Bishop’s decree: stop holding hands

Bishop’s decree: stop holding hands November 30, 2011

Hot on the heels of the new Roman Missal translation, the Bishop of Covington, Roger J. Foys, has issued a decree clarifying the proper gestures and postures for Mass, according to rubrics laid out in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal.

As he notes:

The rituals of the Roman Church, of which we are a part, call for specific words to be used as well as particular actions and gestures, both on the part of the priest and the faithful who join their hearts with his in their worship of God. We are encouraged as the Mystical Body of Christ to continual, ongoing conversion in the faith and to strengthen that which is good and holy in our individual lives as well as our common life as Catholics and to root out that which is evil.

Among the points his decree makes:

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.

And he notes:

The text of the Roman Missal be used exactly as it is written. As stated in the citation from the Second Vatican Council none of us has the authority to change the text for any reason.

a. This includes altering or changing any of the language contained in the liturgical books of the Church, not only the Roman Missal, but the Lectionary and other ritual books – the responses and prayers of the priest, and also those of the people.

b. Please note that only those texts approved for use in the Dioceses of the United States may be used.

c. Priests and deacons are restricted in their use of the Penitential Act – Form C, to those invocations found in the Order of Mass of the Roman Missal and those in Appendix VI.

Read it all.

We’re now running in circles.  I’m out of breath.  And the law of diminishing returns is setting in.  Comments closed.

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262 responses to “Bishop’s decree: stop holding hands”

  1. Well-intentioned, but perhaps imprudent.

    My wife and I hold hands occasionally in church, always during the Lord’s Prayer, sometimes during the homily, and occasionally if we’re entering the building together.

    I’d say that its a vanishingly rare occasion that someone is browbeaten into holding hands at the Lord’s Prayer these days. Better would be to focus on priestly liturgical activities that are expressly forbidden, like praying the introductory rites from the altar instead of the chair. Best of all would be to urge positive developments in the Mass: more use of silence during the liturgy, taking time with the distribution of the Eucharist. The Hermeneutic of Subtraction isn’t likely to work well these days.

  2. I get the clarifications and protections in place for the language of the Liturgy and prayers of the Church. Too often these can be agenda-driven, or highlight certain things to the detriment of others.

    But I still have a hard time defending the prohibition against reaching out to others during the Our Father. To me, this seems like a pretty organic development in many families, parishes, and parts of the country.

    Is the reaction against it because it seems too “Protestant”? What exactly is wrong with using this meaningful gesture to highlight the “Our” in Our Father? I have yet to find a compelling reason to forbid it.

  3. We have spent years in effort to build community. The fruits of that effort have been astounding. People who would otherwise not have too much to do with one another find common refuge and sustenance at Mass. Why tear that down? It’s hard enough to hear “I believe…” instead of “We believe…”

  4. So now a bishop has the authority to prohibit me from holding my husband’s hand or my child’s hand during a particular part of the mass? This seems to me to be an astonishing intrusion into my family life.

  5. Ugh, I hate the hand holding thing. I didn’t do it in the first place, but I’m not sorry to hear this and hope it’s taken up.

    Deak Pete, I was taught that the “I” is a communitive I? Not singular. The EO says it with the same meaning, from what I understand.

  6. If there is no direction regarding what a person does with her/his hands, then there is no authority to prohibit the holding of hands during the Our Father if that is what people want to do.

  7. I have not been a fan of hand holding during the Our Father; usually the only person I hold hands with is my husband, if he is standing next to me at Mass, and that happens rarely these days. But stuff like this makes me want to make a human chain of hand-holding all the way through church and do the “wave”. (Okay. I exaggerate. Not really.) But it does touch a somewhat perverse nerve.

  8. Perhaps someone should forward to the Bishop the earlier blog post “Have We Become the Pharisees?” I find it depressing that the Bishop would expend the energy to do this. The hand holding during the Our Father is a gesture that has spontaneously come from the people as a way to demonstrate and support community. Has this been seen as a major problem which must now be addressed? Many people who will now be forbidden from doing this will feel frustration with and alienation from the Church hierarchy, which is coming down in such a heavy handed and oblivious fashion. Is this healthy? Is this what we want? Getting so caught up in the rubrics (which, legally, he has every right to do) while ignoring the good will of the people sets a terrible tone.

  9. In 1999 the then-BCL (Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy) made a statement on this, showing “a strong preference for the orans gesture over the holding of hands since the focus of the Lord’s Prayer is a prayer to the Father and not primarily an expression of community and fellowship.” An attempt was made to amend the Sacramentary with this language, which failed.

    Many bishops (including here in Columbus) would prefer the assembly use the orans, if anything, simply because it eliminates the hassles during flu season.

  10. “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.”

    By this reasoning, I can’t fold my hands in prayer either.

    Rather than telling people that they shouldn’t hold hands, I wish the bishop had point out that since hand holding isn’t prescribed, we shouldn’t expect others to hold hands if they don’t want to.

  11. I’ve heard from numerous priests and bishops that hand-holding at the Our Father detracts from the vertical nature of the liturgy, i.e., we are unified as one body in Christ, whose actual body and blood are present on the altar after the consecration, and our attention ought to be focused Heaven-ward during the entire Liturgy of the Eucharist, giving God and Christ thanks and praise. In effect, goes the argument, the act of hand-holding (which is admittedly brought to extremes in many parishes, although probably not out of a sense of rebelliousness) focuses the faithful horizontally, considering their human act of hand-holding to be as important in terms of unity as is the Eucharist we are about to receive at Communion.

    I understand and even support this argument, but I can also see where most of the faithful who do hold hands (especially those who don’t ostentatiously try to force strangers into holding their hands, but rather keep it among family) are not trying to be disobedient and do not see their gesture as being too horizontally focused. My sense is that, once the new translation of the Missal is fully digested by the faithful, individual priests and parish pastors can and should catechize their faithful about the nature of the Eucharist and the signs proper to the presider/concelebrants during the liturgy, and how those differ from the signs and gestures proper to the lay faithful. If it’s approached in terms of “hand-holding is forbidden because it is not in the rubrics,” a risk of alienating the confused faithful is certainly present.

  12. It’s pretty simply, isn’t it? There are 3 postures for laity during Mass – stand, kneel, and sit. And the direction with respect to gesturing is reserved to priests and deacons. If there’s no direction it means that when the GIRM was being formulated, it didn’t occur to anyone that the laity would be gesturing at all (except maybe the praying hands since that’s been the norm for the laity for a long time.)

    Really though, at the end of it all, we do pray together as a community but we’re praying to God and not ourselves (insert rant about certain “hymns” here) and that’s not contingent on the community, that’s contingent on the state of our hearts. We’re supposed to be relating to God when we pray, and not to each other. Sort of like how when we celebrate Mass we should all be facing in the same direction – toward God.

  13. At the urging of our pastor, we have stopped the hand holding during the Our Father, except when we go to my daughter’s church where everyone does it. I might add that people are fantastically friendly at my daughter’s church.

    I wish in return that our pastor would stop referring to the new Roman Missal as the “corrected” missal. Perhaps he gets too much of Father Z.

  14. Here in the Erie Diocese, Bishop Trautman has instructed us to extend our hands.
    I understand the notion that praying with hands extended is reserved for the priest, but what a beautifully demonstrative sign of surrender when we all do it.
    Also, and again, my understanding of the GIRM is clear. But one of the things that some churches lack is a sense of community…VERY important for the well being of the people. Holding hands at the Our Father is a great sign of unity in Christ Jesus.

    Peace to all

  15. In my opinion, we need to dial back the “demonstrating community” aspect of worship, or at least its more infantile manifestations. It strikes me as way too showy and self-congratulatory. At this most sacred part of the Eucharist, the horizontal over-emphasis is all wrong, and has done nothing to displace the misunderstanding that the Mass is something of the assembly, by the assembly, and for the assembly.

  16. 1. Oh, yes, people do still get plenty grabby during the “Our Father.” I don’t know where y’all live in such blessedness, but in Northern Kentucky and Southern Ohio, it’s practically a rubric in many places. And guess where Covington is.

    2. Just when you’re really settled into the prayer of Mass, contemplating God and preparing for Communion, strangers grab for your hand or even come across the aisle at you. When it was just for the Sign of Peace, it wasn’t too distracting, but now it’s twice within five minutes. It’s really really hard to have a widespread Catholic eucharistic spirituality this way — and wow, we don’t have one. Funny, that.

    3. It was never supposed to be instituted, it was supposed to have been stamped out twenty years ago, and yet we’re still doing it.

    4. It’s really really hard on introverts, people with hand or nerve problems, and anyone who has serious mental or other medical problems with being touched.

    5. It unbalances the Mass to have some huge liturgical action of mass handholding going on, when the Our Father is supposed to be just a quiet prayer to our Father.

    Sort of like if the Rosary was amended to demand an elaborate series of ASL “hearts” and “I love you, Mary and Jesus”, on every seventh Hail Mary of a decade. I mean, sure, nothing wrong with doing holy hand gestures per se, but you’d have to figure out what to do with your beads and how big to do the gestures, and people would think the seventh Hail Mary was somehow more important than all the others, and basically the entire Rosary meditation would come to a crashing halt and have to stutter to a start again. And again. And again.

    Like a lot of good Catholic things, you don’t have to shove every single nice Catholic devotional practice into Mass or else have it not exist. We have hours and hours at home to pray while jogging. We don’t have to pray while jogging at Mass, much less try to shame our neighbors into jogging down the aisle also.

  17. In addition, if one has already spent the duration of the Our Father holding hands, it somehow becomes far less meaningful to offer my hand in the sign of peace immediately afterwards. And the sign of peace IS an approved liturgical gesture.

  18. 2 points I’d like to make. (OK, 3)
    1. I was under the impression that what is not expressly mandated or expressly forbidden in the GIRM is permissible. There is no gesture assigned to the lay faithful during the Lord’s Prayer, therefore any (reverent) gesture is permitted.
    2. Bishops have the right to enforce what they understand to be best practices within their diocese. If this is not your bishop, then not too much to worry about on this subject.
    3. The problem I see (remember, I’m not a Bishop, though I played one once in a play) with holding hands as a parish during the Lord’s Prayer is that it gives an improper impression that this gesture and prayer is our sign of unity. Our sign of unity is the reception of Holy Communion. Perhaps in parishes where holding hands is encouraged, this should be charitably made clear.

  19. When there is no specific mention in the rubric that does not mean we can make up our own gesture or words. If the Church wants its people to hold hands, it would be reflected in the rubric.

  20. I’m really glad that that the bishops have solved all the systemic problems in the Church to the point where they can now turn their attentions to parsing language and worrying about spreading germs during flu season by holding hands.
    They remind me of the passengers on the Titanic that were picking up the chips from the iceberg to put into their cocktails.

  21. I am a convert, and a fairly new one at that, so maybe I am missing something here. But isn’t the passing of the peace enough of a sign of unity during the mass? What is it about the Our Father that demands we demonstrate unification among those in the pews? By the logic of some here, it would make just as much sense to hold hands during the penitential prayer, or the Gloria, or the consecration. Nothing about the Lord’s prayer, in my humble opinion, calls to mind our unity as fellow Catholics, and so I find the bishop’s decision prudent.

  22. Actually that’s not 100% correct. Just because something isn’t expressly prohibited doesn’t mean it can be done. So, for example, just because it doesn’t say there is no tap-dancing during the opening hymn doesn’t mean everyone is free to tap dance. Ultimately, the Bishop has authority over the liturgy in his diocese. I’m sure the Bishop of Covington is not suggesting that a parent and child cease holding hands at any time. I think the point he is making is that it is not a part of the ritual action of the Church. Just because the rubrics don’t prohibit an action, doesn’t mean we can make something up and add it as if it were part of the ritual.

  23. oldestof9:
    There is a fresco of a woman in prayer in the Catacomb of St. Priscilla, Rome, 3rd century and also in the Catacomb of Calixtus, Rome, early 4th century. There are two other such wall paintings, one of a very wealthy woman and one which may be depicting Mary, in the Giordani Catacomb, 4th century.

    ALL have arms extended upwards.
    I am oldestof7.

  24. Deak Pete: It’s hard for you to hear the Creed the way it was written by the Councils and the way it’s been prayed in every language on earth except for the last few decades in English?

  25. I second Suburbanbanshee’s observations. After years in the Northeast, where I never experienced it, I was surprised and more than a little put-off by the aggressive hand-grabbing during the Our Father at our new parish in the Deep South. It is akin to clapping during Mass, either for the choir or (worse) during one of the many contemporary “songs” that help prevent a quiet moment from intruding into our merry-making. After all, if you’re not holding hands, clapping, singing, or responding, you’re not participating–our priest said almost as much during last week’s homily. The word “Advent” did not pass his lips; I bit mine for half the Mass.

  26. Cathyf: I’m no liturgical expert, but as a husband and papa of six I know something about hand-holding. The way that people hold hands during the Our Father — clasped hands held high, especially during the “kingdom, power, glory” coda, and often with that Special Little Squeeze before letting go — is not the same as the ordinary hand-holding of family members. Ordinary domestic hand-holding is a private gesture that, I would venture to suppose, is not what the bishop has in mind. If you are holding hands up in the air, that looks like a liturgical gesture, and we should be docile in receiving direction from competent on such matters.

  27. Wrong. The bishop is the chief liturgist of the diocese. What he says, goes, as long as it does not contradict the Roman Missal, GIRM or other instruction from the Holy See.

  28. ‘We’ is employed in The Creed Mozarabic Churches of The West and is part of their authentic Tradition.

    While I’m not a fan of the holding of hands, during The Our Father, I DON’T have much of a problem with a low orans posture during prayers at Liturgy. By low, I mean close to the body.

    Its the same with kneeling vs. standing during prayer. Both are T/traditional.

  29. Mr. Steve P,
    Yes I believe it is too Protestant. It reflects the horizontal orientation that has become to common these days…that the liturgy is a “communal gathering” where the sacrifice is delegated to a family supper. I too hold hands with my sweetie but when it is time to pray to God (as is the entirety of mass) it is time to focus on God. The communal approach misleads the people into thinking that the mass is a dialogue between priest and lay persons and layperson to layperson. It IS NOT! The mass is the sacrifice of Christ renewed not a gathering for feel good emotion. I have to fight people off (ok, that’s a little hyperbolic) when they are groping for my hand at mass (as well as politely declining the advances of the little old lady 5 pews away at the sign of peace [another issue}).

  30. Agreed. Never understood why the the hand holding during the Our Father. When people form a hand-holding line across the pews, it looks like some kind of act of defiance. As in, this is OUR prayer and you shall not pass! Remember the Alamo! haha

  31. Bingo! The holding hands only during this prayer has always struck me as stupid and placing the focus on US. But the Mass is not about us but about GOD. If it’s so important to hold hands, then do it throughout the Mass. Why limit yourselves to only one prayer, when you could be holding hands for a whole hour?

    I have noticed that hand-holders are also the ones, at the sign of peace moment, who continue shaking hands and waving all around the Church well after the Agnus Dei prayer has begun.

    It really comes down to not knowing and understanding the whole point of the Liturgy and Whom it is about and for, and not caring enough to take the time to find out. Kids I can understand, but adults cannot be excused.

    I know, I know, I should be happy that they show up, but I don’t care a wit whether people show up or not. However, I do care tremendously about the highest form of worship and praise we can give to God, the Mass, which is what the Church teaches us the Mass actually is. I took the time to learn that much. And that has made all the difference in how I partcipate in the Liturgy.

  32. When I first encountered hand-holding at Mass many years ago, I wasn’t crazy about it. Yes, it made me a little uncomfortable. Yes, I knew it was not a technical part of the rubrics.

    But, over the years, I’ve grown to appreciate holding hands at the Our Father. It brings us closer to our brothers and sisters in Christ during the prayer that Christ himself taught us to pray. It reinforces that the person on our right and the person on our left are real human beings — beating hearts, rough hands and all.

    “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Maybe holding hands is the “on earth” part.

    There’s something important about touch. It’s why we shake hands when we greet each other. It says something about respect and welcome. Seems like these are all good things to happen at Church.

    You know, for some people, the shaking of hands at the Kiss of Peace and holding hands at the Our Father may be the only human touch that they get all week. I’m thinking of the old, the lonely, the stranger. There might not be anyone in their lives who hugs them — ever.

    The holding of hands is also a great equalizer. At my parish in Manhattan in New York City, it wouldn’t be uncommon at Mass for the very poor to be sitting next to the very rich. We’ve got hedge fund managers and homeless. Holding hands during the “Our Father” and the Kiss of Peace brings them together.

    With due respect to the bishop and the rubrics of the Roman Missal, I don’t think this passes the “WWJD” test.

  33. Incorrect. The General Instructions of the Roman Missal (GIRM) is a prescriptive document, not proscriptive. It does not tell us what we are not to do. It only tells us what we must or may do.

    It is very simple.

    If we are not told that we must do something or, at least, that we may do it, then we should not do it at all.

    I wish my bishop would give the same directive! I’m fed up with people giving me cut-eye, or deliberately ignoring me at the sign of peace because I don’t hold hands!

  34. “I wish in return that our pastor would stop referring to the new Roman Missal as the “corrected” missal. Perhaps he gets too much of Father Z.”

    But, it is a corrected translation. That is exactly what it is. We were subjected to a dumbed down translation for nearly 40 years! Have you taken the time to compare the two translations? The new one is a thousand times better.

  35. Actually, the silliness is people clutching the hands of other people as if they were school children out for a walk!

    And, yes, I know we must become like little children – BUT, not childish, which is totally different.

  36. In 4.c. of the decree (the bit on handholding), the bishop writes,
    “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.”
    The semicolon is incorrect punctuation. The break there is a lesser one than the following one where a comma is used. The semicolon would be permissible before “therefore.” Furthermore, the parallel construction requires the repetition of the preposition “in” after the “nor.” Rather than making this a single sentence, IMO it would be more elegant to begin a new sentence at “therefore.”
    Thus, it should read,
    “No gesture is prescribed for the lay faithful in the Roman Missal, nor in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal; therefore the extending or holding of hands by the faithful should not be performed.”
    or better,
    “No gesture is prescribed for the lay faithful in the Roman Missal, nor in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal. Therefore the extending or holding of hands by the faithful should not be performed.”

  37. I don’t hold hands at Mass (not allowed by the rubrics), and I don’t shake hands at Mass (a “custom” which I don’t like). I find both practices to be both disgusting and a distraction from worshiping God. If people want to shake hands, talk and visit (which is what they do while shaking hands during Mass), I would suggest that they do so before or after Mass out in the Vestibule.

  38. About 18 years ago our pastor insisted that we hold hands and that we needed to hold hands “across the aisles”. He was pretty irked with people who did not. The Bishop of Covington isn’t doing anything different than parish liturgists did a couple of decades back. I was as irritated 18 years ago as some people are now. Why do some consider it a worse offense for a Bishop to force tradtional behavior than for a creative liturgist to force new behavior? I’m sure my pastor, who embarrassed a few people for not participating, used more force than any bishop would.

  39. Some people just don’t feel comfortable holding hands…and some are compelled to do so by others. It is more respectful of human dignity not to force ourselves on others. Christ always invited but never forced. Sometimes he “went away sad” but he never imposed himself on others. I understand this from from a human standpoint.

    From a liturgical standpoint, there is no liturgical reason for doing so. Where it is the local custom, it may be permitted canonically. Where it is local custom, everyone does it and no one feels strange about it. In that case, it should be kept. In all cases, don’t make married couples stop holding hands. That’s just silly! Would that we would have more of that example in this day and age (I dare say, those couples that do hold hands, do so a lot more than just at the Our Father. A natural public expression of married love!). Where holding hands is a forced thing, some folks feel strange even though they may go along with it. They feel strange because it’s not part of the liturgy and they know it. It’s a family thing, or it’s a group thing, or a Charismatic thing, and can make people feel like they are back in nursery school. If it’s not local custom, don’t make someone else do it. While the person that doesn’t want to do it is forced to do so to save face (and while they do a slow burn), hand holding at the Our Father then becomes more divisive than the primary intent, which is a SHOW of unity. (Also, what’s up with that squeezing of the hands thing at the end of the doxology after the Our Father embolism?) We don’t read in Scripture that, when the apostles asked Christ to teach them to pray, Jesus said–first you hold hands and then you say this nifty prayer!

  40. I’ve never cared for the holding of the hands during the “Our Father.” IMO it robs the Sign of Peace of its force. Perhaps for family members and cohabiting couples it’s okay.

    Actually, I see more extending of hands during the Our Father. Since this is the posture of prayer, and we are all praying at that point, it has always made sense to me. But unfortunately many people keep their hands extended during the embolism, when the priest alone is praying aloud, and raise them triumphantly during the “for the kingdom …” That is one of my liturgical pet peeves.

  41. No, it did not come about from the people ‘as a way to demonstrate and support community’–which shouldn’t matter, since the Mass is the re-presentation of the Sacrifice of Christ on the Calvary, to the Father. It came about because, with the priest facing versus populum instead of ad orientem, the orans position of the priest seemed to require a reflection of the people. You see this when the priest says “The Lord be with you” and raises his hand in an orans gesture, and the laity reflect him when they reply.

  42. The Mass isn’t about you, your neighbor, or the community. You can hold hands elsewhere, but this is improper of the laity. Are the laity supposed to help the priest bless, too?

  43. In 1.c. of the decree, the bishop commands,
    “Priests and deacons are restricted in their use of the Penitential Act – Form C, to
    those invocations found in the Order of Mass of the Roman Missal and those in
    Appendix VI.”
    I wonder why he did that. In the Missal, the footnote says, “Sample invocations are found in Appendix VI,” which implies that others may be used as well.

  44. I find it disconcerting on here when ordained ministers of the Church, namely deacons, find it necessary to publicly criticize Bishops who are exercising their proper teaching authority. As a gesture that has “spontaneously come from the people” and not from the Church, he has every right to correct it. In reading the posts here, I think MANY people find it intrusive, silly and unnecessary.No one including Bishops, priests and deacons or laity has the right to introduce anything, words or actions, that are not called for by the rubrics.

  45. It seems interesting to me that most of the comments in favor of holding hands in the Our Father are very anthropocentric, even to the point of dissention to the GIRM.

    St. Therese of Liseaux, St. Francis De Sales, St. Dominic, et alii, all the saints, didn’t hold hands during the Our Father. And yet they are all saints. They all knew those next to them in the pews were their brothers and sisters. But you will see that they understood this better, not by a gesture as this but rather through the reception of Holy Communion, which has the sacramental grace of drawing us closer to Christ and His Mystical Body, the Church (i.e., those next to you in the pew).

    Perhaps instead of worrying about handholding, you kneel and receive Christ on your tongue. I think after doing this for a while it will be much more beneficial to you in this regard than holding hands during the Our Father.

  46. It seems pretty arrogant to call the bishop imprudent for his requiring faithfulness with regard to a rubric which you admit to not following. And does it make you feel superior and justified to suggest what he should have said?

    In any case, this would not be such a problem if the liturgical reform hadn’t been so intent of prescribing rubrics for the laity.

  47. “‘We have spent years in effort to build community.”
    There’s your problem! If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do the workers labor. Let fidelity to Christ build up the community, not touchy feely gimmicks imposed in defiance of fidelity to the voice of Christ conveyed in legitimate ecclesiastical authority.
    Quite the parochialism and find true communion in fidelity to Christ.

  48. This is the problem when you reinvent the wheel, liturgically speaking.
    With the 1969 rubrics, much was left out for priests when compared with the 1962 rubrics. Thus, the newly ordained after 1970 started to improvise new gestures instead of doing what was according to the Roman liturgical tradition. Sadly, innovators also started to mislead us people in the pews.
    Most places where hand holding is common during the Our Father initially had it imposed by a priest (perhaps who forced ministers around the altar to hold his hand as in Teen Life Masses) or some creative liturgist. It was not a grass roots movement from the majority of Catholics. But, because the origins have been forgotten and some people like it, they claim it’s a “custom” and they have a right to it. However, one cannot claim an abuse of the the rubric as a “legitimate” custom no matter how long it has occurred.

  49. There is no rubric.

    Am I disobedient for holding my wife’s hand in church? Or clasping my friend’s hand in two of mine at peace? Or smiling? This strikes me as a bit overdone.

  50. First, I hate holding hands with anyone, wouldn’t exactly mind this going away. But the strange thing is I always see people say its ‘because its too protestant.”
    I went to protestant churches for many years, raised in protestant churches, explored other prot. churches as a teen, before I fell away for a long time from church all together, before becoming Catholic 3 yrs ago. And NEVER did I ever hear the Lord’s Prayer in church, much less any hand holding. And come to think of it, I never heard it anywhere, in church, in bible class, sunday school, after church gatherings, potlucks, etc., when I was going to protestant churches, and when it was brought up (maybe twice in the whole time) in a sermon, it wasn’t said as a prayer, only read as a scripture reading. To me, even the fact that it is said is so totally ‘Catholic’! Honestly, I have never heard a protestant pray the Our Father at all..

  51. In the baptismal rite, they do: the signation of the child. Parents always have the role of leader/giver of blessing in the domestic church.

    The Mass isn’t about individuals, but it is celebrated for the Church, the people.

  52. I’ve never liked the hand-holding and, living in Arizona, have viewed it is as a “southern California” innovation, I guess because I first noticed its prevalence when I lived there 25 years ago. Enough to dislike it just for that.
    But I’m all for keeping what’s good and right. For those who claim that hand-holding during the Lord’s Prayer falls in this category, what evidence is there of any benefits derived from this practice? It smacks of “we are church” philosophy, which has as its ultimate agenda the destruction of the hierarchy. How many vocations are fostered in this environment?
    It’s not traditional, it’s not authentic, it’s contrary to the rubrics, it’s in some ways defiant of authority: it should be suppressed.

  53. Bishop:
    Get a life. Have a heart.. Show some love. Lets the people of God express their love.

    The frustrated celibate bishop/

  54. It is interesting that Ed Peters, the great canonist that he claims to be, would make such an outrageous claim regarding the Pater Noster. His argument would go completely against the long-standing tradition of the Church in which the priest offers the Pater Noster with hands outstretched. His “solution” to the problem is rather a nod to the mainstream Protestant congregations that do not believe in an ordained priesthood (as can be seen in Anglican communities). The priest in every rite of the Catholic Church prays the Pater Noster with hands outstretched. Although the laity are now asked to pray with him, it does not detract from the fact that the priest is still offering the Lord’s Prayer for and on behalf of the people of God. The Our Father was the prayer taught to the disciples of Christ as His followers. As the documents of the Second Vatican Council and the present Code of Canon Law teach us, each member of the Faithful is called to live out his or her role in the Church to the fullest. It would only make sense that in the Eucharistic Sacrifice that the priest would offer the Pater Noster in a different posture than the laity if His role as the priest offering the Sacrifice to be truly signified. But every good canonist I know would say that this is a matter for liturgists to explain, not canonists…

  55. “At my parish in Manhattan in New York City, it wouldn’t be uncommon at Mass for the very poor to be sitting next to the very rich. We’ve got hedge fund managers and homeless. Holding hands during the “Our Father” and the Kiss of Peace brings them together.”

    This is ridiculous! Together? You mean it eases your conscience that you held hands for a few minutes with a homeless man who may die in the streets tomorrow?
    Instead of transgressing the rubrics, why not invite one of those old and lonely people out for breakfast. Or better, start a coffee and donut hour for your parish after Mass.

    Your WWJD comment with regard to the bishop and the Roman Missal is seriously misguided. Jesus said to His Apostles, “Who hears you hears me.” So, Jesus wants you to listen to your bishop in matters of faith (including liturgy) and morals. WWJD is actually stems from Situation Ethics condemned by Pope Pius XII and the Holy Office. The acronym grievously reduces Christian morality to a slogan and implies arrogantly that one can contravene laws on one’s own authority.

  56. Absolutely IS about Community.
    lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalcan’t hear you lalalalalalal

  57. I am not a child and will never again be one. So me thiinks that becoming like little children = childish

  58. Interestingly enough, a priest who is very promotional for the new translation, talking about how much better it is for the Roman Rite, talked about the whole mass in his homily and what is or is not permissible. He said that people have started, in recent years, to hold hands during the our father, and it is so far allowed — that people can indeed develop things in the liturgy if it is not specifically denied.

    I’m not a fan of holding hands (and don’t when I go to a Roman liturgy), but I think we must understand, sometimes silence can’t be read to say “no.”

  59. Holding hands during the Our Father at Mass was not spontaneous, but rather the congregations were instructed to do so probably in the mid to late 1970s or very early 1980s. A few years ago I stopped holding hands with others except with my family. I have an 11 year old and a 15 year old which my wife and I have made a deliberate effort to teach proper Mass conduct, whether rubics or long time etiquette taught to us when we were their ages.

    I think it would be wonderful for the USCCB to publish a uniform guide to the Mass which provides instructions such as to genuflect when entering or leaving the pew, when is it permissible to leave during and after Mass, and other such helpful instructions. A section on Church attire would also be nice. Some people show looking like they just came in from a night of fishing. I’d be interested to hear how others feel about such a guide. We are all using the same language now, I’d like to see this expanded into proper Mass conduct.

  60. Andrea, I don’t know what Protestant churches you attended or investigated, but I was raised in the Methodist church, and the Lord’s Prayer was said every Sunday in church. There is a slight difference in the Lord’s Prayer in the Protestant church and the Our Father, in the Catholic Church, but they are I think almost the same.

    As for holding hands—might have a few less germs passed during cold/flu season if folks didn’t do so. :o)

  61. At our parish, singing the Lord’s Prayer with arms interlocked and embracing one another in the Sign of Peace are joyful opportunities to prepare ourselves for sharing in the Eucharist, the sacrament of our communion with one another in the Body of Christ. I have never seen anyone act even slightly reluctant to join hands. Perhaps Bishop Foys could come down to Atlanta to explain to us why the new translation reverses the many years of effort we have put into becoming “actively engaged in the rite” we celebrate together.

  62. Regarding option C of the Penitential Act, the Missal expressly says that other invocations may be used without restricting them to those found in Appendix VI since the footnote simply says in the edition for Ireland “Sample invocations are found in Appendix VI, pp. 1385-1388” (that appendix is part of the English Missal only; the Latin edition doesn’t provide alternatives to use or as examples). So if this is the case, can a diocesan bishop restrict what the Missal expressly permits? I imagine that he cannot.

  63. As Monsignor Wadsworth of ICEL said in a workshop on the new translation, the 1970 translation, which had the approbation of the Holy See, was done correctly according to the standards which were given at that time. Now the standards have been changed and a new translation has been done, also correctly, according to current standards for translation.

  64. Todd, as I recall, the lay tracings of the Sign of the Cross at infant baptisms are done by the Sponsor, and perhaps by the parents. Not by all present (though I once did so in ignorance, having been invited by the celebrant who evidently held to the view of liturgy as a school play in which all present must have a role). Similarly, the signations are performed by the sponsor on adults when they are received into the Order of Catechumens, but here too they are not blessings and are not performed by the assembly at large.

  65. God help us any lay person should raise his hands “triumphantly” during mass. Don’t the latest rules restrict triumphalism to clerics of the ultra-orthodox disposition?

  66. In giving this instruction, the Bishop will be bringing into his parishes and his diocese the same sort of antagonistic language and negative confrontation that we see in the responses to this blog. Some will love it, some will be offended by it, most will have an opinion of some sort. Was “correcting” this “problem” worth the angst that will result? I honestly don’t think so and agree with the earlier post that there are far more important things that Bishops should be turning their energies towards (as opposed to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.) People who say it’s important that we do things the “right” are of course correct, but I go back to the earlier idea that was conveyed in the earlier post “Have We Become the Pharisees?”

  67. While not a fan of hand-holding, the GIRM is mute as to this issue on the part of the laity and I believe it is a stretch to read it as indicating that is should be prohibited. By the same token it is nowhere required.
    On the issue of the penitential rite again, with all respect, I feel the bishop is overstepping his bounds. The rubrics indicate “the following or other invocations” and while the footnote does indicate “Sample invocations are found in Appendix VI” no where is it indicated that these are the only allowable invocations.

  68. At the Easter Vigil at my parish everyone in the congregation goes up to pray over the people to be baptized and confirmed. The blessing goes on . . . and on . . . and on. All of the candidates complain of sore knees by the time it’s over. Three years ago the organist played “A Lighter Shade of Pale,” while all the blessings were taking place. The year before that the cantor was making up saints names because the blessing went on so long. She had an invocation to Saint Barrabas. Maybe something interesting like that has been happened in Covington and the Bishop wants to establish order?

  69. I love the “I believe:”
    1. It’s what is written in the Latin.
    2. The entire Church has been praying it that way for ages.
    3. It gives me the opportunity to publicly profess what I believe.
    4. Every time I profess that belief it becomes more and more a part of me.
    5. When push comes to shove, we don’t die for “we believe.” We die for what “I believe.”
    6. I would die for what I believe.

    I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.
    I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.
    I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.
    I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
    I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.

  70. Bishop Foys has done a nice job of going back to the old approach to the laity: Pay, Pray, and Obey. Never mind that lay people too have an important role to play in the Church and in the Mass. Micromanage exactly how people pray. Nice. The bishop might as well go ahead and tell us what we should say to God in our private prayers as we are driving down the highway or kneeling by our beds. Better still: Tell us how many minutes we can expend praying for our sons, how many minutes for our daughters, and whether we can say a Hail Mary while driving eastward or if we should save that for the westward part of our commute. Might as well — for you are managing to creep into the pew and tell us to get our darn hands away from that other person; we’ve no business holding hands during the our father, or engaging in a physical posture that symbolizes our communal prayer being lifted up to God. Of course, we all know there won’t be any hand-holding in heaven, either — for this bishop does not find room for it within the pages of the missal. Pay. Obey. Pray — the missal’s way — or don’t pray at all, apparently.

    How sad to see that a bishop has nothing better to do than squash those who believe the Our Father is both a prayer to God and a recognition that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ — brothers and sisters who need not ignore each other, nor be afraid of one another. Good thing there are no larger issues with which this bishop and the other bishops should be wrestling. This is the sort of thing lay people get chided about. Nothing more pressing on the bishop’s plate, evidently. Memo to self: Must. Not. Hold. Hands. Inappropriate. Must not treat the other people in the pews as though we are all children of the same God, people created by…Our Father. Good grief!

  71. I could never understand the holding of hands in the first place, not every parish does it and others cant wait for the Our Farther so they can all get up and hold hands.

    As for me the only person that should have his hands raised is the priest.

    In our parish not everyone hold hands, I for one.

    I have never heard at any time any explanation why this started in the first place.

    I am with the Bishop on this one.

  72. This is a completely improper understanding of the laity’s role in the Mass and a distortion of active participation. It’s completely laity/anthropocentric.

  73. In the Mass, you don’t offer prayers to God directly, by yourself, and certainly not the laity as a whole. The priest offers prayers to God _on your behalf_, and you unite your prayers to those of the priest. It’s a hierarchy, which you seem to be denigrading by your comment as a whole, and it also seems you wish to break this down by your people-centered comment.

  74. Er, anything which has a person there could be seen as “human.” Of course, this holding hands is far more connected to the liturgy than what happened during the Tridentine Liturgy, when the people just prayed the rosary, read books, slept, or whatever while the priest more or less did things on his own.

    I do not see, in the documents, any statement against the holding of hands. I don’t do it, don’t like it, but it is one thing to say it is forbidden when there is no document which says such.

    This sort of reminds me of what we heard a couple months ago how some bishops decided their reading of documents meant communion in both kinds was only allowed on a temporary basis and was now expired — based upon documents which had to do with the cleaning of the chalice!

  75. Ever been to a “traditional mass?” People said prayers by themselves — like the rosary — while the priest was off on his own. And even now, in the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, there are often two prayers going on — the priest and the people — though these are liturgically defined and not random stuff like in the West.

  76. naturgesetz: While that’s technically true, a) the standards in place today are not simply different from those of the 1970s, but are a reversal of them (formal correspondence as opposed to dynamic equivalence), which suggests that the Holy See has rethought the adequacy of the previous standards, plausibly based on the inadequacy of the results; and b) the process for approval today is far more rigorous than the process in place in the 1970s (I understand it was literally a rubber-stamp process; no actual document was even issued).

  77. I attend the Traditional Mass almost exclusively. These prayers said on our own, like the rosary, are a perfect example of those prayers _united_ to the prayers and sacrifice of the Mass, said by the priest, and not separate. It’s a one-way channel. The priest is a funnel, by way of analogy.

  78. Why we should be looking down on the Pharisees is a mystery to me. Considering that fewer than 20% of Catholics in Europe and America practice their faith with any regularity, I’d say pharisaism would represent a substantial improvement over our current practical atheism. Though we do seem to have mastered the moral pride part.

  79. UGH!!!! I just can’t stand it anymore. Our church has been through 2000 years of growth and decline. We have and hopefully will continue to be as supportive as possible to the ‘Call of the Gospel’ to minister to those in need and provide a respite for those who are especially in need of rest. I cannot stand the ‘holier than though’ attitude that is so prevalent here. Come with me to the jail, to the inner city housing, to the hospital, to the funeral home, to the drug rehab clinic and tell them we spent the time of 71 responders so far on this insignificant issue, especially when we are facing so many critical issues of our own. “..and for the Pharisees empty on the inside” is a line from one of my recent favorite songs by Matt Maher called The Spirit and the Bride, please look it up; Rev. 22:17 and following (yes I’m sure there will be many of you castigating me for that)

  80. Henry, what about you? Your caricature of “traditional” Mass disengagement is about a half century out of date.

  81. They are disconnected — they are not united at all. The liturgical celebration in the Divine Liturgy shows unity, where they work together; in the Tridentine, the idea is of private devotion. It is also private prayer. One’s own prayer. Without the priest.

  82. That’s because it’s been about a half a century when it was “common.” The West has moved beyond such individualized celebrations.

  83. Pushing more people away is the solution? That really worked well with.. the Pharisees, didn’t it?

  84. It goes back to what I said about building a community of faith…”I”, the individual versus “We” the community of believers.

  85. The rubrics don’t say “don’t do this.” It also doesn’t say what to do if one sneezes or if a baby cries.. I guess nothing, right? Just sneeze on the person in front of you; there is no holy napkin permitted in the rubric!

  86. You’re conceding too much, too quickly, Oof9. This issue comes up in other posts, but there are problems with holding that “that which is not permitted is necessarily forbidden”. Long story omitted. The simpler solution is to bring the rubric for the priest into accord with the rubric he observes every other time that he prays aloud with the people, ie, for him to fold his hands. People would stop holding hands because they would stop getting a subconscious cue to hold hands, but, again, it’s in the article i linked above.

  87. But isn’t the ACTUAL original text of the Nicene Creed, in Greek, really “WE believe” and not “I believe”? And thus the Greek-to-Latin translation inaccurate on its own terms???

  88. HK, let me say, as the resident Pharisee here, I suppose, that I actually largely agree with you (Libertas praesumitur and that). But the way you’re saying it worries me.

  89. Yes some parishes do browbeat you. The one I refer to, the priest actually said “let’s now join hand to say the Lord’s Prayer”, I approached him on the matter. I said he had no authority to change the mass in such a way. He said the parish council approved it. I said the parish council doesn’t have the authority either. I contacted the Arch Dioceses of Baltimore which that parish was in. Never did get a response. The priest soon retired. The new priest does not say it but they still hold hands during the Lord’s Prayer. And if you don’t, they give you the evil eye. And then when you turn to shake hands during the sign of piece. You get a look of how dare you.

  90. Yes, the text of the Creed in the documents of the Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople says “pisteuomen”, “we believe”. But the Greek text as used in the Greek Orthodox liturgy, according to my Orthodox friends, says, “pisteuw”, “I believe”, and always has. So, traditional liturgical usage in both East and West is “I believe”.

  91. I’m with you. Also, how about:
    1. The kid next to you who’s been picking his nose for the last 30 minutes.
    2. The person who has a tremor and is embarrassed by it.
    3. The gay man standing next to your husband.
    4. The teenage boy who has a crush on your teenage daughter, or vice versa.
    5. The person who insists on grabbing your hand no matter where they are positioned in relation to you, and turning you into a pretzel. I’m not making this up. People do this. How can you pray when your arm is unnaturally twisted?

  92. At least a few of the writers here got it right. Example: the Missal does not specifically prohibit the priest from lighting up a cigarette during the consecration. So, to maintain what’s not prohibited is allowed is absurd. The Missal says what to do – not what to do.

    The orates position is not permitted – in spite of the American bishops trying to get Rome to go along. The hand-holding, clown suits, etc. are also not permitted. The ordinary is accountable only to his superior – the reigning pontiff.

    Do any of you have pianos playing at Mass? Guitars? No allowed. No one has overturned a 100-year old pontifical ban on the piano for Mass liturgy. I’ll be happy when the pianos are sold and organ takes its rightful place again.

  93. That is interesting to me, because the insertion of the “filioque” into the Creed has always been an issue with the Eastern Christians, who did not want any tampering with the words of the original creed from the fourth century Councils of Nicene and Constantinople. So, I wonder: Why has the change from we to I in the creed acceptable?

  94. Without a proper God-ordered orientation, we have no hope of achieving a proper orientation towards our brothers and sisters.

    First things first.

  95. Our prayers are with Bishop Foys. May Our Lady, Mother of the Church hide him in her mantle. May St. Joseph defend him.

  96. Thanks, Ed. That was a fascinating article. And, most instructive. Now, it’s very clear. Have the priest join his hands together at the Our Father, just as he does in all the other prayers that he and the congregation pray together. Do you think, perhaps, the congregation would imitate this gesture?

  97. Full disclosure: I’ve only read about a third of the responses to this thread. However, one repeated theme is that “Mass is vertical; it’s about directing our worship to God, and it’s not about us, building community. . . .”

    As a Catholic theologian, may I make one observation: the Eucharist is about BOTH! “Liturgy” comes from the Greek for the “the work of the people”. Yes, it is worship of God, but it is about the worship of God BY GOD’S OWN PEOPLE. So it is appropriate to speak of those aspects of the Eucharist in which our communal identity is emphasized. After all, I can worship God in many ways all by myself. I can even spend quality individual time with the Eucharistic Lord in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament or at Benediction. But there’s something different about the Mass itself: it is, by definition, a COMMUNAL act, an act of and by the Community called into existence by God.

    I’m not writing this as a fan of holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer; I’m not. But I think, as with most things Catholic, the wisdom of our Tradition lies in our preference for “both-and” theology and not an “either-or” theology. The Mass is BOTH a sacrifice AND a memorial meal, and the reality is truly a continuum, with “sacrifice” at one end and “memorial meal” at the other. If I focus TOO MUCH on the sacrificial aspect of the Mass without any concept of communal worship, then I’ve gone too far into a distorted “me-and-Jesus” approach to things which is not Catholic. If I go too far to the other extreme and emphasize only the community aspects without any concept of the sacrificial dimensions, then I’ve reduced the Mass to a parish picnic, and not a very good one at that.

    Balance, balance, balance. . . .

    God bless,
    Deacon Bill

  98. A few years back, I raced cars (Sports Car Club of America series). What modificationsto the car that the rulebook allowed was okay; what the rulebook did not address was forbidden. Granted there is a difference between those rules and our rubrics, but the same general priciple should be operative. The Rubrics cannot anticipate that the laity in some areas may wish to mimic gestures reserved to the priest (or even words – I’ve heard people reciting the Eucharistic Prayer along with the priest, which the new translation should curtail). They don’t prohibit staning on one’s head during Mass, either. A stretch? Of Course,but only slightly more so than someone claiming that they now won’t be able to walk into the church holding hands with their spouse. Hopefully, the Our Father isn’t the only opportunity they have to hold hands. The faithful would do well to actually, prayerfully consider what the bishop has said, rather than just reacting.

  99. At Mass, I pray the Our Father with my hands slightly outstretched, as Muslims do. I know the full orans posture is ancient (depicted on catacomb walls) but it feels unnatural to me.

  100. I’ve heard many different Protestants pray the Our Father. What denominations are you talking about?

  101. I don’t know about “too Protestant”, but I generally don’t hold hands for the simple reason that the sign of peace immediately follows the Our Father….

    Reaching out to each other in a familial gesture seems to be far more robotic & less meaningful when you were just holding that person’s hand 30 seconds ago…

  102. All very interesting. Creeds originally came about because of heresy and apostacizing. It was a way to distinguish those who believed from those who didn’t since non-believing “spies” were slipping into the communities posing as believers. The thinking was that a non-believer would never say the Creed…and, in that way, they would be identified and removed from the congregation. So, the local churches had creeds. Interestingly enough, Rome (from what a liturgy professor once told us, if memory serves) never had a Creed to begin with because Rome never fell into heresy. But, Rome later thought it was a good thing and moved to standardize it and require it of all.

  103. I think we are forgetting that the priest is not to extend his hands beyond his own boundaries. When are priest is extending his hands, it is not straight out but rather in the manner of the orans. The venerable commentaries on the rubrics advise that to holds hands out while supplicating is understood to be as a violation of the virtue of modesty and presumptive.

  104. I think the bishop’s tersely worded rule-obsessed decree amply answers the query in the recent post entitled “Have we become the Pharisees”?”

  105. Ooh! I would have loved to attend a Mozarabic Rite Mass in Spain. Alas, I was not there at the present time. It would be interesting to learn of what goes in the other Catholic Rite Churches.

  106. Considering how in most parishes women outnumber men by a large margin at Mass and in most parish activities I have been reading a lot about what attracts men to church and what repels men.
    Repeatedly two things come up. First, seeing the priest the only male in the sanctuary surrounded by his “harem” of female eucharistic ministers, altar servers, and readers. And second, the holding of hands at the Our Father. (“Real Men” shake hands–they don’t hold hands.)

  107. Modern Judism is an outgrowth of Phariseeism. They became the controlling faction of Judism after the destruction of Jerusalem–so yes, it worked out well for them. They united the faith when it looked like it might be destroyed. Concern for laws isn’t necessarily a problem unless you begin to exclude and condemn others–in my experience, liberal Catholics are as likely to do that as conservative Catholics (poor language I know).

  108. Please, let’s respect the dignity of every individual. Christ said we need to become like children to enter the kingdom of heaven (child like, not childish).

  109. “Bishop Foys has done a nice job of going back to the old approach to the laity…Micromanage exactly how people pray.”

    Forty years ago “liberal priests” chided people for saying the rosary during Mass. Thirty years “liberal priests” chided people for reading missals. Twenty years ago it was holding hands. Now one bishop chides people and it is a horrible outrage by a control freak.

    Didn’t liberals have something better to do than harrass old ladies with rosaries and missals? Rearranging chairs on the Titanic.

  110. Oh please get of the soap box. You don’t need to hold hands to know that we are brothers and sisters in Christ. Such drama.

  111. That is awful. I detest the idea that we have to fill the silences at all times – in life, but especially at Mass.

  112. You’ve got to be kidding!!!! So those two things cause a “real man” to reject the Eucharist and the Church founded by Jesus Christ through his apostles. With all sarcasm….”I doubt these “real men” are attending another denomination or church that meets their criteria”. A weak and embarassing excuse.

  113. Many people have been to those places you’ve mentioned. Have you considered that some on this blog might be laid up themselves, might be dealing with addiction (and blogging might be a way to ward it off), might be caring for the sick and infirm (and blogging might be an outlet), might even be in jail themselves, might be in an abusive relationship, might be looking for work (and blogging provides some distraction)? Some people need to blog. It helps them. It helps them see different sides of the issue. It is instructive. For others, it is amusing. Yes, for some, it is an ego outlet and a way to put forth their self-righteousness. But, I dare say, if the good Deacon Kandra didn’t think it was of value, he would shut down this blog posthaste.

    Having said all that and having read your comments, why are you yourself reading this blog?…and taking the time to write something?

  114. Although the article makes a point, it is hard for me to see how changing the orans would help in this regard today. In the rubrics for Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer the priest or deacon who presides is to keep his hands together during the Our Father, yet when this is done, there are still many in the pews who take an “orans” position. There are many lay Faithful who have grown accustom to the practice, and I don’t believe that they would change just because the priest no longer does so. This is an area where better explanation is needed.

    Roman Wanderer though touches on a point though. It seems to me that the orans is always taken by the priest in every Rite of the Catholic Church. It is also true that the old Roman Liturgy also instructed the priest to extend his hands during the “Pater noster”. If the Novus Ordo is to fit into the continuity of the Catholic tradition, both as it is seen throughout history and in the other Latin and Eastern Rites, how can one justify the change in posture for the priest based simply on this one rule? Would it be acceptable to change the rubric so that the priest alone prays the Our Father aloud?

  115. I work in an ECLA parish, and no one holds hands during the Lord’s Prayer, or any other for that matter. Worked for the Presbys, too, and they never held hands during a service.

    I don’t have an opinion on holding hands or not. I’ll probably get dumped on for saying this, but of things we need to be concerned about in the Church, this seems so nit-picky. But then this viewpoint won’t be popular amongst the comboxers on Catholic blogs.

  116. This is very insulting to women. I have to respectfully ask you, are you really an ordained deacon? Perhaps men should get out of their comfort zone a bit. I have always thought that this type of attitude is the real reason that women are not permitted to be ordained in the Catholic Church.

  117. Much mentioning of the Pharisees. Must we?

    So as to not add redundancy to an already long thread, perhaps I’ll just say, in response to a few comments above, that if we are to laud what Catholics have ‘spontaneously’ done in the N.O., we might mention that what most have done is spontaneously stopped coming.

    The way to get people coming again is to, ahem, ignore whatever ‘will’ the people might have at the moment, and keep to the rubrics like gangbusters. The current will of the people is a product of near fifty years of iconoclasm and emasculation. Best to ignore such a will, me thinks.

    And anyway, to speak of what one ‘spontaneously’ does sounds straight out of a Pentecostal revival. The liturgy is precisely *not* spontaneous. That’s why it deserves our attention.

    Obviously, to say as much is to place me squarely in the ‘say the black and do the red’ School of Thought. This school argues that to say and do the red and black respectively is part and parcel of the way to bring ‘health’ to a sickly, emasculated church. Save the liturgy, save the world, says this school. I see the barring of hand-holding as a step towards saving the world, therefore.

    It is a shame that, in holding strongly to this school, I end up so vehemently disagreeing with so many nice folks (largely deacons?) reading this blog.

  118. Deacon Bresnahan, I am a women and what you wrote is true! I have seen the reactions to holding and raising hands in my own family. The men hate it and won’t go to a church where they feel pressured to do it. Also, my female friends don’t like it either. You 100% right about what you wrote.

    Now, any chance a Bishop or Cardinal will speak up about the handshake of peace? I would love to see that go. Regarding that, I find that men and women react differently to the handshake of peace. The men I know don’t like it but they go along with it and get it over with. The women I am friends with go to mass and seek out the pews where no one is within arms length of them. Include me in that. Unfortunately, this strategic exercise usually backfires and the touchy feely people move in right next to you.

  119. “Real Men” shake hands–they don’t hold hands.

    Sorry, Deacon: Real men eat quiche, hold hands, cry, and do all kinds of things that show they are fully alive.

  120. And may I add George, I don’t think the majority of people are really wishing their neighbor peace. It’s just a robotic gesture that you have to do and a lot of people do it quickly to get it over with. I don’t think it has meaning for a lot of people. Not for me. I would much rather pray for peace for my neighbor and the world when I pray the rosary. Now…that has real meaning!

  121. Deacon Bill,
    I love it when you comment.
    I love it when you’re more cool headed than most of us.
    I love it when you act more intellegent than most of us.
    I love it when you explain things with #2 & #3
    I love it when we agree.

    Peace to all

  122. Yeah, I know a priest that declared we were all to hold hands at the Our Father in our parish. He went on to pastor a different parish. There, a lapsed Catholic friend of mine said he went to a wake service for someone when that same priest reached over to grab his hand and then said, “We’re going to pray now.” Believe me, that man did not want to be holding the hands of a guy, let alone someone he didn’t know. Not a way to draw someone back to the Church! I reiterate what I’ve said elsewhere on this thread–Jesus didn’t force himself on anyone. He always invited.

  123. Barbara–what in the world does comboxers or cornboxers mean? I looked it up but couldn’t find a definition

  124. Good for you Ed! Are there any tips you can give me to help me avoid these situations? Once time I sat next to this women who sounded like she had TB. Coughing and coughing and gagging-she was so obviously sick. I started to get nervous. Would she want to shake my hand? Oh no, you may be thinking, a sick person wouldn’t do that out of true concern for her neighbor. Yeah, right. Well this women started to turn around to me but an unfortunate situation occurred. At the moment she turned, I “accidentally” dropped my purse and had to pick it up along with the items that fell out. Ok, this is crazy, I know. I spent all that energy plotting an escape route. But I was driven to this by an inconsiderate women who while trying to wish me peace, couldn’t have cared less about infecting me with her germs!!! “Peace be with you, hope ya don’t mind a few germs honey but I really really really want to offer you peace”!

  125. What a sad situation. That men are not considered to be “fully alive” by some unless they like to hold hands with other men as part of the Mass.
    The liturgy and this bishop have it right.

  126. They could probably walk a chew gum at the same time, but I still agree with you. Going after rubrics like this just creates more divisiveness based on preferences at a time when the church desperately needs a bigger picture approach based on our shared faith in the Lord Jesus.

  127. Awesome. This is very good news. There is no reason to hold hands during mass. We are in no position to change the liturgy.

    I am so excited for the Latin Rite! God Bless you all.

    Please people, don’t take this as an “intrusion” to your rights or whatever. We must keep the liturgy free from abuse. It has to be strict. Any small change, can lead to more change. The last 50 years has done enough. Thank GOD for for this restoration of our Mass. It’s a baby step, sure, but still is a step.

    I love our faith and I love the way God wants us to worship. So lets listen to HIS Church.

  128. RC, if the article makes a point, I think it’s a point that answers your questions (or situates them, at any rate). I think the rubric should be changed for “correctness” sake and for better sign value purposes. For that case I give reasons, that stand or fall on their own. I also happen to think that it would, fairly quickly, solve the hand-holding problem, but that’s just a prediction on my part, it’s not the reason for the correction.

  129. That’s a summary of one of the biggest problems within our church in this present day. People decry excessive “protestantism” in the catholic church. Ironically it’s the factionalism that this creates is the exact type of “protestantism” we should be avoiding. At the same time, the simple, sincere, and joyful worship that is the best of the protestant church is something we should all wish to emulate.

  130. HMS: Is this truly the state of men today? That might explain why I am single and have so many single men. We don’t want mush, whiny, metro-sexual men! We want real men! Modeled after our fathers-men’s men who fought in WWII. They may eaten quiche while stationed or fighting in France but they did what they had to do, came home, didn’t talk about the war unless asked and worked hard and provided for their families. They may have been silent but they were strong men that you could lean on. Having faced death in the war, they certainly felt alive. It didn’t take holding hands and skipping down the isles with their friends.

  131. Not a bad argument–they became the controlling faction after the fall of Jerusalem. Not all Pharisees pushed people away–just like when the gospels speak in a negative way about “the Jews” it doesn’t mean all Jews.

  132. P.A.
    Let me clarify: When I wrote “all kinds of things”, I was also including things like working hard and providing for their families as you pointed out.

  133. THANK YOU!!! It’s so good to read a diaconal response like this on the Deacon’s Bench. The recent post here about the deacon who devotes his life to ministering to prostitutes and other outcasts on the streets got a total of 3 responses. This one is at well over 100 and rising. The commentary about the Pharisees could not be more on target. So many professedly orthodox Catholics today who boast about their commitment to the faith–thereby distinguishing themselves from fellow Catholics whose politics they disapprove–more often than not come across as overtly hostile to people different from themselves (some of them listed in posts here) and obsessed with rules and rubrics. I suggest they form a new organization for Super-Catholics, one where nobody would ever think of giving a neighbor a hand. They could call it FOCUS ON THE PHYLACTERIES.

  134. Amen! We have so little to worry about that we now take on hand holding? I suppose it is to shift the focus back to pray, pay, and obey and away from the clergy sexual abuse scandal. I’m sorry but just because someone is a bishop does not mean they have common sense! All this smacks of clerical elitism. We don’t have enough priests in our diocese to even visit the men imprisoned and say Mass once a month. There is the scandal. I am finding it harder and harder to find faullt with those who have left. Ugh!

  135. Deacon Bresnahan and P.A.
    In four of his epistles Paul tells his fellow Christians to greet each other with a holy kiss – a bit more than a handshake or hand-holding, I would say.

  136. Good observation. Now, when I see a pope (don’t expect Benedict XVI) washing a woman’s foot on Holy Thursday, I’ll take back all I’ve even thought of regarding that particular demonstration.

    I generally boycott Holy Thursday Mass for the same reason given above: one time there was the celebrant and a con-celebrant; the remainder (oil and chrism bearers, altar servers, lectors, and Extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion were all female. Then, instead of six to twelve men coming up for feet washings, the whole assembly, including small children, is asked to come up – by the priests and ushers. The feet washing is symbolic of service AND of selection (to the priesthood.) I gag. Too bad, because I grew up on the really cool side of the communion rail in the 1960s. I have had enough of the abuses. And how do I know any of these named deacons are deacons?

  137. I’m fine with this, but good luck in seeing it carried out. Perhaps signs should be posted.

    As I went to a Spanish Mass on Sunday I did not hear the new translation of the English Mass until daily Mass today. I like it. Everyone is paying attention and really trying to get it right — including the priest.

  138. It was basically one explained to me (by one of our young-fogey seminarians in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, God be praised) that it is only proper to bless someone over whom you have liturgical authority. The priest blesses the assembly at the conclusion of Mass because as their shepherd, he has liturgical authority over them. The bishop blesses the priest at ordination, because he has liturgical authority over him. The parents and godparents bless the child being baptized because they have liturgical authority over the child as the child’s spiritual guides. An EMHC doesn’t have liturgical authority over anyone in the office they’re filling when they are distributing Communion so it makes no sense for them to be expected to give a blessing to someone who approaches with their arms crossed.

  139. Actually it would kind of rock to hear that song played on a church organ, live, but not during Mass.

  140. Though it could be argued the assembly’s sign of peace with each other would be better positioned before the offertory…or after the Communion rite…or before the liturgy of the word….or any time other than right before the Agnus Dei.

  141. Save the liturgy, save the world. If we can straighten out our liturgical worship this will show that there’s something you can get in the Catholic Church that’s distinctive, that you can’t get anywhere else. We’ve spent the last 50 years experimenting with making it all about the community and making it fun and entertaining….and those who brought us these “reforms” told us it’s what we must do in order to make Mass more relevant to a new generation, to attract membership, to keep the young people…yeah, how’s that worked out?

  142. Exactly. Ever heard of “praying the Mass?” “Full active and conscious participation” doesn’t mean you have to be doing something physically visible.

  143. Deacon John, you are so right. Instinctively I like most men recoil from feminization of the Church and this hand holding is just another forced aspect of that movement. This indeed has driven many men away and has stopped many men from returning. Whether this is a valid reason to stay away from Mass or not (and it’s not; men must return in force and stop the nonsense!), it is a fact. This was part of my own experience when I was in my 20s when being manly is very important to real men and caused me to feel that the Church was filled with a bunch of sappy, syruppy sentimental and feminized “feelings” and an atmosphere that was indeed unwelcoming. It’s still that way many times but now I’m there to claim my place as a son of God, a husband, a father and a man, and to assert my manliness whether it’s welcome or not. And I know other men who are doing the same. We have realized that we were wrong to allow women to try to take over the Church and to have silently accepted that and to have driven us away. I have even experienced priests reasserting their manliness too, who several years ago shook my hand like a girl and who now shake my hand like a man, as I was taught by a priest when I was a 10 year old altar boy. Well, we’re back and we’re rejecting this feminization and the feminist nonsense that drives it.

    Sorry girls if this offends you. But we are not like you, in how we act, think, behave and even pray. Look around a Mass where there are no kneelers and you’ll find most people are standing during the consecration. The real men are the ones kneeling on the dirty floor, something very, very few women do, even though they’re wearing pants. More men today are doing so at the Masses I’ve been at lately, much more so than even a few years ago. And we’re teaching our children to do the same, as real men do. Moreover, we do not expect or desire women to be like men. We want you to be distinct creatures of God that you are, with your distinct roles in the Church, in our homes and in society.

  144. I was a daily Mass many years ago and was in a pew near the center with an older gentlemen at the far end. When it came time for the Our Father, I had both hands down on the back of the pew in front of me with my head bowed. Next thing I know, the gentlemen had come all the way down the pew and grabbed my hand. He almost got slapped; I was focused on the prayer and didn’t hear him coming. Yes, some parishes and some individuals came be very forceful during the Lord’s Prayer.

  145. Chris,
    The sign of peace is before the Agnus Dei so we can make peace with each other–in other words, forgive each other–before we receive Holy Communion. It’s at the perfect place in the liturgy for that.

  146. George M.,
    Stopping to think WWJD does not contravene any laws. It’s about taking a moment to forget your self-interest and think about what Jesus calls us to do.

  147. I would change “provide instructions such as to the genuflect when entering or leaving the pew”, and define WHY we genuflect. My understanding: you genuflect to the Eucharist; you bow to the altar. If you have no tabernacle or it is empty for Good Friday, do you need to genuflect?

  148. I have a Priest friend who dislikes the hand holding; not so much for the act but because what happens after. People drop the hands and move back to their original positions while the priest says the following: “Lord Jesus Christ, who said to your Apostles: Peace I leave you, my peace I give you; look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church, and graciously grant her peace and unity in accordance with your will.” He noted that here he is praying for peace and unity and the congregation is separating, not focusing on the prayer. No wonder we have no peace in this world…

  149. A couple of years ago here in the Portland Oregon diocese they started to move ahead expaining the rubrics for the new Mass – discuss what would soon be coming during the Homily. The pastor explained how the Archbishop had the authority over the liturgy in his diocese, was appointed by the Pope, etc. and that by following his direction we were united to the whole Catholic Church. (Where the Bishop is there is the Church – yes?)

    To keep it short let me say that after Mass I asked four people who all answered in the affirmitive the following.

    “Did you understand Father to say that if we didn’t hold hands during the Lord’s Prayer it was a sign that we had seperated ourselves from the local parish, diocese, and whole Catholic Church.” All four said yes.

    The next thing I asked them was – ” Did you understand Father to say that if you did not recieve from the Chalice when it was available – without a good reason like being sick or an alcholic – by that action you indicated you had seperated yourself from the parish, diocese, and whole Catholic Church?” All four answered “YES”, that is what they understood.
    Now mind you he communicated this in a very clever indirect way – which is why I asked the question in the manor I did.

    Rick from Oregon

  150. I know a lot of men today who work hard, do what they have to do and provide for their families AND still feel comfortable holding hands. Plus they take care of the children and even change diapers!!!

  151. Steve and Deacon John,
    I, along with many traditionalists, have similar intuitions, even if I might put it in a different way and stress different things. I think what we can agree on is that Catholic worship has become emasculated, and has pushed away both men and women. The emasculation has taken many forms, and the strange practice of holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer is but one of *many* examples of an emasculated church. Bishop Foys is to be commended for putting his foot down, even if his decree is, at the moment, but a single brick.

    To notice how emasculated Catholic worship has become, is, of course, obvious. So I think the next step, then, is to realize that the emasculation is a symptom. Of what disease?

    Well, depends on who you ask. If you ask me, it’s a product of a deep skepticism. But as this is but a blog comment, and I don’t want to write a book, I’ll leave it at that. But it’s disheartening to see so many deacons ( at least given their names) who don’t even seem to notice the symptom. Again, they are no doubt nice folks. But their worldview is obviously much different than mine.

  152. Reading your argument, it seems logical that when priest and people pray together they ought to use the same posture, whatever that posture is. So either the people should use orans, or people and the priest should be forbidden to.

    (Our pastor insists on joining hands with servers, deacon, cantor, etc. during the Lord’s Prayer. Which is difficult for us modest rural midwesterners. But he is Filipino, and the culture is different, and we try to be good sports about it.)

  153. PS
    OK – Manner.

    An interesting point about unified posture – I’ve attended Ukrainian Eastern Rite Catholic Liturgy often where people are standing / sitting / and having all sorts of different postures – but the unity is incredible.
    In our Latin Rite parishes you can expect that a majority of people in leadership positions and the pews to disagree with much of the teaching and doctrine of the Church.
    In the Eastern Rite you repeat the doctrine again and again – and the reverence is such that you almost dare not imagine that you doubt anything the Church teaches – as you have the honor to worship with the angels and saints before the awesome and fearsome judgment seat of the Creator.
    When you process up to receive the Eucharist you may find yourself singing about receiving the body and blood of Christ – the source of immortality – instead of a negro Baptist spiritual about going down to the river to receive wine on your knees.
    The beauty can and often has brought tears to my eyes.
    Too far to drive every Sunday though.

    Through the prayers of the Mother of God may our Savior save us (all).
    Rick from Oregon.

  154. Ditto from me as well. (And how did THIS ever happen? I find myself saying yes to something that Ed Peters has also said yes to! 😉

  155. I’m concerned that holding hands as a sign of community during a prayer known as the Our Father is associated with an “emasculation” of the church. Real men cannot hold hands, I take it? It turns us into girls or something? Some of us left that way of thinking behind way back in fourth grade. And others, unfortunately, foster that brand of childishness — yes, even in the church.

  156. Following the comments in this long and depressing thread, I kept trying to find the silver lining in the cloud. Then it occurred to me that so many of the most thoughtful, pastoral and theologically sound posts here were made by deacons. Perhaps the institutional Church has been doing something right all along.

  157. My bishop banned hand holding during the Our Father years ago. After about month or so, it became a non-issue in my diocese.

  158. Hi Ron,
    This comment thread is long, no doubt. But I’m not of the opinion that it’s depressing. It’s rather instructive and illuminating. Yes, there is much disagreement. But I think the snark has been rather minimal. Perhaps I’m not seeing something you are.

  159. My thoughts exactly Deacon Mike!

    I truly wonder when ‘learned’ folks like Bishop Foys preach about the Pharisees – what do they think Jesus was talking about? It is pretty clear that Jesus dedicates some his strongest criticism for them, far more then he reserves for prostitutes, sinner, tax collectors and even people of a different faith! But why?

    At first glance, the Pharisees and Jesus should have been allies and kindred spirits. In a troubling era, they both took the Jewish religion and faith seriously when many did not. But the Pharisee’s appreciation and understanding and even study of the law went too far- for them the path to God was found in more perfect following of regulations and rules and laws. The rules were not simply guide, they became the be-all and end-all. They then looked down at those who they deemed not good enough, not orthodox enough in following the rules. Which is the source of Jesus’ sharp rebukes.

    So is it fair to ask– who ( Jesus or the Pharisees) would be running around celebrating the efforts to run girls off as altar servers, or looking for a reason to deny the Cup to the normal folks or dismissing a holy song because it was written by a protestant? Or get so caught up in the minutia of the rules to prohibit hand holding during the Our Father.

    FYI I have never been instructed to hold hands in Church. I first witnessed it in the mid-1990’s when work took me to the midwest during lent. Never once felt pressure to do it.

  160. Indeed, I always thought it was outright wrong to genuflect on Good Friday because the Tabernacle is empty.

  161. The mystery is instead Romulus why during an era of great civil unrest/ foreign occupation/ challenge to the faith Jesus directed his most serious criticism to the Pharisees and not to sinners, prostitutes, tax collectors, foreign occupiers or even those of another faith.

  162. Actually, I’m a woman and have been in parish activities for about 30 years now. When I first became involved there were a lot of men involved too. However, over the last 25 years or so there are fewer and fewer till now there are almost none at all. That’s not right, it’s not real and I would DEARLY love for some men to get involved again.

  163. If you don’t want to hold hands (during the Our Father) or shake hands (during the sign of peace), just hold a handkerchief as though you had just blown your nose. No one wants to catch a cold.

  164. I confess, I used to hold hands when I was young in parishes where this was common practice. None of my family cared for it. Personally speaking, I always found it a bit distracting whether the holdee was gently caressing the palm of my hand or not.
    Now that I pray with head bowed, eyes closed and hands pressed, I may not be aware of the person who may be reaching for me but I am more aware of the multitude of angels and saints praying with us.


  165. I go to one or two Masses a week and can live with the new Missal. Just stop calling it a correction from the old Missal. That is an example of the “I am right and you are wrong” attitude that seems to exist with some and drives a wedge between people in the church.

  166. The Diocesan Bishop is the chief liturgist in his diocese according to canon law. It is his right and duty to set the tone for the liturgy in his diocese. So he can request and instruct that people not hold hands during the Our Father. I would guess that he would not say anything if a family were to hold hands. My Cardinal Archbishop years ago asked that this stop because so many people were being forced to hold hands when they did not wish to, and were being made to feel unwelcome because they did not. his instruction was to not hold hands, especially across the aisle, but within a family it was a nice sign of unity.

  167. You’re right. I should quietly bow down and remain silent. Deacons should be seen and not heard. I didn’t realize I gave up my right to express my opinion upon ordination. In my diocese, I always support my bishop, verbally and in my actions. In this forum, I believe I have the right to express myself about actions with which I disagree. Just because they’re a legitimate exercise of the bishop’s power doesn’t make them beneficial or positive. Remaining silent in the face of power which is being exercised in shortsighted and arbitrary ways is what has gotten our Church in the US in hot water in the last couple decades.

  168. If you don’t want to associate with other human beings while at Mass, pretend that your vision is limited and you cannot see them or hear them. (This includes not smiling at the cute baby in front of you who is raising his eyebrows at you!) After all, Jesus didn’t want us to get along with or show concern for real, live human beings — did he?

  169. I don’t agree that worship has become “emasculated” if I even know what that means. Don’t you understand how insulting you are to women ? I am not even sure why you even use these terms. What is more “masculine” about pre-Vatican II?

  170. The most disruptive jester at Holy Mass shaking hands. I can’t help notice how many mini conversations go on afterwards. Our central theme is at the alter, not turning the Holy Mass into a social event.

  171. And yet it was at a supper/celebration/social event, Christ first instituted the eucharist. I am not saying this as one who likes the commotion, but I am saying it as a way to remind people that some arguments they give would end up condemning Christ as well.

  172. Wow did this entry go viral! Is this a record number of comments Deacon? And who would have thought this would have been such a hot button issue?

    I’m glad the Bishop made that statement. I don’t care for it. I’ve never done it actually. Perhaps I’m too scarey a person for anyone to ask…lol. Hand holding at our parish is limited to family groups. If families want to hold hands that’s their perogative. I’d rather not be asked. I don’t know where the custom even came from. We never did this when I was growing up. As someone pointed out, it doesn’t even make sense given that less than 30 secounds after the Our Father we will be shaking hands for the sign of the peace. And I like the sign of the peace. The shaking of hands in the context of the mass makes one recognize the Christ in the humanity of one’s neighbor. At least that’s how I think of it. But holding hands seems rather trite, almost like football players before a game. Not for me.

  173. what do you mean the gay man sitting next to your husband? what do you think he is going to do to your husband? why are you afraid of him?

  174. Lets see, what does the Bible say…

    So I will bless thee as long as I live;
    I will lift up my hands and call on thy name. (Psalm 63:4)

    Lift up your hands to the holy place, and bless the LORD! (Psalm 134:2)

  175. Manny:
    I, too, have wondered about the origin of the custom of holding hands during the Our Father. It seems to be confined to certain areas and parishes and groups. A few years ago someone told me that it came from the “Renew” Parish program that began in the archdiocese of Newark and was published by Paulist Press in 1976. I would be interested in knowing if this is true.

  176. HMS and Manny

    I first encountered this experience in the late 1960’s where it was used by the Cursillo folk that I knew as a singular part of their own unique prayer experiences. I just assumed that this was where it originated (Majorca, Spain in the late 1940’s) and through the “on-again/off-again” popularity of that movement, the practice spread to other forums. By the 1980’s the Charismatic Renewal Movement folks in our area had adopted it as well. Maybe someone else has a better idea.

  177. “Would that you might meet us doing right, that we were mindful of you in our ways!”
    This time of year we are focused not only on Jesus being born 2000 years ago, but also on His second coming, which could be sooner than we think. When the Lord comes back to the earth, is His main concern going to be whether we held hands at Mass or not?

  178. With all due respect: Holding hands is a sign of a community standing together as one in faith. Asking us to stop that gester is not going to happen with most of us and if that is a sin, then so be it. The Bishops need to worry about how to keep or bring back Catholics to the church and stop being dictators because if you don’t there will be even more people leaving. Stop wasting your time on a minor things like holding hands and focus on making each church a community of people that feel close to each other and willing to bring people to the Catholic church as a warm, inviting place instead of a cold place. Go get some training in public relations and come out of your ivory tower.

  179. Probably.

    I often hold my wife’s hand during the times of the Mass when we sit. Never during the Gospel, the Creed, the Great Prayer or the Our Father.

    It strikes me that there are two separate circumstances which occasion adult Americans to ‘hold hands’ with someone else. One is in the case of that one particular relationship in which the hand-holding is both physically pleasurable in itself and is a token of a more intimate physical relationship, either actual or anticipated (during courtship, and I realize I’m using the term ‘courtship’ pretty loosely here). The other occasion is when a grownup holds hands with children in order to keep them close for the sake of safety.

    Neither of these common uses of hand-holding in our culture offer anything which might be illuminating as to what is being symbolized by the gesture during the Our Father. We don’t do it during the Creed, where it is our recitation of the prayer together which symbolizes and occasions our unity in the faith. If hand-holding were a sign of unity in general (which it is not, in our culture), it would be most appropriate then.

  180. The unity comes from each individual saying “I believe …” along with every other individual. And it calls on each of us to assent personally to the totality of what the Church teaches as necessary for salvation.

    Historically, “We believe …” is a formulation used in creeds proposed by popes or councils to summarize the faith. On their own magisterial authority which they possess as successors of the apostles, they are able to state what “we” all believe, and so we believe it. This forty-year experiment of “We believe …” in the English-speaking world would have the effect of teaching that magisterial authority resides in the whole body of the faithful rather than in the apostolic tradition.

  181. Great point Barbara! The resistance to holding hands has many origins but all of these reasons point to the fact that we are afraid of being too close to one another. The point of being vertical instead of horizontal is absolutely hysterical! Where there is love Christ is there. He is neither vertical nor horizontal. He is through all and in all. Those who think linear will not understand that it is love that unites us rather than postural implementations. It is God who gave us the natural desire to touch as a sign of affection and it is human beings who have mutated that desire to touch and be touched into something that is to be avoided.

  182. A bishop has legitimate authority over the liturgy in his diocese. It is sad to see some comments–even from a few deacons–which read more like the whining complaints of typically modern American spoiled brats who go ballistic when they hear the word “No!” Then they start throwing around words like “Pharisee!”or totally out of context Biblical or historical examples.

  183. “if that is a sin, then so be it.”

    Well that is an intelligent statement on the state of things. Wow.

    Deacon John, AMEN to your 9:46 comment.

  184. I’m curious to see how these guidelines will be catechized and enforced.

    Will the priest read the decree aloud during Mass and reinforce “no hand-holding during the Our Father”? Will it be posted in parish bulletins?

    What happens if the people in the pews — to borrow a phrase — just say no, and do it anyway?

    If these rubrics are to be successfully implemented, those catechizing the faithful will need to explain not just the “what” but the “why” — and remind cynics and skeptics that we are not a Church of “no” but a faith of “yes.”

    This is a teachable moment.

    Dcn. G.

  185. It is one thing to say they have authority. I don’t see people disputing the authority here. However, that doesn’t mean one can’t question how the bishop came to the conclusion..

  186. from the catholic encyclopedia:

    Another clear testimony of about the same date occurs in a sermon attributed to St. Augustine, but probably written by St. Cæsarius of Arles (P.L. XXXVIII, 1101): “After this [the Lord’s prayer], Pax vobiscum is said, and the faithful salute each other with the kiss which is the sign of peace.”

  187. P.A.
    be careful of what you condemn! St.Augustine and St.Paul are not often wrong!
    From the Catholic Encyclopedia:

    “Four times in the Epistles of St. Paul we meet the injunction, used as a sort of formula of farewell, “Salute one another in a holy kiss” (en philemati hagio), for which St. Peter (1 Pet., v, 14) substitutes “in a kiss of love” (en philemati agapes).”

    “It is not easy to determine the precise link between the “holy kiss” and the liturgical “kiss of peace”, known in Greek from an early date as eirene (i.e. pax, or peace). This latter may be quite primitive, for it meets us first in the description of the liturgy given by St. Justin Martyr (First Apology 65), who writes: “When we have completed the prayers we salute one another with a kiss [allelous philemati aspazometha pausamenoi ton euchon]”

    “Another clear testimony of about the same date occurs in a sermon attributed to St. Augustine, but probably written by St. Cæsarius of Arles (P.L. XXXVIII, 1101): “After this [the Lord’s prayer], Pax vobiscum is said, and the faithful salute each other with the kiss which is the sign of peace.”

  188. I posted this earlier (with a few modifications), but it may have gotten lost in all of these comments. After reading Deacon John’s 9:46 AM comments and RomCath’s support, I want to restate this:

    You’re right. Deacon’s should quietly bow down and remain silent. They should be seen and not heard. I didn’t realize I gave up my right to express my opinion upon ordination. In my diocese, I take seriously my vow of obedience to my Bishop and always support him, verbally and in my actions. In this forum, I believe I have the right to express myself about actions with which I disagree. Just because something is a legitimate exercise of a bishop’s power doesn’t make it beneficial or positive. For instance, people in the diocese of Phoenix recently expressed dismay and disagreement with a decision of the Bishop concerning communion under both species…he heard them and responded by modifying what he had said. It was wonderful to see the Body of Christ in action, recognizing that communication goes both ways in our Church. Remaining silent in the face of power which is being exercised in shortsighted and arbitrary ways is what has gotten our Church in the US in hot water in the last couple decades.
    Also, Deacon John’s comment referring to people who express a viewpoint different from his “as modern American spoiled brats who go ballistic when they hear the word “No!” was mean-spirited, sterotypical, and unchristian, to say the least.

  189. We have a natural desire to have sex too, and it’s a good desire to have. But that doesn’t mean I should start having an orgy with everybody else in the pews at Mass. It’s not a matter of “fear”, either. Boundaries and proper behavior are about respect for others and self-respect. We’re temples of the Holy Spirit, not playground toys to be used and abused.

    I’m not all that picky about having my hand held at work or in devotional situations, or at the Sign of Peace. But when it comes to being made to do something that we weren’t supposed to be doing for the Our Father in the first place, you bet I get picky.

  190. Find/request an Extraordinary Form Mass. Problem solved. No hand holding or orans position by the laity at all. 😉

  191. I just don’t think hand-holding is so much “spontaneous” as a sort of sentimentalized rubric in and of itself. I think most are relieved when they discover it’s not, in fact, proscribed–that you can actually concentrate on praying the Our Father to Our Father, instead of your neighbor’s lack of/excess of moisturizer. It’s a distraction, God help me.

  192. talking about totally out of context historical examples, in a comment you posted here didn’t you state that some men have left the Church because they view women eucharistic minisiters and lectors as the Priest’s “harem”? I dont know if that is your own opinion but even giving that viewpoint the light of day i think is probably the saddest comment I have ever seen, especially from a Deacon.

  193. Deacon Mike–I think I was quite clear that I was criticizing those as whiners who were debating by calling those who disagree with them “Pharisees” and those who were quoting scripture out of context with the attitude that their chosen quotes closes a good strong on-going debate since they have spoken using the Word of God. But since you are so strongly upset , I am puzzled how you could then end your comment with a list of personal invectives.
    As far as a deacon upbraiding one’s bishop, I don’t think a deacon should join in public outcries in most situations (especially liturgical) since public opinion can so easily be manipulated by outside forces, media or cultural. There are plenty of ways for a deacon to get his point across to his bishop without jumping into the public limelight– which a forum like this is very much part of. And the media is not the least bit shy about quoting Catholics who are upset at things the Church does, so the negative side of the debate doesn’t need a deacon’s 2 cents worth of criticism.
    And I do think a deacon who charicatures a simple legitimate exercise of authority on a fairly minor matter as “the face of power,””short-sighted,” “arbitrary,” could possibly have an unacknowledged “authority problem.”

  194. deacon john m. bresnahan – but you have no problem referring to women eucharistic ministers and lectors as a “harem”? You so far have refused to even explain yourself let alone apologize.

  195. Excellent suggestion. The Traditional Latin Mass is the remedy for nearly all of the things that cause the laity discomfort in the Novus Ordo.

  196. “Remaining silent in the face of power which is being exercised in shortsighted and arbitrary ways is what has gotten our Church in the US in hot water in the last couple decades.”

    If power is being exercised in “shortsighted and arbitrary” ways, that is your opinion. You are not the Bishop of a diocese who might well see things differently. Since you are not in his shoes you really don’t know thw whole picture. Last time I checked an Ordinary is the teaching authority in his diocese.
    At ordination you make a promise of respect and oberience to your Ordinary. I don’t think that promise is necessarily restricted to your Ordinary alone but to all those entrusted with care of the flock.

  197. In addition to the “hand holding” perhaps the Bishops should address some of the gymnastics and added verbiage that has crept into the Mass by priests and deacons. Ever see a deacon carrying the book of the Gospels a foot over his head? Or grabbing the chalice off the altar instead of waiting for the priest to hand it to him?

  198. Holding hands is this big a deal??????!!!!! Wow. I am 72 years old. I just thought that this was a ‘vox populi, vox Dei’ issue. I thought it sort of connected us as the Mystical Body of Church—like St. Paul calls us–if only for a moment. We are ‘the Church’. That’s doctrine.

    So, why can’t we connect at some point at the Mass?

    Hey, I have an idea! Let’s segregate the seating. Put the pro-hand holders in one section of the Church and the ‘don’t touch me group’ in another section. Would that make everyone okay???? gh

  199. Excellent excellent article. I miss the Pater Noster in Latin for sure, but if we are going to say it all together, this seems like a necessary change.

    What an odd detail for liturgists to completely miss.

  200. It seems the problem isn’t with the rubric that the laity are predominately unaware of but with indifference to personal initiatives as per Can. 838 & 846.

    With all due respect to Mr. Peters, I fail to see how expecting the priest to be either emulated or reactionary to being emulated gets to the root of the solution.

    The Priest has his part and the laity theirs. They are not the same roles in the paradosis of the faith and are catechized as such. Just as the Bishop of Covington has done above. It seems more of the same should be in order in other diocese’.

    We are a priestly people but not all are called to be priests and certainly not all bear the indellible mark of ordination. I can understand a desire to follow our priests but am not so sure if that is the cause of this situation. It seems to be moreso a resultant charismatic personal initiative that is heedless of humility and negligent of obedience.

    Otherwise, let the Local Ordinaries decree be assended to as it should be which should weed out the difference.

  201. Great points, Richard.

    One thing I have noticed, mostly in Evangelical (Protestant) circles, is a trend of wives holding their husbands hands while their husbands extend their hands in reception of or recitation of prayer.

    It really creeps me out. It suggests that wives are only able to receive the grace of prayer by way of their husbands. I don’t like it one bit. Whatever reputation the Catholic Church has for repressing women, we’ve probably been the most feminist organized religion. It was the Enlightenment that put women back in their “rightful place”.

    Hand holding in Mass (though of course it is not always in quite this manner) always reminds me of that Evangelical practice. We are all equally able to receive God’s grace. It doesn’t get multiplied or more meaningful or more communal when we hold hands. It especially bothers me because the transmission of grace through physical contact is something that is reserved for ordained priests. NONE of us lay people are endowed with that priestly charism.

    Just my $.02

  202. They did not talk about the war because it traumatized them and they did not want to relive the horror. By the way, real men are secure in their masculinity and holding hands does not threaten the secure male. What keeps men away from Mass is a lack of faith and shame.

  203. I never thought I’d agree wholeheartedly with pagansister on this forum, but in this case I do: The whole “controversy” here is over a matter that is incredibly trivial and peripheral at best to Christian faith. But there is a larger issue here, a much larger one, and Deacon Mike nailed it precisely:

    Remaining silent in the face of power which is being exercised in shortsighted and arbitrary ways is what has gotten our Church in the US in hot water in the last couple decades.

    The Church of the Clerics Triumphal has been tried and found wanting. It was found wanting in theory at the Council, and it has now been found wanting in practice in courts of law throughout the United States. The laity are paying through the nose for its manifold failings. It’s time to move on, people.

  204. To those who think returning to the EF is the best solution – here is a easier, and in my mind superior, solution: the laity listens to their Bishop – novel indeed! Instead of arguing over what we think about hand holding maybe we ought to be Catholics and listen to the diocesan bishop in the matter. I can just imagine hearing the Corinthians debating whether or not to listen to St Paul when he sent his epistles to them. I’m thinking we might have had an extra book in the NT, St Paul’s Third Letter to the Corinthians.

  205. Should we now eliminate the Episcopacy and let the laity call all the shots? I don’t think so. You can’t even get a Parish Council to agree on anything.

  206. I agree that the “short-sighted and arbitrary” comment is my opinion, as well as the fact that the Bishop is probably aware of things that I am not. I also believe that I do indeed owe respect to Bishops everywhere.
    However, that doesn’t mean I need to rubber stamp everything they say or remain silent in the face of decisions that I am troubled by. Bishops are human, with their own bias’ at work, just like the rest of us, and I believe some are better than others at putting those aside when they make decisions. I like to think that most of my comments on these blogs are respectful. I try to make it clear I’m referring to the policy and not the man, and I try to temper my comments. I have a natural tendency towards sarcasm, so it occasionally slips in, and for that I am sorry.

  207. The deeper problem here is human authority attempting to create community through a manipulation of liturgy and posturing as a compensation for a lack of understanding of what it really means to be one as Jesus and the Father are one in love. Authority without an understanding of sacrificial love creates friction.

  208. Okay. Enough sniping at deacons. I see where this is coming from, RomCath. Grow up. And stop trying to start a fight.

    FWIW, some of the biggest offenders in the book-carrying department are lay people serving as lectors.

    (And, btw: there is nothing wrong with the deacon picking up the chalice from the altar.)

    When it comes to sloppy liturgy, there’s more than enough blame to go around. Let’s move on, shall we? All this finger-pointing is starting to become, well, pointless.

    Dcn. G.

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