Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Wednesday 12 May |
Saint of the Day: St. Pancras

Show of hands: what do you do during the ‘Our Father’ at Mass?

Jeffrey-Bruno

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 09/26/16

This has been circulating on Aleteia, an explanation from the Rev. Henry Vargas Holguin that was first published last year:

The practice of holding hands while praying the Our Father comes from the Protestant world. The reason is that Protestants do not have the Real Presence of Christ; that is to say, they do not have real and valid sacramental Communion that joins them among themselves and with God. Therefore, they turn to the gesture of holding hands as a moment of communion in community prayer. During the Mass, we have two important moments: the Consecration and Communion. There – during the Mass – is where we find our unity; that is where we join ourselves to Christ and in Christ, through the common priesthood of the faithful. Holding hands is obviously a distraction from that. We as Catholics are united by receiving Holy Communion, not by holding hands. There is nothing in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal that indicates that we should hold hands. During the Mass, every gesture is regulated by the Church and its rubrics. This is why there are particular moments during the Mass when we kneel, parts when we stand, parts where we sit, etc. – and nowhere in the rubrics does it say that we have to hold hands when we pray the Our Father. Therefore, we should avoid this practice during the celebration of Mass. Now, if someone wants to do it, let them do it (as an exception) with someone they know very well, without forcing anyone to do it, without making anyone uncomfortable and without trying to convert this practice into a liturgical norm for everyone. We have to remember that not everyone wants to hold the hand of the person next to them, and trying to impose it on them creates a moment of discomfort to the detriment of prayer, piety and recollection.

That’s just for starters. Then there’s the whole issue of the “Raise Your Hands” or “orans” posture. Read on for more.

Now, holding hands with strangers isn’t really my thing. But I remember an experience I had some months back, when I served as a visiting deacon in a parish out of state. I was in the sanctuary alongside the celebrant when the time came to pray The Lord’s Prayer. Every single person in the church—and there must have been several hundred gathered at that Mass—held hands. Every one. People reached across the aisle to clasp the hand of someone else; all the altar servers held hands, and all the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, and the next thing I knew, I felt the priest grabbing my left hand.  I figured “When in Rome,” and decided to just go with the flow and reach out for the hand of one of the EMHCs. And there we stood, an unbroken chain.

Is it really necessary? No. Is it disruptive and distracting? Sometimes. It also puts you in the uncomfortable position of feeling compelled to engage in a kind of social intimacy, holding hands, even if you don’t want to. Is the Mass better off without it? Yeah, I think so.

It might be helpful if Rome said as much. 

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, East London Gospel Choir
J-P Mauro
Hear Clapton and Pavarotti sing a prayer to the “Holy Mothe...
2
SAINTS
Meg Hunter-Kilmer
Saints to help if Mother’s Day is hard
3
MOTHER OF ASIA - TOWER OF PEACE
J-P Mauro
Philippines finishes construction of largest Marian statue in the...
4
MOTHER SHORT FILM
Zoe Romanowsky
Moving 1-minute film about motherhood will touch your heart
5
FIRST LOOK
Sarah Robsdottir
Dad’s priceless reaction to newborn goes viral
6
PRAY
Philip Kosloski
3 Signs of a spiritual attack on your soul
7
I.Media for Aleteia
These 30 shrines will lead the Rosary Relay for end of the pandem...
See More