Wednesday, November 30, 2011

More New Liturgical Info: "Stop Holding Hands"

We know what this is about, right? Holding hands during the Our Father. Our family prefers to discreetly hold our own hands ... in other words, we fold our hands in prayer and leave each other alone. If someone insists on grabbing my hand, I'll allow it. But, I don't like it.

Neither does Bishop Foys of Covington who has issued a decree clarifying the proper gestures and postures for Mass and says, among other things:
Special note should also be made concerning the gesture for the Our Father. Only the priest is given the instruction to “extend” his hands. Neither the deacon nor the lay faithful are instructed to do this. No gesture is prescribed for the lay faithful in the Roman Missal; nor the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, therefore the extending or holding of hands by the faithful should not be performed.
This comes via Deacon Greg at The Deacon's Bench who has more pull quotes and a link to the overall decree.

To be fair, I have always known that you really aren't supposed to be doing this. I just didn't bring it up. Trying to keep the peace and all that jazz. But since it's been brought up ... I'll pass it along.


  1. Yay! I always go to the bathroom right before the Our Father starts because my church participates in the Tyranny of the Hand Holding. I don't want to hold hands!

    And yeah - what's this with the extended hands from everyone? I noticed that at my mom's church, which doesn't have so much handholding.

  2. We have a few stray hand holders in our parish but they usually keep it in the family. I have to watch out for it when I visit my parent's and sibling's parishes.

    Now if we can just get rid of the sign of peace.

  3. Our priest always reminds us that the sign of peace goes as far back as can be traced. Which means it is probably not going to change.

    We can be grateful, he always adds, that we've updated it. It used to be that you had to kiss everyone for the sign of peace! :-D

  4. On the sharing of the peace - we had someone after our wedding (a guest of a guest) specifically approach me and comment on how beautiful they thought it was. I'm not sure of his religious background, but thought that was pretty interesting!

  5. I've got to say, I can personally go either way on the holding hand at the Our Father piece--but I can think of 3,000 things more important for a bishop to address. This is disappointing.

  6. Susan, I see what you're saying, but aren't the big things often made up of a lot of little things? Replacing "and also with you" with "and with your spirit" seems tiny and not worth bothering with ... until one knows the source and context from which it springs. All the revisions were made up of fairly small text changes.

    By that logic, isn't is a small thing if the priest pauses for a moment for silence after a homily? But that is the signal for us to reflect upon what was said ... briefly then perhaps, but that may be the seed we take home for further reflection or application to our lives.

    If the priest kisses the alter it is a small thing ... if we respond "Amen" to "This is the body of Christ" is seems a small thing ... and on and on.

    To me there is no small thing about the liturgy that isn't worth examining for how it is supposed to be addressed versus how it is commonly being allowed. Now would seem the right time to do it.

  7. I'm glad this came out too. It's only families that hold hands at my parish, but I've never understood it. No one did it at my parish when I was growing up. It seemed so strange. And thank God no one has ever tried to hold my hand. I guess I scare people. :-P

  8. Oh let me add, I do think the sign of peace is a wonderful thing. A little handshake to touch the humanity of your neighbor is like touching Christ. At least that's how I think of it.

  9. My main issue with the sign of peace (aside from the fact that I'm not what one would call touchy-feely) is when it becomes a glad-hand festival. My rule is if I have to move more than one of my feet to shake your hand you are too far away and we can just give a nod or a wave. Some people seem to think they are counting coup and the one with the most hands touched wins. Of course aisle jumping is right out.

  10. Julie, yes, sort of, but...

    1. I don't find the argument terribly convincing
    2. I find the timing poor rather than opportune
    3. I have about 1000 Catholic friends who would beg the bishops to put their earnest forthright voices to important societal issues being ignored who will give me hell about this (and this isn't even my diocese)
    4. Kicking down the well intentioned and admittedly lovely innovation of friends and neighbors showing unity by holding hands while praying seems to be painting a bullseye on your back labeled "out of touch" (heh heh...see how punny I am?)

    I do see what you're saying but I can't say I agree. That's all.

  11. ...and I'd guess I'd say there is indeed no small thing in the liturgy, but how laypeople express their prayer during the liturgy should be allowed a certain flexibility. There is more than one way to show reverence.

  12. "There is more than one way to show reverence."

    But is there more than one way to show unity (and obedience)? :]

  13. I am a Byzantine rite Catholic so we are not impacted by any of these changes. But it intrigues me because I often do attend Roman Catholic Mass and have noticed the differences between the two liturgies although I have little idea why that is. Makes me want to find out more... we have always said "and with your spirit", and we do not give each other the sign of peace! (which I appreciate).

  14. Susan, I guess in the end it doesn't really matter if we agree or disagree. What matters is if we do what we are asked. I advanced those reasons in an attempt to help acceptance, but in the end ... we were never supposed to do those things. It was overlooked, as have been many things that you may dislike and others like. We gave up a few things during this transition that I miss, even though I understand the reasons for them. But whether or not we do, we are asked to be obedient as was Christ. I'm not going to worry about what the bishop should have addressed. "Should haves" get me nothing right now.

    We can move on to request more, which is what I'd say to your comment. Make petitions for more important things ... though I find it hard to imagine important things that some bishop is not already speaking up about. Which may be why this one spoke up about this other important thing - important to him.

    For the things I miss, the bishops did petition the Vatican several times and were turned down every time. So, moving on ...

  15. When I first converted, everyone in my parish held hands and it was a nice visible show of community, but I understand why it's not exactly a kosher practice at mass. Over the last year or so, more and more don't participate in the hand holding, so now there's the added stress of wondering if you're standing next to someone who is a liturgical stickler or just doesn't care for you. The man to man hand holding has stopped completely. It no longer represents what it did at one point, so I'm happy to see it go. A few years ago I would have been more ambivalent.

  16. The problem with holding hands at the Lord's Prayer (aside from the small issue of defiant disobedience)is that holding hands replaces a profound sign with a trite one. It is profoundly significant that we stand together and say "OUR Father." Perhaps we have been saying that for so long that we have forgotten how incredible it is that we can address the Creator of the universe as "Father" and that by saying "our" we acknowledge that we are all one family. Instead, unity is expressed with a gesture used by middle school students to show that they have a boyfriend/girlfriend. It is as if we replaced the Great Amen with a pinky swear.
    The exchange of peace is of ancient use but I wish it had been placed elsewhere in the Mass. It just seems wrong to turn from our Lord on the altar to greet each other. It might be less disruptive of worship if the ritual were to take place after the liturgy of the Word but before the liturgy of the Eucharist