Sunday, March 18, 2012
The "genuf" is what I have decided to start calling the half-genuflection (although calling what I usually see a half genuflection is often VERY generous).
First of all, it is always helpful to mention when it is that we ought to genuflect because many have simply never been taught. We genuflect when coming in and out of the presence of royalty, and certainly our Lord Jesus Christ is the "King of Kings" and thus also deserves that same treatment. No one going to see the Queen of England would drop their knee about 3 inches in more of a curtsy/stumbling motion, so why do we do it with our Lord? I think often times (and this is on the priests to help do a better job of teaching people this) people simply don't know that we even believe Christ is truly present in the tabernacle.
An important aspect of a genuflection is to actually touch the knee to the ground. Part of the value of the genuflection is that it continues to be an opportunity to show humility...and It also hurts and that pain is good! Now of course here some will relegate me to that same class as the masochistic monk in the Da Vinci code and those who enjoy hurting themselves - but it's not so. Catholics believe that there is actually joy to be found in admitting something is greater than ourselves; there is joy to be found when I am able to acknowledge that I'm not in charge and that I don't always know what is best; there is joy in admitting, through a genuflection, that I am not the King of the Universe. There is a childish simplicity and levity that comes from not walking into Church and giving God the "what's up dude head nod" but instead saying "Lord, it is good for me to be here in your presence!"
"Genuflection haters" love to frame genuflection in terms of some medieval custom that hails from a time when people were overly focused on the transcendence and greatness of God, but they say that now that we are enlightened moderns who have crawled out of the swamp of the middle ages, we now know that God is our bud, and so a quick head nod as if to say "what's up" is sufficient.
Next time you come into or leave the presence of the King of the Universe, don't settle for a "genuf" or a head nod but instead let your knee touch the ground, let it be an opportunity to reflect on your position in the universe and to give honor to the King of Kings (and teach your kids and teenagers to do the same).