From a reader:
At Mass Saturday evening, the gentleman in the row in front of us came all the way down from his seat next to the center aisle to my husband and me sitting next to the wall aisle. He wanted to hold hands with us during the Our Father and I instinctively clasped my hands tightly and shut my eyes. I know he thought I was rude, but I couldn’t help myself.
QUAERITUR: Where can I find the instruction which the Holy Father gave concerning NOT holding hands during the Our Father? It had something to do with false intimacy and the fact that our unity comes not from handholding but from partaking together the Blessed Sacrament in Holy Communion.
There is no specific prohibition against holding hands during the Our Father, or any other time at Mass for that matter. However, there is no provision to ask or invite people to do so, and were a priest or deacon to do so during Mass he would be committing a grave liturgical abuse. Priests can’t just make stuff up and impose things because they think it is meaningful.
The hand holding thing – which I hope will soon vanish – is for those who don’t care to partake, an invasive aberration.
Again, if people spontaneously desire to do this, I cannot see any problem with it. I am picturing myself with a Mass kit on a crate with candles in the London Underground during the Blitz, and, as I say Mass, people who have never met are holding hands has the horrible booms resound through the ground and echo in the tube tunnels. I am picturing saying Mass just after an announcement that a terrorist group lit up dirty suit-case nukes in Washington DC, Chicago, and LA. I am picturing an asteroid… well, you get my drift.
Congregations of total or near total strangers might be spontaneously driven sincerely to hold hands in those circumstances, but – and perhaps it is a lack of something on my part – I cannot see this hand holding stretch excerise as nothing but contrived sentimentalism which distracts us from the transcendent nature of God Almighty and the meaning of the petitions in the Our Father.
Having vented, I repeat: I am unaware of any prohibition of holding hands during Mass. Spontaneous, fine. It must never be invited or imposed from someone with a microphone anywhere near the altar.