Raised right hand blessing

I’m 65, product of Catholic schools and raised by devout grandparents. I left religion at 18 with extremely bitter feelings toward Catholicism and nightmare experiences with clergy. About 10 years ago, I looked into an Episcopalian Church and also an Anglican Catholic. Both were very positive experiences, however, I felt Catholicism would show respect for my grandparents and general cultural background. I try to attend mass every Sunday but so much of it makes me uncomfortable.

As an example, our priest loves to bless everything as often as possible by having congregation raise right hand. This bizarre custom showed up while I was “absent” and makes me squirm. Three generations recognize this frightening gesture as a Nazi salute. I will not do this. How did this awful image become a part of the mass?

There is no magic in my right hand, plus I have three close family members who fought in France, Belgium and Germany, one buried at Normandy.

This is enough to keep me at home on Sunday. Am I alone here? I would like to be a “good Catholic”, however so much disturbs me.

Just because something looks like something else doesn’t mean it is. Raising one’s hand certainly isn’t a “Nazi salute” unless you’re a Nazi and shouting “Heil Hitler.” In fact, the posture has a venerable existence, not least of all as the Bellamy salute, which you might even remember at age 65:

Same goes for the swastika:

(That’s a team from a Native American school in Oklahoma in 1909).

So yes, you should not let the appearance bother you. That said, I don’t do the “raised hand blessing” either, since as a layman I’m incapable of performing a blessing and it’s an action with no sound basis in approved liturgy, still less in tradition.

But again, if your problem is “it disturbs me to see so many people gladly doing the Nazi salute,” then you need to get over it and realize that they are not doing the “Nazi salute,” any more than the Chilocco Indian Agricultural School was wearing the “Nazi swastika.” In fact, it’s not a salute at all; people are just raising their hands in (an attempted) blessing.

Actually, the posture that you described is ilicit. There is nothing in the Roman Missal, the Book of Blessings, nor in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal that mandates that we “help” the priest impart a blessing.

In fact, Ecclesia de Mysterio notes something that we should bear in mind:

  1. 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.

You have every right to refuse to participate in this activity. The next time you should come across a situation like this, just bow your head and pray. That is what my dad and I do.

In our parish, we are asked to raise both our hands. We are told we are joining the priest as he prays over, say, the confirmation candidates. I don’t what ever happened to putting our hands together. Guess it’s too old-fashioned. Sigh.

And sometimes the blessing/prayer lasts so long my arms get tired. Another reason to put hands together… but now I’m just whining!:wink:

Hand raising for blessing comes from Evangelicals since they “pray over” people they wish to press. Typically a small group of people would circle around one person and put their hands on top of that person’s head they are praying over for. For larger congregations such as in churches, they would just raise their right hand.

Is there another Catholic Church in the area you could go to?

It sounds like you still believe in the Catholic faith, you just have a problem with some of the liturgical practices that this particular priest is doing.

You could also look into attending Catholic Churches of another rite.

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