Holding Hands during Our Father


I know full well this is probably the last topic many people would want to deal with, on account of it’s being so commonplace.


My mother wants to know why holding hands at the Our Father shouldn’t be done.
She views it as a great sign of unity and very beautiful. When I mentioned it was generally regarded as a liturgical abuse, she asked me to back up my claim.
I can’t.

So, if anyone would be so kind as to point me in the right direction:

I need some authoritative material (not just a parishoner’s opinion).
Is there anything from the Vatican or something written by a US bishop I could back my views with?

I apologize for being so uninformed, but I don’t know where to start.

Thank you VERY much!

Here it is. A very simple concept in the liturgy is that no one is to add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy.

Sacrosanctum Concilium art. 22.3 (1963)
o Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.

Canon 846.1 (1983)
o The liturgical books approved by the competent authority are to be faithfully observed in the celebration of the sacraments; therefore no one on personal authority may add, remove or change anything in them.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1125 (1992)
o For this reason no sacramental rite may be modified or manipulated at the will of the minister or the community. Even the supreme authority of the Church may not change the liturgy arbitrarily, but only in obedience of faith and with religious respect for the mystery of the liturgy.

General Instruction of the Roman Missal, no. 24 (2003)
o Nevertheless, the priest must remember that he is the servant of the Sacred Liturgy and that he himself is not permitted, on his own initiative, to add, to remove, or to change anything in the celebration of Mass.

Redemptionis Sacramentum, nos. 31, 59 (2004)
o They ought not to detract from the profound meaning of their own ministry by corrupting the liturgical celebration either through alteration or omission, or through arbitrary additions.
o The reprobated practice by which Priests, Deacons or the faithful here and there alter or vary at will the texts of the Sacred Liturgy that they are charged to pronounce, must cease. For in doing thus, they render the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy unstable, and not infrequently distort the authentic meaning of the Liturgy

Gently, and in charity, ask her what “official” sources instruct the faithful to hold hands during the Our Father. She will not be able to find such a source. It simply is not foreseen by the Chuch as an official gesture.
If she insists that it “isn’t forbidden,” maybe you could respond that neither is it specifically forbidden in writing for the people to process up to the altar for Communion on their knees to show their humility in receiving Him.
Perhaps she could be persuaded by:

  1. the silence of the rubrics. We are not directed to do so.
  2. Our true unity is not found in holding hands; our unity is already present in the “one loaf” as St. Paul says.
  3. Introducing an unauthorized gesture such as holding hands at the Our Father tends to diminish, not augment, the sign value of the Sign of Peace which is authorized (even prescribed) gesture for the congregation. How meaningful is shaking your hand at the sign of peace if I have already been holding it aloft for 30 second or so during the Our Father? We need to understand the symbolism of the liturgy in its official form rather than substituting unauthorized symbols in their place.

some people actually “bully” you into holding their hands. I stopped a few years ago after spending a year going to a Maronite church (they DON’T hold hands), and after the swine flu thing as well. Not to mention who knows where those hands have been?

If people treat liturgy as something we just make up instead of something that is handed on to us (which is why liturgy exists in the first place) it makes people think that religion in general is something we just make up.

I was told by a priest that it’s a very protestant practice, therefore it really should not happen in a Catholic Church.

ha…We never held hands during the Our Father at my old protestant church…and they were pretty libral about things…

As long as the priest doesn’t tell people to…and people don’t make you…what is the big deal?

Do you really get in a huff because other people are holding hands?:shrug:

The GIRM is silent on the matter. One way or the other.

Cardinal Arinze has been asked about this practice repeatedly over time. The answer he has consistently given has been that the priest celebrant’s posture is dictated in the sacramentary, but that the faithful’s posture has not (other than standing, obviously). So therefore, holding hands should not be forced one way or the other, orans should not be forced one way or the other, and so on.

Here is a Youtube clip of him saying that. The specific question happens at 6:47 in the clip.

This may sound counter to the advice that has been given on a long term by CDW. A lot of folks cite Notitiae 11 (226), but if one actually looks at the question asked, that wasn’t what was asked:
QUERY: In some places there is a current practice whereby those taking part in the Mass replace the giving of the sign of peace at the deacon’s invitation by holding hands during the singing of the Lord’s Prayer. Is this acceptable? REPLY: The prolonged holding of hands is of itself a sign of communion rather than of peace. Further, it is a liturgical gesture introduced spontaneously but on personal initiative; it is not in the rubrics. Nor is there any clear explanation of why the sign of peace at the invitation: “Let us offer each other the sign of peace” should be supplanted in order to bring a different gesture with less meaning into another part of the Mass: the sign of peace is filled with meaning, graciousness, and Christian inspiration. Any substitution for it must be repudiated
Clearly if one actually reads the question, it is talking about replacing the sign of peace with holding hands at the Our Father.

Bottom line is that nobody should force another to hold hands. Or to assume the Orans position. But before you start correcting others for liturgical abuse, you need to consider the position taken by Cardinal Arinze. And before citing that Notitiae reference, you need to read it really, really, really closely to make sure that you are citing something properly.

Ain’t that the truth. I’ve had people stretch from 2 rows behind me to demand I hold their hand while at the same time they were holding the hand of somebody behind them. I get them impression he would have laid on the tops of the pews to get his clammy meathooks on somebody ahead of me if I weren’t there. It’s goofy.



Many Catholics are in the habit of holding their hands in the “Orans” posture during the Lord’s prayer along with the celebrant. Some do this on their own as a private devotional posture while some congregations make it a general practice for their communities.

Is this practice permissible under the current rubrics, either as a private practice not something adopted by a particular parish as a communal gesture?

No position is prescribed in the present Sacramentary for an assembly gesture during the Lord’s Prayer.

Keep the hand holding during the Our Father in Alcoholics Anonymous where it belong, and where it started. How it found its way into our Mass is a mystery to me.

As for the “orans”, my priest recently told me that the practice is to be very much discouraged as the people are not the priest.

Our priest told us that the orans posture is what our Bishop wants us to do. Honestly, I don’t like it, but I hold my husband’s hand so I’m already in trouble:p

We always hold hands during Our Father at my parish… however it was only stopped for a short period during the “swine flu scare” while back. Priest called it “Flu Season mode” but we didnt stop it this past flu season.

Perhaps you should listen to your mother.
What many want to point out, and have given you documentation which in a round about way, want to show it as liturgical abuse, it is not.
I believe the practice started in the Chrismatic movement of the Church, and except for a a few voices has not been particullary challenged. I the instructions for the 3rd edition of the Missal and instructions, the bishops, in their wisdom, specifically chose not to address the practice. Further it has not been speciffacly prohibited by an official Church Document.
It has become a form of personal devotion in praising the Lord.
If you don’t like to worship in this mannor, then don’t and let you mother give praise in the way she feels fullfills her.

I always thought it distracted and detracted from the great sign of unity. Communion from the one Body and from drinking from the one Cup.

Now, that’s sad. Not that you hold your husband’s hand, but that your bishop would want you (plural) to do the “orans”, which tells me that our beloved Church is very confused at the moment. It would be nice if, once and for all, we could get everyone - bishops and priests - on the same plate all going in the same direction as the Holy Father despite their personal preferences.

It’s confusing that’s for sure! I, for one, don’t have a problem with people holding hands with their family…not jumping across the pews to grab the hand of anyone they want! I know that many disagree with that, but this standing with your hands up and then raising them higher at the end of the prayer really bothers me. :shrug:

Happy Mommy, you’ve got quite a few little ones (and some not so little anymore) I see.

A Happy Mommy makes for happy children! :thumbsup:

We hold hands at my parish also. There are some that don’t-- and that’s fine.

“For the Kindom and the power and the Glory are yours, now and forever” the doxology, the hymn of praise, we lift our hands as a form of humility as we lift our hearts and self the power of our God .

Yes, I understand the “whys” I just don’t feel comfortable doing it; a personal thing.:shrug:

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