Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Thy Will Be Done
We have not heard the last of comments on people holding hands during the "Our Father" at Mass. This reader sums up pretty much every one's thoughts, as least those who are bugged by the practice:
I'm very weary of many parishes allowing everyone to put their own spin on what they want to do at mass. If you follow the GIRM, you won't get lead into ya-ya land. I have often thought what a coup it was in Satan's cap to have everyone adding all their "feels good" hand holding and other nonsense during mass. The ONE prayer Jesus actually gave us to recite is now interupted with thoughts of whose hand you have to hold, how long, germs etc. when you should really have your mind focused on the words of the prayer. Just my thoughts...
I really can't see how a bunch of the faithful holding hands with each other while they say the prayer Jesus gave us to say is a feather in any one's cap, let alone Satan's. While I understand the slippery slope of looney music, Eucharistic poetry slams, girl altar servers, and wacky interpretive dance, I also believe that people are sensible enough to understand the difference between music you don't like and heavy death metal, Eucharistic poetry and the def poetry jam, girl altar servers and women priests and wacky interpretive dance and the Rockettes high kicking in skimpy costumes. We love the Rockettes. But not at Mass.
I can clear up some of the issues so that your thought will no longer be interrupted:
Whose hand do you have to hold? The hand of whichever brother or sister in Christ is next to you in the pew.
How long do I have to hold my brother's hand? For the duration of a short prayer. Slightly longer if we're singing the prayer. Even longer if we are not singing a capella and we are accompanied by a pipe organ.
What if my brothers and sisters have germs? Oh, they most certainly have germs. Jesus kissed lepers. He didn't worry much about the germs, apparently. I realize that we're not Christian Scientists, but if you are really that worried about germs, I think you might have some sort of other problem. Keep your hands away from your eyes and mouth and have a little faith.
Now you can focus.
I don't think Satan is too proud of his hat while the Body of Christ holds hands and prays together. I do think Satan might like his hat while the brothers and sisters are busy loathing touching each other for three minutes (tops) because everyone has cooties.
It's not in the GIRM (what an ironic acronym), so be it. But until the pastor shows up in baggy pants, starts the Mass with a rap and dances a tango with the girl altar servers, I will not raise a fuss. Until then, I pick my battles.
There are not supposed to be girl altar servers anywhere. I have voiced my objection wherever I have gone in the past. But girl altar servers are not going away. Now I spend my time making sure they are appropriately dressed for Mass, let alone to serve. It takes up more of my time than I would have imagined. If the Vatican hasn't dropped the anvil on this practice more strenuously than they have, clearly it's not a giant issue to them either. They wish you would stop having girl altar servers but they are not driving over or making a phone call or, from what I can tell, even writing a letter to stop the practice.
Does it bother me? Yes. Does it interrupt my thoughts during Mass? Not for a second, since it seems that the Church isn't letting it bother 'them'.
That's my last word on the subject, I think. If you want to go on being aggravated during the "Our Father" because you've noticed that your brethren are nail biters, I can't help you. I doubt the lepers had much in the way of fingernails.
Otherwise, if you think it is such a terrible, terrible liturgical abuse that all of us nuns, clergy and religious are overlooking, get it together and form a committee and go marching into the pastor's office and get something done. But I do hope everyone is being honest with themselves about why they don't want to hold hands and not just pinning their own discomfort on the liturgical abuse donkey. Because, frankly, why bring up germs and how for how many excruciating minutes you are going to hold someone's hand if the real problem is abuse?
Here's a question from a new reader:
Dear Sister, I'm new to the "Club" and wonder if I might ask a "how to" question? My daughter volunteers @ a Protestant school and wanted to know whether or not she should make the Sign of the Cross after closing prayer? She noticed that they don't. Told her to focus on the prayer (same God!) but would like to know the "Club" rules for the future. Thanks!
Welcome to the club! I didn't know it was a club. I haven't been in a club since I was the secretary of the Boy Savior Club in the second grade.
What club rules? Now I'm confused. Should your daughter make the sign of the cross when nobody else does? Sure. I say, go for it. They can't fire her, she's volunteering! Maybe someone will ask her about it and she'll have an opportunity to explain our lovely practice. Maybe they'll just ask her to stop. I don't see a down side. Poor little separated brethren.