Hey, did you know?

We have all been there.  Ya know, when it's time to say the Our Father at Mass.  Everyone holds hands of the person next to them.  You are there alone, not quite close enough to reach, but don't want to seem too eager and move a little closer.  So, then, because you still want to be fully engaged and connected, you hold out your hands in front of you.  The Our Father is said, the Sign of Peace happens, and, well... I think we know what happens next. ;)

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.

Clearly, because I stopped this post a long time ago.  And then, last week, I decided on a whim to call Open Line on Catholic Radio to ask about it. And of course, just as Martha said, it is, in fact, liturgically INcorrect. The "orans position/posture", as it is called, is meant only for the priest during Mass. Why is this? Well, I don't think that I will be able to answer very well.

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!


  1. Thanks for sharing this, Jen! I grew up never holding hands during the Our Father, but I've never heard that about the crosses. I would love to know more about that since it seems like pretty much everyone does it (unlike holding hand).

    1. Yes! I know, everyone DOES do it. That one is still hard for me sometimes. I couldn't find too much about it online, like I said. But, the few things I did find, also said that it's something the priest/deacon reading the Gospel does. It never directly says we shouldn't do it, but never says we should, either... ya know?

  2. Jen, thanks for doing some detective work on the whole 'hand-holding' business! I've felt so torn during the Our Father because the priest in my hometown lectured us that it was not appropriate to hold hands (I feel like 'not appropriate' is a bit extreme!) or to raise them (he mentioned that it was just for the priest too), but practically everyone still does it where I live now. And I had no idea about the crosses part, that is definitely good to know too!!!

    1. I know... good for your priest to even talk about it! Not many do, ya know... so many other things they can/should address. But, my friend's husband was in seminary and is the Music Liturgist at my parish, once I found out... I just didn't feel comfortable doing it anymore. But, as the host of the radio show I called in on said, it's not a mortal sin or anything! ha. :)

  3. Wow so interesting!! I think that I will still always do the Gospel crosses because I find those words of "may the Gospel always be on my mind, lips and heart" so powerful but I will defiantly be reconsidering the Our Father

    1. It is interesting, huh?! The crosses is harder for me. It's natural for me to just start doing it. But, I suppose if it doesn't say specifically that we should do it in the rubrics, then maybe I shouldn't really be doing it?? I dunno.

  4. It's funny that you bring this up now, because my family NEVER did the hand holding thing and when I went to a school that required the orans position for the Our Father, I just felt weird about it. My mom told me to stop because "that's not how we do things."

    Turns out my parents were right!

    1. haha... parents! Sometimes they do know what they are talking about! :)


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