MERGED: orans position of laity during The Lords Prayer/why some do it?

at one time parishioners at my church were incouraged to extend their hands as immitating the priest during the Our Father. Is this encouraged by the Church, what do you think. I agree that it helps to blur the line between the ordained and the non-ordained and most people do it as just plain old copy-catters.Everyone else is doing it so guess I better do it too.People are willing to do this and yet are not willing to show any other kind of edification proper to their role in the liturgy, such as folding hands

I was talking to a deacon about that, and when the deacon is at the altar with the priest, he is not allowed (or doesn’t) raise his hands, as it is the priest who is directly interceding on behalf of the congregation.

I agree that hand raising blurs the line, and it shouldn’t be practiced. It may even be forbidden, but I haven’t read the entire General Instruction of the Roman Missal.

What many traditional Catholics prefer to do instead is keep their hands in front of them in a prayer position.

When I saw this question it reminded me of a article I read on the EWTN website a while back and I managed to find it. Here it is (and I’ve copied in the part that pertains to this question).

A different case is the practice in which some people adopt the “orantes” posture during the Our Father, praying like the priest, with hands extended.

In some countries, Italy, for example, the Holy See has granted the bishops’ request to allow anyone who wishes to adopt this posture during the Our Father. Usually about a third to one-half of the assembled faithful choose to do so.

Despite appearances, this gesture is not, strictly speaking, a case of the laity trying to usurp priestly functions.

The Our Father is the prayer of the entire assembly and not a priestly or presidential prayer. In fact, it is perhaps the only case when the rubrics direct the priest to pray with arms extended in a prayer that he does not say alone or only with other priests. Therefore, in the case of the Our Father, the orantes posture expresses the prayer directed to God by his children.

The U.S. bishops’ conference debated a proposal by some bishops to allow the use of the orantes posture while discussing the “American Adaptations to the General Instruction to the Roman Missal” last year. Some bishops even argued that it was the best way of ridding the country of holding hands. The proposal failed to garner the required two-thirds majority of votes, however, and was dropped from the agenda. ZE03111822

On the follow up article (at the bottom of that link too) they said this:

Some readers asked if the U.S. bishops’ vote against allowing the “orantes” posture meant that this gesture was forbidden in the United States. The bishops, in deciding not to prescribe or suggest any particular gesture during the Our Father, did not therefore proscribe any particular gesture either.

The bishops’ conference decision does limit the possibility of another authority such as a pastor or even a diocesan bishop from prescribing this gesture as obligatory. But it need not constrain an individual from adopting the “orantes” posture nor, in principle, stop a couple or small group from spontaneously holding hands.

While holding hands during the Our Father is very much a novelty in the millenarian history of Catholic liturgy, the “orantes” posture, as one reader from Virginia reminds us, is as old as Christianity, is depicted in the catacombs, has always been preserved in the Eastern rites and was not reserved to the priest until after several centuries in the Latin rite — and even then not everywhere.

The controversy regarding the use of the “orantes” posture for the Our Father appears to be confined to the English-speaking world. In many other places, it is pacifically accepted as an optional gesture which any member of the community is free to perform if so inclined … ZE03120221

I tend to be holding a baby so I don’t have much choice with my hands, but when I do they’re usually folded in front of me. In our parish though hand holding is big…

About 5 years ago or so, our Bishop asked that the faithful not use the orans position or hold hands during the Pater Noster but they still do it. (at least many of them do).

Personally I just put 5 to 5.


The U.S. bishops’ conference debated a proposal by some bishops to allow the use of the orantes posture while discussing the “American Adaptations to the General Instruction to the Roman Missal” last year. Some bishops even argued that it was the best way of ridding the country of holding hands. The proposal failed to garner the required two-thirds majority of votes, however, and was dropped from the agenda. ZE03111822

Yeaa, the funny thing about that is that these same people hold hands while raising “holy hands” , so much for that idea. For the most part, there hands are on the pew in front of them, supporting themselves up, the rest of the mass.

My pastors instruction goes along these lines: The priest holds his hands in the orans position to allow the prayer to channel up to heaven thru the upraised hands of the priest.
As the congregation raises thier hands, a circle is formed in the church, and the prayers follow the circle. I personally fold both hands ,palms together, at chest level since my altar boy instructions were received many many years ago.

Certainly a very good way to pray…and one going all the way back to the early Christians… but until I see something official permitting it in the USA during Liturgy…the problem of “imitating” the Priest (and as the Deacon pointed out he may not for sure!) seems to be there…

At other times though it is a great and ancient way to pray…(See The Spirit of the Liturgy by Cardinal Ratzinger on positions for prayer…do not let the title make you thank he is discussing the Liturgy only…and no he does not address its use in the Liturgy by the Laity…but only its form)

Over the last thirty some odd years especially with the popularity with the Charismatic Renewal, I have witnessed this custom with some of the laity joining the priest in the Oran’s position reciting the Pater Noster. Some people in my parish still copy the gesture of priest with some families joining hands. I’ve never really seen this gesture encouraged by the average parish priest at Mass except those Catholics who are involved in the Charismatic Renewal which I have not been part of in over twenty years.

I don’t like anything that says “look at me, I’m holy”.

I just chant the Our Father (it is chanted in our abbey).

Orans position, is this a prayer in itself or a distraction from prayer? If I close my eyes, that could be a prayer too, no?

As I said before, 5 to 5 and I’ll add “close my eyes so I can’t see the happenings”

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Amen to that brother.:thumbsup:

In my parish it is like Topsy–it just grows and grows!
Last night I went to the lightly attended Saturday Mass due to obligations today. It was so lightly attended I could see just about all who were in front of me.
From the opening prayer on, the orans was flopped out. “Dominus Vobiscum” followed each and every time by the gesture by about half those attending. Of course our masses are all in English. So each and every time the response is “And also with you” half the congregation is gesturing.
At some points they are raising their arms over their heads as a sort of super-orans.

I suspect the cause is basic ignorance and imitating others with no thought. When they do think about it they seem to decide to do more, as it is surely a good thing.

My thoughts are more toward Jesus’ instructions on prayer–the secret room and so forth. Not the public places where all can see holiness demonstrated. By a gesture, no less.

It’s certainly not encouraged by the Church. In fact, it isn’t licit because the laity cannot assume the gestures of the priest at Mass. The deacon doesn’t do this either.

This was proposed by the US bishops several years back, as part of a “package” of proposed adaptations sent to Rome for approval. Rome did not grant recognition. I think that, above all else proves the point. First of all, the US bishops recognize the fact that this is a change to the Mass, and as such requires the approval of Rome. Secondly, Rome did not approve it. We can speculate all day on the question of “why?” it wasn’t approved, but that won’t change the objective fact that it was rejected.

I can’t remember the dates offhand, but several years ago, the bishops requested Rome’s approval for some adaptations to the GIRM. Somehow or another those adaptations were printed and distributed (especially on the internet) as a revised version of the GIRM, but without waiting for Rome to approve. I saw a webpage a while back where someone claimed “the GIRM requires this” I bring this up because you might come across such claims. Know that they aren’t true.

Yep. Bolded to indicate what I’ve seen, too.

Years ago I was teaching a special workshop in the woods, to public middle schoolers. In that location there was also some Protestant evangelical church. Guess what they do during much of their “praise” services: Extend arms upward (our priestly orans position).

So when I see this happen in Catholic parishes, with or without accompanying sentimental hand-holding, I think to myself: 'There ‘ya go: Let’s imitate the Protestants even more.’

(Protestant theology regarding the minister is not at all what Catholic theology is regarding the celebrant priest and the meaning of the service/Mass. Mimicking Protestant gestures is non-liturgical.) I don’t care if the whole congregation raises hands, holds hands, etc. I’m not doing it, as I do know my theology and do not feel compelled to go along for social reasons.

I’m in our choir and we are placed where the entire parish can see us. During the Our Father, I always have my hands together in prayer. Everyone else in the choir is doing the orans. Most of the parish is doing the orans. I’m turned away towards the Corpus. When the ending of the Our Father is recited and lots of people are raising their hands above their heads, I look up at Jesus’ face. I can’t help it. This is who I am. I don’t feel “holier than thou”. I feel more alone than I already am.:shrug:

guys, there a moratorium on the topic

I have retained the Moratorium on hand holding during the Our Father because it is still too contentious a topic for the L&S forum.

For those who have questions/concerns about this issue, the rubrics of the GIRM say nothing about this gesture. However there is this:

The Code of Canon Law (1983) mandates: “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” (Canon 826.1).
Since the GIRM is the instructions for the priest and congregation for celebrating the Liturgy of the Mass, it applies. It does not mean that people cannot hold hands with loved ones, only that it is not a congregational gesture.

If anyone has any questions/concerns in his own diocese/parish regarding this issue, he should discuss it with his bishop/priest(s).

This issue is more complex than many would have you believe:

One side views it as harmless and a good expression of the believer’s priesthood and the unity of the congregation, and the other side views it as a dangerous mixing of the roles of clergy and laity.

However, like most issues, this is much more complex than both sides portray it.

First, I would like to present the negatives:

1.) It is not prescribed by the rubrics.
2.) It is an imitation of the priest’s posture when he offers prayers as a representative of the congregation, which is to be reserved for the priest only.
3.) It is a recent innovation, only in the Mass of Paul VI (though not prescribed by the rubrics).

The positives:

1.) It expresses the priesthood of the believer and his participation in the sacrifice.
2.) It is not forbidden by the rubrics.
3.) For the most part, the laity who assume this posture understand that they are not priests.

Personally, I hold my hands folded. Why? Because this is how I hold my hands for every other general prayer of the Mass.

I think that this is a mistake of the Mass of Paul VI. In the Tridentine Mass, the priest chanted the Noster Pater alone. Hence, like all prayers that the priest offers alone, he assumes the orantes position. However, in other prayers and chants that the congregation offers too, like the Confiteor, the Gloria, the Credo, and the Sanctus, the priest folds his hands, or assumes whatever position the laity does. Hence, to be consistent, really, in the Mass of Paul VI, they should have had the rubrics specify the use of folded hands rather than the orantes position.

Unfortunately, I don’t know about the Eastern rites. The last Divine Liturgy I attended was three weeks ago, but I cannot for the life of me remember if the priest used the orantes position during the Our Father. It was the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great (I think - it was Pascha), and the Easterners have had the entire congregation offer the Our Father for awhile - I don’t know if it’s primitive or not.

We must also remember that while the priest alone adopts this posture, this has not always been the case in the church. At times, the laity have adopted it legitimately. However, we must work in the context that we have, and realize that at least in the present day church, this position is the position of the priest, and the danger of confusion is present. In some parishes, the Final Doxology is chanted by the congregation, and at the worst of times, congregations have assisted in reciting the Canon of the Mass. However, assuming this position only for the Noster Pater has at least not done that damage in my parish.

Finally, it is not prescribed, or forbidden, in the rubrics. Cardinal Arinze said, “The People of God are not soldiers.” He was speaking of this issue. He said it does not matter which position we choose. We are free to fold our hands, clasp them in front of us, or offer them forward to God like the priest. Make your decision piously, prayerfully, and without judgment of others.

Personally, I choose to fold my hands. I think that in the United States, especially with Protestantism, and having a Protestant origin (Tiber Swim Team Christmas 2009. :slight_smile: ), the danger of mixing laity and clergy is present. However, if you wish to express your priesthood in Christ by demonstrating the offer of the Noster Pater with your hands extended forward to God, you are free to do so, unless your pastor or your Bishop has commanded otherwise.

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