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  #1  
Old Apr 23, '10, 1:25 pm
Ora_et_Labora Ora_et_Labora is offline
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Question Raising hands in prayer

Perhaps this is not the most apropriate sub-forum for this question, but given that the East has tended to maintain praxis more than the West, I thought someone here might be able to help me out.

I recently read a book called "Earthen Vessels: the Practice of Personal Prayer according to the Patristic Tradition", by Fr. Gabriel Bunge, OSB. He mentions that it is an ancient "custom" to raise one's hands in prayer. Now, I am familiar with the "orans" position, as well as stretching one's arms out like a cross. Are there other variants? Also, is what I see sometimes at Mass during the Lord's Prayer - when people turn their palms up - a valid variant?
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  #2  
Old Apr 23, '10, 1:42 pm
ciero ciero is offline
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Default Re: Raising hands in prayer

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ora_et_Labora View Post
Perhaps this is not the most apropriate sub-forum for this question, but given that the East has tended to maintain praxis more than the West, I thought someone here might be able to help me out.

I recently read a book called "Earthen Vessels: the Practice of Personal Prayer according to the Patristic Tradition", by Fr. Gabriel Bunge, OSB. He mentions that it is an ancient "custom" to raise one's hands in prayer. Now, I am familiar with the "orans" position, as well as stretching one's arms out like a cross. Are there other variants? Also, is what I see sometimes at Mass during the Lord's Prayer - when people turn their palms up - a valid variant?
Praying with raised hands tends to be much more the norm in the Christian East. In my experience praying with raised hands tends to be the norm in Coptic churches as well as Melkite, Antiochean Orthodox, and Greek churches. Armenians also tend to lift their hands in prayer. This practice is pretty much unheard of in the Slavic churches.
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  #3  
Old Apr 23, '10, 1:51 pm
Ora_et_Labora Ora_et_Labora is offline
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Default Re: Raising hands in prayer

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Originally Posted by ciero View Post
Praying with raised hands tends to be much more the norm in the Christian East. In my experience praying with raised hands tends to be the norm in Coptic churches as well as Melkite, Antiochean Orthodox, and Greek churches. Armenians also tend to lift their hands in prayer. This practice is pretty much unheard of in the Slavic churches.
So would you say that it is normal for those Churches that had greater contact with the Semetic peoples?
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  #4  
Old Apr 23, '10, 1:58 pm
Phillip Rolfes Phillip Rolfes is offline
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Default Re: Raising hands in prayer

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ora_et_Labora View Post
Perhaps this is not the most apropriate sub-forum for this question, but given that the East has tended to maintain praxis more than the West, I thought someone here might be able to help me out.

I recently read a book called "Earthen Vessels: the Practice of Personal Prayer according to the Patristic Tradition", by Fr. Gabriel Bunge, OSB. He mentions that it is an ancient "custom" to raise one's hands in prayer. Now, I am familiar with the "orans" position, as well as stretching one's arms out like a cross. Are there other variants? Also, is what I see sometimes at Mass during the Lord's Prayer - when people turn their palms up - a valid variant?
The "orans" and turning palms upwards, in my experience, are one and the same. I've never seen someone raise their hands in prayer as though they're doing everything in their power to get a good stretch. usually it's simply hands held out in front, a little more than should length apart, and palms turned upwards. Sometimes people will hold their hands in this position, but also a little higher than their shoulders. It really depends on what the individual is comfortable doing.

As has been mentioned, the Melkites and Greeks maintain this position, especially during the Our Father. I've also seen Romanians pray in this position as well. It is also very typical of the Eritrean/Ethiopian Orthodox and Catholics.

Among Latins, it is very common to see members of the Charismatic Renewal praying in this way. St. Dominic, among other postures, also used the "orans" position, as did St. Francis of Assisi. So it is not unknown in Roman/Latin Catholicism even prior to the Charismatic Renewal.
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  #5  
Old Apr 23, '10, 2:00 pm
Phillip Rolfes Phillip Rolfes is offline
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Default Re: Raising hands in prayer

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Originally Posted by Ora_et_Labora View Post
So would you say that it is normal for those Churches that had greater contact with the Semetic peoples?
Quite possibly. I don't know how much of this is actually Semitic custom, or if it's really a Middle Eastern/Medeterranian custom.
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Old Apr 23, '10, 2:03 pm
Ora_et_Labora Ora_et_Labora is offline
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Default Re: Raising hands in prayer

On a similar note, and just out of honest curiosity, what if one adopted an orans position for the Lord's Prayer like the priest's (hands vertical, near chest, with palms facing outward)? Is that something which lay people are dissuaded from doing?
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Old Apr 23, '10, 2:37 pm
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I_Fortuna I_Fortuna is offline
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Lightbulb Re: Raising hands in prayer

It is my understanding that this custom of raising the hands up in prayer dates back to the Ancient Egyptians and was adopted along with other gestures and ideas into the Coptic Church. Moses, an Egyptian, may have carried this into the Hebrew way of life from the beginning.

You will find all but one Commandment of the Moses' 10 in Egyptian writings of the 42 negative confessions. In other words "I have not. . . ." fill in the blank. That is a negative confession.

The Hebrews have 613 and almost equally divided into "Thou shalt not...." and "I have not. . . "

If one studies the ancient Egyptians, one will find some extremely interesting carry overs. In fact Amenemope, an Egyptian wrote a chapter and a half of the Book of Proverbs. Chapter 22 and part of 23 are written by Amenomope. Some bibles are now acknowledging this discovery.

In any case, it is worthwhile reading.
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Old Apr 23, '10, 2:53 pm
Phillip Rolfes Phillip Rolfes is offline
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Default Re: Raising hands in prayer

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Originally Posted by Ora_et_Labora View Post
On a similar note, and just out of honest curiosity, what if one adopted an orans position for the Lord's Prayer like the priest's (hands vertical, near chest, with palms facing outward)? Is that something which lay people are dissuaded from doing?
The Melkites and at least some, if not all, Romanians do that every Sunday. It's been our custom throughout.
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  #9  
Old Apr 23, '10, 5:16 pm
wynd wynd is offline
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Default Re: Raising hands in prayer

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Originally Posted by ciero View Post
Praying with raised hands tends to be much more the norm in the Christian East. In my experience praying with raised hands tends to be the norm in Coptic churches as well as Melkite, Antiochean Orthodox, and Greek churches. Armenians also tend to lift their hands in prayer. This practice is pretty much unheard of in the Slavic churches.
I guess I'd have to agree with you here. I attend an OCA (Russian-descended, for those who don't know) parish, and no one ever does this except one parishioner's visiting mother who was from Syria.
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  #10  
Old Apr 23, '10, 5:39 pm
malphono malphono is offline
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Default Re: Raising hands in prayer

Quote:
Originally Posted by ciero View Post
Praying with raised hands tends to be much more the norm in the Christian East. In my experience praying with raised hands tends to be the norm in Coptic churches as well as Melkite, Antiochean Orthodox, and Greek churches. Armenians also tend to lift their hands in prayer. This practice is pretty much unheard of in the Slavic churches.
In the Syriac Churches, the posture is limited, as far as I know, to the Lord's Prayer, and even then it's not the infamous "orans posture" used in the Novus Ordo. Rather, it's arms bent at the elbow, hands raised (not above the shoulders), palms forward, which is almost what we in the US would call the "stick 'em up" position. I don't know if this is custom in the East Syriac tradition, but in the West Syriac it's used (whether universally or not I won't venture to say) by the SOC. I also don't know if it's common in the SCC, but for sure it's not done by the Maronites. In the latter, the only "raised hands" have been in the past 30-some years and then only by those who are mesmerized by what is all too frequently done in the Novus Ordo.
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Old Apr 23, '10, 8:44 pm
Aramis Aramis is offline
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Default Re: Raising hands in prayer

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Originally Posted by Ora_et_Labora View Post
On a similar note, and just out of honest curiosity, what if one adopted an orans position for the Lord's Prayer like the priest's (hands vertical, near chest, with palms facing outward)? Is that something which lay people are dissuaded from doing?
The rubric for the Roman mass is that the Celebrant extends his arms. Cdl. Arinze has repeatedly stated the laity posture is not closely regulated, but that imitation of the priest is forbidden when priestly posture is specified for the celebrant.

In simpler terms, if you're in the traditional eastern Orans (hands shoulder width apart) you are not illicitly imitating the priest. If you extend your arms to the sides, however...
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  #12  
Old Apr 24, '10, 1:33 am
Ora_et_Labora Ora_et_Labora is offline
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Default Re: Raising hands in prayer

Many thanks to all those replying!
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  #13  
Old Apr 24, '10, 12:30 pm
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Default Re: Raising hands in prayer

In the Melkite Church I've noticed that we almost always use this position when praying the Lord's Prayer, even during liturgies. Oddly enough, the opposite has been the norm in the Latin Church. While the orans position is fine for private prayer, it has almost always been forbidden during the Holy Mass. Although I'm not sure, since in the new Mass people seem to do it all the time. Also, in the old Mass only the priest said the Lord's Prayer, whereas now everybody says it. But I guarantee that if you go to the Extraordinary Form you will not see people raising their hands during the Our Father
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  #14  
Old Apr 27, '10, 10:41 am
Euphemia Euphemia is offline
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Default Re: Raising hands in prayer

I am a cradle Latin convert to the OCA, which has it's roots in Russia. In my Parish at the "We lift up our hearts" about half the congregation lift their hands and lift them higher than in the Latin Church during the Our Father. However, I believe this is a Parish thing and not a Russian or ROCOR thing. I have never seen it done in a Russian Church.
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  #15  
Old Apr 28, '10, 12:24 am
Ora_et_Labora Ora_et_Labora is offline
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Default Re: Raising hands in prayer

Does anyone have any pictures they can share?
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