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Holding hands in the congregation while reciting the Lord's Prayer



Many say we should not be holding hands in the congregation while reciting the Lord's Prayer because it is not a community prayer but a prayer to "Our Father." Local priests say that since the Vatican has not specifically addressed it, then we are free to do as we please: either hold hands or not. What is the true Roman Catholic way in which to recite the Lord's Prayer during Mass?

It is true that there is no prescribed posture for the hands during the Our Father and that, so far at least, neither the Holy See nor the U.S. bishops' conference has officially addressed it.

The process for introducing any new rite or gesture into the liturgy in a stable or even binding manner is already contemplated in liturgical law. This process entails a two-thirds majority vote in the bishops' conference and the go-ahead from the Holy See before any change may take effect.

While there are no directions as to the posture of the faithful, the rubrics clearly direct the priest and any concelebrants to pray the Our Father with hands extended — so they at least should not hold hands.

A different case is the practice in which some people adopt the "orantes" posture during the Our Father, praying like the priest, with hands extended.

In some countries, Italy, for example, the Holy See has granted the bishops' request to allow anyone who wishes to adopt this posture during the Our Father. Usually about a third to one-half of the assembled faithful choose to do so.

The Our Father is the prayer of the entire assembly and not a priestly or presidential prayer. In fact, it is perhaps the only case when the rubrics direct the priest to pray with arms extended in a prayer that he does not say alone or only with other priests. Therefore, in the case of the Our Father, the orantes posture expresses the prayer directed to God by his children.

SOURCE -ROME, 18 NOV. 2003 (ZENIT).
Answered by Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum.



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