Orans gesture at the Our Father

And just to provide counter-balance, lest anybody think that this is a settled matter and all the experts agree:

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.


Some people hold hands during the Lord’s Prayer, while others hold their hands out like the priest. Is there a prescribed posture for the Our Father?

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

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I guess I find myself more and more bewildered these days. Father at my old parish told everyone “no! don’t use the orans posture, its for the priest!” like the Catholic365 article says.

The USCCB says “it’s fine, the GIRM doesnt say anything one way or the other: do what thou wilt.”



Not byzantines, no. Just the priest.

But the prayer itself is, and I presume always has been, by all.

And it looks like @babochka has a more thorough answer on this . . .

It is very ancient. It is depicted in the catacombs of Rome.

I wonder about this too.

Of all the things that one might complain about how the OF Mass is celebrated today, this is such a minor nitpick — at best. Yet threads are constantly being created on this forum about this very topic even though in the multitude of previous threads on this topic in this forum, it has been clearly determined that unless the local ordinary prohibits it, the Orans posture is allowed during the Our Father.

I wish people who don’t care for this posture during the Our Father just give this topic a rest. It’s usually allowed, so please come to terms with it.


I have the same response to 90 percent of the threads on here complaining about some gesture or custom or practice currently permitted at Mass.


If anything it’s more intended to distinguish than de-emphasise since in concelebration each priest is equally and fully celebrating mas, however only one is presiding. Similarly, if a bishop celebrates mass he is supposed to always be the presider,

A lot of what you refer to were baroque additions stripped back as part of the simplification of the liturgy following Vatican II - the sign of peace is actually a very good example of how something overly complex was simplified. Priests’ vestments haven’t really changed at all (except in terms of style) other than the elimination of the maniple. Bishops’ vestments were simplified in order to move away from historical associations with temporal power as well as to simplify them.

Granted there are sadly some priests who adopt a minimalist approach to their vesture (I’ve even seen a priest wear just a stole over his clothing without an alb) and others who seem to have parted company with good taste some time ago; but that’s has far more to do with them as individuals than anything else.


I am assuming you are not speaking universally across the Midwest and possibly in your personal locality of the Midwest, only. I was living in the Midwest area during the 70’s and did see it used in most churches I happened to attend at that time. I saw it heighten in the 1980s.

Holding hands at that time really got crazy. I can remember people holding hands across the aisle and even those reaching behind them or over their head to grasp the person’s hand behind them.

I think a lot of the issue in the 70s was that there was a lot of confusion within the church itself as it was still adapting to the changes of Vatican II and exactly unsure of the extent of what those changes should be. It appeared there was much more of an attempt to adapt more protestant type practices during that period.

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For what it’s worth I don’t recall having complained about the people taking the orans posture. I only asked where it came from and why people do it.


The few times I have prayed using the orans (Byzantine) open arms and palms up posture, the thought never even occurred to me to try to imitate the priest. I just felt this great sense of openness to God, and just naturally expressed it with open body language. Here on this forum is the very first time I’ve ever seen mention of it imitating or de-emphasizing the role of clergy.

No thought of it – no such intent. Just a heartfelt gesture of openness. That’s all.


I’ve never prayed that way for the Our Father during the Divine Liturgy, but during the singing of Psalm 141 during the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts (" Let my prayer ascend to you like incense, with the lifting up of my hands like an evening sacrifice", I frequently do. It seems right and natural.

Like I said “IME” which is “in my experience”. Obviously we had different experiences, :woman_shrugging:

Which wouldn’t surprise me is the main reason why the vast majority who pray in such a manner do so.

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