WDTPRS POLL: Holding hands during the Our Father – your preference.

holding handsThere is a lot of discussion about holding hands during the Our Father.

I am curious about your preferences.

Please chose your best answer and give your reasons or explanations in the combox, below.

Do NOT.. do NOT… engage each other in the combox.  Leave every person feel free to say their piece without worrying about other people jumping up and down on their heads.

To be clear … do NOT… do NOT engage each other in the combox. Leave every person feel free to say their piece without worrying about other people jumping up and down on their heads.

Holding hands with anyone/everyone during the Our Father.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. tzard says:

    I will temper my vote by saying that while I will not do it – I do not “hate” it. I just recognize it’s wrong and choose my actions appropriately.

  2. Juergensen says:

    My understanding has been that it’s not in the rubrics and therefore is not to be done. Period. That is, we really have no choice in the matter.

  3. Geoffrey says:

    I voted “No, I’d rather not and I avoid it if possible. (I am male)”, mainly because while I may “hate” it, I’d prefer to say something more charitable like “I strongly dislike it”!

    I live in California, where hand-holding (or “orans”) for the Lord’s Prayer is all the rage here. I did it years ago, when my family first arrived here from the East Coast, but I never felt comfortable with it. After doing some research, I discovered it wasn’t in the rubrics and so I don’t do it. I always use a hand missal as Mass, and so that helps stop people from grabbing my hand without my permission, which has been known to happen on rare occasions.

    I am also not a fan of the “orans” position for the laity during Mass. It blurs the lines too much between the priesthood of the ordained and the priesthood of the baptized. I do think the “orans” position is suitable in private prayer, as St Maria Faustina Kowalska was known to do. But it should not be done by the laity in a liturgical/public setting.

  4. GeekLady says:

    While I vote for I hate it and I won’t do it, I’d like to temper that with that in that my little family we hold hands at this point. Which should be tempered with there’s a lot of ha d holding in general.

    From a rubric perspective, I think that Dr. Peters has the best commentary on the topic in general, and I agree with his assessment.

  5. stilicho says:

    I think it is a silly novelty which will die out in time, as it seems to be particularly popular with the 60 and over demographic. I’m actually seeing a little less of it since the implementation of the corrected translation. Must have something to do with everyone holding on to those new response leaflets. :-)

  6. Jbuntin says:

    The parish where I professed my faith does this.. so for many years I didn’t know any better. I was never fond of hand holding because I don’t like my personal space invaded by people who are not invited. Saying that, I will not make a fuss if I am at a parish that does this, but I don’t like it. I attend the EF regularly now so I don’t have to think about it anymore unless I have to go to Mass somewhere else.
    I have been to several parishes in my diocese and it’s a crap shoot whether they hold hands or not.

  7. Jaybirdnbham says:

    I voted “No I hate it and will not hold hands during the Our Father, no matter what. (female).” My reasons are that it’s just a creepy, ‘evangelical’ type of behavior in my personal opinion. (not any logical reason; just a strong gut reaction.) Probably uncharitable of me, but when I notice anyone reaching their hand out in my direction at the beginning of the prayer, I clasp my hands even tighter together in front of me and close my eyes. Only once has a person actually tried to grab my hand anyway, and I took a small step to the side away from them.
    I really don’t care if someone is offended, because I’m there to pray to and worship God, not to ‘play nice’ with the thankfully rare intrusive person trying to take my hand. Again, probably uncharitable and anti-social behavior on my part. But I will add that I do participate (reluctantly) in the “sign of peace” handshake, to the degree that seems a minimum level of acceptability.

  8. AnAmericanMother says:

    I voted “hate”, although that’s too strong a word, because I will not hold hands no matter what, not even with my husband. I have developed quite a number of strategies to avoid it if I’m visiting in a less straight-up orthodox parish than my own. Hand missal works. Folded hands generally work. Aikido works for people who grab at my hands, although the ability to move out of line is limited in a pew!
    Noticed at daily Mass that there are a lot more people who have begun simply to bow rather than shake hands at the Peace, too.
    And I’m still batting about .500 on “and also with . . . thy . . . your . . . spirit.” Old habits die hard, I thought it would be pretty easy to go back to because I said “and with thy spirit” for 47 years. But that is apparently in a different pigeonhole in the brain . . . . So don’t assume that people who keep saying “And also with you” are being defiant . . . some of us are a little slow. :-D

  9. PMK says:

    I need to validate my vote: I am in agreement with Juergensen, I simply do not participate in hand holding because it is not in the rubrics. I tire of the looks received when a hand is extended to me and I do not grab hold. I voted: No, I hate it and simply will not do it no matter what. (I am female)

  10. KAS says:

    I hate it but sometimes one cannot avoid it and rather than make a scene I will tolerate it, which is why I chose the second strongest dislike option rather than the strongest. I do my best to avoid it, by folding my hands and bowing my head for the prayer and sitting in near empty or empty pews so as to be farther away from others. Even taking those precautions sometimes pushy persons will walk the long empty pew and grab my arm to pull my hands apart so we can hold hands– and in that case I don’t make a scene but truthfully I HATE the rudeness and lack of respect those persons have for other people!

    But I really do hate the whole holding hands thing. It is a liturgical abuse and distracts from the prayer. Hate it is not too strong a phrase.

  11. Dr. K says:

    I voted no because it interferes with my worship when people try to jam their hand into my hands folded in prayer. Even if you look away, they still do it!

  12. pm125 says:

    Voted as avoid, but, while I hate it, I’m unable to refuse someone looking at me reaching for my hand. Only once I did this – at blessing of catechists (front pew) when both sides took my hands. Could not pray. Could not ignore. Felt phony and a false.

  13. James says:

    I voted that I’d rather not do it. I dislike it – it violates the rubrics and is just plain uncomfortable for me. However, I won’t refuse it if this is the (distasteful) custom of the parish. In my opinion, it would be uncharitable to refuse and potentially cause a scene.

  14. Hate it, loathe it, despise it, abhor it, execrate it, abominate it. I am shy and introverted by temperament, and I can’t abide forced intimacy. There are steps to be gone through on the path to intimacy with another person — exemplified beautifully, by the way, in the prayers at the foot of the altar in the Extraordinary Form, wherein the priest only approaches the altar of sacrifice by degrees, after carefully preparing himself. It’s a shame this was swept away in the changes to the liturgy, because it seems to me a safeguard against presumption and irreverence. The steps to intimacy are necessary, and these foolish exercises designed to bypass them violate the natural order. Hand-holding, hugging, etc. are products of real intimacy and not producers of it.

    In fact, I will go farther and submit that there is a sinister purpose behind these ice-breaking exercises, namely, the breaking down of necessary inhibitions, thereby making individuals vulnerable to manipulation.

  15. disco says:

    I find the practice intrusive annoying and uncatholic. I will not participate if invited. I won’t go so far as to condemn others who prefer it but I find that it often accompanies a certain lack of theological understanding these are usually the sorts who refer to holy mass as ‘being at table’.

  16. P.S. If somebody forcibly grabs my hand, I just look them the eye and tell them no, I do not hold hands. I don’t see the charity in allowing people to commit presumptuous acts of discourtesy to others with impunity. If they don’t know better, then they need to learn; if they do know better, then they need to be reproved.

  17. Andy Lucy says:

    If people want to hold hands with their kith and kin, I really do not care… I simply close my eyes and do not have to see it. However, why do they feel the need to try to force me to participate? What makes them think it is OK to reach out and grab my hand and hold it aloft like I just KO’d Alexander Povetkin? When I decline, why do they treat me like a leper during the Sign of Peace? Why do they spill out into the aisle? Who was “patient zero?” When and where did this start? When I converted back in 1993, no one did this, at least not here in the backwater of Western Kentucky. Now, my family are just about the only ones who abstain. I left Protestantism to get away from horizontally oriented worship, and now I see it infecting the Catholic Church… but how to stop it?

  18. frleo says:

    From my position, I don’t hold hands, for obvious reasons. I have more than once, as I’ve moved into a new parish, preached about forcing ourselves on others. I am an introvert and do not like strangers grabbing at me. I am sure I am not the only one who feels that way. If a family holds hands within their family, I’m not going to condemn them.

    It was interesting that at a recent gathering of priests in our diocese, during a discussion about the liturgy, this question came up. One priest was looking for the “guideline” that required hand holding hands so he could encourage it and another was looking for the official document that explicitly prohibited it. As far as I can see, none of the official documents give a clear direction at all about what to do with ones hands/arms during the Lord’s Prayer, unless that person is the priest. Others rely upon prudence and reverence to give them a clue.

  19. APX says:

    I don’t hate it. I loathe in a deep seeding kind of way. I just came from a NO Mass where I experienced the one thing that makes me loathe this practicing even more…singing the Our Father in that 70’s Cary Landry style right out of the Glory & Praise songbook. It was even done on a pipe organ, which as far as I’m concerned is an abuse of such a fine and powerful instrument, and should classify as a mortal sin. Oh my goodness, and he even pulled out the stops on the end at which point everyone raised their human chain of hands up into the air. I stood there with my hand clasped tightly silently saying it…in Latin.

  20. Faith says:

    Remember Father Z said not to attack me. I NEED to hold hands during the Lord’s Prayer. Human touch is important, and the very prayer that He, Himself, taught us makes me feel part of the Kingdom to come, here, in this kingdom. I am humble enough to admit that I am in need. Holding hands with my family, and especially with strangers, brings everyone into a communion based on peace and forgiveness. It is OUR Father, not my Father; forgive US OUR trespasses, as WE forgive those…holding my hand, in the next pew, (you get the idea).
    Touching, even if it’s a fleeting pat on the shoulder, means something. I believe we are born with a need to touch. Children instinctively initiate and seek out to touch. (Have you hugged your child, today)? Deaf people are often misunderstood because they’re always touching people more than may be socially acceptable. Touching is a means of communication. And Seniors (people over 60) need to be touched desperately. Do you know they are the least touched people in our culture? Seniors, like infants, crave touch to survive. Our culture tells us that soft, youthful skin is beautiful and desirable, not wrinkled old skin. Do you think this cultural ideal contributes to our societies’ aversion to touch Seniors?
    An experiment was conducted on young library patrons. Librarians were instructed to touch the hands of certain students, and not touch certain others, as they interacted with them. Then the students were interviewed. Those that were touched reported feeling more positive about themselves, the library, and the librarians. This was all from a fleeting touch, that many of these students didn’t even remember.
    If a brush of fingers across the top of a hand, during the exchange of a library card, can produce positive feelings, just imagine the feelings imparted holding hands, during prayer?
    Just imagine the feelings of those who felt Jesus’ hand:
    Peter’s mother-in-law
    the disciples,

  21. Like many here, I’ve declined to hold hands during the Pater, only to have my sign of peace haughtily rebuffed a minute or so later; but in general the practice is fading, I think. One good way to reduce the odds of being pressured to hold hand is to sit at or near the front of the nave, where lower seating densities make it easier to avoid grabbies. We should, however, be careful about deciding in effect that, ‘Whatever is not permitted is forbidden’. That’s a very slippery slope. And the ultimate solution is, I think, to fix the miscue being given folks by the priest’s rubric, but time will tell on that one.

  22. Imperfect says:

    I voted “no, I hate it….” I am Male. The last time I was forced I found that by the end of the prayer I had squeezed the hand of the imposer so hard that I felt the need to apologized. I find it very uncomfortable & a distraction from my active participation.


  23. JKnott says:

    I voted that I hate it.
    When the Liturgy of the Hours is prayed in common in some monasteries, there is a beautiful custom at Lauds and Vespers when the Pater is said just before the Collect that rather than all of the religious or participants reciting it together, they each make a deep inclination when the leader says the first words, “Our Father” and continue in that humble posture, silently praying to the heavenly Father. They all rise when the leader says, “but deliver us from evil.”
    It brings home to me, the intimate relationship each soul must preserve with the Father, a total and humble focus on Him and Him alone, and yet preserves the communal nature of the worship of the Mystical Body.
    So, while that is a different state in life, a little vertical recollection is far more meritorious to me than a novel and illicit horizontal distraction.

  24. JonathanZ says:

    We never held hands during the Lord’s Prayer at any of the Protestant churches I went to or worked at. The first time I saw this was at one of my first Sunday Masses and thought, “wow, this is downright tacky..” The “squeezy-poo” at the end is the worst though.

    They (Protestants) also seem to be able to transition better from the Sign of Peace to the Agnus Dei as well. For me the Sign of Peace either lasts forEVER, or the traditional musicians starts the Agnus Dei as soon as possible, and neither seem like good options.

  25. Marc says:

    For me holding hands during the Pater has always been, what I would call, “a false sense of communion.” Real Communion is only obtained–with my neighbor–when I am able to partake in the Eucharist sacrifice of the Mass.

  26. Fr Deacon Daniel says:

    No, I and many within our congregation raise their hands in the traditional orans position for the Our Father. At the end of the prayer for the doxology, all of the hands are lowered and we make the sign of the Cross along with the priest. This to me makes the most sense as a posture of traditional Christian prayer across all of the traditions.

  27. everett says:

    At our normal parish my family are just about the only ones who don’t hold hands. I try hard to avoid it whenever I can, though sometimes I’ll go along as I’m not really into causing a scene on my end. Let those who are doing the pressuring be the ones to cause the scene. I’ve found that so long as I keep my hands folded, when someone makes eye contact wanting to, I can get away with smiling and giving a slight bow while maintaining the folded hands. It also helps that I’m often holding one of my sons.

  28. kang says:

    I am against holding hands during the Our Father because the priest, in the person of Christ, is supposed to be the only one extending his hands. Also, everybody ought to focus on praying the Our Father instead of thinking about how sweaty the hands of the persons sitting next to him are.

  29. ejcmartin says:

    Hand holding is not a big thing in my neck of the woods. Only once was I ever “grabbed” to hold hands which caught me a little off guard but I rarely ever see it here in Newfoundland. I chose the “I’d rather not and avoid if possible” option as I am not prepared do jump on someone who wishes to do so, just as I would hope they would not jump on me if I should decide to kneel after receiving Communion.

  30. ncstevem says:

    On those ocassions when I assist at the NO Mass, I pray out of my 1962 missal and follow the postures from said Mass.

    Therefore I don’t do the hand holding thing with my wife (although she does it with her family when they visit) and I don’t do the hand shaky thing either.

    Long time ago before I was married I assisted at a sparsely attend early AM NO Mass. A female senoir citizen approached me from another pew and grabbed my hand. I calmly reached over with my ‘ungrabbed’ hand and removed her hand from mine with a smile on my face. She looked as though I had just kicked her dog.

  31. Mitchell NY says:

    I don’t like it. I just find it hypocritical. For less than a minute you hold hands with the person next to you and later that afternoon that same person may curse you for taking a parking spot that they were eyeing at Walmart. I also don’t like the way people swat each other if you resist it, like come on, come on ! But I do not encounter it often as I prefer the EF Mass.

  32. Warren says:

    I voted “I hate it…”.

    I keep my hands together at but not against the breast, palms touching and thumbs crossed with finger tips pointing forward (rather than vertically) at a slight angle. Whenever I see a family or group of people holding hands during the “Our Father”, I invariably witness adults and children giggling, fumbling around with their grip and enamoured in each other rather than focussing on the Lord present on the altar.

  33. Cam says:

    I voted that I hate it (and am female). It was hugely popular at our old parish. Along with the words being changed to the Our Father so they’d fit the music better (at least I’m guessing that’s why they did it)… It was the only parish in the county… And it drove me crazy. My husband and I were both grateful when we had our second little blessing, because then we each had a baby/toddler to hold and didn’t both semi-struggle to be the one holding the baby when the music started so that our neighbors wouldn’t be able to grab our hands and force the issue (the baby excuse was a wonderful one). Before we moved, we ended up driving an hour and a half both ways to go to Mass because we couldn’t take it anymore. We were incredibly grateful when we moved to Florida (from California) and lived in a town with a Latin Mass. No worrying about hand grabbing anymore.

  34. Elizabeth D says:

    At the parish I grew up in, they always held hands for the Our Father (and I liked that, as a child, it made me feel connected to others). As an adult I do not believe this belongs in Catholic worship, so when I went back to that parish when visiting my parents, and during weekday Mass they stood in a circle round the altar holding hands during the Our Father, I just stayed at my chair (I was also the only one who kneeled, I am troublesome), on a subsequent day someone very friendly practically forced me to join in, so I held his hand to be charitable but not the hand of the person on the other side of me. Which broke the circle (mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa).

    Today at Saturday “weekday” Mass my pastor omitted the sign of peace, I was grateful, excited and proud of him!

  35. josephx23 says:

    The handholding itself is strange, but as someone else has pointed out, it’s the hand-raising gesture at the end that’s really bizarre, as though we were advocating the cause for canonization of Venerable Rocky Balboa or something. I’d rather not do it and avoid it if possible, but banning the practice outright seems a little impractical. Who’s going to go up to Mr. and Mrs. R. C. Bagofdonuts in their sixtieth year of marriage and say, “Alright, break it up, you two.”. That’s the exact kind of liturgical Stalinism that makes the I-wanna-hold-your-hand crowd so pernicious.

  36. Ed the Roman says:

    I don’t like hand-holding. I would do it if I were told to.

    The element of the hand-holding issue that bothers me most is that holding isn’t really an individual decision. It CAN’T be. The individual part is to decide whether to TRY to hold hands with your neighbor, which compels your neighbor to decide whether to go along.

    So I don’t buy arguments on freedom about this, because unless my neighbors and I know each other so well that we know it’s OK, attempts at hand-holding press an invitation that must be accepted or refused. Not nice to do at Mass, I think. This is why I would like it to either be clearly required or clearly forbidden. I’ll follow orders. I don’t want to keep being invited, and wonder if I’m hurting someone’s feelings if I decline.

  37. contrarian says:

    I voted ‘hated it’ and find ‘hate’ to correctly describe my sentiment. Which is to say that I think it is not only emasculating, schwarmerisch, and lame, but that it is potentially–given its context–heretical. But it’s like anything else. I don’t hate the people who do it. I just hate the practice.

  38. Frank H says:

    No hand holding, no orans for this old fogey.

  39. Bender says:

    Whatever one does, he should know why he does it.

    Many people who hold hands (or assume the orans posture) do so merely because others are doing it. Some others say that holding hands brings everyone into a communion, that, in holding hands, the many separate individuals are gathered into one family under God and offer as one the prayer that is said. Of course, were this so, why is the gesture limited to saying the “Our Father”? Why not hold hands through the entirety of the Mass?

    But it seems to me that “unity” is an insufficient reason for holding hands. Whether we holds hands or not, whether we even have hands, or are amputees, we are already one in Christ. We are already One Church, we are already in communion with the people next to us and with all the people at that particular Mass in the parish church. To be sure, even though we cannot hold hands with them, we touch and are in communion with all the faithful across Earth and across time, as well as with the saints in heaven and faithful in Purgatory. In the 2000 years since Jesus taught us “the Lord’s Prayer,” if we pray it with the Church, we the faithful have not said that prayer billions of times, rather, we have said it once — each time we say it, we transcend time and space to join in the one prayer of Jesus.

    And given that we are already united, it seems that, far from adding to this unity, hand-holding actually detracts from it because it promotes the false idea that we are not united and one unless we are clinging on to the sweaty palm of the guy next to us. And it promotes the false idea that, because we cannot hold hands with people on the other side of the world, or people that lived 1,000 years ago or 2,000 years ago, that we are not united with them. We already are. Thus, it is seen that this symbolism of holding hands is based on a falsehood.

    When we say the “Our Father,” we hold hands with God. And He holds the hands of the rest of the faithful. This is not a mere symbolic or false unity, it is very real, more real than physically holding hands. A lack of hand-holding would be a “false” communion if Christ were not involved, but He is involved. He is the communion and solidarity, He is always the communion and solidarity, He is the only True solidarity. It is the holding of hands that is a false unity and solidarity, a solidarity that is based on the mere touching of skin, rather than the touching of souls.

  40. Many people probably already know what I think, but for the record, as an introvert, I can’t stand it. All I am thinking about is what the proper force of squeezing should be and whether the people adjacent to me think I am holding on too long or too short or too hard or too fishy or too high or too low. It is a terrible distraction. Apart from that, the Lord’s Prayer is not primarily a prayer of unity. I think the Creed fits that description better (but please, no one get any ideas).

    In any case, my experience is that hand-holding is a dying practice, along with so much other nonsense that has afflicted the liturgy over the years. I think it may have reached its peak in the 1990s and early 2000s. Those who attend the same parish every week and are stuck with it may not see things from my perspective, but it really is on the way out. With the new translation of the Roman Missal, silliness such as that stands out as being all the more silly against a more reverent backdrop. As Mass attendance drops, it also becomes more difficult to sustain a practice that requires adjacent people in the pews to be possible.

  41. TKS says:

    I hate it and don’t do it. I’m female. I did it against my feelings just to be nice for years and now I figure it’s my turn to not do it – that seems fair. I always feel I have to sit far away from others to avoid it and that’s a shame. Clasping hands and closing my eyes works well.

  42. Denis Crnkovic says:

    I can’t believe it has come to this, looking back over the last fifty years of our liturgical life. It is so sad that the members of Mother church have so frittered away the beauty of her liturgy that now they need to discuss whether or not hand holding at Mass is okay. I hate it, refuse to do it and when anyone tries to paw me in the name of community, I tell them in no uncertain terms that I did not come to Mass to hold hands and they shouldn’t have either. You don’t want to be next to me at Mass if you came for the touchy-feely show.

  43. PomeroyonthePalouse says:

    I had always heard that hand holding was done to make us more in alignment with our “protestant brothers and sisters,” yet at the Methodist services where my daughter plays the organ (after she sings in the choir at our parish), none of the congregation holds hands.

    Plus I sincerely dislike having to “ignore” people around me who give me the hairy eyeball when I don’t extend my hands to them.


  44. Rob Cartusciello says:

    Really hate it. I don’t even holds hands with my wife during the Our Father, and she feels the same way. We actively avoid holding hands with fellow worshipers when they try it with us.

  45. Michael Floyd says:

    I have a dear friend who is a premanent deacon. In a group at the church that I am involved in he loves to have us gather in a circle and hold hands to pray. I can’t tell you how uncomfortable this makes me! I play along for the sake of the group, but it really is the least prayerful thing for me. I have tremors in my hands naturally and its all I can think of.

    It’s really dreadful.

  46. trespinos says:

    Last year’s flu scare put an end to the handholding, with explicit approval from the bishop and pastor, for a blessed while. (It has been a while since I’ve had a pastor who asked us not to do it.) I was unhappy to see the practice slowly return, but there is definitely a larger group now who have the good liturgical sense and self-possession to opt out of the practice.

  47. Bill F says:

    I voted no opinion, since the poll is about our personal practice, not whether it’s allowed by the rubrics or not. I don’t hold hands with people I don’t know at Mass (like many here, I’m basically an introvert). I do hold hands with family: been doing it for years, so it’s habit, plus we frequently hold hands when we pray as a family, especially for grace before meals. If anything, the orans posture bugs me a lot more than hand-holding.

  48. anilwang says:

    I voted “hate it” as well.

    Actually, I never knew anyone did that until I heard it on this blog. I was away from Church for a decade and a half, but I was surprised when I saw that many raised their hands in the air…. I thought it was odd, but not entirely inappropriate, but I still prefer to keep my hands together.

  49. KFT says:

    I am part of the 0% with no opinion. I truly, truly do not care one way or the other. If my family is with me at Mass, we will usually hold hands. If I am sitting with others, we may or may not hold hands. Does not matter one iota to me. I usually take my cue from them , but I don’t go out of my way to initiate it. Either way is fine. I find that among the daily Mass crowd, there is much less hand-holding. I imagine the space between people and swine flu (I forget the official name for it) scares in recent years have contributed to that as much as anything. There is, however, one parish that I attend on occasion, and you can just expect that your hand WILL be held and chances are you WILL be hugged during the sign of peace. Friend or foe, stranger or family..that’s how they are. There are more important things to get worked up about.

  50. bernadette says:

    I am female and I don’t like it and avoid it if at all possible. If a family or friends want to hold hands with each other that is fine with me and it doesn’t bother me in the least. I am not a touchy- feely person except with family and it makes me very uncomfortable. It is also a hygiene issue with me. Holding hands with someone who has been blowing their nose or biting their finger nails makes me cringe. Since I am usually in the choir loft I just fold my hands and pray. The other choir members are not into hand holding either, thank goodness.

  51. CMRose says:

    Hand holding is not for Mass. It is not allowable in the Rubric. We cannot just do whatever we please during Mass. I refuse to hold hands and managed to convince my entire family that it was an error. :-)

  52. marcpuckett says:

    As tzard pointed out in the first comment, I don’t hate the hand holding; it’s an unjustifiable innovation and more often than not the source of distraction and discomfort at the most inopportune moment possible. I keep my eyes closed and my hands folded and that’s that.

  53. Jael says:

    Your polls are interesting. If I remember correctly, one recent poll indicates you have many more male readers than female…probably enough to be statistically significant. I wish you could somehow report your individual poll results in a way that takes this into account. That would be even more interesting.

    I hate holding hands at Mass because it’s not in the rubrics. That’s the most important reason. I avoid parishes where this is done. Also, it’s distracting. And invasive…where else in our culture are people forced to hold hands with strangers? Nowhere I frequent, anyway. And especially not during a Sunday morning Christian worship service. That photo looks like a cult.

  54. Joan A. says:

    We are praying the words taught to us by Our Lord. This is a critical moment of the Mass to focus on Our Father, not our brother. Vertical, not horizontal. We have the Sign of Peace for the “we are so loving and together” stuff. That is the only place in the Mass where we should be interacting with those around us. Not the Our Father. Holding hands is a sign of intimacy, not a sign of devotion, adoration or supplication to God.

    Many don’t know where this practice started. Marriage Encounter. That makes sense, couples on a retreat of all couples refreshing their love and commitment, with no distraction of anything but other devoted couples, might tend to start holding hands during Mass. But they brought it back to the parishes and there it is inappropriate.

    Furthermore, the hand-holding has become disruptive and even abusive. I have been praying with my eyes closed, head bowed and hands clasped firmly – only to feel tapped, pushed, nudged, slapped, my clothing tugged, my hands pulled on, and even my arm punched. Actions that are called “assault” by law. When we have people beating on one another during the Lord’s Prayer, it is time for bishops and priests to take a firm stance against this perverse anomaly.

  55. Mr. P says:

    I echo what Anita Moore said…

  56. colospgs says:

    Fortunately for me, I attend the Extraordinary form (FSSP) and the priest recites the “Our Father” for us therefore no one tries to grab me.

  57. totustuusmaria says:

    I think the hands holding thing is an attempt to emphasize the communal aspect of the Fatherhood of God with reference to the Church– the our in Our Father. I prefer to emphasize the Father who art in heaven part. While it is true that we approach God as His whole Congregation, called forth by His Spirit, we nonetheless approach Him as suppliants. It is He who calls us into existence as within the Church, it He who gives us our supersubstantial bread; He leads us upon right paths, liberating us from temptation and the evil one. The whole prayer is about Him — about the vertical, not the horizontal beam of the Cross. When we turn the Our Father into a circle instead of a cross, when we put the altar in the center of the people and have the eyes of the people and the priest gazing at each other, we become lost in the finitude of the circle; no more can we reach the transcendent heavens.

    The Our is not the point of the prayer, and the prayer is not ours. So I don’t hold hands during it.

  58. Former Altar Boy says:

    I’m male and I hate it. It is one of the reasons I fled the NO parish I attended for an Eastern Rite Catholic Church years ago until finding the local Latin Mass community. At the NO parish, they weren’t satified with just holding hands with their neighbor, the people on the ends of the pews would actually spread into the center aisle to further extend their “daisy chain.” At those times when travel forces me to fulfill my Sunday obligation at an NO church, I simply fold my hands and bow my head with eyes closed.

  59. Clinton says:

    I’ve never been a fan. It always seemed to be a forced familiarity– and why should a stranger
    have an expectation of being able to grab me as it suits them? When I attend a NO Mass, I
    usually politely decline. I make exceptions in the cases of small children (they’re only doing
    as they’ve been told, and might take a refusal very personally) and the elderly (because I was
    brought up to defer to them– it’s a reflex).

    We already have a profound unity with each other and with our God in both the sacrifice of the
    Mass and in Holy Communion. A daisy chain across the nave isn’t going to add to that.

  60. Alan Aversa says:

    It emasculates the Mass. It must be forbidden.

  61. lucy says:

    I’m a convert and didn’t know better in the beginning (read: poor RCIA). Then over time I realized it’s not correct to do it, so I would avoid it, but if someone forced it upon me, I allowed it. Now, I don’t do it ever. If I’m at the ordinary Mass, I make sure to clasp my hands together and close my eyes so the others know I’m not going to hold their hands.

    I used to have fun going to the Newman center after working as a nurse all weekend – 8pm was the only option open to me – but I would make sure I sat in the inside aisle, then clasp my hands together so they couldn’t force me to cross the middle to hold hands. Ugh! Hated that!

  62. Nicole says:

    I wish I could say that I refuse to do it at all costs, but there have been situations in which I have been compelled to do so. At parish where I attend Mass regularly, or at the university chapel, I utterly refuse to hold hands, but if I am attending Mass at my hometown parish where everyone knew me growing up I don’t really have time during Mass to explain that I can’t hold hands during the Pater Noster (since I only attend there about twice a year, Midnight Mass and Christmas Day Mass). Whenever I attend Mass in my home town, I make it a point to sit in the choir loft so that I do not have to deal with other people, but it doesn’t always work.

  63. Fiat Domine says:

    Holding hands at the Our Father is just a great reminder of how protestant we have become. Instead of our attention at Mass being all towards God and the Real Presence of Christ Jesus our Lord, our being present at Calvary, being present in Heaven with all the Angels and Saints, and all the wonderful Mystery of it all, here we are acting like protestants who don’t believe or practice these things, and they even condemn us for such things. Another thing that really really bothers me and i refuse to say it, is at the very end of the Our Father, without permission, someone has added the protestant ending to the original and Catholic Our Father; (for Thine is the Kingdom and the Power…) and every Parish i have visited adds that to the Our Father, and that is not Catholic and even the USCCB says that that hasn’t been authorized.

  64. Eriugena says:

    I voted “No I hate it and will not hold hands during the Our Father, no matter what. (male).” Actually, the word hate isn’t strong enough to describe my feelings about the practice and it would be enough to stop me going to a particular Mass. I go there to kneel at the feet of the Cross, to consider how much I have contributed to His being nailed up there, and to thank Him for the Graces He is sending to me down here. There are other places where I can go all touchy-feely, but not HERE.

  65. C. says:

    It’s a sin. Therefore, we should hate it.

  66. asperges says:

    “Hate it,” of course. The chances of this happening at the EF Masses I attend are about as probable as the Pope denying the existence of God.

    I have only come across it once and that was in the US. The priest was wearing a coloured scarf and women assistants were standing next to him as though they were saying Mass. I was fortunately just a little too far from the nearest arm-linker at the Pater Noster to participate. I smiled and stood where I was. Here in the UK, only extremists and “yoof” or charismatics (makes sign of Cross) would engage in this sort of nonsense. It is wholly against our natural temperament in any case.

    For me this sort of sentimental guff epitomises everything bad post Vat II Church has embraced (until the better times came with this Pope): invented “traditions,” a total lack of any liturgical sense and continuity and nauseating sentimentality instead of firm Faith.

    Apart from that I have nothing against it….

  67. Ben Trovato says:

    I chose ‘hate it.’ I am not sure ‘hate’ is precisely the right word, but I have both a visceral and an intellectual reaction to it that is strongly negative, and will not participate in it even if everyone else does. (I manage to avoid putting myself in such a situation normally, and even avoid one place where there are good talks etc because the Mass they celebrate is SO dreadful – including handholding). Among the many reasons for my dislike of the practice are:
    It is wholly contrary to Catholic traditions of public prayer;
    It stresses the horizontal over the vertical;
    As normally practiced, it reduces reverence at an important stage in the Mass by a massive factor;
    It tends to signal a dominating theology and ecclesiology with which I am entirely out of sympathy;
    And anyway, I’m English, and we don’t do such things!

    Gracious, I don’t even shake hands at the ubiquitous (but not compulsory) Sign of Peace. I adore and pray for peace instead: that is the most sincere Sign of Peace I have to offer the world..

  68. nialasfitch says:

    I voted against hand-holding.

    I suppose there’s nothing inherently terrible about it but it seems to me an unnecessary innovation and I wouldn’t want to encourage it because, as we know, things which start off as optional often end up becoming obligatory.

    It makes a lot of people feel very uncomfortable (and, I imagine, would really put off many people who were coming to mass for the first time – it would put me off, anyway!) and why should we do that for the sake of something unessential which has no weight of tradition behind it?

  69. bookworm says:

    I voted “female, no opinion.” I agree that it should not be required or expected of the entire congregation or forced upon people by complete strangers. However, I also do not believe people who do this on their own volition with their families or the persons who accompanied them to Mass are necessarily guilty of sin or irreverence.

    I do this with my own daughter, not only during the Our Father but also during the Preface, because if I don’t she may stick her hands way up in the air in imitation of the priest — she’s autistic and tends to mimic the actions of others.

  70. bookworm says:

    I should explain that the type of “hand holding” I do with my daughter is NOT the kind you see in the picture, with hands raised to elbow or shoulder level for all to see, but simply gently clasping her hand or placing my hand on hers while it rests on the back of the pew in front of us or while our hands hang down at our sides. I see nothing wrong with such discreet hand holding between family members at Mass. However, I can see where everyone being more or less forced to do the obvious hands-raised-in-the-air kind of hand holding would be objectionable.

  71. Jim Ryon says:

    I hate it. It is a distraction and an occasion for sin. Therefore, I always close my eyes praying the Our Father at a NO mass.

  72. Philangelus says:

    I like holding hands with my husband or children during the Our Father. When I was first introduced to it, it was at my college campus (diocese of Rochester) and the priest there said someone had once written a complaint to Rome and gotten back a response that it was okay to hold hands during the Our Father as long as you kept holding them until the Sign of Peace. Everyone would cram toward the middle to hold everyone else’s hand during the Our Father.

    That part I don’t like. But I did like holding hands with my husband and children.

    Since it’s now been made clear that we shouldn’t, I won’t. But I liked it.

  73. Lara says:

    Voted “hate it” and I am female. I will hold hands if the parishoner next to me feels the need to pry my clasped hands apart – and usually when I open my eyes to see who would dare…its a little old lady half my size. Sigh. So I will as an act of charity for her (she needs her hands warmed anyway) but I really really don’t like it.

  74. jdscotus says:

    I think it is interesting that, according to this poll, men are three times more likely than women to participate in hand holding if asked. I would have bet the opposite to be the case.

  75. Sol says:

    I voted: ‘I hate it, I am male.’ I am of opinion that there are no excuses for violating somoene else’s personal space, as well as intermal peace and recollection, during Mass. It seems thatin the whole post ’69 era of ‘community’ worship, wherein community became an idol of liberals so much that individual, personal encounter with God became largely redundant. I say – bring back personal worship!

    Holding hands during the Pater Noster is not too much of a problem here in Poland, but it does occur every now and then. I can’t imagine being forced to or even expected to participate – forcing oneself on others is just plain rude and no class, and that’s even before I look at the reubrics, which say what we all know the do – holding hands is NOT THERE, ergo – DON’T. If anyone tried to grab my hand during Mass, I would make a point of pretending I didn’t notice, or, if need be, just folding my hands and trying to pray silently.

    Also, what APX said earlier. I second that.

  76. JenB says:

    The parish I first attended as I went through RCIA was the Deaf parish for the archdiocese. I began saying the Our Father in American Sign Language. It is hard to hold hands when one is using them to say the words to the prayer. After that I had a baby in my arms for much of the time. Now, it is such an ingrained habit, that I do not think twice about not offering my hands to anybody who happens to be my neighbor. It is, perhaps, also easier because my little family sits in the first pew, where few others dare to sit, so we are left mostly to our own.

  77. Tim says:

    I think it is a ridiculous and spurious custom that has no justification in the rubrics or tradition of the church. It is amazing to me that traditional signs of reverence such as making the sign of the cross, bowing, genuflecting, etc. are all on the wain whereas made-up liturgical postures such as holding hands or the nutty “orans” position for the Pater noster are so popular (in many Novus Ordo parishes).

  78. Marlon says:

    I find this to be a particular problem in the youth group in the parish where I teach. I think they must encourage this. I explain to the students, when I am given an opportunity, that it is a gesture that I dislike, that it is not required, and I beg them never to force anyone to do it. As long as no one forcibly grabs my hand, I am content to let them be. I expect that this gesture will die out in time.

  79. No, I hate it and will never do it. Female

  80. Midwest St. Michael says:

    Wow, looks like I am late for the party!

    I think it – the hand holding – rather silly and immature. I’ve read umpteen reasons pro and con but, really? Seems there are greater tragedies in life, I suppose.

    Kind of goes down that road of what I call “feel goodism.” A protestant novelty that should simply fade away (and I say this as a convert).


  81. darcy-wi says:

    My understanding is that holding hands gives a sense of a “horizontal dimension,” accentuation our relationship with each other. But the Lord’s prayer is directed from myself to God, the “vertical dimension” so holding hands contradicts this. To avoid this, I keep my hands folded and close my eyes, though I’m not often in a situation where this would come up.

  82. TNCath says:

    I hate it. For our choir, comprised of quite elderly people (the median age of its members is 80), it is the high point of the Mass, except for possibly the Sign of Peace. It’s as if they have waited for this moment for the entire Mass. I have yet to understand why they think it is so important to do this at the Our Father, as if they are saying, “Now we are REALLY praying!” This moment is only trumped by the Sign of Peace, where they hug each other as if they hadn’t seen each other in twenty years. Ironically, they greeted each other with the same gusto before Mass, have chatted with each other all through Mass, and will bid goodbye to each other at the end of Mass as if they will never see each other again. I can only attribute these behaviors to the fact that they are elderly and each week they come to Mass just to rejoice in seeing that they have made it on this earth another week. Meanwhile, I try to ignore it, keep my hands folded, and try to avoid being hugged as much as possible.

  83. Papabile says:

    Hate it. Won’t do it. If people are aggressive about it, I look at them directly and tell them to stop worshipping themselves.

    A few years ago, I would have been passive about the practice… I no longer can be.

    “Notitiae” Vol. XI (1975) p. 226

    “. . .holding hands is a sign of intimacy and not reconciliation, and as such disrupts the flow of the Sacramental signs in the Mass which leads to the Sacramental sign of intimacy with Christ and our neighbor, Holy Communion.”

    112. QUERY 2: In some places there is a current practice whereby those taking part in the Mass replace the giving of the sign of peace at the deacon’s invitation by holding hands during the singing of the Lord’s Prayer. Is this acceptable?

    REPLY: The prolonged holding of hands is of itself a sign of communion rather than of peace. Further, it is a liturgical gesture introduced spontaneously but on personal initiative; it is not in the rubrics. Nor is there any clear explanation of why the sign of peace at the invitation: “Let us offer each other the sign of peace” should be supplanted in order to bring a different gesture with less meaning into another part of the Mass: the sign of peace is filled with meaning, graciousness, and Christian inspiration. Any substitution for it must be repudiated.

  84. Veronica says:

    I don’t like it and I avoid it if possible. I don’t particularly hate it, but is not in the rubrics, so I don’t do it. Thank God for our priest who had eliminated little by little with love and sound explanations how laity can fully participate in Mass without all those novelties.

  85. dropper says:

    Maybe it’s because I am a convert from the SDA (with my family being baptists), but I absolutely cannot stand it. Nothing feels so protestant than this to me. I’ve seen this in every protestant church I’ve ever been in and it’s (just as everything that stems from protestantism) is just repugnant to me.

  86. Joan M says:

    i would have liked a choice somewhere between “I hate it” and “I’d rather not”! I think “hate” is a bit much, and I’d MUCH rather not!!
    For years I did it, because it seemed to start (somewhere in the 70’s) without anyone knowing quite how it did start. Then I found out that it had been inserted into the Mass by laity, probably in the Netherlands, and spread to other countries by tourists who had experienced it there, and that the Church had never given permission for it, much less required it. So, I stopped.
    Now, I only hold the hand(s) of old people who may not understand if I reject their hand – such as the 90 year old woman who sits with my husband and I each Sunday.
    I am one of the over 60’s mentioned in an earlier post, but have no longing to be held or hugged, and only like to be hugged by close family members and very close friends.
    I sincerely wish that the Church would give a directive that we should not hold hands, and tell us what we may do with our hands (IMO, just join them in prayer, whether palm and fingers together, or fingers interlaced), so that we could put a final stop to it.

  87. RichR says:

    I don’t “hate it”, but I have a severe aversion to the fake attempt to force “community” on us by this diffuse “pressure” to hold hands with strangers. When everyone else is doing it, and the people standing next to you are walking down the pew to hold your hand, you can’t tell me that it is “no big deal” to simply fold your hands and avoid the people who are waiting to grab your hand.

    It should simply be dropped so we don’t have to look like trolls by avoiding this 1970’s holdover from Marriage Encounter.

    Get your “community fix” at the parish hall after Mass over coffee and doughnuts.

  88. kelleyb says:

    I do not like holding hands and attempt to avoid the campfire rah rah rallies during Mass. However, my husband always takes my hand, but I avoid others if possible.

  89. KB says:

    All the churches I have ever gone to have done this. I do hold hands with my husband or family members, but we hold our hands down. I don’t like holding hands with others, but will take a hand if offered. I am not comfortable refusing somebody who is extending their hand in good faith, based on “Whatsoever you do…”

  90. Jayna says:

    I don’t do it if I can help it, but sometimes these people are pushy. I’ve had my hands folded in prayer and have actually had people pull them apart.

  91. thoscole says:

    I am a male that voted that I hate the practice.

    I find the passing of the peace itself distracting for myself, so the holding hands at the Pater Noster, which is not even liturgically correct, is that much more of a difficulty for me. Happily, most of the parishes in this part of Virginia don’t do much of it.

  92. Joanne says:

    I voted that I hate it. It’s kind of weird and an invasion of my space, but infinitely more important than my preference is that the consecration has already taken place, and I believe it’s simply WRONG to direct our attention away from the Eucharist.

    My territorial parish used to do the handholding thing and I didn’t mind it at the time. I don’t know what they do now because I haven’t been there in several years. The thought of the pastor where I go now doing this is really funny. He omits the Sign of Peace during the OF, so the idea of his having the people in the pews direct our attention to each other at a time when it’s not even done in most OF parishes is kind of comical.

  93. Jim says:

    Voted “No, I hate it(I am male)”

    Just sayin…

    Harden not your hearts, as at Mer’ibah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
    when your fathers tested me
    , and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
    For forty years I loathed that generation and said, “They are a people who err in heart, and they do not regard my ways.”
    Therefore I swore in my anger that they should not enter my rest.
    Psalm 95(94)8-11

    End of just sayin… :-)

  94. aspiringpoet says:

    I voted that I would rather not, and I am female. We are not supposed to do it, so I don’t, and my personal feelings about it – such as that I don’t particularly like touching the hands of strange people, and I find it distracting from the prayer – are therefore beside the point. But even if it were optional, I would not do it. Occasionally someone – always female – will grab my hand and forcibly yank it up into the air. In this case, I let her hold my hand since it’s evidently very important to her.

    I recognize that many faithful Catholics are not aware that they are not supposed to hold hands and are doing it in good faith.

  95. Jordanes says:

    Although I never holding hands during the Our Father, and won’t ever do it, I’m not sure that I “hate” it. It is a liturgically corrupt practice, however, and should never have been illicitly introduced in the first place, and should be suppressed everywhere, always, and by all. It needlessly duplicates the Pax and erroneously anticipates the unity that we receive through Holy Communion.

  96. Jordanes says:

    *hold* hands during the Our Father

  97. Wow – I’m in a really percentage here! I voted it’s important to me and I’m female. To elaborate, we only hold hands as a family, Mom, Dad, two kids and any extended family who may be visiting. We don’t hold hands with anyone else – even if they are the closest of friends sitting in the same pew or “strangers.” At our parish – I haven’t come across anyone reaching out to hold my hand or anything. It’s important to me because we are at Mass as a family and in preparation before communion it matters to me. It became more important after the eldest’s First Holy Communion. My husband isn’t a huge fan but he humors me because he knows it’s important and if I don’t reach for his hand, he typically will reach for mine. It gives the kids something to concentrate on and worked well when they were toddlers and we told them you will get to hold my hand in a minute! The kids go to Catholic school and during school masses, the younger grades all hold hands with each other and it’s cute but it’s mostly so they can do the squeeze thing and pass it one – three squeezes = I love you. Tacky, I know, but it’s not the worst thing they could passing along. We don’t do the “hands up” thing at the end though. I tend to shy away from any big gestures and especially the ones that make me feel as thought I’m in charge or whatever. I’ll leave those to the Priest. I guess it comes down to I’ll hold hands as long as my kids will let me and until it’s not cool anymore to hold hands with me.

  98. letchitsa1 says:

    I voted “No, I’d rather not and I avoid it if possible. (I am female)”. I don’t hate it – I think that is much too strong a word – but if I’m out of my usual routine for parishes, I will try to sit on the outer edges next to the wall just in case. If someone is so bold as to force me to hold their hand, I will do so, but I will also not let the moment go unaddressed later, either.

  99. Jack Regan says:

    My view will certainly be a minority one here, but hopefully it will be interesting nevertheless.

    I first came across the practice when I went to work in the Caribbean about ten years back. Everyone would hold hands for the Our Father and then keep holding hands as the priest said ‘Deliver us, Lord, from every evil…’ Then people would raise their hands for the ‘For the kingdom, the power and the glory…’

    I liked this. It struck me as a way to strengthen the feeling of community around the Eucharist. It felt as though the people were saying that they were bonded, and that what bonded them was the common prayer and the Blessed Sacrament that lay on the altar.

    The practice is less common in the UK where I live now. It’s certainly not a parish thing, but it does happen at youth Masses, in Lourdes, and a few other places too. And I still don’t mind it.

    I guess that there is a clash of cultures here. Some people feel that liturgy should be solemn and others feel that such expressions of closeness really help to get to the heart of it all. I think both bring a pearl of great price, but I also think that both need to consider each other’s sensitivities. I wouldn’t force somebody next to me to hold hands, for instance. That would be quite rude.

  100. pledbet424 says:

    I truly do hate it, male. It does seem to be a protestant innovation, and I’m just not the huggy type anyway…More of a porcupine type, so people are not apt to force it on me (just the truth). I have had a few people actually get very offended when I fold my hands and close my eyes, and decline the sign of peace afterwards.
    On a positive note, I have noticed at the parish where we often attend, this practice is much more subdued than it used to be, and seems to be declining. Sometimes I open my eyes just a bit, and observe many others not holding hands, which makes me happy.

  101. hicwat says:

    Naturally, females with no opinion is the rarest category :)

  102. pledbet424 says:

    “they decline the sign of peace afterwards” not me.

  103. Joy says:

    I would prefer not to, but it is expected at the parish I attend. For me it is distracting, as my mind goes somewhere other than “prayer” even as we approach this moment in the Mass. Last Sunday I was sitting somewhat by myself and was thoroughly focused in on the Mass so that I completely forgot about “holding hands”… until someone from abut 8 feet away walked over (with the rest of the row) to hold my hand. I haven’t decided to take a stand about it, yet, since we are such a small parish (40 families) and I have no other option for Mass attendance – I would like to keep good relations with the few practicing Catholics here!
    As a side note, my husband will not attend Mass here, partially because of all these so-called innovations. He says it does not feel like Mass to him, but rather just another chance for social hour, so he is another fallen-away Catholic who could probably be brought back if we became more traditionally minded.

  104. pledbet424 says:

    Just one other comment. At the parish we attend, it used to be a hand holding gladfest. The priest would hold hands with the deacon, then the servers, they would reach for the first pew, holding hands across the aisles, etc. It was positively ridiculous to watch the people stretch across the aisles to preserve the unbroken chain of humanity. A record hand holding chain for the Our Father, unbroken, except for one old grumpy non hand holder in the middle, who would break the chain without fail. I don’t think the Our Father had any merit at all, since all the happy vibes went up in smoke and down some hole just because he wouldn’t join in. I’m just hoping that most of the people in the parish have forgiven me for my insolence.

  105. Banjo pickin girl says:

    I’m lucky, handholding at our parish is limited to within some family groups. And the sign of peace is a handshake or a nod or a peace sign with a wry smile. We have plenty of time to be chummy at doughnut time and other events like the picnic.

    I used to go to a hugging parish. Now I am at a less demonstrative one. They each have their own points both positive and negative. Sometimes hugginess goes with the personality of the priest. Our priests are very distant except to their inner circles. Our parishioners seemed friendlier when the priests were more friendly. Sometimes excessive friendliness or familiarity spills over into Mass, though not at my present parish where there is a strong sense of decorum usually.

  106. QuaerensDeum says:

    Female, will do it if pressured or in certain situations. I know at my parish my family can get away with not holding hands. At a youth ministry event (yes, I’m the youth director at my parish), it’s usually expected to hold hands and the teen next to me will always think that I am ‘shirking’ him/her that something is wrong with him/her that I don’t want to hold hands. But hey – they’re offering Mass, and the teens are loving it. So it’s about doing what’s pastoral at the moment. We know the goal and shoot for it, but we are not rigid so that we break when we’re bent a new way. Of course, we must lead by example in some things, and we must be rigid about the most important things (Truth doesn’t change for pastoral reasons, after all). But this is NOT one of those things.

  107. jimsantafe says:

    As much as I hate everybody in pews holding hands, the priest and deacons doing it is far worse! The faithful aren’y really bound by the rubrics, but the sacred ministers… They show their contempt for the Church by inventing their own liturgy!

  108. albinus1 says:

    I really hate it, but I voted “rather avoid” (male). When I am alone at Mass I generally close my eyes and fold my arms or hold my missal (traditional) and bury my nose in it. I suppose, though, that I wouldn’t refuse someone who really couldn’t take the hint. When I go to Mass by myself, I tend to sit off to the side away from other people, in part deliberately to avoid this.

    I am newly married, and when my wife and I attend Mass together, we generally hold hands — but we tend to do so for most of the Mass. We married late in life, and each of us spent many years alone. Being able to share going to Mass together is an important part of our marriage. As for the Protestant part at the end of the Our Father, I don’t say that anyway, so no special gesture is needed. At Mass I generally say the Our Father to myself in Latin anyway, particularly if it’s being sung somehow — though if it’s chanted using the standard chant tone, I do take part in that.

    One of the really nice things about the EF is that, aside from some kneeling and standing, there aren’t all these scripted (or allegedly scripted) gestures for the laity.

  109. Rosevean says:

    I voted that I hate it, because I hate the idea of it. It’s not done in my UK parish. I am an introverted kind of person and find it hard enough sometimes to be there at all, never mind interact closely with my fellow parishioners. Somebody forcibly taking my hand would on some days be a trigger to leave the Mass. It is un-Christian to attempt to force anybody to behave in a certain way.

  110. TheRani says:

    I was one of those many poorly catechized young people born post-Vatican 2 who grew up thinking that holding hands during the Our Father was a part of the Mass. When I was in my late 20s, an elderly woman one Sunday was next to me in the pew, and when I held out my hand expectantly at Our Father time, she just shook her head and held her hands folded in front of her. I was confused, but shrugged and humored her. I figured maybe she had some kind of illness she didn’t wish to share. After Mass ended, she whispered, “I wasn’t being mean. Holding hands during the Our Father is a liturgical abuse, so I don’t do that.” It was the first time in my entire life I had ever even heard of liturgical abuse, and I had no idea what she was talking about. So I looked it up online when I got home, and discovered she was right. Since I don’t actually like holding hands, I was rather relieved. Now I pray the Our Father with my hands clasped together in front of me. If someone wants to touch my hand, they can wait until the Sign of Peace.

  111. QuaerensDeum says:

    Oh sorry, guess I wasn’t supposed to engage in the com box – forgot! Anyway, I just want to share that I used to be a force-you-to-hold-my-hand person… because I would have thought you just forgot or were distracted and needed a reminder! I had no clue that some people didn’t like it, or that it wasn’t just as much a part of the Mass as saying the Our Father itself or kneeling for the Eucharistic Prayer. Hope that helps those of you who feel imposed upon: there is a very good chance that those people have no honest clue they are offending you! Then there’s the others… but we can at least assume the best!

  112. Trad Catholic Girl says:

    I first experienced handholding during the Lord’s prayer at a new church in the area in which I live about 10 years ago. At the time I attended Mass only a few times a year even though I am a cradle Catholic. I was trying to reconnect with God and thought I would try a new church to help guide me back to God. I was immediately taken aback by the church itself which was round and without kneelers. The church songs (I can’t call them hymns) were accompanied by a full piece band. When it was time for the Lord’s prayer and everyone in the church held hands, through and across aisles, I immediately thought, “where am I? This can’t be a Catholic Church!” I Immediately longed for the traditional Catholic Church which for me is the one holy Catholic and apolistic church. Needless to say, I still do not like handholding at the otherwise traditional church I now attend on a regular basis.

  113. wmeyer says:

    I avoid it, but as Jayna noted, sometimes these people are pushy, at least in my parish, which is a very inward looking deeply militant liberal bunch. Here the priest presides, as if ordination were not something to set him apart. The choir contributes the highest noise level before Mass, carrying on sometimes as though at a party. And at the exchange of the sign of peace, many of them leave their pews to make contact with others as far as halfway across the church.

    I really need a new parish.

  114. I voted that I don’t like it (I am female).

    I tend to play it by ear– if I’m by myself in a section of the pew (It happens; I think my veil scares people), I’ll fold my hands. If there’s people all around me, I might holds hands, I might not.
    Overall, I’d rather not– we are praying, and we fold our hands when we pray.
    Praise be to God, I have never had anyone try to grab my hands. I hope it never happens– I startle easily and then I’d feel so bad for the person who grabbed me. I’m sure they didn’t mean any harm and here I am acting like a scared rabbit!

  115. Lori Pieper says:

    I’m in the “avoid it if possible” crowd. The practice isn’t a real liturgical action and is really redundant of the liturgical action we perform just a few moments later.

    Naturally if someone grabs my hand, I won’t refuse. Especially if I’m at home over Christmas and it’s my parents!

    If I could say something to someone waggling their hand at me, it would be “if you want to be chummy, let’s do it during the Sign of Peace.”

  116. Patti Day says:

    I voted ‘Avoid’ because I found ‘Hate’ childish.

    I have noticed that fewer people are doing it, and I don’t think it’s just cold & flu seasons, but actual recognition that it’s not appropriate or reverent.

  117. poohbear says:

    I voted: hate it, female. But really, hate is not a strong enough word.

    I was raised Catholic but fell away for many years. When I returned I was taken aback by this hand holding frenzy. I did it at first because I didn’t know any better and thought it must be another one of the changes that happened while I was away, but I never liked it. As I started to study my faith and learned this was not part of the mass, I stopped doing it. It is amazing the dirty looks you can get during Mass from those who want to hold your hand. That alone should lead us to wonder where this practice came from. I started to fold my hands and bow my head to avoid the hand holding, but still some people feel the need to pry your hands apart, and once I was even slapped in the arm by the little elderly lady next to me. I was shocked! Why do people think its ok to invade another’s personal space in such a pushy way? Its common courtesy not to force yourself upon another person, especially a stranger.

    I have now moved to another part of the country, and scoped out all the local Catholic churches before deciding on which parish to attend. If the priest invited the hand holding, it wasn’t for me. Even worse is when the priest calls all the children up to the altar to hold hands during the prayer. When I travel, I always sit at the end of the pew near the wall, so if forced to, at least I only have to hold hands with one person. I tend to have some claustrophobia, so being forced to hand hold with two strangers can really set off a panic attack. I have also recently developed severe arthritis in my hands, which makes hand holding with anyone (even family) very painful. And that last big squeeze people like to do would really send shooting pain up my arm.

    The biggest problem, as I see it, is that some priests and many RCIA directors encourage this. Do they not understand that the reception of Our Lord in the Host is THE sign of communion? You can’t blame the people in the pews if they are not taught correctly. I have found that parishes that encourage the ‘whole house’ to hold hands usually have other liturgical abuses going on too, and having found a great parish where all the priests say the black and do the red makes this problem a non-problem.

  118. gmarie says:

    Though I did vote “hate,” “greatly disapprove of” would have been a better choice for me. That being said, here are the two reasons why I don’t agree with the practice…

    1) I believe that when I pray the “our” in Our Father at Mass, it’s meaning lies in and is comprised of me (as God’s adopted daughter) and Jesus praying to “our” Father, NOT all of us here in the church together as “our”; a vertical prayer rather than a horizontal one. Granted, we are all praying the same prayer, each one of us praying to God with Jesus, but that does not make us pray corporately the same, just as with the Creed (“I believe” rather than “We believe”) This nature of the Our Father is evident, if a bit obscure, if we read the Holy Scriptures preceding the words of the prayer given to us by Jesus in Matthew 6:9-13. Looking at the paragraphs before we find that we are to pray to the Father in secret, not to be seen, and without empty words as to be heard. In a literal sense it is difficult to not be seen when the assembled are turning to their left and right, grabbing each other’s hands, and are still grabbing, reaching and moving, even after the spoken prayer has begun (making those first words somewhat empty): These actions seem to be rooted in some need to “show community” amongst ourselves rather than community between the one praying, Jesus, and the Father. Therefore, when I pray the Our Father at Mass, it is with my hands kept to myself, folded in traditional prayer posture as I gaze upwards, usually looking at Jesus’ face on the corpus on the crucifix which is hung behind and above the altar, focusing on the fact that I am addressing God, the Father, through Jesus, His Son.

    2) I have a rare disability in my arms that makes it greatly awkward for me to hold the hands of others during the Our Father, or any other prayer for that matter, and which also makes it impossible for me to receive communion in the hand (for which I am greatly blessed to never have to participate in that practice). The problem with my disability is that to look at me, you’d never really know, so people glare at me or try to impose their will on me by grabbing my hand, or trying to put the Blessed Sacrament in my hands anyway, not ever even knowing that it is physically impossible. Needless to say, the awkwardness of the attempts of people to hold my hand distracts me from worship at least for that moment.

  119. Jael says:

    I crunched the numbers back when the poll had 877 male voters and 344 female voters.

    Combining the categories “hate it” and “avoid it”:
    93% of the men hate or avoid hand holding.
    94% of the women hate or avoid hand holding.

  120. Supertradmum says:

    I would love to see a breakdown of ages on this poll. I am curious if there is generation difference in the answers, but as the overwhelming majority of both genders are against, the age differences would affect the small pro groups. Perhaps.

  121. Jael says:

    Right now, with 2, 816 total voters:

    1.37% of the males have no opinion.

    1.41% of the females have no opinion.

  122. Shonkin says:

    The hand-holding is just one of the trendy practices that cropped up in the parish where I lived (in California) during the Eighties, although I first saw it at Saint Francis De Sales Cathedral in Oakland about 1972.
    During the Nineties in Montana (where I now live) I started seeing people using made-up gestures every time the priest said “The Lord be with you.” The practice spread like a fungus. Meanwhile the choirs have expanded their noisemaking into the period after Holy Communion and made quiet meditation impossible. The music isso insistent and obtrusive that I literally have trouble hearing myself think when I try to pray.
    Another practice that has spread — and it has to be at the instigation of the parish priests — is the baptism of naked babies by total immersion. That is wrong on so many levels, beginning with health considerations!

  123. lgreen515 says:

    I have never held hands with anyone during the Our Father…until this morning when my husband-who-is-Protestant-but-c0mes-to-Mass-with-me asked me to hold hands with him.

  124. irishgirl says:

    I said that I hated it. Luckily I go to the TLM exclusively and don’t have to put up with it.
    If I happen to be at an OF Mass, I attempt to sit off to the side and away from the ‘hand grabbers’.
    I don’t like the ‘orans’ position because it’s a priestly gesture, and we in the pews are NOT PRIESTS.
    We are LAITY! And I don’t understand this thing about the ‘priesthood of the baptized’. This creates confusion between the roles of the priesthood and the laity-in other words, ‘clericalizing the laity and laicizing the clergy’. Too much ‘blurring the lines’.

  125. nykash says:

    I hate it – my wife and I both fold our hands and instruct our children to do the same. When I pray, I mean it, and find holding hands distracting.

    I never have to worry about this during an EF mass:-)

  126. jjfxg says:

    “No, I’d rather not and I avoid it if possible. (I am male)”

    Hand holding to me always seemed superficial and distracting. There are times when i do think that it can be a genuinely good and sincere action, but as a rule I avoid it.

  127. mike cliffson says:

    Voted avoid, not because I mind too much , it’s the OBLIGATION and the looks if you don’t
    As my prostate gets bigger and bigger
    And I totter towards the tomb
    My focus is the nearest WC
    Not when who’s holding hands with whom
    (With apologies to DLsayers)

  128. neworleansgirl says:

    I don’t like it, and I don’t do it voluntarily. But on the rare occasion that someone next to me grabs for my hand, I’m not gonna pull away and make a big point of how I am NOT holding their hand. I’ll do it and move on with my life. To me, it’s not something I get in a lather about. There are far worse liturgical issues than that, for me. But I prefer not to.

    We’re a military family and we move often, and the last time I remember being at a church that was really into the handholding thing was in Oklahoma. They did the version that I really dislike: when people stretch out across the aisle and wrap around the pew to the people behind you. But I haven’t seen that done in years.

  129. Marianna says:

    I don’t like it, but it seems rude not to, if we’re asked to do it. I can’t bring myself to repulse the person next to me, if they hold out their hand. I wish priests would not ask congregations to do this. And why during the Our Father, and not during any other prayer?

    On the first Sunday of Advent, we are instructed at the beginning of Mass to turn to those around us, shake hands, and wish each other a “happy new year”. I hate that even more. Next thing it will be joining our crossed-over hands and singing Auld Lang Syne…

  130. Will D. says:

    I prefer not to hold hands, but it’s not a big deal for me either way. I’ve never gotten any static about it at church, much less pestered (or punched?!) to hold hands. Nobody’s refused to exchange the sign of peace because of it, either.

  131. Beth Hemann says:

    Voted “no, I prefer not”….I want to be thinking about, praying to God the Father and if I have to hold someone’s hand, I’m more likely to be focused on sweaty palms, etc.

    If someone were to tap me on the arm to hold hands, I would. But usually I try to participate in mass with my eyes closed, except during the consecration. So if someone holds their hand out for me to hold, I wouldn’t see it. My kids know better than to try to hold hands.

  132. JamesA says:

    I voted “I hate it”, though I don’t like to use that strong a word. I will avoid it if at all possible. Sometimes a person has grabbed my hand (in a parish not my own, we don’t do it at ours) and I just let it ride to avoid seeming to be uncharitable. The best way I’ve found to avoid it is to close my eyes, bow my head, and fold my hands.

  133. Daria says:

    I’m a female who voted to avoid if possible. Sometimes I go along when charity seems to recommend it. (sweet elderly ladies, etc.) My favorite argument against hand-holding (besides rubrics) is very Post-Vatican II: it detracts from the Sign of Peace if we’ve already been clasping hands for the duration of the Our Father. This seems to persuade others more than talk about rubrics.

  134. Precentrix says:

    I’ll do it if charity seems to demand it. In the middle of Mass is not the time to explain to one’s neighbour that we aren’t supposed to be holding hands right now… However, I avoid that situation as far as possible by choosing which Masses I attend – I am blessed with multiple options, though all are OF in the vernacular.

  135. jamie r says:

    I voted no, I’d rather not (Male). The anger against hand-holding seems misplaced. We’re praying to “Our Father,” not my father. It’s not offensive to join hands as we join in prayer. On the other hand, it’s kinda dumb, and can get distracting when you have people reaching across the aisles, etc. But on the scale of liturgical innovations in the past few centuries (pews, homilies, removing chancel screens, celebration versus populum, “Gather us in,” and the suppression of minor orders), hand-holding during the Our Father is merely pointless, rather than probably evil. In fact, if mandatory hand-holding would kill the Orans posture, I would happily hold everyone’s hand.

  136. Mrs. Bear says:

    Communal hand holding doesn’t happen much in our parts.
    But many who are charismatic do it or those who are or have been involved in LifeTeen.
    (they would only do it with those that are likeminded though – not the entire congregation)
    We had done it with our children just to make sure they are paying attention.

  137. Denis says:

    I voted ‘rather not’ and ‘avoid whenever possible’ though I really despise it–it’s just that I hate even more appearing to be rude when some well-intentioned but misguided individual grabs my hand. I just find the gesture weird and even slightly creepy. It makes sense in some protestant contexts, where displays of forced of enthusiasm are natural. It makes no sense in the Catholic liturgy.

  138. Fr. William says:

    I was at my parent’s parish and offered a daily Mass in a small chapel at the parish. When it came time for the Our Father the people (good, well-meaning people) were so involved in the holding of hands that they all joined hands and ended up in a small circle. This means that some of them had their backs to the altar, and yes, Christ. I was in shock at this and simply said “Please turn to face Christ, present on the altar”. The people were then shocked and afterwards apologized. It took this incident for them to realize what had happened in their practice. It is a shame that many good people are lead astray and mislead in focus at such a time in the Holy Sacrifice. When the ordinary form is the practice all attempts, care, and efforts must be placed in offering it extraordinarily well, not with a bunch of add-0ns to help enhance the Mass. Education is key, but even that is minimally effective for those who don’t want to learn or don’t care to learn. I pray that we would have hearts that long for the true beauty of the Mass — for priests and people alike.

  139. Gail F says:

    I dislike it and avoid it when at all possible. Mostly I think it’s just silliness. People make up their own things when they either don’t understand the actual symbols and sacramentality of our worship, or when they’ve been encouraged to “do their own thing.” To me it shows that people very much want sacramentality. They just need to be shown that we already have it.

  140. CarismaTeaCo says:

    Today was Youth Sunday. Children sat in the front pews. Participated in readings and ushers. No youth EMinisters, tho. The Priest called all the children up to the Sanctuary for singing the Our Father. They stood in front of the altar in-between the main Altar and around the wreath. He called them all up once more (after the announcements and 3 rounds of applause) to bless them. We ate!!

    Good job kids!

    Priest ..

  141. JeffTL says:

    It’s hard to do when you are kneeling.

  142. CarismaTeaCo says:

    …Everyone held hands!

  143. acroat says:

    In 2000 I had shoulder surgery & my right arm was in a sling. The man next to me at Mass grabbed my hand and yanked it in to the air. I suspect it was why I needed a second surgery. I avoid it with a vengeance.

  144. q7swallows says:

    Have been in the holding hands parishes most of my life, I moved away from the practice when I realized that I was distracted from truly praying by the kinesis of the other person—especially a stranger. Trying to correct this, I swung to the other side of the “absolutely not under any circumstances” camp. Until an elderly woman confided to me once that for some people like her, it’s the only time in a week that another human being will touch them and it utterly melted my heart with pity. So while I don’t offer and usually kneel at that point anyway, I will relent if the person next to me seems to truly need it. And I instructed my children likewise. But perhaps more fellowship after Mass would be a better solution so that we may give God what is His (our undivided, one-on-One attention) and treat our neighbors as we would ourselves (visiting the lonely) in the 23 hours left in the day.

  145. LisaP. says:

    I just raved about this with my Christian friends the other day. We had a prayer group and they held hand to pray, I told them they were the only ones I’d do that with, that when they try to make me hold hands for the Our Father in Mass I won’t do it. I told them it’s not in the Catholic Mass. Catholic calesthenics include kneeling, standing, and sitting, not hand holding.

    There are all sorts of wonderful things you can do in lots of other venues, from blowing bubbles in the bathtub to watching your kids make hand gestures to pop Christian songs at a summer camp. They are not appropriate in Mass.

    I always warming shake hands so folks who got snubbed at the Our Father know it’s not personal. It’s just I don’t like doing things during Mass that aren’t part of Mass. Shaking hands is part of Mass, right?

  146. MikeM says:

    I’d prefer not to do the hand-holding thing. My dad likes it, though, so I go along with it when I go to Mass with my parents.

  147. Mary Jane says:

    I voted that I hate it and simply won’t do it no matter what. Hate is not too strong a word for me to use with respect to hand-holding during the Our Father. Now I have only been to a handful of OF masses in my life, but still, when present at an OF, I just won’t do it no matter what. I keep my hands folded, my eyes cast down (or closed), and perhaps I will smile at those around me or nod my head, but that’s it.

    I was surprised at the poll result distribution, I must say! Not in a good or bad way – just surprised.

  148. Bryan Boyle says:

    Don’t like it. Don’t do it. Keep my hands folded (thumbs grasping the Benedict Crucifix under my shirt), head bowed…Hate is a strong word, but, we’re not a bunch of Holy Rollers that have to celebrate each others’ faith…we’re Catholics, with the truth right there on the altar, front and center. That’s where our attention should be focused. Period.

  149. Mike Morrow says:

    Even the abominable novus ordo does not specify any hand-holding idiocy. It exists because corrupt self-important priests who don’t deserve the title encourage it in their congregations, and the sheep-intellect congregation herds to do so.

  150. eulogos says:

    I admit that I used to like this, finding it a kind of emotional high. Now I mostly dislike it because of the overall implications of doing it, because if you had any doubts by that point in the mass, you know what kind of parish you are in. I don’t dislike it per se, in that I don’t mind holding people’s hands, even people I don’t know. I dislike it because it says “This is all about us, about how we all have nice loving feelings about each other.” For one thing, that might not even be true. And it is not the main point, either of what love is, or of what we are supposed to be doing at mass. I usually attend a Byzantine rite mass, where this is not done, except on rare occasions when grandchildren or great grandchildren of parishioners who are being raise Latin rite, are visiting and they do it with each other. So I no longer encounter this very much. However, when I go back to my territorial parish for some reason, I do conform to the local custom, because I know that some people are very hurt when people refuse. I had someone say this to me, that she was upset that so and so wouldn’t hold hands. I tried to explain why someone might not, and she said, “But since this is what we do here, why be so impolite as to refuse? It made me feel rejected, or as if he is criticizing our customs, or maybe both.” Knowing some people feel that way, I figure it doesn’t hurt me to participate. On the other hand, I won’t “raise my hand in blessing” when the priest blesses whatever, the kids going out to color things, or the Advent wreath, or the prayer blankets the ladies made, as I said, whatever, because I think it blurs the distinction…but I don’ t have to say any more to this audience.

  151. Centristian says:

    I voted, “No, I hate it…I am male”, that option most closely representing my opinion on the subject.

    As I view the matter, the practice of hand-holding during the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer during Mass (or at any other point during Mass) is, first of all, without any liturgical provenance that I am aware of. Hand-holding is regarded as a gesture of human affection and/or romance, not as a sacred gesture of the liturgy of the Roman Rite. To pretend to make of hand-holding a liturgical gesture seems to me to be symptomatic of the soft, sentimental, and effeminate culture that has sadly come to characterize our modern Church.

    I have always wondered why the hand-holders choose the Pater Noster as their moment to do their thing. What is it about the Lord’s Prayer, I wonder, that moves some worshippers to stretch their hands out to clasp the hands of their neighbors in the pew? What about that particular moment is more conducive to a physical expression of sentimentality than other moments of the Mass? Why not hold hands at, for example, the institutional narrative? Not that I want to give anyone any ideas, mind you, but I simply fail to grasp what it is about the Our Father that prompts this response in some. And what is it about the doxology that inspires hand-holders to raise their hands in the air?

    I just don’t get it, I’m afraid.

  152. Mrs. Bear says:

    I forgot to mention that what gets me even more than the hand holding during the the Our Father is the raising of the hands AND their arms for the part afterwards: “For the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory are Yours now and forever.”
    Some people raise them on their own or they are already handholding and the entire pew raises their hands & arms in the air together.

  153. Jael says:

    At 4424 total votes, the percentages are about the same as last time I checked:
    93% of the males hate or avoid holding hands.
    92 % of the females hate or avoid holding hands.

    Something to ponder:
    Are there more male readers than female readers? If so, why?
    Or, are women just more averse to polls?
    71% of the voters are male.
    29 % of the voters are female.

  154. Debbie Sercely says:

    I am not even a TINY bit confused about the degree to which I participate in the Priestly ministry of Christ by virtue of my Baptism. I am not confused when other members of the laity adopt the orans posture during the Our Father. True, the highest and best and truest expression of our common unity as a parish is to receive Christ in the Eucharist together. But that’s also the best way for my husband and I to express our love and unity. That doesn’t mean it’s the only way we should, nor does it mean that it’s the only way that’s appropriate during Mass.
    To my knowledge, the bishop in our diocese has not instructed us to discontinue this practice of holding hands during the Our Father, and based on my experience with our pastor (a very good, holy, devout, orthodox, and OBEDIENT pastor!), he would let us know as soon as our Bishop said to stop. The fact that the missal does not instruct us to hold hands means that we don’t have to, and certainly don’t have the right to try to force others to. It not being forbidden is a pretty good indication that it’s not forbidden. It is OPTIONAL.
    I enjoy holding hands with my husband, and I don’t find myself terribly distracted when the person next to me takes my hand. I see nothing wrong with choosing to hold hands, and nothing wrong with choosing not to. Forcing others to conform to your view is inappropriate, unless you are the Bishop of your diocese.

    [I wonder if people keep in mind that the bishop is not saying that couples cannot hold hands during the our father. When the holding hands starts to become more invasive and wide-spread the gesture becomes a liturgical issue and a distraction.]

  155. Debbie Sercely says:

    I have always found the arm-lifting-at-the-end bit pretty silly.

  156. gmarie says:

    You know the holding hands thing has gotten “out of hand” (pun intended) when someone is harshly criticized or teased for not participating in the practice. This morning, after Mass, my 10 year old son was in tears because two co-members of the children’s choir mercilessly picked on him, during the Our Father, for keeping his hands in prayer position instead of holding hands with others. It breaks my heart on more than one level.

  157. Supertradmum says:

    Please report bullying to your diocesan office. In 2008, in my diocese in Iowa, the Director of Liturgy, a fairly conservative and highly intelligent man, who is also a Permanent Deacon, had a letter circulated to all the parishes, under the Bishop’s authority, that no one could be bullied into holding hands, as the gesture was merely “local custom” and not part of any “rubric”. This greatly reduced bad feelings among congregations where people would put out their hands and give nasty looks when these were not taken up in hand holding. Now, after so many years, there are less and less people doing it. Bullying of any kind is unacceptable. You may get a generous and balanced response.

  158. biberin says:

    This fall my parish bulletin published a guide to parish customs which explained that it was fine to hold hands if you wanted to, but no one should ever pressure anyone else. I really don’t care for that kind of intimacy with people I don’t know well. If I don’t have my arms around my kiddos, I’ll keep them folded in front of me. Once I was balancing a nursing baby and the woman behind me, a friend, put her hand on my shoulder during the prayer, and I appreciated that. Another time, though, an acquaintance who had tried at other times to grab my hand and never succeeded, rested his hand on my son’s head for the prayer. Oh, my, was that ever awkward. It was way too paternal and intimate and my son had no idea what to do.

  159. Seumas says:

    I despise it, think it is wrong, and will not do it.

    But _not_ because it isn’t in the rubrics. If we interpret the rubrics so narrowly that whatever isn’t prescribed cannot be done, then I would not be allowed to put my hands together in the prayer position, either. And the extra signs of the cross people make (like when being blessed, or at the absolution after the penitential rite), and the extra breast striking (like at the Agnus Dei) would not be allowed either.

    No, I think it is wrong because,

    a) it is not _traditional_. The other gestures and postures I mentioned have been traditional for decades if not centuries. Hand holding is a recent innovation.

    b) it sets the wrong tone for sacred liturgy. It is a gesture that emphasizes us, communalism, warm fuzzy emotions, etc. The prayer posture, sign of the cross, bows, striking the breast, etc., all emphasize prayer, reverence, adoration of God. Hand holding is wrong for the same reason it is wrong to use sappy, banal, us-centered music.

  160. AnAmericanMother says:

    Go and talk to the choirmaster now!
    As the director of the children’s choir, it’s his job to keep order and stop any bullying/teasing/ hazing that’s going on.
    If it can be a teaching moment about holding hands during the Paternoster, so much the better.

  161. Patt says:

    We are not required to hold hands —-never have been. I wonder how this blatant and silly error got started in the first place– it needs to be ended–now. This absurd hand holding was never in the Rubrics. NEVER!! Instead bring back the bells during the Consecration, kneeling during the Agnus Dei or genuflection during the Credo (Christ was born of the Virgin Mary). Why add Protestant gestures and throw out what was more reverent and Catholic?

  162. cl00bie says:

    I generally hold hands with my wife during Mass (not only at the Our Father) when I’m able to sit with her (which is rare since I sing in the choir and she doesn’t). If you want to hold hands with people sitting next to you (related or not), that’s fine. Just don’t inflict it on me by grabbing for my hand.

    People have said to me “It doesn’t say anywhere that you can’t hold hands during the Our Father!”, and I say: “It doesn’t say anywhere that you can’t flap your elbows like a chicken during the Our Father either.”

  163. Kieninger says:

    As a priest at the altar, I look at the Precious Body and Blood during the Our Father. This is partly because I am speaking to the Father through the Son, and partly to avoid looking at what some people are doing in the congregation. Holding hands, as well as those who mimic the orans posture reserved to the priest, are a distraction for me and for many parishioners trying to focus on the Mass. We discourage the practice at my parish, but being on the West Coast, we get many visitors (and certain parishioners of the rebellious type) who insist on stretching across aisles and pews, sometimes in awkward, yoga-like poses as if there were trying to maintain some sort of “magic circle.”

    Before my ordination, I was always uncomfortable with the practice. As a man with a rather large “space circle,” having to hold someone’s hand is very unnerving and distracting, especially that of another man. I see the whole drive behind it as a feminization of the liturgy, much like some of those awful OCP songs about dancing in forests and playing in fields. It all seems more appropriate at Woodstock (or an Occupied park) than in a Catholic Mass.

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