proper liturgical sign of being united with Christ as one body. Kneeling symbolizes penitence. We only kneel at certain services during Lent, such as during our Liturgies of the Presanctified Gifts. Standing has been considered the correct position for praying since before Christ’s time. Images in early Christian catacombs depict believers standing together in prayer.
Oftentimes people kneel because in Western Ukraine our Church was under the Roman Catholic influence of Poland. Today, kneeling is an RC practice that is contested by many. Others within that Church and in ours insist that kneeling is right because that’s how they were taught. In 325 the Council of Nicea banned kneeling during the Divine Liturgy in order to promote uniformity. We are, as they say, in this together, so we too should all stand together—remembering the dignity and joy granted by our Lord.
We can kneel—but let’s do that when praying on our own or before and after Liturgy.
Stand: in respect, dignity, and celebration;
Sit: for attentive listening;
Kneel: for penitence and sorrow.