Spanish translation on why it's not proper to hold hands during the Our Father?

I attend daily Mass at a parish that is attended by almost all native Spanish speaking women. During the Our Father, they all hold hands, and they try to hold mine as well. I tried to explain to them that it’s not proper, but they don’t speak English well enough. I don’t want to come across like I’m a racist or something, nor do I want to sit in the back of the Church to avoid this. Rather, I’d like to print out a Church document or similar on why it’s improper to hold hands during the Our Father, and give it to the person I’m sitting next to.

Can anybody help me? If you don’t know a link, can someone maybe translate one for me? I’d like something that is compassionate (i.e. something that’s not complaining about the sad state of the Church), but firm and authoritative.

Thank you!

Maybe just hold their hand? I promise it won’t hurt.

Who says its improper? There is no Church document saying that.

during Mass is not the time and place for this discussion, and besides it is not your job, it is the pastor’s job to direct how liturgy is conducted in his parish. Speak with him after Mass, then leave the ball in his court. if someone reaches for your hand, simply smile warmly and keep your hands in your pocket or firmly on the pew in front of you.

or they could fold them…

I am in a parish where EVERYONE holds hands (Anglo and Spanish) at every Mass. I would not be a martyr over it, but nor will I do something that is not specified in the liturgy just because to fail to do so might seem rude. If everyone took their shoes off at Mass… would you?

Here is my tip (this is what I do): as we stand up after the great AMEN (I am ready) I immediately bow my head slightly, CLOSE MY EYES (that is key), and fold my hands in prayer.

This is effective because: slightly bowed head and closed eyes means that I do not have to look to my side and awkwardly negotiate handholding or not. And, with my hands folded, no one can grab my hand. This works every time (except once when someone hit me on the should as if to say, “come on, get with the program”… by the time I looked up at her, she was just in the orans posture with her eyes shut). Then, at the sign of peace, I make sure to greet those near me (because this IS in the rubrics of the Mass). They cannot say I am rude if I give them the sign of peace. Besides, who cares if people think you are rude. That is not why you are there.

I use this practice when I am in your diocese. It seems to be pretty widepsread in the ARchdiocese of Dubuque. I am down in Davenport and it is practiced in alot of areas but seems to be much more widespread up there. Not to say anyting bad about Arch of Dubuque. I remember good ole bishop Dunn. He was an absolute hoot. Really made me feel comfortable around a big important Bishop when I was an altar boy.

This was very strange to me because I am Mexican and in Mexico we NEVER held hands during the Our Father. Then I came to California, and in every single parish I have gone to, they all hold hands during the Our Father. Whether the Mass is in English or in Spanish, everyone holds hands. I don’t think there is anything wrong, but I thought it was strange 13 years ago when my mom brought us to the US.

Why would it be wrong to hold hands? That’s a sign of unity. Aren’t Catholics supposed to be a universal faith? To me that means all being united in faith and love.


Pax vobiscum!

This is a little strange. I don’t recall seeing the people at the Spanish Masses at my home parish hold hands during the Our Father…at least not that I ever noticed. Almost everyone at that Mass recieves on the tongue, too.

In Christ,

I’ve only been Catholic barely one year, but in my first church in Minnesota, everyone held hands. Now I live in Florida and everyone holds hands. I thought it was very nice–we are the body of Christ, right? I never heard of anything saying it was bad. Why wouldn’t the priests request us not to do it if the church taught against it?


You can do a search and find many previous threads on this forum regarding holding hands at the Our Father. The bottom line is that the rubrics of the Mass (the rules for celebration) as spelled out in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal do not indicate that the congregation should hold hands at any point. As a general principle, you should not do things that are NOT specified as part of a liturgical rite. Now, people can do private devotional things like beating their breast at the lamb of God or quietly saying little prayers to themselves at the elevation of the host, etc. … but gestures and actions that are done by the entire assembly… when they are not part of the rite is something different. The rubrics also do not say anywhere that we can’t all give each other “high fives” at the conclusion of the Gospel proclamation… that does not mean we can do it just because we are not explicity told not to.

Yes we are in favor of unity as Catholics, but we express this through unity all the other parts of the Mass (saying the same things, doing the same gestures, etc.).
I have heard (not positive) that the hand holding was a fad that Catholics in America started by imitating some Protestant churches. It is funny, … many people (especially in my Archdiocese) probably assume that hand holding is a prescribed “part of the Mass” just because everyone started doing it. That is how collective actions go sometimes. Most priests do not instruct their parishes to discontinue the practice because either a.) they themselves like it, b.) they don’t want to upset people who like doing this, c.) they don’t think it is a big deal.

I , a man. feel uneasy about holding hands with strange women. Some men might not feel that way, but I believe that I have a right to my feelings, particularly because such hand holding is not part of the mass but simply the personal preferences of individuals attending mass. I also recall a case of an American sitting next to an Oriental couple. The American simply went and took the wife’s hand, and her husband couldn’t understand what the American was doing and was very anxious. Instead of proceeding as if it were a part of the rite of the mass, it would be far better to accept the preferences of those who would rather not carry out this practice.

You are right here IF it is being led, initiated, or demanded by some third party, as in “Let’s all join hands as we say the prayer that Jesus taught us”, or some direction from a “liturgical director” or such. Doing such would be adding to the rubrics.

Done on personal initiative however is a matter of personal choice. Archbishop Chaput in Denver summarized that well in a pastoral letter, including in it the call to charity toward others in not imposing your preferences on the person adjacent to you. I can dig up the link to that letter if anyone wants it. While not binding on anyone, it concurs with the statement from the USCCB that there is no prescribed position for the hands during the Our Father, since just as there is nothing saying to do it, there is nothing saying to assume some other position either.

Nobody should be imposed on to do so who does not want to. There is nothing “wrong” though about those who prefer to.


You know I didn’t want to say it but I am going to.
Okay, you say that most of the ladies are Spanish speaking.
You don’t speak Spanish. Perhaps if you try to correct them in broken Spanish in the middle of Mass OR refuse to hold their hands it could be a sign of huge disrespect. It could make them feel unwelcome and that’s something that is totally wrong. Just be an adult, hold their hand and praise God.

While I do hold hands myself, I also feel strongly that people shouldn’t feel like they “have to” do so if they don’t want to, whatever their reason may be.

Perhaps the best thing would be to just ask the priest to kindly remind the parish that as a matter of charity, nobody should be asking someone to hold their hand who doesn’t want to. One should not need to make excuses if they do not want to, nor should they be made to feel uncomfortable.


People at the Solemn Mass at my Parish, which is the one I attend, do not hold hands. Nor do they wave them (“we lift them up to the Lord”) or push them out (“and also with you”).

The first week we had a visiting priest, he said, “Now all take hands as we pray the Our Father”. Everyone ignored that and did as we always do, fold our hands in front of us.
After the Mass, he said, “Well I learned some things today”. :wink:

I have never liked the holding hands thing, but I used to grit my teeth and go along with it, until the day that the lady holding my right hand criticised the way I was doing it: apparently my hand was under hers when it should have been over or something like that. At that point I thought ‘I’ve had it’, and I folded my hands together over my chest for the Our Father. I’ve done this ever since that day.


As we already have an ongoing hread on the “holding hands” issue may I ask that you limit your responses in this thread to:

I’d like to print out a Church document or similar on why it’s improper to hold hands during the Our Father, and give it to the person I’m sitting next to.

Can anybody help me? If you don’t know a link, can someone maybe translate one for me?

Thanks for your help in keeping the issues separate.

Moderator’s comment understood, but I would like to reply: Even if handholding does not come as a directive from the priest… when EVERYONE in the church except me is doing it… (which is my situation) it has the effect of a liturgical custom (and not just a private devotion among some). Instead of printing out a statement in Spanish… maybe you could ask the priest to kindly remind people (in Spanish) that some may choose not to hold hands (because it is not a prescribed part of the Mass)… who cares if people think you are being rude… the Mass is not an icecream social–we are there to worship not be preoccupied with social ettiquet. After Mass, introduce yourself to the lady that sat next to you (learn to say your name and “nice to meet you” in Spanish). That will show the charity of Christ (then she wont be upset if you don’t hold hands). THAT, is the adult thing to do.

Pax vobiscum!

Another thing to do if you feel uncomfortable holding hands would be to just be extra polite and give a nice smile when giving the sign of peace. That way, no one will think that you are being rude and don’t want to be near them or anything like that.

In Christ,

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