Unnerving Our Father (hand holding) experience

Attended mass at a parish I usually do not frequent. During the Our Father the hand holding extending across the center aisle. My mom was sitting nearest the aisle and felt compelled to clutch the person’s hand across the aisle. I normally do not hold hands but couldn’t refuse my mom’s grasp. An older woman to my left moved close to me yet I refused her hand. Of course I got a stern look… Here’s the twist I didn’t expect- once the prayer was over everyone stood in place… I asked the lady to move over so my mom could get out of the aisle. She refused. Was somewhat flustered but eventually everyone went back to their spots after the sign of peace…told the woman that we dont hold hands in my parish. She looked at me like I was some type of alien… Anyway, just my story of yet another frustrating Our Father experience. Wish there would be a pronouncement on this issue so uniformity ensues

When in Rome…
Speaking personally, I would think it prudent to follow that maxim when different procedures are encountered, After all, it has been argued many times on this forum that hand-holding isn’t prohibited.

But having said that, there was no excuse for the woman’s later rudeness.

Sounds like the woman was reacting out of being rejected - hopefully she’s not ordinarily so rude. :eek: On the other hand, when at another parish, if everyone else is holding hands, it would probably just make more sense if you did what everyone else did, even if it isn’t necessarily what you’d normally do. I prefer not to hold hands with strangers during the Our Father, but if they extend their hand, I’ll take it just because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings and really, in the grand scheme of things, it’s just not worth getting worked up about.

I am another who finds this uncomfortable, I can’t help it. I wish people could understand as I dread these parts of the Mass, and I hate the way I feel but that’s the way it is. Let’s pray for each other, and everyone, who experiences these same feelings. God bless you.

Hold your hand up, point to it, make a face, and mouth ‘sorry’. They will assume you are infectious.

I agree and here’s why: Since I don’t typically hold hands with anyone during the Our Father, I don’t typically look around to see who is close by and extending their hand. That’s just not on my radar. So I understand how unnerving it can be when you suddenly realize that someone is eying you and your hand. Not just unnerving, but also distracting. It’s hard to focus then, when you’ve been pulled out of your prayer by someone who is expecting you to be like them. I get the whole “when in Rome” idea, but frankly, when I attend Mass at a new parish, I’m probably not thinking as I walk in “I need to keep an eye out during the Our Father!” I understand that this action is not prohibited in most dioceses and parishes, but I am not aware of any place where it is a requirement. Perhaps that is what needs to be said.

This. We don’t hold hands as a parish (individual families do though), but when the person next to me offers their hand, I will hold it.

That said, I haven’t seen folks continue to hold hands after the Our Father is over (doxology). Having to stand out in the aisle though doesn’t make sense.

Twenty years sitting in a Catholic Church before converting. I never realized that holding hands wasn’t “proper protocol”. I am going to hold hands with my family during the Our Father. I put my hand out. If it is grabbed, fine. If it is not, fine.

Same at other churches. I don’t reach for others hand, now that I understand that many don’t. But I still put my hands out in prayer.

I am not going to allow anything that others do or don’t do to disturb me from praying the Our Father as intently as I can.

I used to go to a parish in NJ where the Pastor would actually stop the prayer and announce that “here at XXXX parish, we show our community spirit by holding hands during the Our Father”. Good luck getting out of doing it in that environment! :stuck_out_tongue:

I like the parish I go to now. Some people do hold hands, mostly within families. However, if you’re standing there with eyes closed and hands folded nobody’s grabbing you and forcing you into it either. That seems to be a way for everyone to have what they want.

I much agree with paperweight, and would add that if you’re going to refuse to hold hands, you need to go all in. You chose to hold hands with your mother (and that’s fine), but then REJECTED holding hands with another mass-goer. I can certainly see why she took such a rejection personally… since from the outside it’s easy to see how that could come across as a personal rejection. Of course, her reaction and rudeness was uncalled for, particularly in context that it occured during the solemnity of the mass… but you could have nipped this one in the bud by “doing as the romans do” or by refusing to hold ANY hands rather than judging on whom you would bestow exception to your usual practice.

They did … once in the beginning of all this kumbaya stuff. They said it was voluntary. If it is truly voluntary, no one should feel put out if you choose not to hold hands.

With all the emphasis on cultural modulation of the Mass, you’d think that someone in the USCCB would realize that holding hands with strangers is just not part of our culture, IMHO.

Before I started assisting at the traditional Latin Mass (where there is no hand-holding, at all) I would just fold my hands and close my eyes right before the Our Father began. People could see that I wanted to pray with them without holding their hand, and I didn’t have to refuse anyone.

I’m new to going to mass, and church in general. I’m attending RCIA classes (yay!) and I’ve been attending mass for about 6 weeks now. I have to say, the hand holding creeps me out a bit. I don’t know why, but I just don’t like holding hands with strangers.

I was grateful this last Sunday that the woman I was seated next to crossed her hands in front of her during the Our Father, so that freed me to do the same. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind shaking hands with others during the “Peace be with you”, but I don’t like skin to skin contact with others.

So, you’re not alone! Since it seems to be purely voluntary at my parish, I think from here on out I’ll copy what the woman did next to me and discreetly bow my head and cross hands in front of me.

Two wrongs don’t make a right. She was offended and in return treated you rudely. I think if you are at a mass and people hold hands during the Our Father, it probably would make better sense to go with the flow even if you find it uncomfortable or not use to it. Refusing to hold hands can come off as rude in a place where that is a norm or used as a sign of community. Just look at this as a learning experience. It is not worth getting in a conflict with others over. The Our Father in mass should be a time of unity and community. One shouldn’t be offended if someone doesn’t want to hold our hand nor should one be offended if this is the norm in a parish.

  1. I hate to be nitpicky but please capitalize ‘Mass.’ When I see someone refer to mass, I think of tumors. It’s special, it’s holy, capitalize! Descend soapbox.

  2. I wasn’t a fan of hand-holding even before I made the switch to TLM. I have sensory issues and one is I do not like unwelcome contact from other people (not just strangers, but people very close to me). It’s not disdain or snootiness, but this invasion of my body space is like the physical manifestation of fingernails on a chalkboard, especially when I am trying to pray and someone who I’m pretty sure I saw from the corner of my eye picking his nose is now trying to catch my hand… My charity, at least, is better preserved by intently folding my hands in front of my chest (up high so it’s obvious) and keeping eyes front.

I’m also not a fan of the touchy-feely sign of peace, for the reasons above (and also the distraction from what’s taking place on the altar, where our attention should be focused). Now instead of just holding someone’s hand, I’d have to turn around and shake four different people’s sweaty, clammy, dead-fish handshakes. God love them, but give me this very unpleasant distraction during Holy Mass.

Then again, I did switch to TLM, so problem solved :slight_smile:

As a note: The above makes it sound like I don’t like God’s people, they are gross, or whatever. Not the case. But I want to convey how unpleasant physical contact is when I don’t want it, even though I may love the person very much.

Being a pre-Vatican II Catholic I never holds hand, no matter what parish I am in. I find it distracting, uncomfortable, intrusive and hence not at all prayerful.

There is no point is ‘going with the flow’ if the flow makes you feel uncomfortable. That is not what your personal spiritual experience is about - and it is not what the Mass is supposed to being doing liturgically.

Last week at Mass I extended a hand to the woman next to me and she refused to hold hands during the Our Father - meaning she indicated that she did not want to do so. That was ok, I just held my husbands hand on the other side, but turned to her to offer peace. We touched fingertips as I recall. Interestingly, she sat behind me yesterday. As I turned to extend peace to people behind me, she smiled and held out her hand. Long Story short: I think we all need to accept where people are at as gracefully as possible. You don’t know, besides opinions of whether one should be doing this or not, there are issues of infection, especially for those with compromised immune systems, issues of psychological impairments such as OCD, etc. My sense is that with this lady we made a connection and offered peace even though we are not on the same page with regard to holding hands. Lets try to stop squabbling over minutiae and start loving each other more.

OK, mea culpa, I am a little opinionated also.:o

It is not in the rubrics that we should hold hands. It is okay for husband and wife and children, but is not mandated at all.

I agree that hand-holding is a distraction for many. It was never mandated by
Vatican II, and seems to have been started by lay people.

I just keep my hands folded and reasonable people get the idea that I do not want to hold hands during the Our Father. If they have a problem with that, it is not my problem.

If only we would get correction from our priests on this matter it can be settled once and for all.

Honestly, I think this is a matter of simple charity. There is a local eccentric at our parish who I’ve seen people unkindly snub when he reaches out during the Our Father. He often ends up sitting next to me, and even though I normally fold my hands, my husband and I hold hands if an individual reaches out to us. I wouldn’t want to embarrass or hurt someone, and for some people that is the only touch or kindness they’ll receive in a week.

Ya know, it is part of mine without being intrusive to others. But please, don’t make blanket pronouncements affecting others on your own personal preferences.

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