PEW REVERENCES, GENUFLELCTING AND BOWING DURING THE EPISCOPAL SERVICE - DR. GIL HAAS, ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH
St. Augustine’s focuses our attention on Christ’s presence. The major focus of Christ’s presence is Christ’s body and blood in the consecrated bread and wine reserved in the ambry - the small chest in the wall on the left side of the nave. The lit candle in the red sanctuary lamp reminds us of the presence of Christ’s sacramental body and blood. To honor this “presence”, many parishioners perform a genuflection or a deep bow (where their knees could be touched with their outstretched hands) upon entering or leaving their pew. A genuflection is accomplished by touching the ground with the right knee at the place where the right foot was and rising upright at once while simultaneously making the sign of the cross. Usually the only time the reserved sacrament is not present is when it is ceremoniously processed to the Altar of Repose following Maundy Thursday’s stripping of the altar. The lit sanctuary lamp is also placed on this altar to signify the presence of the reserved sacrament. Tradition suggests that if the reserved sacrament is not present, a simple bow to the cross and altar (which also represent Christ) is appropriate. A simple bow is performed by slightly bending the head.
~ Dr. Gil Haas, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church