In 2016, NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick ignited controversy when he knelt during the National Anthem to protest police brutality and racism. In 2015, Joseph Kennedy, an assistant football coach in Washington, was fired for kneeling after games in prayer (and encouraging others to join him).
In both cases, kneeling is a way of demonstrating these men’s heartfelt beliefs and of literally embodying their moral and spiritual commitments.
As Catholics, we are very familiar with the act of kneeling in prayer—it’s something we do every time we go to Mass. But what exactly is the significance of kneeling? Does it matter what you do with your body while you pray? And why kneeling, specifically?
This week in Glad You Asked, hosts Emily Sanna and Rebecca Bratten Weiss talk to Kevin Considine about how kneeling helps us focus on God’s presence among us.
Considine is the director of the Robert J. Schreiter Institute for Precious Blood Spirituality at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. As well as contributing regularly to U.S. Catholic’s monthly print Glad You Asked column, he is a frequent contributor on topics of ecology, anti-racism, and popular culture.
You can find out more about the topic and what the church teaches about embodied prayer in the links below:
- Desiderio Desideravi (On the Liturgical Formation of the People of God)
- “Why do we kneel in church?” by Kevin P. Considine
- “Virtual liturgy is still embodied, says this Yale liturgist,” a U.S. Catholic interview
Glad You Asked is sponsored by the Claretian Missionaries.