Sunday, January 06, 2008
On Earth As It I In Heaven
For the past couple of days our readers have been grousing about the "Our Father" moment at Mass. For those of you who are not Catholic, or those of you that are but who sleep in on Sundays, we say the "Our Father" at Mass. Sometimes we sing the "Our Father" at Mass. Some parishes hold hands while they say the "Our Father". Some individuals hold their palms to the sky (think 'born again') while saying the "Our Father". It seems most of our readers would like to just say their "Our Father" with the congregation, hands folded in prayer (or around the baby so he doesn't run up and down the aisles or fling Cheerios) and move on.
We started here:
While reciting the Our Father during Mass, we hold hands with our pew neighbor. This seems to have our elderly/purist parishioners in a dither. Apparently, the hand-holding routine is not allowed nor sanctioned, but most pastors let it go as this is not a hill they want climb, so to speak. I think it is such a sweet gesture but I also understand that the liturgy is not intended to be a love-in. I'm on the fence and I know you'll be the one to knock me off it Sister. What say you?
O....I cannot STAND the holding hands during the Our Father business, nor those who hold the orens posture during the Our Father...some of my biggest pet peeves and an all too common litugical abuse.
which led to.....
I have found that if I keep my hands folded in front of me during the Our Father, with my head down, eyes closed, people who like to join hands during it will see I am not going to. I'm tuned in to God, not the question of do I or don't I join hands? I have found that when I attend daily Mass and someone else is in the pew, they usually grab my hand before I can posture in prayer. Ugh. But you know what? I'd rather respond lovingly to them than gruff and get my knickers in a twist over it. How much of a Christian am I in that scenerio? Not much. And, I feel sorry for them 'cos I have ICE COLD hands (anemia).
My pet peeve is singing the Our Father. I'd rather just pray it.
which prompted this comment.....
But then there's the song version I learned 25 years ago -- "Ou-wer Fa-Ther who aaaart iiiin heaven (bum bum bum) hallow-wed bee thyyy naaaame....." with a repeat of "Our Father, who art in heaven" inserted before "deliver us from evil." I would be just as pleased if it completely disappeared from the liturgy forever.
I don't like holding hands for the Our Father, either. But, it seems awfully difficult to communicate "I don't hold hands while praying" without seeming to say "I won't hold YOUR hand."
Everyone wants to know what I think.
I agree with all of you.
I have to start with the singing the "Our Father". I've heard beautiful versions of the the "Hail Mary" sung. Certainly, the Latin "Sanctus" is always beautiful, just about unruinable. But the "Our Father"...not so much. Taking into account that musical tastes differ, I have never heard a worse sounding song of any kind than people trying to sing the "Our Father" (this would include songs like "Boot Scootin' Boogie). I think you can get away with a sung "Hail Mary" because it's short, you can sing "Ave Maria" a bunch of times, which will sound great because of all those vowels, then you have a long AHHHHH MMMMMMENNNNNNNNNN at the end.
But the "Our Father" is longer, doesn't rhyme and it's chock full of clumsy consonants. Only a Pavarotti could make it sound good, and he's dead.
I, too, have never been comfortable with all the hand holding. I've never really adjusted to the 'hand shake of peace', truth be told. I sort of dread it as it approaches. How far should I try to extend myself? If I turn around for the people behind me, which I always do, am I missing out on the people in front of me when they turn around? It's all very awkward. I also don't like saying, "Peace Be With You." It makes me feel like Captain Kirk, truth be told. I'd prefer to just say, "Hello, how are you? I hope you're well. Look how the baby has grown in a week!"
So holding hands for the Our Father doesn't work for me, either.
I also remember what I thought the first time I saw people holding their hands up during the "Our Father". "What's up with that?" I thought maybe we had some recently converted Evangelicals and I figured they would soon notice that we don't do that palms up thing here at the Catholic Church. But no. It was catching.
And how do I cope with it all? I'm not sure that even if I was in a whole room of people with their palms up that I would do that. That is about as foreign to me as breaking into an interpretive dance, although I would not look as hilarious. But short of that, I do whatever is expected of me.
As uncomfortable as I am with the 'handshake of peace', I give it my best effort because I think it's a really good idea to somehow embrace each other during the Mass. We're not big huggers, so a handshake is the least we can do.
Hold hands for the "Our Father"? Sure. Unless you are holding the baby or have bubonic plague, really, why not? The Mass isn't about praying by yourself. It's about praying with the Body of Christ. Is actually IS a "love in". When you fold your hands in prayer you are holding hands with yourself, sort of. So just hold hands with the rest of your Body.
I wish there was a good version of the "Our Father" to sing, but as there isn't, we'll just have to deal. Offer it up, if it comes to that. Someday, in heaven, there will be a good version. We'll think ahead to that day while we plod through our version.
If someone else is 'moved by the Spirit' enough to sway around and put their hands in the air, well, good for them. There's no down side to that.
We hope heaven is going to be really crowded and that when you get there you'll be happy to hold hands with everybody.
I just think of it as practice.