If you ever enter a Catholic church you will have undoubtedly seen people genuflect toward a container (the tabernacle), normally situated in the sanctuary. This is because it contains the hosts which have been transformed into the body of Christ. But why is it we choose to genuflect instead of simply bowing or dancing or singing a song or something else? Here are three main reasons Catholics genuflect when they enter a church.
1. It’s an act of humility and adoration
By going to one knee we are saying to God that he is greater than us and we remember just how incredible God is. This is not something that God demands of us because of a huge ego but rather a free choice of our own. In doing this, we are saying that we are trusting that God knows what direction is best for us in life rather than always insisting upon our own.
2. It’s an act of service
As demonstrated throughout history and in some of my favourite movies (Gladiator, The Last Samurai and The Lord of the Rings) going to one knee before someone has always been very closely related to pledging service to someone or something. By genuflecting towards the tabernacle we are pledging service to God’s mission to help steer the world into a life-giving relationship with God.
3. It’s an act of love
Relatively recently, I proposed to my now fiancée and, just like when I genuflect to the tabernacle as I enter a church, going to one knee meant three things: I think she’s incredible, I want to serve her and perhaps most importantly I love her and want to spend my life with her. This is the same with God. By going to one knee as we enter the church, we remind ourselves of both God’s love for us and our own love back to him and are making a statement that we want to spend our lives and beyond with him.