Raising hands during Our Father?

This has probably been asked before. I notice at the parish (es) I attend many people seem to do this. I’m not comfortable with it. When was this instituted? Is it a regional thing?

The practice varies from parish to parish. In my parish not everyone does this practice. Our priest encourages the altar servers to keep their hands to together as do I. Father’s rational is that the presider is the only one who should be positioned in the “orans” posture. (hands raised). Here is a quotation from the ETWN website regarding the practice and a link.

A***mong the laity this practice began with the charismatic renewal. Used in private prayer it has worked its way into the Liturgy. It is a legitimate gesture to use when praying, as history shows, however, it is a private gesture when used in the Mass and in some cases conflicts with the system of signs which the rubrics are intended to protect. The Mass is not a private or merely human ceremony. The symbology of the actions, including such gestures, is definite and precise, and reflects the sacramental character of the Church’s prayer. As the Holy See has recently pointed out, confusion has entered the Church about the hierarchical nature of her worship, and this gesture certainly contributes to that confusion when it conflicts with the ordered sign language of the Mass.***


For the U.S.


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.

It is not something that has been instituted at all. The liturgical rubrics do not denote what the laity ought to do with their hands during the Our Father.

It does vary from place to place. Some parishes seem to have a habit of doing this while others don’t.

In my town, it’s a cultural thing: the laity do it faithfully during Tamil Masses, but not at all during English ones. Go figure. :wink:

This explains the history of it very well:


There are some people who do this in my parish. I find it quite distracting to be honest.

There is no rubric or regulation that I know of regarding extending your arms (or holding hands with the people next to you) during the Our Father.

There is also no rubric or regulation regarding dancing the Macarena during the Our Father.

At one parish here, the faithful were told not to fold their hands in prayer but to raise them . The reason given: “That’s what they did in the Old Church”. I personally found this ironic as the priest told us in modern English using an electronic device under electric lighting while standing on synthetic fiber carpeting in a room heated from a gas-fired boiler.

I recall the crew of Catholic Answers Radio telling listeners a litany of postures and gestures not required of Mass attendees. Many continue out of a herd mentality or a family member or spouse is pushing this ‘tradition’.

Holding of hands during The Lord’s Prayer is another phony ‘tradition’ many get goaded into. A boon for stalkers as I know individuals who have found themselves in uncomfortable situations with strangers flanking them and doing a bit more than just holding hands.

I was given a backhand across the mid-section by a woman who sat in the pew before me, to prompt me to join hands with her. *It’s not in the Rubrics *I muttered, but she would not accept that. She became rather cross with me.

This can become a contentious subject, but there is little reason for it to get that way. It varies from parish to parish, and there is no clear direction as to the position of one’s hands (the EWTN article not withstanding–they are not officially speaking for the Church). It has become customary in many parishes to use the Orans position, in others to hold hands, and in others to fold hands. It serves no purpose to complain about it and cause an argument–it just is not that important, and is not addressed officially. (I realize the OP is not doing that, but I have seen others do so in the various forums).

I do what I am comfortable doing, and leave others to their judgment, which is just as legitimate as mine. I prefer to use the Orans position, but if a person reaches out a hand to me, however, I do not refuse–IMO, it is rude, unless they or I am sick or there is a physical reason not to. I try to be charitable in these things. We are, after all, in the presence of the Lord, who expects us to put our sisters and brothers before ourselves. A bit of social discomfort for their sake is not really a bad thing. But that is my opinion.

If the Pastor or the Bishop specifies a position he would like to see during the prayer, I would obey their directive. Jesus Himself said He desired obedience over sacrifice. Otherwise, I would do what is comfortable for me and accept that others have differing views in this matter.

The whole thing is such a non issue…

As I learned it, such a posture in the mass isn’t instructed in the rubrics, and since no layperson or priest can change the rubrics within the Missal, the layperson shouldn’t be raising their hands in the “orans” position during the Our Father. Some might think that it’s part of the “active participation in the Mass.”

But yes, it is a regional thing, as I don’t often see the people in St. Peter’s Basilica raising their hands during the Our Father.
It was never instituted, and as I mentioned before, it’s not in the rubrics of the Missal, either.

The Our Father is a prayer so I fold my hands, bow my head slightly and pray. I do not hold hands and I do not raise them to the Orans position. On a similar note I do not raise my hands when the priest is offering a special blessing to one or part of the congregation.

Honestly, I don’t know where or why some of this stuff gets started and while some consider it harmless I see it as a further blurring of the distinction between clergy and laity.

Only the Priest should be raising his hands during the Our Father in the orans posture. The laity are not at all to do this, nor are the Deacons. Yet, disobedience (mostly out of ignorance) has led to this being a very common practice in Novus Ordo Masses. After having attended the Tridentine Mass several times I am afraid I cannot bring myself to attend Novus Ordo Masses anymore. Not because there is anything wrong with the Mass itself. It’s just that the way the Masses are being done is atrocious. Reverence is all but dead in this new Mass. From the Priests to the laity it has become so watered down it takes me back to my protestant days. And that is a very unfortunate thing to have to say about the Divine Liturgy.

A lot of people raise their hands at my parish. Some hold hands. If I am with my mother, I hold her hand and place my other hand on my chest. If alone, I press my hands together in prayer.

I never reach out and try to hold the hand of stranger because I do not want to invade their personal space.

In my parish, most of the people raise their hands and/or hold hands during the Our Father. I do not hold hands and/or raise my hands during the Our Father, or at any other time during the Mass.

Holding hands is a sign of love and communion, and extending one’s hands in the liturgy is only reserved for clergy. In a traditional context, it is discouraged to hold hands or raise them. That is why, when I attend Masses by myself or with my friends, classmates and my youth group, I fold my hands. I only hold hands when I attend Mass with the family

I have often wondered this myself. I am 65 years old and I have never been instructed to raise my hands at the Our Father so I wonder why some people do this. Did someone tell them this is what they should do? Why do they do it? But I have heard priests on occasion tell us that only the priest is supposed to raise his hands in the orans position. Years ago, it seemed that the ones who were doing this were involved in a charismatic group, but I don’t know if that is where they got the idea. Some still do it, but I think most of our congregation understands that only the priest is supposed to raise his hands in the orans position.

I fold my hands. There’s always that quirky thought in my head when I see others raising hands, and I remind myself that I should just mind myself and my family, even in my thoughts.

Except when altar boys raise their hands. They should be a proper model for the congregation. :wink:

comparing two completely different things does not contribute to the discussion, as well as being a logical fallacy.

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