Over the Easter season, our tradition calls for the congregation to stand during the Eucharistic prayer. A few of our parishioners had asked the question “why?” Let me try to answer:
We are not to be gloomy in Church; yet we are to be reverent. Our manner in Church and our attitude should reflect our respect and love for almighty God! Very briefly, the origin of this custom dates from the earliest centuries of the Church, and is believed to have existed in apostolic times. St Justin, who was martyred in the second century, commented about this custom: “When we kneel, we signify thereby that we have fallen to earth by our sins, and, therefore, during Easter / Paschal time, we stand in order to show that by the Resurrection of Christ and by penance we have risen from our unfortunate fall, and that being awakened from the death of the soul we must persevere in good resolutions.” Therefore by standing during Eastertide, we conform to the practice of the Fathers of the Church as early as the second century. At the beginning of the fourth century this practice became a general law for the whole Church. The first Ecumenical Council (Nicea 325) although it was primarily a dogmatic council, did, nevertheless, pass legislation on this matter. The 12th Canon of the Council (which is the only Canon relating to worship) mandates that on every Sunday between Easter and Pentecost, worship and prayer shall be performed standing!
Remember, also, that the rubrical postures for the congregation during a Eucharistic procession are as they are during the Easter morning procession (such as they shall be for every Eucharistic Procession). The congregation stands in reverence of the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, and genuflects as the Presence passes close to the participant.
Standing has, and always will be, the most reverential posture for the believer.
A caveat shall always be, however, that God certainly understands if the worshipper is physically unable to comply with the rubrical directive. A heart that stands in reverence is truly what God desires.
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