Beware the Sajdah
KNEEL: NO BUTTS ABOUT IT
American humorist Samuel Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain) tapped into a fundamental human foible when he observed: “God created man in his own image and man, being a gentleman, returned the favor.” Mankind, it seems, can never leave what is, as is. As we see it, everything in God’s good creation needs our creative input before it can be considered “good enough” for either God or man. Hence, there will never be a shortage of innovative solutions to problems that really don’t exist.
The bulletin of a parish in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, Pennsylvania, recently advertised a special children’s eucharistic Holy Hour that included a new mysterious new component. The ad stated that children should come to “partake in songs and prostrations.” Having taken part in eucharistic adoration for many years with my young children, always emphasizing the proper etiquette — double knee genuflection, kneeling with back straight in the pews, sitting properly, praying the mysteries of the Rosary — I was annoyed by yet another scheme from the commissars of the New Liturgical Order, and somewhat curious as to what the new wrinkle was all about.
On the way into the church with four small children in tow, I passed a college professor friend who was leaving the church in a huff. He was furious that there were “kids laying all over the floor carrying on with their butts up in the air, with the parents apparently encouraging and approving of this cutesy but grossly inappropriate behavior.” Continuing with his invective, he pronounced this children’s Holy Hour as a “Muslim copycat fest.” He warned me not to take my children inside. Convincing myself that it simply could not be as bad as he suggested, I entered the church. As it turns out, it really was that bad. I was dumbfounded by row upon row of children’s derrières staring me in the face.
The children were instructed to crouch, bend over, raise their buttocks in the air, rest their foreheads on the floor, and repeat. Dozens of children were flopping up and down in this strange fashion in a pattern emblematic of the worship style practiced by Muslims. Little girls were making desperate attempts at modesty, pulling down their shirts or skirts and smoothing them over their derrières to prevent unwanted attention. Some of the little boys took advantage of this opportunity to express themselves by vocalizing gross bodily sounds, invoking laughter and carrying on in the group, all in the sanctuary of the church and during the public eucharistic adoration session.
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