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Photo: Janet Wamsley
At St. Paul’s, we use liturgy, ceremony, and music to engage all of our senses and bring powerful emotional symbolism and energy to our worship. We hope that visitors will find their experience similarly engaging, but of course we encourage you only to participate in practices that you understand and with which you are comfortable.
Many newcomers and visitors may not be familiar with all of St. Paul’s worship customs, which are briefly explained here. If any of these customs is confusing or unfamiliar, feel free to ask any greeter, clergy, or parishioner.
The Old Testament attests to public prayers standing and kneeling, usually with uplifted hands. At St. Paul’s, we normally stand when praising (usually, singing or reciting hymns of praise), sit when listening (except for the Gospel in Mass, when we stand), and kneel when praying. By changing our posture as we worship, we orient ourselves to approach each part of the liturgy with the appropriate frame of mind.
At St. Paul’s, genuflection is viewed a sign of respect, awe, and adoration, which is made by bending one knee, lowering the right knee almost to the ground. In our tradition, it is customary to genuflect to the consecrated Eucharistic elements as a sign of reverence toward Christ’s presence among us. At Mass, we also genuflect in the Nicene Creed at the words: “And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary and was made man” because they likewise refer to Christ’s Incarnation. We bow as a mark of honor and glory when the name of Jesus or the names of the Triune God, "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" are said or sung. At Mass, we also bow during the Sanctus as we say or hear the words “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts.”