By Father Kenneth Doyle
Q. My dad told me about a new member of his parish who bows to the priest as the priest is processing out at the end of Mass. My dad thinks that this is horrible and borders on worshipping the priest.
I could see it, though, as not being so offensive in some contexts or cultures, especially if we believe that the priest is acting "in persona Christi" (in the person of Christ). Could you help give me some insight? (Gate City, Virginia)
A. Although not prescribed in any of the church's liturgical directives, I see no harm with a member of the congregation bowing to the priest as the priest exits following Mass.
I would interpret it as you do -- as simply a sign of courtesy and respect (and also, I would think, of gratitude for the blessings of the Mass). As a priest for more than 50 years, it has never occurred to me that parishioners were "worshipping" me when they have bowed in my direction.
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Questions may be sent to Father Kenneth Doyle at askfatherdoy[email protected] and 30 Columbia Circle Dr., Albany, New York 12203.