Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Holding Hands During the Our Father?

Sorry that I emailed this to some of you. This blog thing is new to me. Here you go if you are interested...


Holding Hands at Mass
Steve Ray's Blog
By Steve Ray on 4/11/2006 12:51 PM

My wife Janet and I always cringe at a new parish when it comes time for the Our Father. We quickly bow our heads and close our eyes; I clutch my hands close to my chest (and she does the same) and we start to pray -- hoping some aggressive hand-holder doesn't reach over and insist on tearing my hands apart so I can warmly hold theirs during the prayer.
Once, I even had a nun nudge me, see my hesitation and them smiling reach out and taunt me -- "Pleeeease?" I conceded out of love and duty and afterwards she smiled knowingly and say, "Thaaaank you!"
Karl Keating has a few things to say about hand-holding at Mass in his newest E-letter which I produce here for others who close their eyes and clutch their hands close to their chests.
The current issue of the "Adoremus Bulletin" says this in response to a query from a priest in the Bronx:
"No gesture for the people during the Lord's Prayer is mentioned in the official documents. The late liturgist Fr. Robert Hovda promoted holding hands during this prayer, a practice he said originated in Alcoholics Anonymous. Some 'charismatic' groups took up the practice."
My long-time sense had been that hand-holding at the Our Father was an intrusion from charismaticism, but I had not been aware of the possible connection with AA. If this is the real origin of the practice, it makes it doubly odd: first, because hand-holding intrudes a false air of chumminess into the Mass (and undercuts the immediately-following sign of peace), and second, because modifications to liturgical rites ought to arise organically and not be borrowed from secular self-help groups.
Periodically, on "Catholic Answers Live" I am asked about hand-holding during Mass and explain that it is contrary to the rubrics. Usually I get follow-up e-mails from people who say, "But it's my favorite part of the Mass" or "We hold hands as a family, and it makes us feel closer."
About the latter I think, "It's good to feel close as a family, but you can hold hands at home or at the mall. The Mass has a formal structure that should be respected. That means you forgo certain things that you might do on the outside."
About the former comment I think, "If this is the high point of the Mass for you, you need to take Remedial Mass 101. The Mass is not a social event. It is the re-presentation of the sacrifice of Calvary, and it is the loftiest form of prayer. It should be attended with appropriate solemnity."


Blogger Brad said...

Good call...My parish back home holds hands and I normally do to not appear overly rude (because people get really offended if you don't and it's really not worth it as far as losing peace of soul over it), but it really doesn't appear appropriate to the moment. "Connection" between the members of the Church happens at a much more profound level in the reception of Holy Communion than ever could happen by a gesture during the Lord's Prayer.

7:45 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Wow....That was a really sweet article. Where I grew up, everyone always held hands so I never second guessed it. But now that I think about it more, it does seem really superficial. I often end up concentrating more on if my hand is too warm or cold or other stupid things like that instead of the sincerity of the Lord's Prayer. But like Brad said, it's hard to get other people to change. Maybe I'll print off a copy and show it to my priest back home...

9:51 PM  
Blogger Brad said...

lol, with the "wondering if my hand is too warm comment"

11:15 PM  

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