Coming into the Church from Protestantism, I had a very clear (and apparently wrong) idea that Mass was Mass, and it would be the same at any Catholic parish I attended. I wanted order, uniformity, a truly universal Church where all Masses were alike. I wanted the Catholic Church I had fallen in love with- the one that didn't resemble Protestantism where everyone did their own thing because everyone is their own pope.
I expected priests to follow the same rubrics in all parishes and I expected the laity to follow the instructions set down in the missal for Mass. The missal isn't complicated. The readings are there and it tells you when to stand, sit or kneel. Easy-peasy right? Not for some folks.
What the missal never says is to hold hands or lift your hands in the air during the Our Father (except for the celebrants of the Mass- but I am talking about the laity). My interpretation (for what its worth) is that if it doesn't say "do this...", you don't simply stick something in there you want to do. Others see things differently and have decided to either hold hands, stretch out their hands like the priest, or combine the two as we see here from St. Raymond Parish, Philadelphia from earlier this month.
I know why I used to lift my hands in the air when I was a Protestant during services. It is a verse from the New Testament (there are several other verses as well, some in the Old Testament) and encouraged by the ministers to join them in raising our hands (the only 'priesthood' is among all the believers). This was done to show the congregation was the same as the minister- mere believers. Ministers were nothing special.
1 Timothy 2:8 "I will therefore that men pray in every place, lifting up pure hands, without anger and contention."But that isn't how a Catholic Mass works...or so I thought when I first became Catholic a decade ago. The missal said "stand" and I stood, the missal said "sit" and I sat, the missal said "kneel" and I knelt. The missal never said "hold hands" or "raise your hands in the air" etc., so I didn't, but others do. I don't get that.
What are these people trying to do? Put their own personal stamp on the Mass? By gesture attempt to show the priest he's nothing special, that they are all equally members of the 'priesthood' as happens in Protestantism? Or maybe they just want to let Protestantism creep into the Mass?
The USSBC statement reads:
"Q: Some people hold hands during the Lord's Prayer, while others hold their hands out like the priest. Is there a prescribed posture for the Our Father?A: No position is prescribed in the Roman Missal for an assembly gesture during the Lord's Prayer."To a person who likes order at Mass, this is chaotic and in some cases actually causes division in some parishes between the hands clasped in prayer folks 🙏, the raise your hands in the air folks 🙌, and the hold hands folks, and the hold hands while raising them in the air folks.😕
When Canon Law states:
Can. 907 In the eucharistic celebration deacons and lay persons are not permitted to offer prayers, especially the eucharistic prayer, or to perform actions which are proper to the celebrating priest.I guess I'm a dope, but to me that means I don't get to raise my hands in the air, as that is proper only to the priest. To others Canon 907 has nothing to do with the Our Father at Mass or any hand position.
With no clear direction from our Bishops, we get confusion in the pews with everyone doing their own thing. No unity in this prayer at the moment.
The Bishops/priests could at the very least tell people to put their arms down, even if the hand holding continues.
Orans position (hands raised in the air):
"Among the laity this practice began with the charismatic renewal. Used in private prayer it has worked its way into the Liturgy. 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."If all that hand-holding, arms in the air stuff isn't bad enough, where does it stop? We all know from history that the progressives in the Church never stop pushing the limits and often reach into new age areas for their next gimmick- like sand in the holy water fonts during Lent.😩
But about those assorted positions for prayer...what if a dozen people decided they wanted to lay prostrate during the Our Father? Or worse, assume some loony yoga position? Since the USSBC states "no position is prescribed" what's to stop the next new thing from making its way into our Mass?
Don't laugh! It could happen!
From the Society for the Propagation of the Faith the Mission Office of the Archdiocese of Chicago I found some instructions on numerous different types of prayer, including the new to me "body prayer".
Quote: One way to think about the many different types of prayer is to look at it as a kind of communication with God. There are different ways to communicate with God. Consider these types of prayers:
Rote Prayers: These are prayers that you memorize and repeat. These are prayers that the church tradition has passed down for many years. Sometimes they are said over and over so that the meaning goes far beyond just the words. With rote prayers we are telling God that we believe. The Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be and Creed are examples of this.
Spontaneous Prayer: These are prayers that come straight from the heart. The words are all your own. When you pray this way you can tell God about what ever is on your mind. Sometimes you will say thank you, sometimes pray for someone you know or sometimes you want to ask for something.
Meditation: This kind of prayer involves our imaginations. When you meditate you envision yourself there with Jesus. You need to focus your thoughts on the scene or story. You could also meditate on the life of a saint or another event in your life where God spoke to you.
Contemplation: This is a difficult form of prayer! It requires you to only think about God. You need to not only focus your mind, but you focus only on God! Go somewhere quiet and sit comfortably, then think “I am in the presence of God.” (it really is difficult)
Body Prayer: This kind of prayer uses your whole body posture. The way we move also comunicates with God. Some people like to kneel, some like to dance, and some like to walk (in a labrynth). This helps you to think and pray about how God is a part of your life. Give this one a try, look at the example below! [end quote]
This Catholic "body prayer" is quite similar to what I see at my local Novus Ordo Mass during the Our Father! So is all this hand-holding, hands in the air stuff during the Our Father what the Archdiocese of Chicago calls "body prayer"?
Is "body prayer" with all these assorted prayer positions as seen in the diagram the next craze to infiltrate the Novus Ordo Mass?😞 As if the hand holding and hands in the air wasn't bad enough. Now we've got "body prayer" diagrams (why encourage the ding-bats?). You just know some flake is going to do this stuff at Mass (probably a liturgical dancer). It's only a matter of time.
My deepest prayer and solution for all this nonsense happening at Mass is to simply put away the Novus Ordo Mass and return to the Tridentine Mass. 🙏
Please Lord, have mercy on us!
Julie @ Connecticut Catholic Corner