THE VIEW FROM WAY DOWN IN THE PEW
Turning Catholics Into A Stiff-Kneed People

July-August 1999By J. A. Gray

J. A. Gray is Deputy Editor of the NOR.

The Lord told Moses, "...I will send an angel before you to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I myself will not go up in your company, because you are a stiff-kneed people; otherwise I might exterminate you on the way. When the people heard this bad news, they went into mourning..." (after Exodus 33:1-4).

There are many perceived divisions among Catholics in America. And there is one division that has not, so far as I know, been perceived at all. Whether it warrants attention, you may judge for yourself. I refer to the split between Pedalists and Manualists.

Picture an ordinary Catholic who comes into church, enters a pew, and prepares to kneel. If the kneeler in the pew has been swung up off the floor, it must be brought down into the ready position. Some worshipers achieve this manually, by reaching down, grasping the kneeler in one hand, and lowering it to the floor. Others proceed pedally: They stand straight up, place one foot beneath the kneeler, lift, and swing the kneeler gently down.

I've seen no editorials in the conservative Catholic press praising Pedalism, no articles in liberal Catholic magazines maligning Manualism. The lack of Catholic punditry on the matter is understandable, for it's not clear where the usual labels or libels (Traditionalist, Modernist, Liberal, Restorationist) would apply. Both Pedalism and Manualism can be observed in practice within a single parish community -- in fact, within a single family in a single pew -- with no signs of friction, or even of awareness.


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Thanks for my daily laugh! It happened as my eyes scanned across the term, "liturgy specialist."

"Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth"

Saint Paul to the Philippians 2.9-10
Posted by: gespin3549
July 21, 2009 11:20 AM EDT
Kneeling is considered showing reverence and respect. Why would anyone not kneel to GOD. But with the tabernacle hidden GOD seems to have disappeared from sight.
To many churches do not have the tabernacle at the main alter. I would like to have the tabernacle back in the center of the alter and move the priests chairs to the side. Until the priests die for my sins, this attention seeking vanity is disturbing.
Isn't GOD supposed to be the center of our attention especially when we are at mass.
I have noticed when kneeling one is less distracted than when standing.
Posted by: Barbara
August 29, 2012 10:59 AM EDT
"Where the old sanctuary and altar had been, there was a thrust-forward platform holding a massive table and chair of some gorgeous, glowing wood."

Sounds like a masonic temple and not a Catholic church. I think the author needs to find a new church. I know I would.
Posted by: michael
August 29, 2012 11:00 AM EDT
THANK GOD FOR U GOOD PEOPLE I LOVE N O R PLEASE DP NOT LET MY SUBSCRIPTION RUN OUT I THINK I MAY HAVE ONLY SIGNED FOR 1 YEAR? Posted by: DORIS MARTINA
August 29, 2012 11:44 AM EDT
The first part of this piece had me rolling with laughter. Bravo! I often think that the NOR is at its best when it does pieces that involve some humor. Maybe there could be some completely humorous pieces. It's an important part of Catholic life!

I am with the author completely on this. I understand the non-penitential no kneeling argument, but in my gut, it doesn't cut it with me. Like the author, I feel compelled to my knees by the grandeur of God, and no committee on liturgy will be able to convince me otherwise.
Posted by: pauljames87
August 30, 2012 11:02 AM EDT
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