Holding hands at Our Father

I understand that the US Bishops Conference discourages the holding of hands during Our Father at Mass. Was any reason given for this?

Also, if it was discouraged but not actually prohibited, it would mean that the bishops foresee the possibility of scenarios where it may be permissible. What are the such scenarios, if any, that were envisaged?

It’s because it’s unnecessary at best and exclusive at worst.

Exclusive, because people tend not to hold hands with whomever, but just their family, or just their friends, or people they know. So you end up have little pockets of hand holding going on. It turns out, rather than being community focused, to be anti-community. Someone there alone can feel isolated and outcast.

Unnecessary, because the priest, with his hands in the orans position (hands outstretched; palms raised) is already standing in a position of offering himself and the entire congregation together. That is why we shouldn’t also be using this position ourselves. A congregant using the orans position symbolically says we are not apart of the whole congregation which the priest is standing for, but we want to do it ourselves, on our own, not be included with the rest and with him.

So both things end up separating us from worshiping together as a community; something that flies against our faith. We are ONE body.

Thanks, Farley

Is there a document from the Bishop’s conference on this?

I am not aware of one, but I have not thoroughly searched. The USCCB website just affirms that the laity are not instructed to perform any gestures at this time. This decree was given by the bishop in my diocese. This precise topic is addressed on page 3 point 4. c.

When my husband was alive we held hands at the Our Father. Now, I just keep my hands folded in prayer.

Quite simply, there is neither a direction to the laity to do this, or an option to do it, in the Genera Instructions of the Roman Missal (GIRM). It is not in the rubrics.

The practice of holding hands at the Our Father was introduced, I think, originally in Holland and quickly picked up by visitors there from the US. From these it spread to a number of countries.

The GIRM / rubrics tells us what we should do, and what we may do. It does not tell us anything about what we should not do. Therefore, if it is not there, we should not be doing it.

I seem to remember Cardinal Arinze, when he was head of the dicastory in charge of the liturgy, telling an audience that this should not be done. Unfortunately, so many of us hurry to join in doing things that seem to us to be “nice”, whether or not we should. It will probably take priests and bishops instructing us not to do it to stop it. At the same time, we all have the personal responsibility to learn what is right and what we should not do and just do the right thing.

Here in the Philippines it has been explicitly permitted by the Bishops Conference and most people do hold hands. However, it is not required so I do not hold hands. I fold my hands so those next to me know not to involve me.
I have lived in Asia for 26 years and all the countries in which I have attended Mass also permit the holding of hands.

The GIRM is written under a Roman understanding of law, in which if something is not specifically noted, it is not allowed.
Our understanding of law is that if something is not specifically disallowed it is assumed to be allowed.
See the difference? Since the GIRM does not mention holding hands at the Our Father it is not allowed.

The breathing isn’t allowed.


You know, Tim, as I was writing that reply I was thinking some wise guy would ask that question.

I’m curious… what is TOC?


I agree with the bishops conferences of America. I hate it

The vast majority of my Parish does this, and soon after we joined several years ago, my husband (a ‘cradle Catholic’) noted that he thought it was weird. He is from New York. We don’t participate - just fold our hands in prayer - but we are among the very few who do not. Does anyone know if this is this common in southern Parishes?

My understanding was that it was not perscribed and could not be liturgically compelled (ie, a priest cannot compel his people to hold hands), but neither was it prohibited. I wish they would simply issue an edict one way or the other.

Everyone just needs a bishop like Bishop Foys! :thumbsup:

Clear cut in our diocese. :wink:

So do I.

I’m sorry to have to say it, but the problem is that somehow in the last 40 years or so, people have lost both common sense and common dignity/decency in so many, many aspects of their lives. In the name of diversity, people pridefully demand that they have everything ‘their way’. This is a Burger King society --instant gratification, my way.

Gone are the days when there was a consensus and a societal ‘standard’. Think about it. There are so many ‘exceptions to the rules’ that the rules by and large don’t exist.

Rules like, “be considerate of others; treat them as you want to be treated”
have turned into: “What I want or choose is paramount; if you don’t want it, TOUGH, plus you’re a nasty bigot for NOT wanting or choosing what I want”. . .

Remember when good manners meant that EACH PERSON considered the other person, and if they disagreed, either ‘agreed to disagree’ or reached a compromise?

When, for example, if Joe (an extrovert) wanted to hold hands at the Our Father with Amy (an introvert), Joe would ask (wanting to offer what he considered a 'good experience"), Amy would decline (explaining that while she had no objection to his finding it a good experience, she preferred the equally good experience of folding her hands in prayer). . .and Joe and Amy would each be perfectly satisfied with each other? Or, if Joe and Amy were married, and each had a real strong preference, they would come up with a COMPROMISE? Like, “one week we’ll hold hands, and one week we’ll fold hands”???

Now, if Joe were at Mass with Amy, he would just grab her hand. . .Amy would shrink back at which point Joe would ask what is WRONG with her, it’s the Our Father, for cryin out loud. . .Amy would say she wished to just fold her hands together. Joe would scornfully call her a germaphobe, she would respond that he was a bully, and the two of them would glare at each other for the rest of Mass, and then go home to Facebook or text all their friends about the total JERK they sat next to at Mass. . .

It’s sad.

I always thought of the practice as an invasion of space. Legally, however, I don’t know if this holds as I see people holding hands during the singing of “God Bless America” at ballparks and such. Perhaps when people start bringing suits against one another will authorities think of legalizing or illegalizing the act. I’m not suggesting anything, just sayin.

It is allowed if the Bishops Conference says it is allowed.

Turn to each other as a sign of peace I find it ok to hold hands.

God Bless

TOC=Third Order Carmelite

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