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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.
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I suspect that the practice of holding up hands for the Our Father does not come from evangelical influence. It seems more likely that it comes from people imitating the priest who does have his hands in this position (called "orans")for the Our Father. One reason that the practice often seems to bother those it bothers is that it blurs the distinction between priest and laity.
Love your blog, Sister! I really get a kick out of your style and always learn something.
This question of the Our Father is a tough one...
In our parish, we used to hold hands during the Our Father. Now we simply elevate our hands. We almost always sing.
Why did we stop holding hands? For several reasons. The first is that we came to know that many people who have been physically abused (sexually or otherwise) are REALLY uncomfortable being forced to hold hands, particularly with strangers. The Our Father lasts a long time, especially when it is sung. For some, the panic attacks resulting from this were enough to keep them from Mass or to drive around until they could find a Mass which didn't require holding hands. If you haven't been abused, this may not make any sense to you but it is based on solid research, some of which was done by the Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy.
Second, in our culture, to refuse to take someone's hand when it is offered to you is a serious insult. Some of our elderly persons really struggled with this. They didn't want to refuse to take someone's hand and, then again, it was sometimes painful to have one's hands or shoulder wrenched by a particularly enthusiastic person!
Finally, another consideration was that, because of the cultural point I mentioned above, it becomes a forced liturgical gesture. Suppose you are not Christian but attend a mass because you are curious, or are invited by someone. You want to be polite and yet, you don't want to *worship* per se. (I mean, I might be invited to visit a Hindu temple on a trip to India but I have no intention of worshiping a Hindu god...) Nevertheless, you are suddenly asked to either refuse to take someone's hand when offered (doubly difficult if this is a friend) or to seem to be suddenly participating in someone else's worship, without meaning to or even understanding what is happening.
For all of these reasons, our Pastor decided about five years ago that we would no longer hold hands during the Our Father.
Why do we elevate our hands? Well, we're a primarily African American parish and we've always got the Spirit! ;-)
Praying with open palms up is the form of worship Jesus Himself used. The Jews in His day always prayed--palms up.
Our diocese starting using the orans posture instead of holding hands during the Lord's Prayer. I do prefer the orans posture.
Today, I did not turn around for the sign of peace and shake hands. I heard too much sneezing, nose blowing and coughing in the pew behind me. That's always uncomfortable for me to shake hands and then go receive communion in the hand. I just got over a cold and don't want another cold. I guess I could've shook hands and then received communion on the tongue.
Why don't people refrain from shaking hands during the sign of peace when they are blowing their noses a lot during the mass?
I refrained from wading into the morass the other day, but I have to say it: I LOVE singing the Our Father! All of my children learned it quickly and at a very young age because of the singing. I use it as a lullaby when I rock the babies to sleep at night and they learn it before they even know their ABC's. I hear them singing it with each other at bedtime if I am too busy to do the whole routine with them myself. It is beautiful. When you sing you pray twice - who said that? Augustine or Aquinas? Someone that starts with an "A." As for holding hands, I'm with Sister. It's not about praying with yourself, it's about praying with the Body. Actually, I feel this way about anything that goes on at Mass and differs from parish to parish: IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU. It's about giving Glory to God. Too bad if you don't like it. Go with the flow and give Glory to God. If you're super uncomfortable, offer it up and do some poor souls some good. Okay, that's my 2 cents.
My parish also sang the "hallow-wed be thy naaame" version as well when I was growing up in the;aye 70's - early 80's, almost always with acoustic guitar. My brothers and I STILL laugh about it to this day. I've often wondered who the arranger was, because I'd love to try and search online to see if there's any audio of it - to burn to a CD, which would make great gag bday gifts
"breaking into an interpretive dance" This cracked me up. I attended an all girls Catholic college (admittedly a rather liberal college, but Catholic nonetheless). During our commencement Mass we were treated to some interpretive dance complete with dancing ribbons and banners. It felt so ridiculous!
In our parish, we have to shake hands with people twice - once at the beginning of mass to "introduce ourselves to our neighbors," then again for the peace be with you thing. It's not like we play musical chairs during mass, so you just wind up saying hello to the same people you just introduced yourself to 20 minutes ago.
I had a bad cold last week and didn't want to share so I turned to the people near me with my hands clasped in front of me and said to their outreached hands, 'I'm sorry I have a cold'. It still seemed rude to refuse the offer of a handshake. Next time I think I'll just keep my eyes downcast and my hands clasped. I am a bit of a germaphobe and don't think we should be spreading all those germs around especially right before we put our hands in our mouths!!!
Here in Denmark we say "Guds fred" which means God's peace. I like that better that the "Peace be with you" that I grew up with. There is something take-me-to-your-leader about it...
But then again we say "and with your spirit" instead of "and also with you".
In our parish we were told to do whatever makes you feel comfortable. You can hold hands within your family if you like, but you don't have to demand of the stranger next to you hold your hand if they don't offer it. So you'll see all kinds of variations. My family holds hands but other families don't. Some people pray in the orans positions. I have not noticed it ever being a big deal or especially awkward. I have never understood people who get really worked up about this.
I mean we are preparing to receive our Lord and Savior! We are about to be present for His sacrifice! We are about to witness a miracle! And people are getting nervous about whether their palms are sweaty.
I think keeping in mind what the Mass is really all about would make it easier to not let these things irritate. I think if one is so focused on one's own little discomforts, one might be inappropriately 'me-focused' instead of Jesus focused. At least this is what I tell my kids; "Open up your hearts and let Jesus pour in." If you are doing this, you really don't notice whether the person behind you has a cold.
Sounds like I'm lecturing, so I'd better stop!
"IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU. It's about giving Glory to God. Too bad if you don't like it."
How very Christian of you. However, let me explain. It is not a matter of what I like or what you like, but what we are supposed to be doing, according to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal.
The way the GIRM is written, it states specifically what must be done. For example, it does not say, "You may not march a tuba band down the aisle during mass." You see, it would be quite impossible to list every single thing that must not be done.
So instead they wisely - as the church is wont to do - list only what must be done. And holding hands is simply not there. So, it is not permitted. As an obedient Catholic, I have the right and obligation to follow the instructions of the church. And, with a kind smile, I can fraternally instruct those around me that my conscience simply won't allow me to be disobedient.
Sister, you are a hoot. I will never again be able to say "Peace be with you" without thinking of Captain Kirk. :-)
I agree with following the GIRM. What wasn't a big deal for some led to many outlandish things that have no place at Mass. Swinging with joy with hands in the air may lead to cartwheels to communion.
Anonyomous- I didn't mean to sound un - Christian, but come on - we are talking about the Lord's Prayer. People are getting way too worked up about it. Sing - don't sing - hold hands - don't hold hands - it's really not that important. So the GIRM doesn't say to do it. Fine. Don't do it. But don't get all worked up about it either. I think faith said it very well:
"I mean we are preparing to receive our Lord and Savior! We are about to be present for His sacrifice! We are about to witness a miracle! And people are getting nervous about whether their palms are sweaty."
So the GIRM doesn't say to do it. Fine. Don't do it. But don't get all worked up about it either.
I guess my question to marylandfan is this: The GIRM doesn't allow a lot of things by virtue of their omission. Who decides what we can do or not do if each of us is going to decide independently?
The reason for rubrics is to maintain the integrity and dignity of the Mass. Your attitude seems to think that the Mass deserves neither, if the majority of the parish don't want it.
I think the Our Father folks hate is one by Malotte (I'm probably spelling his name wrong). I usually refer to it as the Mario Lanza version.
I like the "standard issue" one that's always in the hymnals and missalettes (I hate that word). It's usually set in what passes for chant notation.
Live long and prosper! (which was Spock anyway.)
"On Earth As It Is In Heaven" I like your title. But, if I prayed the Our Father prayer tonight and it came true overnight, what would life be like here on earth tomorrow, with "His kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven?"
I kind of dread the sign of peace, too. But I don't dread it as much as what we are told to do at Holy Communion. We have to say our name before receiving Holy Communion. .... Having to say your name is bad enough, but then the Eucharistic ministers (or priest) say it back to you. Often, it is repeated (certainly unintentionally) incorrectly -- kind of like the children's party game of "telephone." .... I have recently taken to bucking the system and not saying anything. Several times I have been refused Holy Communion. Very bizarre.
What??? Say your name or have communion refused??? I have never heard of such a thing!!! Boy would I have a few things to say to the parish counsel if that ever happened to one of my kids or me.
Beez - Oh for Heaven's sake you are all misunderstanding me completely. I'm not saying to do anything that diminishes the integrity and dignity of Mass. We are talking about holding hands during the Our Father or singing it. That's all we are talking about. Who said the majority of a parish doesn't want something? Why are they singing it if they all don't want to? That doesn't make any sense. I am just saying that if your old parish did it one way and you move and your new parish does it another, don't get all warked up and stop going to Mass or complain or whatever. Go to Mass, give Glory to God, prepare for Eucharist and take Christ out into the world. Why let the whole experience be ruined because you didn't want to hold hands and your neighbor made you? That is all I am saying. Geez.
Saying your name before receiving? That HAS GOT to be a joke.
The Lord's Prayer thing always gets my undies in a bunch for all the reasons listed, but the biggest one is the orans position being done by the laity. It actually makes me dizzy and I have to look down when I know "they" (the 40 percent or so that have started this only a few years ago) are going to do it..."and also with YOU" (hands stretch toward father) "we lift them up to the LORD" (hands go up), etc..I don't know why they started this...because it's not good enough to SAY the words...we have to "act them out" or something?
The reason we "let the whole experience be ruined because you didn't want to" is because someone is doing something illicit. Just like that ludicrous "say your name before receiving." That isn't permitted either.
So, the point that people are making is this, if we tolerate one type of liturgical abuse (and like it or not, holding hands in the "Our Father" is an abuse), then where do we draw the line? What's to stop people from reciting the words of consecration with the priest? What's to stop "Catholic" churches from now bothering with a priest, or using a woman who claims to be a priest?
A liturgical abuse is a liturgical abuse. Either we do our best to stop them all, from the most innocuous to the most offensive, or we stop trying to keep the liturgy in tact at all. Somehow, I don't think Jesus wants that.
I was instructed by a holy priest once when I confessed all the horrible negative thoughts I was having regarding multiple liturgical abuses in another parish - "Just close your eyes, look down and pray, know that God is there and He suffers with you." This is what I strive always to do. This wisdom also saved me from a spiritual martyrdom I was experiencing in temptation to run from Mass attendance at novus ordo parishes. I now can put up with almost anything by doing this simple thing.
'm not saying to do anything that diminishes the integrity and dignity of Mass.
But that's exactly it: holding hands does diminish the integrity and dignity of Mass. How do we know? Because it isn't allowed.
We may not do things that aren't allowed. This has nothing to do with "getting worked up" about anything; it's not an emotional issue. It's all about a very old-fashioned word: Obedience.
I must obey God. His laws. His church. And the rules of His church.
The same is happening with the naming names, above. Although I wonder if someone once went to Divine Liturgy in the Eastern Rite and decided to copy a part of their tradition. For them, it is common for the priest - who is called "Fr. firstname" - to know the first names of his parishioners and gives them communion, not by saying "body of Christ", but by saying, "(Name) servant of God receives the precious and all holy and most pure Body and Blood of our Lord and God , Jesus Christ for the remission of his sins and for life everlasting." For every single recipient.
Each rite has it's own rubrics and traditions. You disrespect both when you pay attention to neither.
Love your blog.
To other posters--all priests on EWTN agree--holding hands at the Our Father is inappropriate. Those who say it brings community-it's unnecessary; the real community at our mass is the Eucharist. (And I agree with the GIRM argument too)
To the poster who must say there name? Outrageous! I'd be writing the bishop ASAP!
Maybe we'd all do better to focus on the words
'Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those...'
It's a proportionate measure, you know.
Just another poster who agrees that following the General Instruction of the Roman Missal is for the best, *our* best (as Catholics). As was said, the liturgical abuses can and will rain down on us if we cannot even get *this* right (reciting the "Our Father"). Unfortunately, there are too many in authority(pastors/sisters, liturgists) who could, frankly, care less about following the GIRM. Whatever the "majority" wants in the parish. Since when is the Catholic Church a *democracy*?
Let's not get the posture for supplication (palms up) confused with the Orans (arms extended). The Orans is reserved for the priest, but anyone can use the other.
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!
Fine, I am sufficiently chastised. I agree that having to state your name before receiving Eucharist is ludicrous. I was only arguing for the holding of hands. I have never been part of a parish that DOESN'T do it. I had no idea it was considered an abuse of the liturgy. I assumed that because the GIRM (which I had never heard of before this post either) doesn't say how your hands should be then either way is okay. But I do have a friend that stopped going to Mass over the whole holding hands thing at another parish and I am quie certain Jesus doesn't want that either.
I've settled into the opinion that if it doesn't invalidate the Mass, just get over it. Awful music, weird gestures, how others dress are not things that will send the Faithful to Hell for participating in the Celebration.
What about the Serious departures from the norms?
- female altar servers
- inviting the kids into the sanctuary to say the Our Father with the priest
-replacing the readings with "more accessible" versions
I don't think these things invalidate the Mass. To the experts on the GIRM: how many of these things are allowed (or not allowed because they are not mentioned)? How many of these happen regularly at your parish?
I HAVE complained about
-Masses where the old, doddering priest forgot to consecrate the bread (I skipped receiving, since I couldn't say it was The Body of Christ.)
-One Easter Vigil Mass, the Host I received was heavy with honey.
The Orans posture has been proposed as an option for the laity. I don't remember if it has been allowed, but would be up to the local bishop anyway. I think holding hands is an "I like/don't like that kind of thing", not a matter of liturgical abuse.
Let's keep some perspective.
Yay Denise for some down to earth common sense! Poor Marylandfan...didn't realize you were swimming with the sharks, huh? I like the part where Jesus says "Love one another as I have loved you". I know that's not in the Our Father, but what the heck, let's do it!
Again, the minor abuses can and do add up to bigger ones, as noted above. I'm one of the poorly catechized Catholics (70's). I welcome when someone informs me what the Church truly teaches.
the germaphobes among you can do like a family in front of me at mass a while back - just before communion they whipped out the little bottle of hand sanatizer and passed it around their family. Maybe they could put a little dispenser up at the front of the aisle so you could wash up just before communion...
Just wondering why you titled this blog: "On Earth As It Is In Heaven"...
My question is: If I prayed that prayer tonight and it came true in the morning, what would life be like here on earth tomorrow, because we pray that "His kingdom come on Earth as it is in heaven"?
Hey Monica...maybe they were just trying to rid their hands of as much grime as possible before receiving the Holy Eucharist out of respect...
Yes, there are abuses, and yes, they do (to varying extents) disrupt from the cohesion, pointing-beyond-aspect, etc., of the Mass. However, unless the Mass is actually invalid, it is still a participation in heaven. Focus on that. After Mass, if you're in a position to influence things for good, use your influence. If you're not, you might try getting involved to the point where you can nudge things along to more where they're supposed to be.
Oh, and just because something is liturgically ideal (or not doing it isn't 'zactly permitted, or whatever) doesn't mean that making an overnight change is going to be good for the parish. Usually it's quite the opposite, as a matter of fact. Not only is it important for the liturgy to be celebrated correctly, but it's also important that the people have some understanding of what the liturgy is about and how the elements of the liturgy contribute to expressing that meaning.
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....
Aw c'mon guys. To hold hands or not is tradition with a small "t." No point in getting all worked up over it. All I'm asking that the people around me have generosity of thought to not think negatively when I refuse to hold hands. I refuse both for the sake of myself and for others: my hands sweat profusely and uncontrollably. Now how many of you would like to hold hands that sweat like a river? Then at the sign of peace, my hands are like ice (sweaty palms in air conditioned environment). But at least it's brief. Might help to wake up some folks. ;) I've seen people politely refuse a handshake at the sign of peace, explaining "I'm sick." I try to do the same myself when sick. Bottom line, think kindly and try to keep your mind on the mass.
Oh, and at my parish, we have a beautiful sung "Our Father." Unfortunately, I don't know the composer. It's quite lyrical and easy to pick up; none of us, except the choir, have ever seen the music score. We change to chanting the "Our Father" during Advent and Lent.
I'm thrilled to be in a parish with a rock-solid orthodox pastor who not only doesn't allow altar girls but doesn't do the sign of peace thing, either. Needless to say, no hand-holding goes on in his parish.
And, as of about 3 years ago, Fr. Benedict Groeschel also stopped doing the sign of peace between the people in the pews at his own masses. He says it's not required (of course he's correct) and it takes the focus off of Christ in the Eucharist (again, the whole "real communion" is in...communion).
Here's what our family does. We implemented a hands clasped together prayer posture (with fingers pointed to heaven!) years before joining a parish that holds hands during the Our Father. I appreciate your relaxed attitude, Sister, but I thought I'd mention that an advantage of keeping one's hands clasped in prayer is that the attention can then be on God, and not on how tightly your kid brother is squeezing your hand and other such shenanigans. Because others see us pray this way at every Mass, I seriously doubt anyone is offended that we don't hold hands with them. We try to keep this prayer posture throughout all the prayers of the Mass. It works for us and has given me much peace during the liturgy.
I found your blog and wanted to ask a question, since that is the name of your blog, but have been TOTALLY IGNORED. Can I ask a question here or not?
I guess I'll try one more time. . .
We always talk about heaven, but the prayer says: "on EARTH as it is in heaven" (like the title of your blog today) ... so if this prayer came true tomorrow, what would it be like here on earth, because we pray "His kingdom come on EARTH as it is in heaven"?
I am looking for an answer, and no one seems to care. (Maybe you won't ignore me this time . . . maybe.)
Anonymous, I'll give you my 2 cents about the Our Father. "...Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven." To me that means we are praying that those on Earth obey God's will just as those in Heaven do. That Heaven becomes a place of refuge, beauty, One-ness with God, Peace and Love, instead of a place of distrust, violence and war. Just my 2-cents.
Holding hands during the Our Father has become commonplace, but it is an illicit addition to the Liturgy. Clarifications and Interpretations of the GIRM ["Notitiae" Vol. XI (1975) p. 226] explains:
". . .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."
This document is a clarification on the GIRM. It states that is obviously is a litugical abuse.
Dear fellow parishoners, I don't want to hold your hand. For one thing, I don't know where it's been.
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