It has come to my attention recently, through a good friend (ahem, my BFF Mart), after noticing that she does not participate in that way anymore, that it may not actually be liturgically sound.
Wait, wait, wait... what?
You are telling me that the way that I have participated in Mass for the last... however many years, where I have felt engaged and involved and connected, is actually not what I should be doing? This is crazy. My mind is being blown.
(That was written back in May 2013, and just saw it chillin' in my drafts folder. So, I thought I would finish up some thoughts on this.)
I should say, once I found this out... I stopped holding my hands out anymore and stopping holding hands during the Our Father.
And it was hard. And sad. And weird. But, I got over it.
At first I looked and looked online for where it says that in rubrics (I have since learned the fancy name), ie. the rules of the liturgy. I couldn't find anything. I wasn't using the right terminology, I guess. And then my interest faded, as the new-to-me position just became normal.
And, of course, now that I have the correct term to search, I find a whole bunch of stuff! Sheesh! :) But, I figured that maybe someone out there is looking for this information, too. And, those articles can explain it better than I could even try. I found a great article on EWTN, that explains more about it, but here is a tidbit:
It is a legitimate gesture to use when praying, as history shows, however, it is a private gesture when used in the Mass and in some cases conflicts with the system of signs which the rubrics are intended to protect. The Mass is not a private or merely human ceremony. The symbology of the actions, including such gestures, is definite and precise, and reflects the sacramental character of the Church's prayer. As the Holy See has recently pointed out, confusion has entered the Church about the hierarchical nature of her worship, and this gesture certainly contributes to that confusion when it conflicts with the ordered sign language of the Mass.Anyway. So, if you have ever wondered about that. Now you know.
It is hard sometimes, still, especially when I am around people that I know, who hold hands during the Our Father... it's always a bit awkward. But, I just close my eyes, keep my hands folded and pour myself into the prayer. Because, really... that's what it's about anyway! If you wanted to be all touchy feely and handsy with me, just wait... I will be glad to give you a hug during the Sign of Peace! Yes, I like to hug, instead of shake hands. Ok, I mean... I only hug the people I know. Come on, I am not that weird.
Now, another thing that I noticed at the same time, way back when, that Mart wasn't doing, was the little crosses over the forehead, mouth and heart right before the priest reads the Gospel. I had learned a long time ago that the significance of each little cross says "may the Gospel always be on my mind, on my lips and in my heart." I mean, that sounds good to me.
But, it, too, is one of those gestures that is for the priest or deacon reading the Gospel at Mass. In the rubrics, it never says that we, as in the congregation, should be doing this gesture, as well. I can't really find it online, so... you can do some research on your own, or believe me. :) 'Cause, well, I am going with Mart, who knows a lot about these sorts of things, and her hubby who was in seminary for while and knows the liturgy like the back of his hand.
Well, there you have it, folks. Random information about Mass that is actually quite important. :)
Have a wonderful day!