"Are we prepared to promote conditions in which the living contact with God can be reestablished? For our lives today have become godless to the point of complete vacuity. God is no longer with us in the conscious sense of the word. He is denied, ignored, excluded from every claim to have a part in our daily life." - Alfred Delp, S.J.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Thou shalt not hold hands at Mass ... Just say the black and follow the rubrics and you will be saved.

You can't pray at Mass like this anymore either.
It's Protestant.

Ordinary form of things.

The other day I left a comment on Aleteia in response to Fr. Henry Vargas Holguin's article, The Lord's Prayer During Mass - Should we hold hands?

I sometimes save comments I leave in case they are not published. If the subject is important enough - or not - I'll use it for a post. Sometimes. In this case I didn't expect the comment to be accepted - I did a quick scan of comments and didn't see it. That's fine with me, I'm never offended. I do like to make my opinion known however, on 'ordinary' life, as a Catholic, as an ordinary Catholic.

Fr. Holguin's post is well written and well meaning, no doubt, as are many of the comments by those who like rubrics and follow rubrics, or search until they find a parish that does. When they decide to go to Mass that is. Sometimes people like this may skip Mass if they feel fat that day, or maybe had too much to drink the night before, or because the parish church in their neighborhood is too liberal and they just don't have the time to get to the 'perfect' parish - the 'observant' Mass where no one holds hands ever. But I digress.

Copts do it.

Having said that, the following is the comment I left on the post, a bit tongue in cheek, but it has been my experience over the decades...

I don't do it (hold hands or do the orans position at prayer or at Mass) but I see it in almost every Catholic church I have ever attended since the Charismatic Renewal spread across the country. It is now pretty much ingrained in Catholic's active participation at Mass... that old 'sensus fidelium' raises it's novus ordo head again! Darn!
Too late Fr. Holguin - it won't go away.
I imagine that comment came off a bit snarky - it wasn't meant as an attack or to be snide, but to just remind everyone that this practice has been ingrained in worshipers all around the country.  The sensus fidelium term was misused deliberately just to make my point it has become a common practice - especially among families.  If you say it comes from Protestants and I say it comes from the Charismatics, fine.  Most churches I have been to over the years include Protestant hymns in the liturgy - at Mass.  Many trads insist the Mass is Protestant.  Catholic devotions - especially in the Americas has been influenced by Protestantism, no doubt about it.  Yet it doesn't change the truth, it doesn't affect the dogma of faith - the centrality of the Eucharist, the belief in the true presence of Christ , the holy sacrifice of the Mass remains intact.

Asians do it.

Take the Latino parishes for instance.  Often their liturgies incorporate a great deal of emotion as well as hand raising and hand holding - it's not so much Protestant as it is cultural.  As a cultural thing, many priests are open to it, respect it and permit it in order to help others feel welcome and comfortable by permitting such gestures; call it 'cultural active participation'.  To embrace and accept such practices is a far better pastoral practice than losing the faithful to an Evangelical community without sacraments.

Kids are taught to do it.

The hand holding and orans position is not how I pray at mass, but like I said, just about every parish I've ever attended has that going on.  Our young, newly ordained priests follow the GIRM in everything, and yet they allow the congregation to continue the practice, as well as Communion in the hand, and altar girls and boys.  These newly ordained priests emphasize the sacraments, go out of their way to encourage vocations, their homilies frequently urge a return to the sacrament of penance, Eucharistic adoration, and devotion to Our Lady.  These are the essentials.  Let the priests follow the rubrics, and the parishioners will follow.

Here's a thought:  Perhaps if the priest celebrated Mass ad orientem, he himself would be less distracted by what the congregation does?  In the days before the Council active participation meant following along in the missal, the rosary, or some other Mass prayers - but then active participation changed.

Old people - for whom the very devout 
are waiting to die off - do it.

Once in a while I used to murmur to myself about that stuff; the hand holding, sign of peace, and so on.  Nevertheless, it became so widespread, I just accepted it.  Otherwise it became a distraction for me at Mass.  So many people watch others at Mass, no wonder they do not even know how to recollect themselves.  People look around at how others are dressed, how they pray before Mass - if at all, others whisper, some talk.  Single moms feel conspicuous and left out.  Fat ugly people are embarrassed the way they look.  Pious Mary's evil eye the women with bare shoulders or no chapel veil.  This is vanity.  This is not devotion.  Very seriously, if you pray before Mass in preparation, you'll be able to focus and pray during Mass - without distracting yourself by what others are doing.

So - my post here is a waste of time and consideration - but I think the comments to Fr. Holguin's post are a waste as well.  More stuff for people to gripe about and guilt other people for.

I guess they do it in Europe too.

This is what is more important:

Go to Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation,
even if you are living in sin.
Pray at Mass and pray privately,
even if you aren't in the state of grace.
Assist at Mass attentively and devoutly,
in accord with the rubrics as you know them or have been instructed.
Don't worry about what others do at Mass.

Go to confession and reform your own life.

Even Cat-licks do it.


  1. During the Our Father I raise my hands in a gesture of praise and worship. Almost everyone at Mass does too. If we do so with good intentions and not to make a scene, then I agree.

    Your post is solid once again, thanks. I was at Mass yesterday and the thing I found most distracting was all the chatter before Mass. I closed my eyes several times to try and focus but it was too loud at times. I prayed and sat in silence regardless.
    Once Mass started, folks became quiet and that was a nice respite.

    I appreciate the silence and solitude of being in an empty church all the more after chitter-chatter. ^^

    One more thing, I used to watch everything father did and did not do to the point of getting distracted and angry if he "messed up" during Mass. No more! I lost track of why I was there and prayed for the grace to be free of such behavior on my part.

    Our most gracious Lord delivered me from such but there are times ...

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Pews aren't traditional. My great-grandma came here in 1909 and I've been to the village from whence she came. The church is no longer used; emigration decimated the population and communism cut down on church attendance. There are no pews. There never were. Similarly, churches in Russia are without pews, save some benches around the perimeter for the elderly and the impaired.

  3. I love this post! When I first returned to Mass I felt very conspicuous (divorced, had been away for years, married again outside the church) so I'd do what everyone else was doing so I wouldn't stick out. Then I started reading blogs and such. Insert eye roll here. All of a sudden I was the Communion Cop and ready to nail Father at the slightest "error" he made in regard to how he celebrated Mass. Eventually I settled down. I need to spend my energy on trying to work on myself. It's also good that the town I live in is so small we only have one church. The nearest parishes are 40 to 80 miles away. Like marriage, you have to learn to get along, compromise, work it out. I save the orans position for private prayer.

  4. ...is the fierce kitty a Dominican ?....or a hybrid ?

  5. I used to assume the orans position (there are paintings in the catacombs of people doing it, after all), but it never came naturally. So now I just fold my hands.

    1. I never did - even when I went to Charismatic prayer conferences and meetings.

  6. I think you may have posted some commentary about some of the hymns sung at Mass. I remember that some are thought to be too protestant for Sunday worship. ^^

    I read this and was made happy since it happened to me long ago when I first was coming back to my Catholic faith. Some of those "protestant hymns" do hold fond memories for me.

    Bishop Robert Barron:

    "By way of conclusion, I’ll share a liturgical moment that has stayed with me. The seminarian choir here would sing songs for Mass from a variety of cultures and in an array of languages. On Thursday morning, for the post-communion meditation, they broke into “Here I Am, Lord.” Now I’ve heard “Here I Am, Lord” about ten thousand times, and if I were planning a liturgy in the United States, I would probably steer clear of it, but as the voices of the bishops took up the tune, and the whole place was filled with the words and music, I admit I was deeply moved. All I could think of were the innumerable times I sang that song in college, in the seminary, in all of my different parish and teaching assignments—and I realized that I had “heard him calling in the night,” and that I had managed, often despite myself, to say, “Here I am, Lord,” and that following the mysterious voice had led me to this room, surrounded by bishops from all across the world, who had heard and followed the same voice.

    That moment alone made baby bishop school worth it."


    1. He is so great - I love Bishop Barron - and he is exactly right, when one is deeply recollected these hymns become light and are grace-filled. The Spirit moves where he wills.

  7. When someone tries to hold my hand during the Our Father, I punch 'em. Hard. We're the Church Militant, doncha know, and we don't go for that sissy touchy-feely stuff.


    1. Remember when that guy hugged you really tight at Mass at the sign of Peace and then we wrestled - that was me!

  8. Yeah I don't like the hand-holding either, but whatcha gonna do? If someone reaches over to me, I'll take 'em up on the offer. Most young priests I now are against it personally for liturgical reasons, but also don't see a reason to disturb people when the Church herself makes no demands either way.

    However, and maybe someone less of a gringo than myself can confirm or deny this, but I've always got the impression that the revival tent type atmosphere you see at a lot of Spanish masses is due to the influence of the Charismatic Movement in Latin America (if not straight-up Pentecostalism), and not particularly due to Latin culture. In my experience, Latino Catholics tend to be just as influenced (for better or for worse) by evangelical, Pentecostalish Protestantism.

    The one thing that still really bothers me at Mass though is how the choir in many parishes uses the pre-Mass time as practice time. I don't like it because I think it's unfair to people who are trying to pray before Mass.

    1. By the grace of God I can tune out the pre-Mass practice - just like I can the hymns as well as all the reverie after Mass in my thanksgiving. You can do it Merc.

      I think you're right about the Pentecostal influence - they moved in to the church across the street. They rock.

      I'll keep burying medals and scapulars until a Catholic group comes along.

    2. Haha I know I can do it too. Well, I still need the grave for that. But I mean as a matter of parish policy, I'd like to see more pastors try alternative solutions for choir practice.

      What if the group you attract with your burials is like, the SSPV? (The ones that make SSPX look like We Are Church)

    3. It's a grace and somewhat difficult - but it is something to offer up, as well as to thank God for. Thank him these people are at Mass, alive, happy, and so on. Thank God they could receive communion. It's a very Thereseian habit to practice and try to acquire. It takes time and suffering to be sure. ;)

  9. Well, as long as I ain't getting judged for not holding an orans posture, I'm not judging anyone else.

    I get a feeling in my church that if I don't go along to get along, I'm probably not welcome. Flows from both sides of the aisle--sad, isn't it?

    1. I've experienced that once or twice, which is why I always try to be especially friendly, nodding with a smile and so on. I try not to let it bother me. Once a young couple were surprised when I turned to greet them and the woman said, 'Oh! He does speak!' I laughed.

    2. I struggle with that myself--I'm not always the most outgoing of people. My husband is in the process of converting and the shaking of hands at the kiss of peace always makes him awkward. I look people in the eye and shake their hands!
      I know I'm not there to feel comfortable, I know. The husband, he's still learning that, though!

  10. Here in Philippines, folks usually hold hands with family members - but that's it. No holding hands with absolute strangers. During the sign of Peace, families often hug or kiss, but it's almost impossible to get a Filipino to look at you and give you a nod. No touching strangers.

  11. Touching strangers violates boundaries in my opinion. I haven't had a stranger reach out to me in I don't know how long. I stand there w/my mom & usually a sister or two; and I'll hold my 84-year-old mom's hand, but that's it. Otherwise I keep my hands folded at my sternum, eyes down (usually). I get too distracted. I always *always* call to mind Terry's thoughts when I get distracted. Just remember, "... and He moved through the midst of them."


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