Holding hands during the Our Father… a “Protestant infiltration”?

It seems I comment on blogs far more than I write my own blog posts, so I’m going to start linking to comments I’ve made that I think would have been good stand-alone blog posts.

This afternoon, Fr. Z shared a link to an article by Ray Burke on the web site of the National Catholic Register in which Burke laments liturgical abuses he was subjected to during the Christmas season. The one which Fr. Z drew attention to was the holding of hands during the Our Father; he provides this excerpt from Burke’s article:

In the end, I have decided to begin using a particular phrase in response to questions about my expressed dismay at this madness: “Because I am not a protestant.” The implication is clear. Here’s how it looks in a real dialogue: “Why don’t you hold hands at the Our Father?” “Because I am not a protestant.”

I do not usually hold hands during the Our Father. But I would certainly never say draw a connection between my not being a Protestant and my not holding hands, because there is simply no connection there. Burke evidently sees a connection.

Burke claims that “Hand-holding during the Our Father … is forbidden on the basis that we are not allowed to add or change the Mass.” But if that is the case, then holding the hand of your spouse or child as you sit in your pew to listen to the readings and homily is forbidden. Now, the priest is not permitted to require (or invite) the congregation to hold hands before the Our Father, but the spontaneous holding of hands by the congregation is an entirely different matter.

One commenter on Fr. Z’s web site (“acardnal“) called hand-holding during the Our Father “a Protestant infiltration.” I disagree. So as not to make this a full-fledged blog post of its own, I invite you to read my response and the one that follows it.

6 thoughts on “Holding hands during the Our Father… a “Protestant infiltration”?

  1. I believe that the holding hands during the Our Father is not liturgical, but it should be taught or talked about by the priest.
    Another example is at a church I attend has the congregation, greet each other before the mass starts, this is done during the mass IE: sign of peace.
    Also the priest greet everyone before and after mass., kind of like welcome to walmart.

    • The sign of peace is not a time to “greet” your neighbors, but a time to manifest the peace of Christ which should rule in the Church. This is why we are to say something like “Peace be with you” not “Welcome”.

      As for priests greeting people before and after Mass being like “welcome to walmart”, I would disagree.

  2. I attend Mass at the Catholic Charismatic Center, it is not so much a parish (because it’s a Center that caters to the laity of the diocese) but I do consider it my Church, we only have one Mass on Sunday and we have a good amount of people come out from throughout the Archdiocese. Vatican has not established anything concerning banning holding hands during the Our Father however they do “discourage” it. I believe it is up to the congregation, and particularly at my Church we do hold hands during the Our Father and I love it, we hold hands all accross the Sanctuary going as far as crossing the aisles, one of the reasons I love it is because the Main Sanctuary is pretty big and in the back the seating goes up, if you are sitting up in the back and you look towards the front of the sanctuary during the Our Father I see the people of God coming together as the Body of Christ, (have in mind that our congregation is very diverse in which I see the Catholic (universal) Church) people of all cultures,races,languages coming together to sing/pray the Our Father! It has become one of my favorites parts of the Mass (my favorite being of course the Eucharist) and it is a very powerful part of the Mass when we all (every Catholic in the worlds as well) come together to pray to Our God! God Bless!
    Alive in the Spirit -Edgar

  3. Although Fr Z. missed the mark when answering that he doesn’t believe we should hold hands because we are not Protestant.

    It certainly is a disruption in the Liturgy. I suggest you listen to Colin Donovon from EWTN (a canon lawyer) explain why this is discouraged. Mostly because our unity does not lay in the sign of holding hands it is beautifully manifested in the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ present on the altar, that we who are in union with the Church receive. http://www.ewtn.com/vexperts/showmessage.asp?number=408748

  4. Holding hands is definitely a distraction. Watch as people release hands and frequently exchange words, sometimes silly behavior between children , or other gestures. It is not right.

  5. Holding hands as a congregation (not as, say, a husband holding my wife’s hand) is an expressed sign of “unity”. However, this is superfluous at best and problematic at worst. Holy Communion is the great sacrament of unity with the Church. We are all joined together as a Church through the sharing of Christ’s body and blood (I sometimes make the analogy that we are all spokes and Christ the center a wheel; we’re all connected, specifically through the sacrifice Christ made on our behalf). So, at best, this “additional” sign of unity is superfluous because it is dwarfed by the enormity of the actual unity that is achieved through the Eucharist. At worst, it is a problem because holding hands may easily be construed that the unity achieved through the Eucharist is, in some way, insufficient or inadequate. In this sense, holding hands could be taken to undermine the Eucharist and is an enormous problem. Either way, I don’t see any benefit and the potential for confusion (not to mention distraction) is quite real.

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