Oran's Posture - Priest Only!?


[quote=“FrDavid96, post:31, topic:460898”]
How can you can reconcile the practice to these words “Neither may deacons or non-ordained members of the faithful use gestures or actions which are proper to the same priest celebrant.” ?

What part of that sentence is unclear? or ambiguous?

In a parish where the pastor encourages widespread use of the orans posture at this or that moment of the Mass, what advice would you give the laity? Should they obey the pastor’s wish? Should they rebel? Should they wait for a favorable moment when he’s alone in his office, with no one to overhear the conversation, and diplomatically point out his mistake to him? And what if he says No, if he stubbornly and obtusely carries on recommending the orans posture? What then?


He’s wrong to encourage it. He’s absolutely wrong to force the issue.

If he is (as you say) stubborn and obtuse, then there’s not much one can do.

In the meantime, no one can ever be required to do it. I always remind people that no matter what anyone says, no one can tell you that you must.

If people don’t do it, they aren’t rebelling because he is acting beyond his own competence (his legitimate authority). One cannot rebel against an authority that doesn’t exist.


Tis_Bearself asked why the orans position started being used by the congregation, because she wasn’t going to Mass much at that time when it became popular. Neither was I, and I can second her observations about what it was like to return to Mass after it became a thing. Deacon Jeff seemed to indicate that it was started by a bishop. I’m wondering if that is the answer to Tis’ question.

On a side note, when I was growing up (80’s) my parish did not hold hands during the Our Father, but when we would occasionally (once a year in the mid 80’s) visit a certain other parish where hand holding during the Our Father was done, then we would do it there…’when in Rome’.


See post 34 and 35 above for the origin of the practice in the US


Is there a list of gestures that are for the priest and not the laity during mass? If so, where can one find it? As opposed to simply gestures that are common and not specifically for the priest during the mass?


I think it has become necessary to quote the actual article because the text is being misrepresented when a sentence is taken out of context.

Article 6

Liturgical Celebrations

§ 1. Liturgical actions must always clearly manifest the unity of the People of God as a structured communion.(89) Thus there exists a close link between the ordered exercise of liturgical action and the reflection in the liturgy of the Church’s structured nature.

This happens when all participants, with faith and devotion, discharge those roles proper to them.

§ 2. 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.

In the same way, the use of sacred vestments which are reserved to priests or deacons (stoles, chasubles or dalmatics) at liturgical ceremonies by non-ordained members of the faithful is clearly unlawful.

Every effort must be made to avoid even the appearance of confusion which can spring from anomalous liturgical practices. As the sacred ministers are obliged to wear all of the prescribed liturgical vestments so too the non-ordained faithful may not assume that which is not proper to them.

To avoid any confusion between sacramental liturgical acts presided over by a priest or deacon, and other acts which the non-ordained faithful may lead, it is always necessary to use clearly distinct ceremonials, especially for the latter.

What is being proscribed is anyone other than the priest who is the Presider saying the presidential prayers, along with actions and gestures such as using the Presider’s chair, taking the Presider’s place in the processions, doing an epicletic or indicative gesture at the consecration in the anaphora.


The position you outline is, substantially, correct.

Personally, although I have had American students, I have never understood how certain Americans become almost obsessive about rubrics. It is bizarre. I had hoped that the need for the CDW to intervene some years ago would be so chastening that it would lead to a change of this disposition.

To a dubium originating with Cardinal George, there was a wonderful answer to clarify the nature of rubrics for the laity. It is worth quoting substantially:

“Numerous inquiries” received by the BCL led Cardinal Francis George, chairman of the BCL, to submit a dubium (doubt, question) to the Holy See’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (CDW) on May 26, 2003:

Dubium: In many places, the faithful are accustomed to kneeling or sitting in personal prayer upon returning to their places after having individually received Holy Communion during Mass. Is it the intention of the Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia, to forbid this practice?

Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect of the CDW, responded to the question on June 5, 2003 (Prot. N. 855/03/L):

Responsum: Negative, et ad mensum [No, for this reason]. The mens [reasoning] is that the prescription of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani, no. 43, is intended, on the one hand, to ensure within broad limits a certain uniformity of posture within the congregation for the various parts of the celebration of Holy Mass, and on the other, to not regulate posture rigidly in such a way that those who wish to kneel or sit would no longer be free.

The BCL Newsletter continues: “In the implementation of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, therefore, posture should not be regulated so rigidly as to forbid individual communicants from kneeling or sitting when returning from having received Holy Communion” (p. 26. emphasis added.)

Indeed, this principle applies here, as well. The directive for the laity is to stand for the Our Father and what follows. Of course, the laity are free to choose another position, if common sense directs it…one who is ill or otherwise disabled, one who is aged, one who is holding in hand or nursing an infant…may be unable to stand or it may simply be better for them not to stand. Whether their hands are folded or are palm-against-palm or resting on the pew in front of them or behind their back or are at their side or are holding someone else’s hand or are elevated in the orans posture or otherwise occupied is the concern of the lay person…it is not the occupation of the rubrics. It would be to go into the arena of rigidity which Cardinal Arinze – and others – rightly condemn.


Most people who attend a Novus Ordo parish…” <— I stopped reading after that. “Novus Ordo parish” is not only offensive it sounds rather stultified. The author was really telegraphing his issues from the very beginning.

I pray using the 5-on-5 position. Not sure what others do as my eyes are closed at this point in the Mass.


I must say I have to chuckle (loudly) at people who get all twisted-up about things like this. They not only get upset at the lay use of the orans (especially when members of the faithful appear to be signalling touchdowns) and hand-holding, they get up upset at the welcoming gesticulation by the laity at the “and with your spirit” that emulates the celebrant. (Maybe this is just at my parish?) Some in my parish even imitate the hand positions of concelebrating priests during the consecration (from their knees of coure.)

Who really cares? Get over it already!

Now if a posture (e.g. orans) was actually prescribed for priests (which it is), and the celebrant ignored it, I would find that problematic. Much like the deacons who refuse to kneel even though they are physically able to.

I do things at Mass that apparently bother some people. I cross the Gospel reading with my thumb in my missalette before I cross my forehead, lips and heart. I do this because it was the way I was taught. It neither impacts others, nor is it wrong.

When I cross myself at Mass I use a EC blessing cross. It helps me to remember. There’s no rule against it and again, it neither impacts others, nor is it wrong.

I pray the Our Father using the 5-on-5 posture. That really bugs some people, but it shouldn’t. In no way is the posture proscribed by the Church.

As someone who attends both RC and EC sacrificial liturgies I frequently cross myself both from left to right and the reverse – even in situations where some say it’s not proper. The Church says nothing about where one can use a specific method and where they cannot.


Seems to be mixed. I do not assume the Orans position. Some people hold hands.

One of our priests some years ago sarcastically said that in some parishes, they “visit and have long chats and cocktails”.

I was always taught the “Orans” position for the hands belonged only to the celebrant/priest.

Whenever I did a Communion Service, I did not assume the “Orans” position … and actually did not even stand directly in the center of the altar … the priest’s position … off to the side and never sat in the presider’s chair either.


I know several people who maintain the Orans posture while singing the Gloria.

In our parish many use the Orans posture in response to the priest. I did not know it
was incorrect.


What is the 5 on 5 posture?


I never knew the name of this posture nor did I think of doing it at home either. I don’t know what it means (as in, when the priest does it what is happening or what is he meditating upon).
In the East it’s more a discussion about blessings:making the sign of the cross over things and people, and the other blessing only priests are supposed to be doing it by sometimes nuns do it too - your fingers making the ICXC sign, an “X” and a “C” with your fingers it means “Jesus Christ” - we’re not supposed to be doing it. I am not sure about blessing other people with the sign of the cross, I think we can only bless food and objects.
I think people exaggerate about the esoteric power of these signs, not that it’s not there, but that it will help you if you do it. If you mustn’t do it then it can’t help you in any way.:roll_eyes:


Palms together, fingertips joined


Thanks. I have never heard of that description before.


I was taught -
standing or kneeling, hands folded
sitting, hands on your lap

I was only 7 years old. Apparently, things get more complicated when we grow up.


I used to see charismatic types who’d be doing it through most of the Mass when nobody else was.
Whatever floats their boat I guess. I feel silly holding my arms up like that. I’m not the dispenser of grace.


I like to use it in parishes where nobody does, and then not use it in everyone does…it gives them something to right on their liturgical scorecard that some seem to keep!


Yes, gestures which belong to the priest alone, such as the orans gesture at the Our Father.

I realize that since you cannot see what is actually happening here, you might not have the same perspective.

This has become (in certain places) quite the show. It resembles gestures which belong entirely in a secular setting. It has turned that moment in the Mass, which is supposed to be about “the Father” into a rather ridiculous display that makes the moment resemble a high school pep rally. We’re now at an even later stage in this where, at the doxology, (again, some places) the congregation does something we call “the wave” where all those arms get raised higher-and-lower.

There is good reason why Vatican II teaches in Sacrosanctum concilium 22
3. Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest [sacerdos is the word], may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.


It’s distracting as well. I have no problem with crying babies and things like that, but when people start doing all sorts of extraordinary motions during Mass it gets distracting.

I have gotten accustomed to the orans position being used by laity throughout different parts of the Mass, but every once in a while someone will do something different that catches my attention. In one such instance, for several weeks a couple bowed every time that Jesus’ name was mentioned at the Mass.

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