THERE ARE CERTAIN GESTURES that mark us as Catholics, and the genuflection is certainly one of them. That brief bending of one knee is rarely used in everyday life. Yet for Catholics it’s an instinctive motion.
[R]eservation and reverence [of the Eucharist] were hallmarks of the Church’s eucharistic practice, from the earliest years and in lands as far flung as Rome and North Africa…. They knew it then, as we know it today: Jesus is really present in the Blessed Sacrament—body, blood, soul, and divinity. That presence is lasting. And if it is lasting it should be acknowledged. He must be worshipped…. If, as St. Paul says, “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Phil 2:10), how much more before his bodily presence!
Nowadays, our churches keep their consecrated eucharistic hosts in a structure called a tabernacle…. According to Church law, a tabernacle should be “immovable, made of solid or opaque material, and locked so that the danger of profanation may be entirely avoided.” “The tabernacle should be in a place that is conspicuous, suitably adorned and conducive to prayer.” It is clear that the Church intends the tabernacle to be a place of divine worship.
So we do what is expected of us. Any time we pass a tabernacle, we make a brief bend of the right knee….It’s a powerful, tacit way to teach the doctrine of the real presence—and it speaks more eloquently and memorably than a hundred catechisms.
Scott Hahn, Signs of Life (New York: Doubleday, 2009) Pages 242,243, 244. Used with permission.