Orans position for the Our Father


Orans position for the Our Father


September 16, 2004

Is there any guide concerning the deacon assuming the orans position for the Pater Noster? I know the USCCB decided not to vote on this issue for the laity, and a reason I heard was that this is the proper posture for the celebrant and the concelebrants. But what about the deacon – Orans or hands with palms together? –Deacon Larry

The deacon is not instructed to assume this position at this point, so hands with palms together or some other reverent position would be correct.
-Jacob Slavek


Orans position for the Our Father


September 23, 2004

Further to Deacon Larry’s recent question concerning the correct posture for the deacon at the Lord’s Prayer, I would like to make the following points.
Although no reference is made to the deacon’s posture at this point in the rubrics for the new rite of Mass, I would suggest that it is probably most correct to follow the former usage of the preconciliar Tridentine Mass. Here, the celebrating priest assumed the orans position at the opening words “Our Father…”, and the deacon remained with hands joined palm-to-palm (Source – Fortescue et al. “Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described”), presumably as a mark of distinction in rank.
(For those interested in such matters, the subdeacon would, at this point be standing on the step below the deacon, holding the paten with joined hands under the humeral veil.)
Also, Msgr. Elliott in “Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite”, while not discussing the deacon’s hand posture during the Lord’s Prayer, states that he should have hands joined immediately afterwards, so I would presume this implies hands joined during the prayer also. –Steven

Yes I agree with everything you have said.

Although it is “probably most rite” to follow what was done in the old rite when the new is unclear, it must not ABSOLUTELY be done. They are two distinct rites. -Jacob Slavek


Priest leaving the sanctuary/Orans and holding hands during the Mass


July 18, 2005

At our parish (which is wide open to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal) our two wonderful Polish priests have never hesitated in the past to leave the sanctuary and share the Sign of Peace with us in the congregation. However, all of a sudden, this has stopped and they no longer do this. I was informed last night that someone complained to the Bishop and he has put a stop to our priests leaving the sanctuary to share the Sign of Peace with us. I have also done some research and have found out that priests leaving the sanctuary during Mass to share the Sign of Peace with the congregation is a liturgical abuse! I think this is quite absurd! Surely, if the Sharing of the Peace is done decently and in order (as it is in our parish) priests leaving the sanctuary during Mass would definitely not be a liturgical abuse.

Similarly, the lifting of hands during praise and worship during Mass – is this also a liturgical abuse? What do you think? I look forward to your reply. –John, Sydney

Yes this is a liturgical abuse, even if it is hard to understand why. Peace is of course one of the most important parts of Catholicism, but at Communion time, the focus must be on the Eucharist. Catholics prepare themselves to receive the Eucharist by exchanging the sign of peace since a person is not prepared to receive the Lord if he cannot be at peace with his brother. In my opinion at least the primary focus at the sign of peace is not exclusively to build the community, but rather to prepare to receive the Lord. Therefore it is not necessary for the priest to leave the immediate area to exchange the sign of peace. Secondly, it is unnecessary for the priest to leave the sanctuary to exchange the sign with the people since he has just done it. “The peace of the Lord be with you always” – “and also with you”.

Lifting of the hands is not called for at all for the people at Mass, also the “Praise and Worship” style of prayer which I believe consists of guitar, drums and popular forms of music. Remember that it is Rome that regulates the Sacred Liturgy, not local customs that have popped up over the years. The beauty and point of the Liturgy is that it belongs to the Church, the entire universal Church. The Catholic Liturgy is not made up of many local groups but rather one authority united under Rome. Local customs can be permitted with permission from Rome. I’m not saying that Praise and Worship and raising hands is wrong, rather what I’m saying is that it is not a part of the liturgical prayer of the Church. –Jacob Slavek


Holding hands and Orans position during the Our Father


February 24, 2008

I had written my Bishop about my concerns in that many people were adopting the hand-holding during the Our Father, and he mentioned that the Rubrics do not forbid it. This bothered me, because elsewhere I had been reading that the lay people shouldn’t be hand-holding during the Mass, when reciting the Our Father.
What is the Vatican’s position on this? Has the Pope addressed this issue? If the Vatican has ruled whether it is acceptable or not, where can I find this information? -Claire

I would have to say that it’s really bad logic to say that hand-holding and the people taking on the orans posture is okay because neither the GIRM nor rubrics forbid it. 

The GIRM also doesn’t forbid the chicken dance at Mass either; are we to believe then that it is now okay? What Rome HAS said is that no priest has his place adding to the Liturgy any thing that is not already there in the liturgical texts. (Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 22(3))

I don’t believe that Rome has specifically addressed the orans abuse. However in 1997 a document was released that did very clearly prohibit any action on the part of the people that imitates gestures that are proper to the priest. The raising of the hands does qualify as “proper to the priest” since in the rubrics it is the priest alone who is instructed to raise his hands.

The hand holding issue HAS been specifically addressed: and Rome has said, “It is not in the rubrics”.

I will post the link to the question that I answered several years ago on this forum.  I’m also going to post a link to a very recent essay written on the subject by Bro. Ignatius Mary in our BBS forums.


http://www.saint-mike.org/spcdc/bbs/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=667. –Jacob Slavek


Priests leaving the sanctuary/Orans & holding hands during the Mass


April 2, 2008

In my parish in Pennsylvania, our pastor always leaves the sanctuary to exchange the sign of peace with people sitting in the first pews. The parochial vicar does not. Also, for the longest time they both would leave the ambo and walk down to the people and give their homily while pacing back and forth. It was more intimate that way and they seemed to be speaking to everyone. All of a sudden this has come to an abrupt stop. Is either practice acceptable and a personal preference of the clergy, or is it some sort of liturgical abuse to leave the ambo and sanctuary at any time during mass? Our church also does the hand holding during Lord’s Prayer and those who do not hold hands put them in the orans position. I never felt comfortable doing either. What ever happened to the good old folded hands in prayer they taught us in Catholic school? I mean, some of these people will actually turn around and almost twist their necks to hold hands with someone two pews behind them in some of the masses with fewer people. –Janet

Yes both of these practices and not allowed by the Church.

The priest is to stand at the chair or ambo for the homily. (GIRM n.136) It also leaves an option open for the priest to use another suitable place when appropriate, but says nothing about pacing back and forth. It only says standing.

Included for the first time in the current GIRM is the statement that the priest is to remain in the sanctuary for the sign of peace. (n.154)

I don’t know if you’ve already seen this or not but if your interested in reading comments about the hand-holding and orans posture issue at the Our Father I have recently answered those questions. –Jacob Slavek


Holding hands during the Our Father/Blessing other faithful at Mass


May 4, 2008

My husband and I are wondering how to handle a couple situations that always seem to crop up during Mass at our church.

1. Everyone routinely holds hands during the Lord’s Prayer, but we have heard this is not appropriate. We worry that we might appear unwelcoming or rude if we don’t join in, and otherwise don’t know what to do. Do you have any suggestions for how we can handle this tricky situation? Are we wrong to just give up and join in on the handholding for the sake of not making a scene?

2. Also, we feel uncertain about another common practice in our parish, never knowing what to do. The priest frequently has us raise our right hands in blessing during Mass upon certain people, such as children gathered up at the altar before they are dismissed for “kids’ word” during Mass or over anyone who needs special blessings. It somehow feels inappropriate, like something only a priest or deacon should be doing. -Carol

One time at the Lord’s Prayer someone actually became rude with me when I respectfully declined to hold her hand… in this case I decided it would be better to simply hold her hand rather than make a scene. Normally though when someone extends his hand to me I would just return a warm smile and maybe a small hand gesture to acknowledge that I am aware he wants to hold hands. 

Then I return my hands to their normal position and that ends it. An extra sincere “Peace be with you” might help afterwards.

This “raising our right hand in blessing” also occurs regularly in my parish. Theologically I suppose there’s nothing wrong with it, there is nothing wrong with raising a hand while asking for a blessing. However it really doesn’t belong within the Liturgy, so whenever it happens in my parish I usually don’t raise my hand. I WILL however use the time to mentally make a prayer for the person being blessed, usually using the same words that the priest uses. –Jacob Slavek



June 20, 2008

What might help is closing your eyes and clasping your hands together in prayer. That way someone would just have to literally pull your hands apart. -Kayla

Sounds like good advice to me. Even though the Liturgy is public and communal worship, there is nothing wrong with closing your eyes while praying with the rest of the Church. –Jacob Slavek


Modified Orans position!


July 20, 2010

I know of a priest who works for the Archbishop and takes care of setting up special Masses wherever the Bishops goes. He has told his parishioners that they are NOT to hold hands during the Our Father. All fine and dandy. However, he tells them that they are instead to lift up their hands NOT palm up but palm facing forward. Sorta like when told by a robber, “stick-em up”, but elbows to your side. He said this will be the norm. Have you heard of any such thing? –Martin

Nope, I have never heard of such a thing.  The first and only thing that came to my mind is, and believe me this is a long shot, that maybe the priest is addressing the main argument against the “orans” position by the people.  That argument is that the people are not to assume it because it imitates a posture that is specific to the role of the priest (which by the way is a good argument)

My thought was that by changing the posture slightly, it would no longer be imitating he priest and therefore in his opinion acceptable. Like I said it’s a long shot but that is possibly what this priest is thinking.

Of course, I do not agree with that logic in the slightest, since neither the instruction nor the rubrics call for a posture to be made by the people at that moment (other than of course standing)

If it is the case that that is NOT what the priest is thinking, then I don’t have the slightest clue what if anything he is thinking. –Jacob Slavek


Holding hands during the Our Father


January 3, 2013

I just ran across an article stating that it’s wrong for people to hold hands during the Our Father. The church I attend has been doing it for years. (I was fallen away for awhile, but when I came back, this was the practice.) What is correct? –Kristin

The Church makes no such instruction at all to hold hands during the Our Father…  therefore the correct thing is to NOT hold hands, but rather simply hold whatever reverent posture you already normally have during the Mass when standing.

Now in your particular case you may need to make a judgment call whether or not to hold hands this Sunday, of course I don’t want you to make a scene.  If the priest specifically instructs the people to hold holds, well then hold hands because the Church values uniformity in postures…  but quite frankly if the priest DID make such an instruction, he would be wrong and overstepping his authority.

Whenever I find myself at a Mass where the people start to hold hands, and if there is NOT a specific instruction from the priest, then I simply politely decline to those standing nearby, and I haven’t had any problems. –Jacob Slavek


Holding and lifting hands during the Our Father


September 30, 2004

I have attended several Parishes in my area where local Parish traditions differ. There are a couple of Parishes where the doxology-“Through Him, with Him and in Him…..” are either sung by the congregation or recited by the Celebrant and the congregation. At some, there are hand gestures-raised open palm, followed by lifting of the arms with palms up at the “For the Kingdom the power and the glory are yours….” -by the Celebrant and the congregation. I have continued to resist these changes, but often someone next to me will grab my hand at the Our Father, and lift it at the end.

I heard on the EWTN “Web of Faith” that these are not appropriate things for the congregation to engage in. What is the Church’s official stand on these changes/local traditions? –Dottye

The “customs” you have listed are all illegal. According to the official teaching of the Church, no one, not even a priest, may change the words or the rubrics of the Mass on his own authority. These “local traditions” are rebellious and illegal and need to stop immediately. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM


Holding hands at Mass


January 26, 2005

I understand that at mass it is not proper to raise or hold hands during the Our Father.
What are the reasons? –Jonny

Holding hands during the Our Father is a liturgical gesture introduced spontaneously but on personal initiative; it is not in the rubrics. In addition, it is quite rude to insist upon or to pressure the entire congregation to hold hands as this is also a cultural thing and some cultures do not do things like hold hands in this way. It is not part of my culture and I do not hold hands even if the rest of the congregation does.

“Holding hands is a sign of intimacy and not reconciliation, and as such disrupts the flow of the Sacramental signs in the Mass which leads to the Sacramental sign of intimacy with Christ and our neighbor, Holy Communion.” [Clarifications and Interpretations of the GIRM “Notitiae” Vol. XI (1975) p. 226]

The Holy See has declared that no one can add things to the rubrics on their own authority, not even a priest. Neither raising one’s hand nor holding hands is in the rubrics. That by itself is sufficient to not practice these gestures regardless of any theological reasons.

If and when these gestures are included in the official rubrics of the liturgy, they should not be done. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM


Holding and lifting hands during the Our Father


May 31, 2008

What do I do if I have already brought up holding hands during Mass as being illicit (not in the GIRM) to the Bishop and he tells me in so many words that it’s not against the GIRM. We have a great Bishop, but this has disturbed me. When I saw our Deacon use the Orans position during the Our Father in Mass I did mention to him that the deacon is not allowed to use any position that is limited to Priestly use, so he stopped for awhile. Then during our RCIA neophyte Mass for our newest members, the Priest said, before we prayed the Lord’s Prayer, for all of us to join hands…I refused politely by shaking my head and smiling at the person beside when they went to grab my hands. It is getting so bad that the choir will not only join hands, but make a link to join those at the pews… What to do? Would it be wrong to write the Pope if I can, and ask His direct teaching on this? –Claire

The Congregation for Divine Worship answered a similar question some time ago in the Notitiae, the Journal of the Congregation where they make official interpretations of liturgical law. These interpretations are binding:

QUERY: In some places there is a current practice whereby those taking part in the Mass replace the giving of the sign of peace at the deacon’s invitation by holding hands during the singing of the Lord’s Prayer. Is this acceptable?

REPLY: The prolonged holding of hands is of itself a sign of communion rather than of peace. Further, it is a liturgical gesture introduced spontaneously but on personal initiative; it is not in the rubrics. Nor is there any clear explanation of why the sign of peace at the invitation: “Let us offer each other the sign of peace” should be supplanted in order to bring a different gesture with less meaning into another part of the Mass: the sign of peace is filled with meaning, graciousness, and Christian inspiration. Any substitution for it must be repudiated. [Notitiae 11 (1975) 226] 

The specific question here deals with holding hands during the Our Father as a replacement for the Sign of Peace, but the principle established here applies elsewhere in the Liturgy.

What I do is close my eyes, lower my head, and hold my hands in a gesture of prayer. This usually gets the message across that I do not wish to hold hands.

If anyone asks simply tell them that this gesture as a congregation wide practice is not authorized by the Holy See.

Holding Hands is not in the rubrics and thus may not be done. Those who argue that it is permitted because it is not specifically prohibited are using false logic. Why not do jumping-jacks during the Our Father. That is not specifically prohibited either.

We cannot argue from silence. The liturgical law requires us to follow the rubrics as written and no one, not even a priest, has the authority to change even one dotted eye according to Vatican II’s “Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy” #22 and canon 838 of the Code of Canon Law.

If you have gone to the pastor and then the bishop with no results to correct this liturgical abuse then you may, if you wish write a letter to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Their address is […]

That is all you can do. Your job is done. If nothing happens then the bishop will be held accountable before God and you are excused from any further responsibility of fraternal correction. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM


Holding and lifting hands during the Our Father


February 1, 2009

I have observed that at different churches people do different things with their hands during the Lord’s Prayer. At my parish people keep their hands down, at the church I attend at the cottage people keep their hands up, and at another church I attend from time to time people hold hands. Is there any way that is more right than the others or is this something that depends on preferences? –Hortense

Keeping hands down or raising hands is a personal preference. But, a practice of the whole congregation holding hands is a violation of Liturgical Law. A person may hold hands with their family or with a friend, but a practice where everyone holds hands is a liturgical abuse and should not be done.

When I am in a parish that does this, I close my eyes, lower my head, and clasp my hands together. This way most people will know that I will not be holding hands with them. Sometimes people look at me as if I just sacrificed their cat in a satanic ritual, but that is their problem. The practice of general holding of hands is against the Church law and is an abuse and is not to be done. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM




Categories: Liturgical Abuses

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