The famous quotation is taken from Phillipians 2:10: “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow.” The church has taken this advice to heart, and, at least since the liturgy became the creation of men and not God, some form of kneeling has been part of the Mass.
The practice of kneeling continues in many Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican churches today. And, like much of what is man- and not God-made, has become a source for legalistic squabbling.
From First Things, we learn from Joseph Bottum of a current brouhaha brewing in the Diocese of Orange (County), California. It brings me back to one of the reasons I left the Catholic Church: modern-day Pharisees substituting their notion of what God demands for what God actually demands. In my case it was at a sparsely-attended Mass in rural Virginia, during which the priest loudly chastised a Filipino woman who was on her knees, praying the Rosary, when the rest of us were standing.
In other words, to preserve the forms of the Mass, the priest saw fit to yell at a woman who was showing the deepest reverance to God. If not to His self-annointed representative on Earth, the priest. That priest was a fool, but he is all to common among men of the cloth — and not just Catholics. They confuse man-made requirements with what God tells us, time and again, He really wants:
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)
Kneeling, or not kneeling, is not the issue. The issue is being in awe of a loving God. For some of us, that means falling to our knees, in humility, knowing that we are unworthy of the sacrifice He made of His son on our behalf.
For others, it means standing quietly, in contrition. What truly matters is what is within our hearts. Not our posture.