Arm movements during Mass.

I have returned to the Church after more than 30 years, and see things I don’t remember seeing as a child. At my new parish, the faithful lift their arms and hold hands during the Lord’s Prayer, and are asked to do “long-distance laying of hands” when accepting new members or during the anointment of the sick, or while responding “and also to you”. It feels to me a bit “pagan”.

Is there a basis for this behavior? Am I required to do it? I don’t want to be the party pooper, but would rather keep my hands to myself and leave the “transmissions of energy” to the priest.
Thank you.

In my opinion, it’s the way individual priests and bishops make up for the lack of “full, conscious, and active participation” in the liturgy that the Church calls for. They make up hand gestures and other things to make the faithful feel like they’re always “doing something”. (And some of these places that are big on fabricated participation also prevent the proper participation of the faithful by removing kneelers, frowning upon Communion on the tongue, not teaching the faithful to bow during the Creed or make a sign of reverence to the altar or tabernacle, etc.)

There is no gesture prescribed for the “and also with you”, and it is not permitted for a priest or bishop to add one for the faithful to make.

There is no gesture/posture prescribed for the Our Father, and it is not permitted for a priest or bishop to add one for the faithful to make. Historically speaking, the priest held his arms out (in the Orans position) during the Our Father – the same posture he uses for the Collect, Offertory, and Post-Communion prayers – because he was praying that prayer as a representative of the faithful. Technically speaking, since we all say the Our Father now, he shouldn’t have that posture anymore, but the Church never changed that.

There is no gesture prescribed for “long-distance blessing”. The priest lays hands on a person, not the faithful (unless explicitly mentioned in the rites of the Church).

This copying of gestures and postures reserved to the priest during the liturgy is not proper.

Basis? Perhaps copying the priest; perhaps making the people feel like they’re “doing something”. Is it required of you? No. It’s an addition to the liturgy. I prefer to keep my hands folded in prayer.

Arm movements during Mass are wonderful! If you have experienced God in a personal way, then you will want to partispate FULLY in many different areas that may not have always been in place before. Its the giving of oneself and asking God to work through you too on behalf of what is happening. Attend a Cum Christo or Cursillo; these are wonderful weekend retreats sponcerd by the Church for lay people. Not only do these weekends open you up to God’s love but also help one to reallize there is so much more for you on a personal level. You won’t feel so uncomfortable with the arm movements at Mass.

No. There is no legitimate basis for any of what you’ve mentioned. They are all misguided attempts to add things to the Liturgy which are not there. By no means whatsoever are you (or anyone else) required to do it, nor should they be done.

Laying on of hands is particularly a priestly gesture and should not be done. Most especially during the anointing of the sick this is a serious abuse because the priests and only the priests do that gesture during the Sacrament.

None of the gestures are in the rubrics for the Mass. Most churches I’ve been to hold hands during the Our Father. I choose not to simply because it isn’t called for. No one in my parish cares and they know who does and who doesn’t like it so its not a big deal if you don’t. But when I’m in other parishes, I tend to just fold my hands in prayer and put my head down and eyes closed during the Our Father so I don’t have to hold hands. If I’m “forced” to, which has happened, I don’t make a big fuss. But to answer your question, no its not called for and I think it just kind of happened.

I also came back as a revert after being away for many years. It’s like a time warp:eek: . I’m still not comfortable with doing the “orans” position of the hands like the priest does. I keep my hands folded during most of the Mass and during the Our Father. I don’t raise my hands but I do look up at the image of Christ. I am learning more tolerance of others’ preferences during Mass. I don’t understand why many people fold their arms or clasp their hands behind their backs – anything but folding their hands in prayer. I still have to work on being critical. I confess this as a fault. I guess what I’m trying to say is do what you are comfortable with so long as it is permitted. :slight_smile: I’m still trying to work up the nerve to receive communion on the tongue again. But whatever the changes, the disagreements, the preferences, even the shenanigans people do; I am so very, tearfully grateful to have been brought back to Holy Mother Church through the workings of the Holy Spirit. :thumbsup:

In my present parish just about everyone seems to use the orans position throughout the Mass. The celebrant and, deacon if one is present, calls all of the servers and any other stqnders-by in the sanctuary to hold hands during the Pater Noster. Like the OP, I choose not to do these things because they don’t seem appropriate and only rarely does someone insist of grabbing my hand. Of course, I usually kneel during the Agnus Dei, too, regardless of which language or specific form of the Mass is being celebrated.
The problem I have with my present parish is the music. By avoiding the LifeTeen Mass, the only real problem is that whatever the music, it is droned on so slowly that it is hard to stay awake and not think of a funeral or to lose track of where the words are in relation to the oorrggaann and the song leader.

Do you have an early Mass with either a cantor or one instrument or no music? (for the weekend Mass). Otherwise, the daily Masses don’t have songs, not in my parish anyway.:wink:

Yes. Our early Mass, in Spanish, has just a slow singing caotor with a guitar. Spanish is not a problem, but thirty seconds to sing the word “Gloria” is kinda sleep inducing of one has gotten up at dawn to attend Mass.
I mentioned my concern to a Deacon in this parish whom I have know for many years and his only suggestion was to talk with the cantors and song leaders.

Chirpa, I lived through my own Cursillo two years ago. It was not the best experience, liturgicall speaking. Yes, the teachings were invaluable and that portion was uplifting, but, no movement has the right to introduce things into the Mass that should not belong there. In fact, I complained to the spiritual director, telling him that this was completely out of order.

The Neocatechumenal Was was chasitized by the Holy Father for the excessive liberties they took with the Mass. In fact, approval of their movement was made on the condition that they cease and desist their liturgical abuses.

Now, regarding hand movements and other gestures, the Congregation for Clergy cleared up this matter in a document that they released in 1997 (which also bears the signature of the current Supreme Pontiff when he served as the Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith). The document says, in part, that:

§ 2. To promote the proper identity (of various roles) in this area, those abuses which are contrary to the provisions of canon 907 are to be eradicated. In eucharistic celebrations deacons and non-ordained members of the faithful may not pronounce prayers — e.g. especially the eucharistic prayer, with its concluding doxology — or any other parts of the liturgy reserved to the celebrant priest. Neither may deacons or non-ordained members of the faithful use gestures or actions which are proper to the same priest celebrant. It is a grave abuse for any member of the non-ordained faithful to “quasi preside” at the Mass while leaving only that minimal participation to the priest which is necessary to secure validity.

In other words, the laity should not do anything that remotely resembles what the celebrant does in the Mass. This includes the raising of one hand to join in the imparting of a blessing. The imparting of a blessing, especially something within the context of a sacrament such as the annointing of the sick, is expressly reserved to the priest and bishop.

Thank you all for your answers, I won’t be pressured anymore to do something I don’t want to do and isn’t in the books. At my parish, I sometimes wonder if I can use the bathroom without the whole congregation laying hands over the toilet paper and blessing it first!

Last Sunday I witnessed my first annointing of the sick during Mass and was tempted to go forward and get the Sacrament myself (not that I’m sick, I just thought it couldn’t hurt). I’m glad I didn’t, because after the priest laid hands on the annointed, a succesion of four mature ladies did the same, and I kid you not, one of them ladies was stroking the folks’ faces and necks the way she probably strokes her cats!

Three weeks ago, when I went through the Rite of Welcome, at one point I expected the whole congregation to say to me: “Double heil, mein Snöwy!”

I’m all for the free expression of faith at home, friends, but at Church we need to be kept on a short leash, otherwise next thing you know we will be ululating in tongues up and down the aisles, when we are not flapping our arms standing on the pews infused with the soaring eagle spirit of St. John the Apostle.

I do experience God in a personal way, dear Chirpa, and I do participate fully in Mass… in a personal way that might not match your own personal way.

Two Sundays ago (this is an anecdote unrelated to you, Chirpa) during the Paternoster, since everyone was doing the orans position, I did it also to not be unpolite, and a gay guy who was sitting behind me ran to my side to hold my hand, and gave it a little “feel” at the end. I don’t want to pray to God while wondering whether I should kick my neighbor’s butt!

Hi Snowy. I also was a bit disturbed by these things you mention… when we returned to the Church. I was confused, and uncomfortable with them.

I learned through this forum… that the holding/raising of hands… during the Our Father… is more Protestant, in origin.

And I have NO CLUE… where this asking the congregation to extend their hands in a “blessing” came from. That one really made me uncomfortable. I’M NOT A PRIEST!:o lol.

So… now, during these activities at Sunday Mass… I simply lower (or close) my eyes… clasp my hands together… and attempt to raise my mind to God. And He takes care of the rest.

I oppose all this stuff. I suspect it was snuck into the Mass by the laity. I don’t do any of it.

There are some serious abuses going on here.

  1. Anointing of the Sick is not for anyone who just feels like going forward. I know you came to that conclusion, but if the priest doing the anointing is not making it clear that only those who actually should be receiving the sacrament should be coming forward, that is a serious abuse of it, and greatly diminishes the whole point of it.
  2. Having laity join with the priest in the laying on of hands is likewise a very serious abuse. Only the priest does this, and Rome has been quite clear lately that the practice of the laity joining in with the gestures and prayers of the priest (especially in the celelbration of the Mass and other sacraments) must cease.
  3. Laity cannot and therefore do not impart blessings. Only a bishop, priest, or deacon may ever impart a blessing. We sometimes use the word “blessing” to refer to what is in reality a prayer for a person, but not a blessing. Laity can (should and do) offer prayers for people, but since they cannot bless anyone or anything, they do not ever bless anyone or anything, regardless of what appearances might be.
  4. Having the congregation “extend hands” over the candidates is yet another serious liturgical abuse. Once again, this gesture is done only by celebrant (which interrestingly enough, may be the priest or deacon at the Rite of Acceptanct #48)

The Holy See has already issued a directive regarding the faithful and the Sacrament of the Annointing of the Sick. The Congregation for the clergy issued a document in 1997 that reads, in part:

The non-ordained faithful particularly assist the sick by being with them in difficult moments, encouraging them to receive the Sacraments of Penance and the Anointing of the Sick, by helping them to have the disposition to make a good individual confession as well as to prepare them to receive the Anointing of the Sick. In using sacramentals, the non-ordained faithful should ensure that these are in no way regarded as sacraments whose administration is proper and exclusive to the Bishop and to the priest. Since they are not priests, in no instance may the non-ordained perform anointings either with the Oil of the Sick or ony other oil.

§ 2. With regard to the administration of this sacrament, ecclesiastical legislation reiterates the theologically certain doctrine and the age old usage of the Church (103) which regards the priest as its only valid minister. (104) This norm is completely coherent with the theological mystery signified and realized by means of priestly service.

It must also be affirmed that the reservation of the ministry of Anointing to the priest is related to the connection of this sacrament to the forgiveness of sin and the worthy reception of the Holy Eucharist. No other person may act as ordinary or extraordinary minister of the sacrament since such constitutes simulation of the sacrament. (105)

Thus, Fr. David gave the correct response regarding this instance. Furthermore, in my diocese, there was a problem with EMHCs praying over people and “annointing” them with oil. The bishop put his foot down and even dedicated some radio time on the local Catholic station condemning this practice.

I’m grateful for the above posts regarding abuses. I notice that in the Masses that have anointing of the sick, the entire parish, except for a few people, go to be annointed. The priest makes it clear who it’s for; but it doesn’t seem to make a difference. What can they do?:shrug:
Also, there are many funny arm movements and things going on during Mass. How do I stop feeling like I’m attending Mass with a bunch of distracting land mines? I have to close my eyes so I won’t see one lady who always adds a gesture to “at your hands” that looks like a vaudevillian “take it away”.:eek:

I know just how you feel!

I’m still trying to work up the nerve to receive communion on the tongue again.

I worried over that, too! Finally I just did it. Of course, the second time I forgot to clasp my hands so the priest would know I wanted it on the tongue so I got it in the hand. Don’t send mixed messages!

Our priests seem to know I’m one of the communion on the tongue group now. :slight_smile:

I just got back from our daily mass and am closer to receiving on the tongue, but not quite there yet.

There is another strange arm movement done consistently by one fellow. I remembered, as he was there tonite. He raises and rotates his arm then points forward to the priest, in a fly-fishing movement for the “and also with you”. :smiley: Sorry, but it’s over the top. This time it didn’t bother me. Got home and had a chuckle.

That’s the best one so far, Rosalie. Maybe the fly-fisherman and his buddies could bring tennis rackets along with them and pass God back and forth.

Last Saturday I received Communion for the first time in over 30 years, and between my being a bit nervous and the extra minister being a rookie, the Eucharist went from my tongue to the floor. I decided that if someone other than the priest was going to hand me the Eucharist, it would be safer if I recieved it in my hand.

This morning I attended Mass in a very small chapel at a parish Church and was forced to hold hands in a circle around the altar. I went along to avoid violence, but wasn’t comfortable feeling like I was participating in a séance. The ladies that forcibly grabbed my hands probably think of themselves as being very liberal, with their Obama stickers in their cars and all (I’m not making this up), but their actions proved to be anything but liberal. God bless them.

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