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Kevin Terry wrote:

Mike,

I had a question for all of you at AskACatholic.com. I heard that the Congregation of Divine Worship in 1975 published Notitiae, which repudiated hand holding during the Our Father at Mass. I believe their reasoning was because it projected false unity and that the true unity came through the Eucharist.

I had never heard of this before, and was wondering if this is still suppose to be followed in the Catholic Church. I was taught that we are to hold hands during the Our Father, and at my Church people would get extremely offended if you decide not to hold their hands during the prayer.

Let me know what you all know about this.

As usual, thanks for the help.

God Bless,

K.T.

  { During the Mass, should the faithful be holding each others hands during the Our Father? }

Mike replied:

Hi Kevin,

Great to hear from you!

You said:
I heard that the Congregation of Divine Worship in 1975 published Notitiae, which repudiated hand holding during the Our Father at Mass.

The congregation may have, but to be honest, I really don't know.

Interestingly, I was brought up, never hold hands during the Our Father. My understanding:

The Holy See has used language discouraging the practice, but it has not explicitly forbidden it.

But most importantly, remember, this is not a doctrinal issue. This is an issue of Mass rubrics and gestures that can change with time.

I would say that the pastor should be guided by what is pastorally best for his parishioners and their spiritual well-being and growth. The articles below should shed some light on the issue.

They are from Catholic Culture and Catholic Answers:

I'm sure my colleague may want to pitch in.

Mike

Richard replied:

Hi, Kevin —

Christ is Risen!

When people hold hands at the Our Father, they intend it to be an expression of unity and brotherhood, and this is a noble thought but the Church is ahead of these folks: it has already placed a sign of unity in the Mass, the Sign of Peace which follows immediately after the
Our Father. If we were to hold hands at the Our Father, that would tend to diminish the significance of the Peace:, an ancient Christian gesture with Scriptural roots. As usual, we're better off just accepting the wisdom of the liturgy as it has been defined by the whole Church.

Of course, the hand-holding is not a severe problem that we need to stamp out vigorously. Priests, servers, and knowledgeable lay people can just model the correct posture and gestures, and the erroneous practices can fade away.

Just as a personal idea: a good substitute gesture in place of hand-holding is the gesture of prayer: hands forward and palms up. It's equally unofficial, but it is more God-focused, as is appropriate for the Our Father. Also, it doesn't impose itself on one's neighbor. I believe this gesture is standard procedure for Byzantine-rite Catholics during their Divine Liturgy.

By the way, Notitiae is not a one-time publication from 1975, but an ongoing periodical issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship. Among other things, it provides answers to recent questions.

— RC

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