I just came from a funeral today at a Parish I don’t belong to, but is in the area. The Priest, which sung a majority of the Liturgy of the Eucharist with assistance from the pianist; in which I found made it seem very much like some sort of musical almost. He also held the hands of the laity who were doing the readings/cantor, in addition to the server, during the “Our Father” around the altar. They added the doxology right to the end as well, which I am not used to.
This seemed very unusual to see a Priest do this. I know some in the Parishes I have been to seem to do this (though my wife and I don’t), but I have only ever seen the Priest do the orans position… never holding other people’s hands. Is this allowed?
nihil solliciti sitis sed in omni oratione et obsecratione cum gratiarum actione petitiones vestrae innotescant apud Deum et pax Dei quae exsuperat omnem sensum custodiat corda vestra et intellegentias vestras in Christo Iesu
From Missale Romanum: (note that only the priest’s hands are extended, and all present follow with the prayer)
23. Deinde sacerdos clara voce dicit, iunctis manibus:
Præcéptis salutáribus móniti,
et divína institutióne formáti,
Sacerdos, extensis manibus, et omnes præsentes prosequuntur:
Pater noster, qui es in cælis:
sanctificétur nomen tuum;
advéniat regnum tuum;
fiat volúntas tua, sicut in cælo, et in terra.
Panem nostrum cotidiánum da nobis hódie;
et dimítte nobis débita nostra,
sicut et nos dimíttimus debitóribus nostris;
et ne nos indúcas in tentatiónem;
sed líbera nos a malo.
I totally understand holding out his hands in orans, but the Priest didn’t even do that… he had those up by him helping at Mass hold his hand on each side, behind the altar. It seemed quite disrespectful and my mouth just about dropped open. He also said ‘let us join hands in the lords prayer’ so everyone besides my wife and I (we clasped and head down) held each others hand, including the Priest.
I just want to clarify that I wasn’t going crazy that what the Priest was doing wasn’t correct mainly…
Honestly, the entire funeral Mass felt like some sort of Broadway play which made me sad. The last funeral I was at a few weeks ago at a different Catholic church in the area had a guitar playing nun (and another guitarist) play a folk funeral Mass. Interestingly enough, the first didn’t have kneelers, and the last did… but the Priest asked everyone to just stand.
Holding your hands, palms together, fingers interlaced, or fingers pointing out, is also not called for in the rubrics, so by your analogy, it is not allowed either - and I would presume you would not do that either?
The fact that Communion may be the ultimate sign of unity does not mean that there are no other signs of unity.
I have a picture that was taken either in early 1965, or the winter of 1965-1966 in which everyone is holding hands during the Our Father.
That means that holding hands during the Our Father has been going on since at least that time.
Rome has gone through several revisions in the GIRM, and if I recall, the rubrics have been updated in that time period also. Rome has been well aware of the issue for most of that time, and Rome has chosen to respond to holding hands during the Our Father with and absolute, deafening silence. After 48 years of the matter and all the complaints, nothing. In addition to the GIRM, Rome has also seen fit to issue corrections - such as Redemptionis Sacramentum
There is no rule forbidding it, particularly in light of the fact that people have been complaining about the matter to their priests, their bishops, and to Rome. At one point, the USCCB considered requesting permission to hold the hands in the orans position - but that matter never went anywhere.
When he was archbishop of Colorado, Chaput finally published a letter to all about the matter. I don’t consider the archbishop, now Cardinal, to be some sort of flaming liberal; however, he said just what I said - there is no rule on the matter; Rome has seen fit to ignore it, so people are free to either hold hands or not hold hands; neither side has any right to criticise the other, and each is to act in charity. Except he used a few more words than I do.
A few weeks ago, our pastor published an article in our bulletin about holding hands during the Our Father. I wish I still had it to quote directly, but from what I remember, the basic gist of it was Communion is the ultimate sign of unity and holding hands is not necessary.
He also said there is nothing wrong with it, either, but we should think about a stranger’s comfort level before extending our hands to them. If a family wants to hold hands, no problem. It did not say anything about the priest.
The priest should absolutely not hold hands during the Our Father. It is not in the rubrics. His function is to lead the people in the prayer. And, he is supposed to be at the altar with only a deacon or con-celebrating priests around him at the time. As to the posture of the laity: They should not be instructed to hold hands but there is no posture mentioned other than their being in the standing position at the time. There is some validity in the, “they should not imitate the priest’s posture” argument. The question of whether this is a correct interpretation belong to the competency of those who rule on canonical and liturgical texts not on majority or minority opinion. However, the argument from silence (that holding hands is not mentioned) has no force. If the fact that hand-holding is not mentioned as a posture means it is therefore prohibited then so is bowing one’s head, holding one’s eyes aloft, folding one’s hands, closing one’s eyes, leaning with both hands on the back of the pew in front of you and so on. None of those things are mentioned either.
Unfortunately, at our church, most of the congregation puts their arms in the air for every response (for example, “and with your spirit.”) A casual observer watching from the outside would think that we’re doing jumping jacks as part of our service.
And most hold hands at the Our Father as well.
The priest is the priest, and we are not. We should act that way.