What do you do when a stranger grabs your hand during Our Father prayer?

At mass one Sunday, a lady beside me looked uneasy that I was putting my hands out without holding hers. I pretended not to notice her uneasiness as we’ve already started praying. A little after we started, she grabbed my hand. I felt very, very unhappy. I don’t want a stranger having physical contact with my palm. I do think she was being rude grabbing my hand off right like that. At another mass of the same time, my husband and I sat with her on the same pew again and I made my husband sit beside her instead. She did the same thing to him. How do we tell people like that firmly yet politely that we don’t have to hold hands at mass?

Orans at Mass was something intended for the Priest not for others (praying with hands out streched). Even the Deacon is directed to fold his hands during the Lords Prayer (at Mass).

So I would simply not be praying orante at Mass. Rather fold your hands. Then on one will be able to grab your hands.

Orans is a very ancient way of prayer - one of the early Christians - but it has developed that in Liturgy it is done by the Priest. So I suggest praying in Orans at home but not at Mass. That will solve the problem.

Two suggestions.

  1. Try not to sit near this lady. Most people sit in the same area, as a rule. So find another area of the chruch to sit in.
  2. Try what bookcat suggests. Have you ever seen the sculpture of “praying hands”? They are folded together as bookcat indicates.

Hope this helps.
May God continue to bless you.

I have noticed that some churches I attend everyone seems to hold hands during the Our Father and then some have a few but mostly they seem to be family members. I am uncomfortable also, just as I am with hand shaking at the sign of peace. So, I have taken to folding my hands, as I did as a child, and that seems to get the message across. I have had hand surgery on both hands and the scars are very evident, but people sometimes seem to be bent on making you join in, this is truly difficult for me. I also try to sit somewhere off by myself when possible. I wish there was a way to get the message across without being hurtful.

I suffer through it. At my parish it’s seen as rudeness to not hold hands during the Our Father and also to not visit just about everyone during the sign of peace. So, in order to avoid appearing rude, I just hold hands.

Besides, we have a LOT of senior citizens with family far away or uninterested and spouses who have passed on. They are lonely and need human contact. If me being slightly uncomfortable for a few minutes makes a Christian brother or sister feel the love of God and man I guess I can suck it up and be grateful to be given the opportunity to help.

The proper position for your hands in prayer during the Our Father is hands clasped together in prayer, not extended in the Orans position. Folding your hands together and bowing your head should eliminate people holding your hands.

Putting your hands out is an invitation for someone to hold it, they are not being rude to do so.

Why do you have an issue with someone holding your hand?

Thank you for saying this!! I think that, all too often, many forget this. :thumbsup:

I visit the washroom before Mass, to wash my hands in preparation for receiving Our Lord. I do not wish to hold hands with people who have come to church with unwashed hands, blown their noses and handled their hankies, scratched their heads, dealt with their kids, and are generally germy.

If I then receive the Host into my hands AFTER the sign of peace, and transfer it to my mouth, I am ingesting who knows what along with it.

This part of the mass is one of the most shrouded in confusion. I would like to know the exact history of how this developed. it seems as though people started immitating the priest in the orans gesture and hand holding was the natural next step or something. we are not really supposed to do either (I usually just keep hands folded) but it has become so engrained that people find it innapropriate not to. The fact that it is not really correct is a good legitimate objection to doing so. But I have to ask. There seems to be a very strange fixation across this website on hating the sign of peace and hand holding simply out of an aversion toward other people. are others really so icky? why is this such an issue for so many people? inside of church or outside if someone extended their hand for a shake I don’t care if it is covered in motor oil I would not turn my nose up at them in this way. You really cannot stand two seconds of showing a kind gesture to someone? where is the sense of charity or kindness in this? Sorry but this just strikes me as extremely odd.

That usually works, though I have had someone grab my hand even then. :stuck_out_tongue:

If you really feel the need to say something, I would focus my comments on how you are simply not comfortable with it rather than making it about them and their quasi-liturgical abuse.

Start going to a “Traditional Latin Mass” ;). Seriously, though, why not just avoid sitting next to her?

That’s a fair reaction. :stuck_out_tongue: It seems to me that there is a heightened awareness of germs in our present culture. That might have something to do with it.

Ask and you shall receive:


Some people are lonely and desperate for human touch. They may be the least ones Jesus talks about in Matthew 25. As you’re praying in the way Jesus taught, why not put yourself out a bit and give them what they need?

Someone pointed out above about showing kindness and holding the hands of the elderly. I am fine with that and can empathize. The lady in question is always with her husband. Anyway I don’t want to change pew seats. Will just tell her that there is no need to hold hands if I see her in future. She does all the hand symbols during mass and looks irritated that I don’t help her “complete” the hand-holding. :stuck_out_tongue:

I would probably beat her roundly about the head and neck with the latest addition of
the Roman Missal until she gets the message. It may take more than one mass with
some people, so don’t despair.

I’m not a hand-holder for the Our Father, and at our parish hand-holding is actually pretty rare, usually only within family groups. I agree with those who class it as an unnecessary innovation.

That said, what would Jesus do, if someone reached out and took his hand while he was praying? I doubt that He would do something that would result in feelings of rejection for the person who had took His hand.

Receiving on the tongue is a wonderful solution.:thumbsup::slight_smile:

With all Christian charity I believe you are sending “mixed signals.”

I am not a hand-holder, in my parish most people don’t do this and I am not a fan of the practice. That being said when I am attending Mass where this is common I try and go along with the practice there.

If I saw someone next to me holding their hand gestured out during the Our Father, I would reach out and take their hand! Sorry, but where I come from this is a universal invitation and gesture for hand holding. When you extend your arm out like that, I don’t think it is necessarily fair for you to correct this fellow parishioner that she is incorrect in taking your hand. Like others have said, if you are not a fan of hand holding the simple solution is to keep your hands folded.

It seems as if you have come up with a form of prayer all your own that you expect others to honor, that’s not a bad thing really but please understand why others may be confused. It’s not it’s not folded hands, it’s not hand-holding but putting your hands in the air in the orans position which is really only for the priest but that’s another topic.

Oh, I’m sorry. I don’t know it’s for the priest only. :frowning: In our parish many, if not all, do it and the priest didn’t say we could not.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.