Gestures and Actions - Assembly

Focusing ourselves

Gestures and Actions - Assembly Map


Focusing ourselves

Sometimes a physical gesture or posture helps us to focus our mind for what is at hand and upon God’s Word. Bowing, kneeling, folding one’s hands, not to mention the Sign of the Cross, help us to focus our body and soul for prayer and worship.


By bending our right knee to the floor, we are showing respect and reverence to the Blessed Sacrament – the hosts that have not been used. When we genuflect we face toward the tabernacle containing the Blessed Sacrament or the altar. We always genuflect when coming into the church before going into our seat and when we leave the church.

Sign of the Cross

The Sign of the Cross is a cross traced with the right hand, touching the forehead, the chest, and then the left and right shoulder. The words In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen are said aloud or silently as the sign is made. We make the Sign of the Cross with holy water, which is a sign of our baptism, upon entering the church and exiting the church and many times during the Mass.


We sit in the Liturgy of the Word when we listen to the First Reading, Psalm, and Second Reading and during the homily.


There are several times during Mass when we stand. The first is during the Introductory Rites at the start of the Mass to acknowledge that Jesus is with us. For the same reason, we stand when the Gospel is proclaimed.


Singing is a form of praying and so it is important that we sing at Mass. Singing is also an important part of celebrating. We always sing at a birthday party and so too, we often sing when we celebrate Mass.


Bowing is a sign of reverence. We bow deeply from the waist at Mass when we go on the sanctuary, near the altar. If you watch closely, you will also see the Priest bowing at different times during the Mass too.

Gospel Greeting

The Priest makes the Sign of the Cross with his thumb on the first word of the reading in the book he reads from, called the Lectionary, and announces the Gospel. We respond with the words Glory to you, O Lord, while making a Sign of the Cross with our thumb on our forehead, lips and heart. This gesture is a form of prayer for the presence of the Word of God in your mind, on your lips, and in your heart.


The Mass is like a conversation we are having with God and so we need to respond to him at certain times during the celebration. The most common response is Amen, which means I believe. When we respond in Mass, we need to do it clearly and like we mean what we are saying.


In most churches we kneel during the Eucharistic Prayer. Kneeling is a sign of great reverence. Those who are old or injured are not obliged to kneel.

Receiving Communion

Those who have made their First Holy Communion go to Communion in an orderly line. We are offered the sacred Host and the Chalice or else the Host alone. The Priest, Deacon or extraordinary minister of Holy Communion offer us the Host saying The Body of Christ and we respond Amen. We always receive the Host and the Chalice with great reverence and in silence because this is such an important part of the Mass.

For Reflection and Discussion


What movements does the Priest do as well? 


Does he do them at the same time as us? 


List all the times that the Priest bows during the Mass.


Have one of your classmates read out the explanation and you name the movement. Take it in turns. 


Practice the different movements before you go to Mass again.

Further Resources