D. Covington: Bp. Foys issues liturgical decrees – No joy for “hand holders”

There can be no renewal of any aspect of our Catholic lives and identity without first a revitalization of our liturgical worship.

A reader sent me a link to a letter of 18 November 2011 and accompanying decrees concerning the sacred liturgy issued by His Excellency Most Rev. Roger J. Foys, Bishop of Covington.  You can find it HERE.

In the letter and in the decrees, Bp. Foys stresses in particular Sacrosanctum Concilium 22 which states that no on even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.

Among the decrees we find this interesting point:

1. The text of the Roman Missal be used exactly as it is written. As stated in the citation from the Second Vatican Council none of us has the authority to change the text for any reason.

[...]

4. The gestures for the priests, deacons, religious and lay faithful be strictly carried out in accord with the rubrics of the Roman Missal, for “the gestures and bodily posture of both the Priest, the Deacon, and the ministers, and also of the people, must be conducive to making the entire celebration resplendent with beauty and noble simplicity, to making clear the true and full meaning of its different parts, and to fostering the participation of all.

Can you say “Say The Black – Do The Red”?

That last point included this:

b. Special note should be made concerning the proper posture during the Eucharistic Prayer. In the United States the lay faithful are instructed to kneel from the end of the Sanctus through the end of the Great Amen (see GIRM 43). Deacons kneel from the epiclesis through the showing of the chalice. Priests remain standing. In addition, “the faithful kneel after the Agnus Dei unless the diocesan Bishop determines otherwise” (GIRM 43).

i. Please note: Within the Diocese of Covington the Bishop has not determined otherwise so as to remain in accord with the norms set by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

c. Special note should also be made concerning the gesture for the Our Father. Only the priest is given the instruction to “extend” his hands. Neither the deacon nor the lay faithful are instructed to do this. No gesture is prescribed for the lay faithful in the Roman Missal; nor the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, therefore the extending or holding of hands by the faithful should not be performed.

Interesting, no?  People are not to raise the arms, extend their hands or hold hands during the Our Father.  And if that is the case, they should never be directed or encouraged to do so.  In fact, if they are doing so, they must be instructed and encouraged about the proper posture and improper posture.

Am I reading that right?

I also like this:

5. That choirs and other musicians use choir lofts in churches that are structured as such. While this is not mandated, we strongly recommend it.

[...]

b. The sanctuary is reserved for the Priest Celebrant, concelebrants, the Deacon and the other ministers who serve at the Altar. (see GIRM 294)

And this is very good:

6. Sacred Silence be observed in our churches prior to the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy to allow the clergy and the faithful to properly prepare and dispose themselves for the Sacred Mysteries to which they are about to participate. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal reminds us: “Sacred silence also, as part of the celebration, is to be observed at the designated times…. Even before the celebration itself, it is commendable that silence is observed in the church, in the sacristy, in the vesting room, and in adjacent areas, so that all may dispose themselves to carry out the sacred action in a devout and fitting manner.” (GIRM 45) Silence following the Mass is also encouraged for those who might want to remain in the church to pray.

WDTPRS kudos to the Bishop of Covington, to whom I shall send a New Translation SUPER Special ELITE Edition “Say The Black – Do The Red” coffee mug.

There can be no renewal of any aspect of our Catholic lives and identity without first a revitalization of our liturgical worship.

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68 Responses to D. Covington: Bp. Foys issues liturgical decrees – No joy for “hand holders”

  1. Taylor says:

    Excellent! If only there was a step further so people didn’t raise their hands toward the priest while saying “and also with you/and with your spirit” (in reflection of the priest). This irks me more than hand-holding during the Pater Noster.

  2. teomatteo says:

    ” … therefore the extending or holding of hands by the faithful should not be performed.”
    To quote a priest I know, “Wow, just wow”

  3. Midwest St. Michael says:

    Really glad to see this.

    At a neighboring parish I have been assisting at – the priest has *told* the congregation, via instruction for the implementation of the changes for the OF during sermons and printed in the bulletin, that the new GIRM (2003) *instructs* the faithful to hold their hands up just in front of them (not up and out, he said).

    I thought to myself, “No, it doesn’t.” If the congregation were to do this it would be in the missalette, yes?

    Our priests had a retreat with Bp. Trautman a few years back (at the height of the debate at the USCCB conferences on the liturgical translations). According to what my pastor said – the bishop *told* the priests that the USCCB has petitioned Rome for the approval of that posture for the congregation – and supposedly received this approval!

    My priest went on to say “Don’t be coming to me about abuses at Mass – if you do I will come to you and ask you why aren’t you doing what *you* are supposed to be doing?” (i.e. the “Oran’s” posture during the Lord’s Prayer)

    [huge sigh]

    Good grief – we have a long, *long* way to go with all of this, do we not?

    MSM

  4. PhilipNeri says:

    This is all well and good. . .but the real question is: does His Excellency have access to the Vatican’s horde of Opus Dei Albino Monk Assassins to use as enforcers? Without the threat of a midnight garroting, some pastors will just ignore this.

    Fr. Philip Neri, OP

  5. edwardswyco says:

    I’ve been to several masses where the priest almost drags the deacon and altar servers up around the altar to all hold hands during the Our Father. It’s ridiculous.

  6. tealady24 says:

    Well! Now they’ve done it! It a big crinkle in the mass-lives of all those look-at-me Catholics.
    I’m sure they’ll think up something else to call attention to themselves. In the meantime. . .

    HALLELUJAH!!

  7. guatadopt says:

    Amen!! You don’t even know how badly I can’t stand the “orans” position during the Our Father. Yet my wife and I are literally the only people in my parish who don’t do it. My 6 year old son held his hands out during the Our Father because he saw everyone else do it once and I whispered in his ear, “folder you hands please, this isn’t a séance”.

  8. kathygeorge says:

    My husband and I are really bothered by “The Greeting.” Many parishes in this area have this now, and my husband has recently encountered it in other states. The instruction differs in every parish. My “favorite” is: “Stand up, turn around and shake someone’s hand and see the spirit of God in them.” Although our former Cardinal’s priest-secretary said the Cardinal would be addressing “The Greeting,” it never happened. The practice has continued to spread. I thought maybe it would be gone this past weekend but it wasn’t. What else could/should I do?

  9. I love this! I want this in my diocese!

    Especially the part where the congregation kneels after the Agnus Dei: I think mine must be one of the few dioceses where this is not done.

  10. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    YES! My wife stayed in the Cincinnati/Covington area during a clinical rotation. She frequented the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption quite often during her time there and had many positive things to say about the diocese. Apparently the good Bishop gave a lengthy talk to a packed house at the local ‘Theology on Tap’ group in that diocese the summer she was there. Good things. Brick by brick.

  11. Tradster says:

    They are throwing a total meltdown fit on http://www.uscatholic.org/blog/2011/11/bishop-covington-stop-holding-hands about it. Which proves it’s the right thing.

  12. JKnott says:

    Nixing the illicit handholding and hand praying is consistent with the meaning of, ” and with your spirit” which makes the distinction between the ministerial priesthood and the people.
    Why can’t a small portion of the homily be dedicated to teaching, in an interesting manner, the reasons and spiritual meanings behind the beautiful points of the Mass and the changes? I don’t understand why priests allow themselves to be bullied by the people.

  13. albinus1 says:

    My “favorite” is: “Stand up, turn around and shake someone’s hand and see the spirit of God in them.”

    As much as I hate scripted chumminess, esp. at Mass, I would almost be willing to accept something like this at the beginning of Mass, it were done instead of rather than in addition to, the “Sign of Peace” before Communion.

  14. Tom Esteban says:

    Tradster I made a comment on that link, let us see what happens! Good for this Bishop, I am thankful for men like him in our Church who care about the liturgy. If he would release a document encourages the Latin Mass that would be the icing on the cake.

  15. catholicmidwest says:

    Tradster,
    There is a high profile liturgy blog from Minnesota called praytellblog and that’s going ballistic too. It’s been entertaining over there for the entire last week, as you might well guess.

  16. Sword40 says:

    Well, no matter how “great” the new missal is, I am just fed up with the whole “shebang” and have just about worked it so that I can make it to a TLM almost every week. So for those weeks when I must attend an OF Mass, at least it should be improved over the agony of the past.

  17. n1tr0narc says:

    In the Philippines, handholding during pater noster is very cultural for us a a people, but has been advised against for health purposes, now done among family members mostly. We have been kneeling after agnus Dei since I first attended mass with my parents in 1975. I guess it is something we retained from the EF.

  18. vox borealis says:

    I like the sentiment behind these rles, but is the bishop going beyond his authority. I agree that clearly the laity cannot be compelled to hold hands during the Our Father, but can (or even should) the bishop attempt to police what individuals and families do on their own, outside of acts of profanation? I mean, as a silly comparison, the rubrics do not specify that the laity pray with hands clasped or folded, so sh ould that be outlawed as well? Of course not.

    Look, I don’t like the whole hand-holdin’ thing, but I think what is really needed is an entirely different way of dealing with the laity during mass. My preference: outside of a very few prescribed postures at specific times, leave the laity alone. The old lady wants to kneel and pray her rosary the whole mass? Fine, leave her alone. The family wants to hold hands during the Our Father? Fine, leave them alone.

  19. tzard says:

    A couple of things – In my understanding of Church law – if the rubrics are silent, individuals are not bound to do anything. So I think the argument from silence is technically wrong (yes, I only play an expert on TV). However, considering that congregations have been instructed to do this in the past, and the continued action is a result of this, I think it’s appropriate for the Bishop to instruct the faithful to *not* do this, as reparation for the past error.

    Second thing – as much as we dislike what happens at Mass – I’ve found in general that the congregation will do what the priest says, if only the priest will say it – and they’ll not often read a bulletin insert of a letter. So, if I may be so bold – it would be an effective approach for the bishop to instruct the *priests* to direct the faithful to not hold hands or do “orans” in imitation of the priest. A bishop would then be able to call all his pastors and ask “how did it go when you told them to not hold hands?”

    (p.s. I like his directive that music needs to be approved before being used. Horray)

  20. Jerry says:

    “but is the bishop going beyond his authority”

    Note that he stated that “extending or holding of hands by the faithful should not be performe”, Not must not, may not, shall not, etc. How is this going beyond his authority?

  21. RichR says:

    Illicit handholding. I love it.

    This is the beginning of the end. The 70′s are now over.

  22. Joshua08 says:

    Does it even make sense that the priest should have the orans posture here? When the Pater was said by the celebrant alone, then it makes sense as he is praying on behalf of the people. But he joined his hands when the people said sed libera nos a malo.

    When the Pater was extended to everyone, but the posture retained, it only makes sense that it would be imitated by the laity.

  23. capchoirgirl says:

    Wow I feel really stupid, because I have been doing that dumb hand thing. I thought it was in the GIRM!!!!!Whoops! I’ll be stopping it now. :) Of course during Advent and Lent it’s hard to do anyway because we chant the Our Father, so I use my hands to hold the sheet so I can follow the chant.
    But yeah, will be stopping this ASAP.
    And we’ve always kneeled after the A.D. (Diocese of Columbus) Of course, I’ve found parishes in my diocese that don’t kneel at all, much to my dismay.

  24. mariadevotee says:

    Never did like nor will do that hand holding thing. Way too much 60′s “keep the juice flowing” for me.

  25. contrarian says:

    So great to read this thread. There are a few bloggers talking about this, and some of the comment threads are, er, instructive. There are, apparently, not a few Catholics folks out there, clergy no less, who are taking these decrees hard.

    But I’ll add my praise to the pot here: these decrees by Bishop Foys are awesome, gladdening, heartening, and wonderful. Gives a guy hope, it does.

    Oh, and capchoirgirl, when I first converted to RC, I did the hand thing during the Lord’s Prayer too! I also thought that this was what you were supposed to do. Heh. Imagine my relief when I found out that this was but a non-liturgical development by the hippies among us.

  26. leonugent2005 says:

    If you read the current GIRM carefully, praying the Eucharistic prayer in a low nearly inaudible voice has been explicitly excluded and yet it is still done that way.

  27. Frankly, if a couple want to hold hands during the Our Father, I don’t think that’s a problem. That is not what this is about.

    What this is about is the absurd daisy chain across aisles and arms waving around.

  28. PhillipE says:

    Fr. Z,
    When I was in Catholic elementary school we had to do the “daisy chain”. The organist would play music in the interim while everyone “got into position” and then the Priest would come down from the altar and join hands as well! I never liked doing it because I never cared to be touching the hand of some random person, especially during the cold & flu season.

  29. Supertradmum says:

    I have always believed that the extending of the hands of the laity was ostentatious and wrong, as it is in imitation of a gesture only the priest in the past has done. To me, it is a sign of the clericalism of the laity which is deplorable. As St. JoseMaria Escriva pointed out, it is the job of the laity to take the Gospel into the world, not to be clerics…

    The raising of the hands is the raising of the priest’s consecrated hands, to God, as the alter Christus. We are not in that position, obviously. The charismatics started the chains of hands being held, which I think, again, takes away from the reverence of the Mass and places the emphasis on people, rather than God.

    This bishop is wonderful. May God bless him and may his people respond accordingly.

  30. MarkJ says:

    I thank God every day for our FSSP parish, where none of this is a worry for us parishioners. And I pray every day for the complete return of Tradition to the Church, and for the complete disappearance of the “New Mass”, with all its 1960′s “customs”.

  31. triumphguy says:

    I for one will always hold hands with my wife and kids during the Our Father.

    But I dislike the hands raised in Pentecostalistic worship pose.

  32. marija says:

    I’ve been to so many new parishes where there is no place for a choir loft because the ceilings are too low. It is so sad! Then there are the churches where the lofts are in disrepair and they are costing a fortune to fix properly so they are safe. And finally, there are the newer churches which could have a loft, once the money will be raised and the priest thinks this is a good way to spend it! And while we’re at it… let’s add a pipe organ!

  33. catholicmidwest says:

    And Fr. Z,
    Downright pressure to conform. People can be aggressive about this, which is really sad and a bit scary. I put my hands in my pockets and pray, which looks funny I’m sure, but it does discourage grabbing and grappling to get my hand (except in one instance where I thought I was going to have to break out in a run a few years ago….LOL).

  34. pberginjr says:

    @ capchoirgirl
    Regarding the use of orans posture in the Dioc. of Columbus, I heard from a seminarian (ordained to the Diaconate) giving an excellent homily on appropriate postures for prayer that this practice (the Pater prayed by the laity in the orans position) was instituted at the behest of a previous bishop only in the past 10-15 years!!! Since that time the succeeding bishop has not decided to change this policy. I moved from out of town and thought it was just the part of town I lived in, but it apparently was ordered from the top.

  35. Consilio et Impetu says:

    I would hope that this letter be adopted by the USCCB and all Dioceses in the USA. The nonsense needs to stop! Thank God there is a bishop with a backbone. Does the Church in the USA need Liturgy and Ruberic Police? YES!

  36. PhillipE says:

    @MarkJ
    I too will be glad when one day this nonsense form the 60′s is finally gone. I wasn’t around when it got started as I’m only 27. That said I do know from talking to a lot of young adult faithful my age and many seem to prefer either the Extraordinary Form Mass or a much more traditional “Say the Black and Do the Red” Ordinary Form. It always seems to be the adults who want this “kumbaya garbage” for lack of a better way of saying it.

  37. catholicmidwest says:

    vox borealis,

    In a perfect world, I would agree with you. The problem is that Americans are a bit looney on matters of form and appearance, probably due to the fact that we’ve been overstimulated visually by our media & entertainment for decades. I’m sure the Holy See thinks we’re all loco by now. In other countries this isn’t near as much of a concern as it is here. The fact is, though, that Americans and now Canadians, read all kinds of nonsense into gestures whether the gestures are trite and goofy or not. A good example is this hand-holding, which is the epitome of trite and goofy, and it’s a health hazard to boot.

    We probably need a good education in what gestures are meaningful, like kneeling, if we’re going to endow them with such power. We seem no longer to know, if we want to use gestures, which ones are gestures of piety and which ones are not. [Problem is we've had a minority in the church agitating against piety for decades and this has caused a lot of trouble and confusion.]

    And also we need to be taught that it’s just plain wrong to wrestle somebody to the ground to get their hand or make them kneel or not kneel or whatever. That’s assault in the normal world, you understand.

  38. robtbrown says:

    The irony is that this is taking place in Covington, which at one time had a very fine philosophy faculty for seminarians, which was attended by men like Bp Conley of Denver. Then a new bishop took over, Wm Hughes, who thought its approach was not open enough. He modernized, made the curriculum more open=–the result was that the seminary closed.

    That pastoral genius Bp Hughes retired in 1995.

  39. Joy says:

    The parish to which I belong is a small, mission parish – the only other options involve a full day spent traveling. When I first began attending Mass here I was surprised by the hand-holding, the protracted sign of peace, no kneeling at all and most especially by the complete lack of “sacred silence”. I had been away from the Church for a while, so thought perhaps much had changed in the past twenty years. My first year here, we were lucky to have a priest available for Mass; some months we only saw him once with the remainder of the Sundays being lay-led Eucharistic Services. As I have watched and learned and quietly made my way into this parish, it seems that there is a small group of parishoners who feel this church is theirs and they WILL have their way! It disturbs me, and saddens me that this is the atmosphere here. Because of our isolation, the laity have had to step up and do many things perhaps not done by lay people elsewhere, but when it comes to our sacred Liturgy, we should be able to set aside the “ego” and do what is right and proper – especially if what we are currently doing is outside of what is allowed/expected. I would love to see these types of changes outlined by Bishop Foys, changes which would bring us back to the sacredness and reverence due the Mass, but I am not holding my breath — though I am praying! Our archbishop is fairly new to our archdiocese, and I have not heard any decrees from him which even approach this.

  40. AnnikaMira says:

    “There can be no renewal of any aspect of our Catholic lives and identity without first a revitalization of our liturgical worship”

    and

    ” illicit handholding”

    Wow. This is surreal…All this pent up anger and piling on anyone [Sounds like typical liberal reduction of an opposing position to "anger".] who dare put their hand somewhere they are not supposed to during a prayer…What are you looking around for and sticking your nose in someone else’s business? Wish you got as this worked up every time a priest put his hands somewhere they didn’t belong…..PRIORITIES, PEOPLE, PLEASE….

  41. eyeclinic says:

    But Fr….but Fr. without all the hand holding, the EMoHC’s won’t have to use all that hand sanitizer before distributing Communion and just think of all the hand sanitizer companies that will be put out of business. The unemployment! What tragedy!

  42. Ellen says:

    We have a wonderful old church with a great choir loft, but for years the choir was up front and center. Then our new priest put them upstairs and lo and behold, you can see the sanctuary. They still sound just fine (especially when they leave out the Haugen-Hass), but they are not the focus of the Mass any more. I’ve always sat next to a pillar so I wouldn’t have to hold hands, and so far I have been able to avoid it. I don’t care for the orans posture either and keep my hands firmly folded.

  43. Legisperitus says:

    I love when a bishop sees a teachable moment and uses it to teach. :)

  44. Bill Russell says:

    “Do not touch me…” (John 27:10)

  45. Pingback: fold your hands this is not a seance « Over the Rhine and Into the Tiber

  46. Athelstan says:

    It’s remarkable to see how divergent the reactions to Bishop Foys’s actions really are.

    Some folks – pretty much everyone here – are ready to sing hosannas to the skies. Some others – some of the bloggers and posters at Praytell, US Catholic, etc. – are running about as if their hair was on fire, cringing in despair.

    People like me will object that it’s too therapeutic, too distracting from Christ on the altar, too horizontal, too fudging of the distinction between laity and the priesthood. Yet these are precisely the qualities that the progressives seem to cherish.

    I wonder sometimes that we can all be in the same Church. Do we really believe the same things?

  47. Banjo pickin girl says:

    Athelstan, As a convert, I am getting tired of the “the Church is a Big Tent” excuse.

  48. Banjo pickin girl says:

    capchoirgirl, I had not heard that about a former bishop but I believe it. But I am not sure that he ordered it to be done. I think he allowed it to be done. The current one has been reluctant to correct anything, no matter how egregious (such as glass chalices and ciboria and preaching in favor of women’s ordination). However, at our parish (we attend the same one) if you look around very few are using the orans position, etc. especially at those quieter Masses that the more conservative older folks attend, like the 7AM or vigil Mass for example.

  49. Banjo pickin girl says:

    I have a comment in moderation but in it I neglected to mention that our parish is extremely conservative and I believe you would not be seeing any handholding or orans posture except for the influence of a fairly sizeable group of young people of a charismatic bent, apparently influenced by Steubenville. Our “old people” are very traditional.

  50. KAS says:

    I would love to see the hand holding during the Lord’s Prayer die out too. I especially hate it when someone walks down the near empty pew and just grabs me and insists on dragging my folded hands apart AFTER THE PRAYER HAS BEGUN……

    It means that for the first part of the prayer I am tense and braced for possible assault…

  51. irishgirl says:

    Hooray for Bishop Foys! Now that’s what I call a ‘good shepherd’!
    I never liked holding hands at the Our Father-too distracting. Drove me nuts when the hands were raised at ‘for the kingdom, the power and the glory’; made me think of the movie ‘Rocky’ (prizefighters, you know).

  52. BV says:

    Ah, memories of one weekend assisting priest who used to invite all the children to stand around the altar and hold hands while praying the Our Father. (I can name a few liturgical abuses by this priest as well – famous for using props during his homilies). Thankfully, he doesn’t come around anymore (but sorry to the parish that now has him as their pastor)

    Remembering also one time a certain woman practially yanked my hand off to hold hands during the Our Father – as if it was required under penalty of death! I have since adopted various defense systems to prevent this from happening.

  53. Luke Whittaker says:

    Thank you for posting this. I find it to be quite useful.

    It is an unfortunate confusion that those of our Catholic brethren who insist on holding hands or extending hands in a manner similar to the priest don’t realize that an obedient movement of the heart toward God during the Mass, as a response to the authority of Tradition, is far better than any individualistic straying by the use of the extended arms and hand holding in the name of what amounts to a false charismatic gesture. Our bodies often lie but the desires of our heart are always known to God who calls us to the obedience of Faith as a response to the gift he has given to us in his Son. May He lead us all to a deeper understanding of his will.

  54. Peco says:

    I agree with most all of the sentiments expressed.
    But how about the following rubric that I virtually NEVER see observed.

    “Deacons kneel from the epiclesis through the showing of the chalice. Priests remain standing”

    On very, very rare occasions have I seen it, and never in my diocese. It would cause a major freak-out if it were done here. In the past I have heard absurd reasons for not following this rubric. E.g. It is insensitive to minority deacons because it makes them feel inferior or subserviant. Now isn’t that a crock! Seems like there is a misplaced concern – We are ALL inferior and should be subserviant to Our Lord. But I know that the liberal mindset doesn’t want anyone to feel inferior to the priest, blah, blah, blah
    I’ve also heard that the bishop excuses them for all kinds of silly reasons. Well, I don’t think that the bishop has carte blanche authority over all rubrics (especially posture), contrary to what is often claimed. For instance the bishops in the US are expressly given the authority to modify or alter the posture regarding kneeling after the Lamb of God. But I don’t think this authority has been extended to the other postures such as deacons kneeling at the Consecration. Am I right or wrong on this?
    Anyway how often do people see deacons kneel during the Consecration?

  55. Centristian says:

    The hand-holding and outstretched arms seen in the pews varies, depending upon what sort of parish one attends. In the average, older suburban parish to which I belong, about 1/3rd of the congregation do that. At the historic 150 year old gothic downtown church I am on staff at as sacristan, almost nobody does that (same goes for our cathedral). At university campus-convenient parishes and at parishes in the newer burbs, almost everybody does. Different liturgical environments will, of course, affect attitudes towards certain postures and practices.

    I find the “orantes” posture by worshippers inappropriate. To me, the posture is proper to the celebrant, the presider, not to the congregation. Worshippers should no sooner imitate the gestures of presiders at Mass than they would, as citizens, the gestures of presiders at public functions.

    If you or I were in attendance at a presidential inaguration, for example, we would not, along with the President, lift our right hands and recite the presidential oath of office. As we are not the President, it would be inappropriate to do so. On the other hand, we place our hands on our hearts when the National Anthem is played, just as the President would, because that gesture is a common gesture, not a proper one.

    Same in the liturgy, I think. Some gestures are common to all, and some are proper to the celebrant.

  56. Brad says:

    Kathygeorge, LOL.

    “My “favorite” is: “Stand up, turn around and shake someone’s hand and see the spirit of God in them.””

    I agree with you. As much as I comprehend that God is making His abode within the soul who is in a state of grace, i.e. hopefully a percentage of the people surrounding one is the pews, I also comprehend that at that very moment during Mass, He is there, over there, on the altar or in the tabernacle in a very special and preeminent way and I do not need to imagine Him in the people when He is overwhelmingly up front, plainly visible. After all, I genuflect in His direction, don’t I, and not to Him within the person to my side, shall we say. Or expect my neighbor to genuflect toward me. My poor neighbor would surely be acknowledging our Lord’s most dilapidated house if so. A real money pit! haha

    You will enjoy the following anecdote. My ultra liberal town is ringed with pagan ashrams in the woods. Their culture has pervaded our citizenry over the last few decades to the point that one will hear “townfolk” non-ashramites, like my brother, use ashram speech. One day as we went into an Indian restaurant, he gloriously hailed the hostess with “namaste” and then explained to me how this superb word contained within it all the grace and gnostic grandeur to be had (to be wrested, not given) in the universe, because it meant “the divine within me recognizes the divine with you”. The hostess laughed. She dismissed him entirely and told him that in her India it simply means “hiya” in the most mundane and plebeian way.

  57. Luke Whittaker says:

    There was a good deacon at a parish that my wife and I attended at an old address; he always knelt from the epiclesis through the showing of the chalice. He was an inspiration to me. His homilies were moving and straightforward. During one homily he told us to invite our friends to come with us to Sunday Mass not because we have great fellowship but because the Catholic faith is the only one that doesn’t separate Jesus from his Cross. Jesus on the Cross is the exemplar of love and helps us to make sense out of our lives: “Surely he has borne our grief and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4). That deacon is missed, to be sure.

  58. pelerin says:

    ‘Stand up, turn around and shake someone’s hand’
    I have not heard this but I do wish there was an alternative to hand shaking. I do not wish to ignore people but I have recently received handshakes which were crushing and painful. One lady realised she had hurt me as I was unable to suppress an audible ‘ouch’ and she apologised to me after Mass. Short of wearing bandages (!!!) how can one avoid being crushed in this way at the ‘kiss of peace.’ It is no good sitting apart as people often cross the aisle if you look lonely! It is not always possible to sit near those who you know have a gentle handshake. I am beginning to dread the time – at least the Our Father holding hands can be ignored by looking straight ahead and keeping hands together and thankfully it does not take place in my parish.

  59. Tradster says:

    I admit I envy my wife those rare times we go to the NO Mass. She has no need for concern about the handholding and handshakes. As soon as they see her veil people, especially the older women, recoil like she has leprosy!

  60. Dan says:

    Often, many people who extend their hands at the Our Father cite the “oranti” position depicted in the catacombs, as this was likely the practice of the early Roman Christians. In response, a priest I know said something like, “Ok, that’s fine. But when you come to Mass next Sunday, don’t forget your toga and sandals and be prepared to make a public confession of all your sins before the rest of the congregation.”

    I guess the moral of the story is that liturgical archeologists shouldn’t be cherry picking which ancient traditions are appropriate and which are not. I think the extended hand thing looks sort of silly anyway, so I just keep my hands folded during that part of the Mass…

  61. pelerin says:

    Tradster: Ah I hadn’t thought of that! I don’t have the nerve to wear a mantilla at the NO yet although I have always felt uncomfortable without one at Mass since the practise was discontinued. I’m not sure whether it would work here or not but if I get any more crushing handshakes I may well pluck up courage!

  62. asophist says:

    Nobody mentioned (perhaps because I am the only person reading this who knows this tidbit – and that may be a good thing) that holding hands during the Our Father is a rubric from the Black (i.e., Satanic) Mass. In fact, many elements of modern liturgical abuses have their roots in that abomination. Makes you wonder (doesn’t it?) about the possibility of a Satanic conspiracy to destroy the Church. And the Devil’s minions don’t even know (for the most part, I’m guessing) what they’re doing.

  63. CarismaTeaCo says:

    Well after much debate (one priest was in favor, the other not so much) our Spanish Choir finally moved to the loft… Quite dusty and filled with palms from who knows what past year. Now all we need is for the 9oclock English choir to use it.. Which I doubt will happen anytime soon; he uses the closet next to the Sanctuary to store all his own intstruments and sound system he uses. Our evening service choir sits with the rest of the laity in the pews.

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  65. AnAmericanMother says:

    asophist,
    Reference please? This is one I hadn’t heard before.
    It is possible that practices may be similar, but still not related or derivative. Particularly since hand-holding is such a common gesture generally.
    I’ve found that folding my hands and closing my eyes works very well to keep my neighbors from grabbing at my hands. It also keeps me from being distracted by counting how many folks are holding hands AND doing the “holy field goal”.
    With that said, these extraneous gestures are not very common at our parish. Oddly enough, a number of the very devout, daily-Mass types (mostly older women but one man and one group of young people of the Catholic T-shirt wearing variety) do them. But we also have mantilla-wearing ladies (some with many children in tow) who receive on the tongue and still perform the full genuflection when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed.
    I guess you could say we are a very “diverse” parish.

  66. AAM: “and still perform the full genuflection when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed.”

    Is there anyone anywhere who would not kneel on both knees if they truly believed themselves to be in the actual presence of the living God? So, when someone is observed not to kneel before the exposed Blessed Sacrament, does not the conclusion seem obvious? (Even if it is wrong, as for instance when the failure to kneel is due to physical impediment rather than lack of belief.)

  67. AnAmericanMother says:

    Not seeing, they do not believe?
    Seriously, I think a lot of it is prevailing custom, and just not thinking. More instruction and better homilies would appear to be indicated . . . .
    When the topic comes up in conversation, I always point out that if Christ himself appeared before us in human form we would all be flat on our faces in fear and adoration . . . so . . . .
    Get some funny looks, but also occasionally a dawning light of comprehension.
    I’m one of the two-knees group, myself, also occasionally but not always the mantilla wearers (it looks a little odd in choir, especially with our Barney-the-Dinosaur purple choir robes :-D )
    Last month at First Friday adoration there was a gentleman who prostrated himself in the center aisle.
    My point was not so much what was right or wrong, as that nobody in this parish gets all over somebody else’s case regarding forms of reverence. I have seen a trend in the clergy here towards reminding people that receiving on the tongue and genuflecting is right and proper . . . but they have not yet gone so far as to remind anyone that holding hands at the Pater Noster is frowned upon.
    Seems to me that education rather than pouncing on worshippers at Mass is probably the best course of action, and that appears to be happening here. Or maybe the word has gotten around that the parish is tolerant of communion on the tongue, genuflections and mantillas.

  68. wmeyer says:

    “What this is about is the absurd daisy chain across aisles and arms waving around.”

    Amen!! I stopped joining in that most disruptive practice some time ago, after reading Pope Benedict’s The Spirit of the Liturgy.

    I’m getting really tired, too, of the many excuses for applause, and for homilies from deacons.