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The Catholic Defender: Pope Benedict XVI Theology of kneeling


Pope Benedict XVI. Again, there is a story that comes from the sayings of the Desert Fathers, according to which the devil was compelled by God to show himself to a certain Abbot Apollo.


He looked black and ugly, with frighteningly thin limbs, but most strikingly, he had no knees. The inability to kneel is seen as the very essence of the diabolical.


But I do not want to go into more detail. I should like to make just one more remark. The expression used by Saint Luke to describe the kneeling of Christians (theis ta gonata) is unknown in classical Greek. We are dealing here with a specifically Christian word. With that remark, our reflections turn full circle to where they began. It may well be that kneeling is alien to modern culture — insofar as it is a culture, for this culture has turned away from the faith and no longer knows the one before whom kneeling is the right, indeed the intrinsically necessary gesture.


The man who learns to believe learns also to kneel, and a faith or a liturgy no longer familiar with kneeling would be sick at the core.


Where it has been lost, kneeling must be rediscovered, so that, in our prayer, we remain in fellowship with the apostles and martyrs, in fellowship with the whole cosmos, indeed in union with Jesus Christ Himself.” (Joseph Ratzinger, Cardinal) The Theology of Kneeling From Cardinal Josef Ratzinger’s book The Spirit of the Liturgy)

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