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Entering a Sanctuary With a Tabernacle

99. According to IG 274:

If there is a tabernacle with the Blessed Sacrament in the sanctuary the priest, deacon and other ministers genuflect to it when they approach or leave the altar, but not during the celebration of Mass itself.

Otherwise, all who cross before the most Blessed Sacrament genuflect, unless they are involved in a procession.

Ministers who are carrying the processional cross or the candles bow their head in place of a genuflection.

100. It seems that the genuflection is made before the the deep bow to the altar. The genuflection is made "when they approach ... the altar" (IG 274) whereas the deep bow is made "on reaching the altar" (IG 122).

101. GIRM 84 had "On reaching the altar the priest and ministers make the proper reverence, that is, a low bow or, if there is a tabernacle containing the blessed sacrament, a genuflection." But IG 122 has changed this paragraph so only the bow is mentioned. So it is no longer a case of the genuflection replacing the bow, but of both being required.

102. For Mass at which a bishop presides, but does not celebrate, the instructions may be different. According to CB 177 "Upon reaching the altar, the celebrant or concelebrants make a deep bow, but if the blessed sacrament is reserved in the sanctuary, they genuflect." Perhaps the "but" should be translated as "and". This would be more consistent with CB 72: "A deep bow is made to the altar by all who enter the sanctuary".

103. The Stational Mass does not mention genuflecting to the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle, perhaps assuming that it will not be in the sanctuary. It does have: "There is neither a stop nor a genuflection if the procession passes in front of the blessed sacrament chapel." (CB 128).



Copyright J.R. Lilburne, 18 March 2002. Last updated 15 April 2002.