Laity Asked to Raise Hands Over Catechumens/ Candidates

OK, the last couple weeks the celebrant at our Mass has asked the laity to raise their hands…with the priest…over the candidates/catechumens going through their scrutinies. I have been one of the few people who have not raised my hands over them…seems too close to a communal blessing to me…makes me uncomfortable. I don’t know if what we are being asked to do violates any canonical law. Curious what peoples thoughts are.

Thanks for your thoughts.

I haven’t studied Canon Law, but the reason the congregation is asked to raise their hands, is that we are showing support for these people entering the Church as the Church and praying for them. We, as the physical body of Christ left here on Earth to do His work should be happy and rejoicing for these who are accepting Jesus and His teachings and joining us.
I would say, that if it makes you feel uneasy, to simply bow your head and pray earnestly for these people, rejoicing in your heart for their conversion.
This is almost the point like when parents bring you to church for your Baptism, your Confirmation, or your first Holy Communion. Except these people will experience some or all of these wonderful, grace filled sacraments at the same Mass (the Easter Vigil). This is a wonderful experience to share. It is like being one of those first disciples or apostles. If you have the chance, attend this Vigil Mass. It is a wonderful expression of what it is to be Catholic. And if you want to really participate, maybe you could send a card of encouragement to these new Catholics as a new part of your parish family (especially if you know any of them).

Soon the time will be here. I am excited waiting for it to come as an RCIA teacher/leader.
The first time you sing the “A” word in the Gospel Acclamation, I hope you feel the chill I do as we finally celebrate that HE HAS RISEN! It makes Lent seem so much more meaningful.
God Bless.

sounds very cult-like


No it does not violate any Canon Law that I’m aware of. However it does violate the RCIA Rite and Liturgical norms. I also join you in not raising my hands, however I do unite my prayers with those of the priest for the Candidates and Catechumens.

This happened to me too I didn’t know it was an issue…is it wrong?

The raising of hands is the posture used for the imparting of a blessing. The laity should not be engaged in something that is the purview of the priest within the context of the Mass. Please note what Ecclesia de Mysterio states:

  1. 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.

With all due respect, your reasoning is not necessarily correct in light of Ecclesia de Mysterio. The faithful are indeed invited and encouraged to join in prayer for the Elect; however, the actual gestures and postures are for the celebrant alone.

The modern church has given explicit or tacit approval to the laity do do many things reserved for the priest. Because of this blurring of the lines, I would not be quick to judge gestures, postures, actions, etc. of the laity as being wrong. Because of this the benefit of the doubt should go with the people. It seems like a lot of these “rules” are arbitrary and sporratically enforced; thus marginalizing the authority of the rules in the eyes of the faithful.

No, it has not, as evidenced by Ecclesia de Myseterio and Redemptionis Sacramentum. I would suggest, with all due respect, that before making such statements, you read the documents. Such statements only serve to confuse the faithful, something that the aforementioned documents seek to prevent.

If you don’t want to participate in the “hand raising” or don’t feel comfortable and want to simply pray along, by all means, do so. It’s a gesture of community.

With all due respect, I don’t think any of the faithful think they temporarily become priests or deacons when this happens. :rolleyes:

The problem is you and most of the faithful around you at Mass would not be expected to know. You would expect that those leading the Liturgical Rites would not invite you to do something that was incorrect or not called for in the Rites.

Actually, you would be surprised what some of the faithful think. But that’s not even the main issue. The issue is in relation to blessing during Mass, for which we aren’t allowed to talk about on the forums at the moment.

I have the same uncomfortable feeling when, in my church, the priest asks everyone to “join in a blessing” of the children as they are led away for a kid’s lesson on the readings while the readings and the homily take place. I steadfastly resisted raising my hand for several years b/c of what I had read on here. It finally got to the point where I just got tired of all the stares I got, especially since I had two of my kids leaving for this lesson… But I still feel so darn uncomfortable about the whole deal. Why does everyone feel the need to put their own “stamp” on the mass? :shrug::frowning:

I think this prohibition has more to do with blessings during communion, no?

I agree with posts 4 and 6, and will not participate in unnecessary duplication of priestly roles and gestures. Naturally I fully join in the prayer part, interiorly and exteriorly! But there’s no need to patronize the laity by pretending to elevate their status. The priest is representing the congregation; he is the head of the congregation. Does he ask us to concelebrate Mass with him? No, it would be improper. We join with him interiorly. He is offering Mass; we unite our thoughts, prayers, presence to his words. Differentiated roles, one body.

I believe that you are right, but I don’t want to tread on any toes by even getting close to discussing it. Either way, the issue is about blessing during mass, and who has the right to confer G-d’s blessings.

No, it has not, as evidenced by Ecclesia de Myseterio and Redemptionis Sacramentum. I would suggest, with all due respect, that before making such statements, you read the documents. Such statements only serve to confuse the faithful, something that the aforementioned documents seek to prevent.

While benedictgal is quite right that there has never been an “explicit” approval for such things, it seems to me that pro multis is also correct on the basis of “tacit” approval. This goes back to one of my pet peeves: there are too many built-in “options” in the OF. When combined with the loosey-goosey approach to enforcement of what rubrics and norms there are, it so often leads to liturgical “oddities” (I’ll avoid the “A” word for the moment).

The practice described in the OP strikes me as being yet another example of a “touchy-feely” throwback to the late 1960s-early 1970s world of the “children of Vatican II” where the “priesthood of the laity” is over-emphasized and the sacramental priesthood is under-emphasized. In its way, the practice in the OP is like the famous “orans posture” and frankly I have never been able to see the point of such things.

Yup, and I care not who stares or disapproves.
I will not appear to usurp the role of the priest in a liturgical setting.
And besides, when the whole congregation holds their arms out at 45 degrees, it appears too much like the Nazi salute.

I’ve noticed this too. :wink:

In my former parish, some of the priests made this request as well, such as blessing mothers on Mothers day, etc.

I no longer attend that Parish.

I will add that the first time I saw this happen (I am a convert), I had a flash of WWII documentary films other posters alluded to.

I have no interest in reading those documents – I am not a priest. That is their job, not mine.

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