Posture in saying the Lord's Prayer in Mass


#1

This has been an issue under heated debate.

In my parish, joining hands together while saying the Lord's Prayer is a common practice. While some second the practice based on the argument that it originates from and imitates the 'oran/orantes' in the early Church, I hold reservations towards this. The following are my reasons:

  1. Joining hands by the laymen may result in confusion of the sacerdotal role of the priest. When the priest stretches out his hands (manibus extensis), he is in fact a living icon of a crucified Christ on the Cross, representing Jesus in the execution of the sacred liturgy. When the faithful join their hands, the implied finger-bending (digitis flexis) action is an explicit contradiction to what is required of the priest as a living icon by the our liturgy.

  2. Joining hands by the laymen may cause misconceptions in the expression of affection in liturgy. According to the Rituale Romanum, joining hands is an expression of love in a couple exclusive to the exchange of rings in nuptial liturgy. Hence, misconceptions regarding the symbolic implications of liturgical postures may arise when the faithful, who are not in the context of matrimonial rituals, join their hands in a Mass.

  3. The Congregation for Divine Worship in 1975 published the Notitiae which criticised joining hands as a posture introduced individually when no clear instruction in Missale Romanum has been mentioned. Since liturgy should be an open confession of faith by the Church as a community, such practice of private devotion or out of personal fervor should never be encouraged. On the other hand, the faithful should be encouraged to do what is necessitated in Missale Romanum instead of availing themselves of the grey area.

  4. Caeremoniale Episcoporum, in articles discussing liturgical postures, mentioned the following:

'104. Consuetudo est in Ecclesia Episcoporum aut presbyterorum orationes ad Deum dirigere stantem, et manus aliquantulum elevatas et extensas tenentem. ...]'

Thus, it is apparent that stretching hands, or similar actions as joining hands, are assumed to be the privilege of priests. Symbolically, it is an action exhibiting the priest as the executor of liturgy 'in persona Christi capitis'.

  1. The Missale Romanum never expects the faithful and deacons to imitate the priest to stretch out their hands:

'... Neither may deacons or non-ordained members of the faithful use gestures or actions which are proper to the same priest celebrant ... (Article 6, Instruction on Collaboration, 1997)'

On the grounds of the above reasons,joining hands, or mimicking the priest's stretching hands in any other way, may engender obfuscation in terms of liturgical symbolism. Thus, joining hands while saying the Lord's Prayer should not be encouraged.


#2

I was taught, and instruct our family to pray the Lord's Prayer during Mass with hands folded in prayer, and head bowed.


#3

Please, let's don't do this again. :shrug:


#4

An easy fix to your consternation is to do it the way you like and don’t suffer too much anxiety over the ways others do it!

Peace and all good!


#5

It doesn’t really make much difference if it is done out of reverence whether holding hands or not. I think it is a wonderful practice that shows the joining of the Parish community together in prayer. Don’t fret, doesn’t make any bit of difference :smiley:


#6

:popcorn:


#7

Oh, I forgot to include the source I obtained the information above.

Basically the ideas are not by me - they are by Edward, the webmaster of the following Chinese website:

edcheu.blogspot.hk/2008/10/blog-post_22.html

Speaking of my personal opinion, I think it is not really a serious issue. Sometimes when liturgy is over-decoded such that every nuanced action has a deep meaning, there will be distortion of liturgy’s nature.


#8

Too late.

It is hard to have a discussion with a Chinese blog. The thing is, there is not posture prescribed or proscribed at this time. As the Church is the one to do either, then let each tend to themself.


#9

:thumbsup:

Since there’s no explicit ban on such practice, in my opinion, no one can judge whether or not it is a proper behavior.


#10

Hands folded, head bowed. The end. If someone tries to grab my hand, even if it's a family member I do not join in.


#11

I believe the celebrant praying the Lord’s Prayer is directed to extend his hands as at any other time. The laity taking this gesture up during the Lord’s Prayer is very singular and curious to me. Why would the general populace consider that particular moment so special?

I fold my hands, bow my head, and pray as I pray at any other point in the Mass. My spiritual director puts his right hand over his left hand, palms facing up, as if about to receive the Eucharist, and holds his hands close to his chest. Others hold hands with neighbours. Still others make a sort of half-orant posture. Closing my eyes is a good remedy for angry or irritated feelings that come up at this juncture.

Just as a note: most priests themselves seem to have no idea what the proper orans is; they hold their hands forward, as in a supplication, but they’re supposed to be facing outward.

Anyway, I don’t think most of us should be allowed to complain about what others do at the Our Father, since we Catholics almost never follow the rubrics at the Gospel either. What does the Order of Mass actually say? The priest or deacon that is reading the Gospel is to make a sign of the cross upon the page, then on his forehead, lips, and heart. Nothing in the rubrics say that anyone else is supposed to do this, but literally everyone in the church does it with the Gospeller.

Please be consistent, everyone. :slight_smile:


#12

Yes, no need to follow the novelty of holding hands, unless unavoidable.

Up to the liturgical reform of the Roman Rite, there was no way anyone would have held hands. This practice developed at some point in the 70s, and while some who have the gift of patience and a good sense of humor have said that since it’s been around for some 30 years or so now it’s fine, in reality it is a novelty that breaks with tradition and modifies the liturgy, because while no posture is specified for the lay faithful, certainly the Rite does not mention the “let us all hold hands”, which is in fact a liturgical action where members of the congregation interact. A similar liturgical action, the sign of peace, is clearly mentioned.

Let us keep in mind that no matter how happy and pretty may something seem, it is always an abuse to try to change the liturgy to please our fancies. This extends to clapping and many other things that I won’t even go into in order not to get the thread locked :o


#13

We hold hands in our parish, though in 15 years it has not ever once been suggested or mentioned. It is just spontaneous, as opposed to promulgated. I visited another parish this last weekend. It was about fifty-fifty. Even for me, my wife took my one hand. I left the other down by my side. I posted a link once to Cardinal Arinze who warned about promunlgating any position not in the GIRM, but even then he said as long as this is not happening, there is nothing wrong with it one way or another. Likewise, folding hands in prayer should not be promulgated as it too is a posture not found in the GIRM. It too is fine. There is never a reason to push people one way or another on this.


#14

In Sacramentum Caritatis, Pope Benedict stressed the need for formation and instruction
about the Sacred Mysteries of the Eucharist (“mystagogical catechesis”), so that Catholic
people will more fully understand and be able to unite themselves interiorly with the action
of the Eucharist. The Holy Father specifically mentions signs and gestures.

Part of this instruction about the mystery of the Eucharist, the pope writes, involves the
meaning of ritual gestures:
A mystagogical catechesis must also be concerned with presenting the meaning of the signs
contained in the rites. This is particularly important in a highly technological age like our own,
which risks losing the ability to appreciate signs and symbols. More than simply conveying information,
a mystagogical catechesis should be capable of making the faithful more sensitive
to the language of signs and gestures which, together with the word, make up the rite. (§64, b.
Original emphasis.)
The vocabulary of ritual gestures Catholics make during worship is by now, quite clearly,
endangered — as has happened with other unwritten languages. As there are relatively
few explicit rules (and even these are often not followed), little uniformity of practice,
and considerable confusion, it seems worthwhile to compile a sort of “dictionary” of ritual
gestures, their meaning and grammar, in order to relearn our historic language of ritual
worship.

…When the priest announces the Gospel, trace a cross with the thumb on head, lips and
heart. This gesture is a form of prayer for the presence of the Word of God in one’s
mind, upon one’s lips, and in one’s heart.

…Reverently fold your hands and bow your head as you pray the Lord’s Prayer.

This is Pope Benedict XVI instruction on this…Good enough for me.


#15

[quote="R_C, post:12, topic:332121"]
Yes, no need to follow the novelty of holding hands, unless unavoidable.

Up to the liturgical reform of the Roman Rite, there was no way anyone would have held hands. This practice developed at some point in the 70s,

[/quote]

Actually, people were holding hands during the OUr Father in 1962-1963, if not before. That makes it 50 + years.

[quote="R_C, post:12, topic:332121"]
and while some who have the gift of patience and a good sense of humor have said that since it's been around for some 30 years or so now it's fine, in reality it is a novelty that breaks with tradition and modifies the liturgy, because while no posture is specified for the lay faithful, certainly the Rite does not mention the "let us all hold hands", which is in fact a liturgical action where members of the congregation interact. A similar liturgical action, the sign of peace, is clearly mentioned.

Let us keep in mind that no matter how happy and pretty may something seem, it is always an abuse to try to change the liturgy to please our fancies. This extends to clapping and many other things that I won't even go into in order not to get the thread locked :o

[/quote]

Having seen some things since the early 1960's that qualify as an abuse, I think you are a bit over the top in calling this an abuse.

I wish I had kept the actual quote. However, When Chaput was still Archbishop in Colorado, he wrote publicly about this matter (an my recollection was he was sick and tired of hearing about it). He is hardly what one would call a liberal, and given that he was then the chief liturgist for Colorado, I would tend to listen to what he said, rather than someone in the pew who calls it an abuse largely because they don't like it.

'The substance of what he said is that posture at that point is not regulated. Those who wish to hold hands are free to do so; those who do not wish to do so are free to not hold hands, and neither side has a right to criticize the other. That, as I would understand it, includes calling hand holding an abuse, as that is directly a criticism of those who do so.

I have lost track of what GIRM issue we are now following; but there have been at least two, and I think three changes (if not more) in the GIRM since people started holding hands. To say that Rome is unaware of the issue is to stretch credulity to the breaking point. They have obviously chosen to not deal with the issue, and as I noted, it has been around for at least 50 years. And Rome has seen fit to rule on other issues outside the GIRM during that period.

If you don't want to hold hands, then don't. Keep in mind that charity (love) towards one another was what Christ said was the second greatest commandment. If you are going to make an obvious point of not holding hands (particularly if the twit next to you doesn't seem to get the message), perhaps reading the last sentence might be worthwhile. But if you think charity means you should inform that twit they are wrong, then reflect on Archbishop Chaput's message.

Frankly, I don't have a dog in the fight; I don't care whether people hold hands or not; but if the person next to me reaches out, I am not going to shun them, or make a point.

My grandmother (who died in the 1970's) made a point to me often. If there was something I din't like to do, she would say "Offer it up".

The poor souls in purgatory could always use a bit of penance.


#16

Actually the Orans is a posture of prayer even among the Jews. It isn’t just about posturing as if Jesus on the cross. Though we can also say that Jesus on the cross is doing the orans.


#17

I don't go to church to hold hands, so don't feel offended if I reject the offer.


#18

its done in some parishes and not in others. I have my personal preferences, but they’re not important enough for me to put on my holier-than-though shirt for. when in Rome …


#19

It varies by diocese, but if you are in the diocese of Covington, KY, Bishop Roger Foys has instructed against holding hands during the Our Father.

praytellblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/2011-Pastoral-Letter-with-Decree-Bulletin-Insert.pdf

  1. The gestures for the priests, deacons, religious and lay faithful be strictly carried out in accord with the rubrics of the Roman Missal, for “the gestures and bodily posture of both the Priest, the Deacon, and the ministers, and also of the people, must be conducive to making the entire celebration resplendent with beauty and noble simplicity, to making clear the true and full meaning of its different parts, and to fostering the participation of all. Attention must therefore be paid to what is determined by [the] General Instruction and by the traditional practice of the Roman Rite and to what serves the common spiritual good of the People of God, rather than private inclination or arbitrary choice. A common bodily posture, to be observed by all those taking part, is a sign of the unity of the members of the Christian community gathered together for the Sacred Liturgy, for it expresses the intentions and the spiritual attitude of the participants and also fosters them.” (GIRM 42)
  c. Special note should also be made concerning the gesture for the Our Father. Only the priest is given the instruction to “extend” his hands. Neither the deacon nor the lay faithful are instructed to do this. No gesture is prescribed for the lay faithful in the Roman Missal; nor the General Instruction of the Roman Missal,** therefore the extending or holding of hands by the faithful should not be performed**.

And the following comes from Fr. Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum. This is found in EWTN’s library of Q&A’s. He doesn’t say one cannot hold hands, but that one cannot be compelled to by a priest or congregation.

ewtn.com/library/liturgy/zlitur10.htm

A: It is true that there is no prescribed posture for the hands during the Our Father and that, so far at least, neither the Holy See nor the U.S. bishops’ conference has officially addressed it.

The argument from silence is not very strong, however, because while there is no particular difficulty in a couple, family or a small group spontaneously holding hands during the Our Father, **a problem arises when the entire assembly is expected or obliged to do so. **

The process for introducing any new rite or gesture into the liturgy in a stable or even binding manner is already contemplated in liturgical law. This process entails a two-thirds majority vote in the bishops’ conference and the go-ahead from the Holy See before any change may take effect.


#20

Indeed it is not a matter of personal preference...to think that way is to miss the point. This is not a posture, but a liturgical action, because it is not about how I hold my own hands, but about the members of the congregation interacting with one another. The sacred liturgy at that moment expects no such interaction between the congregation, but simply for them to accompany the priest in the Pater Noster. For me that is the only issue here.

It is not a matter of "charity" either: when I pray the Pater Noster, I fold my hands. If someone wants to reach for my hands, he will notice my prayerful posture and hopefully his focus will shift from interacting with a man to praying to God.


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