Do People Stand for the Eucharist in Other Countries?
Q: Someone told me that the general Catholic practice all over the world is to stand during the Eucharistic prayer. Is this true, and isn’t it disrespectful to stand?
A: It is the standard practice, worldwide, to stand for most of the Eucharistic prayer. That is the general rule, and a country has to get a dispensation for additional kneeling. However, the general, worldwide rule is also for people to kneel during the consecration itself (then resume standing for the rest of Mass).
America is a country that has permission to kneel more than just at the consecration (through to the Great Amen), and that is the rule here. In America we are required to kneel through the Great Amen and liturgical practices that apply to other parts of the world do not subvert the liturgical law the Vatican and American bishops have hammered out for this country.
There is nothing intrinsically disrespectful about standing. In fact, in the early Church people would kneel during Mass on weekdays but stand during Mass on Sunday to symbolize their liberation by Christ (in their every day life, kneeling was a posture associated with servants; standing a posture associated with freedmen).
Whether a posture is respectful or disrespectful is largely determined by culture and by the attitude of the person assuming it (e.g., a person who mockingly gets down on his knees in exaggerated outward subservience would be disrespectful of the Eucharist, as would a person who arrogantly stands in order to project the message that he or she is not subservient to Jesus in the Eucharist).
What Jesus is concerned about is what is going on in our heart, and our outward postures are intended to help us assume certain inward attitudes that we have been trained to associate with those postures. In our country, a nation where people have been so obsessed with individualism that they have forgotten what reverence for royalty is like, extra kneeling at Mass is appropriate to teach them the reverence Christ the King deserves.