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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

ON and on

Woefully behind!

The Our Father singing/hand holding controversy has raged on in my absence.  I do believe this is the longest comment thread in the history of Ask Sister Mary Martha. A brief sampling:

Oh, don't get me started on the clapping. I sometimes go to the more (*ahem*) contemporary parish that is closer to my house. I actually stopped going there because they incessantly do annoying things. They always clap after the recessional and and one of the last times I went, the clapped during the Alleluia! Like it was a campfire song! This is how they did it: "Alle" *clap clap* "Luia" *clap clap* and then "alle-alle-alle-alle-alleluia!" I actually turned to the person sitting next to me, with what I can only imagine was a look of horror and a stupefied "really??!" escaped my mouth out loud. She seemed to share my annoyance. Needless to say, I never went back.

Was there a liturgical dance, too?

I also cannot stand singing the Our Father. It's distracting and annoying and takes way too long. Not that I think it should be gotten over with as soon as possible, but I feel that everytime it is sung I'm focused more on how silly the tune is, and how it doesn't sound good and how all I want to do is focus on the WORDS and not anything else.
Luckily it's only sung at 12:00 mass at my church, so i just avoid it... or offer it up!

Strategies are employed:

I've never liked holding hands. We always sit with parents on the outside, kids in the middle. So, I'll be, at least on one side, next to a non-family member. Whether it is someone I know or a complete stranger, I am not comfortable holding hands with a man who is not my husband. It just feels so wrong. Perhaps because prayer and hand holding are both intimate acts, it is uncomfortable to do them with someone I am not on that level with. I usually keep a handkerchief in my pocket and when hand holding time comes around, I just blow my nose and try to look like I'd really like to hold their hands but don't want to spread germs.

The general non hand holding, sing less, stop that clapping consensus:

I've read through the comments here and have seen lots of reasons why and why not people like or do not like holding hands. One thing that caught my attention was the word "unity". This is the precise reason we, Catholic Christians should not hold hands during the Our Father prayer. As Catholic Christians, our "unity" is in the Eucharist. If you wish to imagine those of your family who are not with you, imagine them surrounding the Altar during the Eucharistic prayer, praying with you and the multitude of Angels and Saints.
To hold hands during the Our Father as a sign of "unity" is a misunderstanding of our Faith. We unite with one another at the reception of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

We could start holding hands during the Eucharist, too, in that case.

We're all entitled to our opinions. I would prefer not to sing or hold hands. Do I agree that we shouldn't sing or hold hands? No. I understand those who feel we are somehow chipping away at the reverence we should be feeling at Mass with a held hand here and a tune there.

And all that clapping...it calls to mind a game show, the one where everyone claps like chimpanzees no matter how stupid the answer was.

But I feel that's not the issue on which we should focus. At least one person is on the same page as I.

My husband hates the "sung" Our Father and some of the hymns that are often sung during Mass. He refuses to sing the Our Father but will mouth the words along with those of us who sing. As to the hymns he doesn't care for, he glares throughout without singing them.

My thoughts?

If we're striving for unity, should we allow such petty things to separate us for the others in the congregation? Can't we simply "offer it up" and go along with the flow as long as it isn't something truly un-Christian? Is it really necessary for us to (not) voice our disapproval by refusing to join with others in the Body of Christ?

But that's just me...

No, it's me, too.  Whenever I find myself feeling miffed, judgmental, irked and stiff shouldered, I remind myself that someday I hope to be in Heaven with the source of my irritation:  my singing, clapping, hand holding brethren. I won't even be allowed in Heaven if I'm standing stiff shouldered and tight lipped in the line to get in.

I think it's as important for people to know why they are/aren't standing, kneeling, holding hands, applauding, crossing themselves, wearing flip-flops as it is that they follow the rules. Anytime I've seen someone doing something I was taught was wrong, I ask myself if it would be better that they just not be in church. I'd rather see someone in flip-flops than not see them at all.

Yes. St. Francis of Assisi didn't even wear shoes.

We'll all be in Heaven together. Even Those People who do Those Things.

Whoever Those People are for you.

It always disturbs me  to hear that people have left a parish because they have become stiff shouldered and annoyed.  What are you going to do in Heaven?  You can't change parishes in Heaven. Do you imagine that Those People, simply won't be there? Surely you hope that they will be.

Worried about spreading the flu? That's a lame excuse.  Jesus hugged lepers, back when they thought you could get leprosy by hugging lepers. It made the lepers so happy.


Katney said...

This discussion was running through my head on Sunday as I could see from the choir those who hold hands and some who do not for the principle of it--and some of the postures they took up in doing so--some with hands folded, some with arms extended but not holding hands, one with his hands folded behind his back. Across from the choir stood the altar servers, arms extended--but NOT holding hands. Two of the best of the altar server crew--one boy, one girl about fifth and sixth grade. No, they are definitely not holding hands.

And I know, I should be concentrating on the Our Father and not gazing around to see who is holding hands. Sometimes it's hard.

And, BTW, Sts. Timothy and Titus. In feet? Probably four between the two of them.

Alix said...

While I, too, dislike the clapping and hand-holding, your last paragraph is a beautiful reminder to me to exercise more charity and patience! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Since we are on the topic of Mass etiquette, what about Chapel Veils? I see them becoming more common at my church and I am curious if anyone else has considered wearing them.

Anonymous said...

I've been reading the comments on the hand holding/clapping issue. Although I do not feel comfortable holding hands with strangers, I fail to see the harm in it. I was taught God is in all of us. If Jesus were standing next to you in church and reached out his hand, would you pretend that you have a cold and not take it? I'm trying to see Jesus in everyone I meet. It's not easy. In fact it's downright difficult, but I think holding a strangers hand in church during the Our Father is a start. (Provided they want to hold your hand. I wouldn't recommend grabbing it if they're not offering it. That can be a bit awkward.)
As for the hand clapping, I see no harm in that either. The church I attend is quite small. We have 1 priest that travels between 2 parishes 15 miles apart. Getting anyone to help out with mass (servers, singers, ushers etc) is becoming more and more difficult every year. If someone does something especially well, for example children get up and sing, the choir does an outstanding job, or maybe they announce that Fr "X" is having his 25 year anniversary of being a priest, I'm going to be the first one to clap for them. Since I can't play the organ, I'm way too old to be a server, I hyperventilate at the thought of speaking in front of a group, and I think I'm tone deaf, I give thanks for those who are brave enough and talented enough to do this for our small parish. So I clap! It's a very small gesture, but it makes them feel good and keeps up the morale. I also think if Jesus were sitting in the pews with us, he'd do the same. Especially for the children!
Just my thoughts!

Abaccio said...

As always, I point out...you don't have these problems when you assist at Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

Also, as Pope Benedict has stated, “Wherever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment. Such attraction fades quickly - it cannot compete in the market of leisure pursuits, incorporating as it increasingly does various forms of religious titillation.”

Anonymous said...

I was at RCIA on Sunday and they handed out a pamphlet called "Catholic Etiquette, Mass". It is published by OUR SUNDAY VISITOR. Next to the Lord's Prayer it says this : Several prayer postures are commonly seen during this part of the liturgy. Some families or couples may join hands, and may reach out to join hands with those next to them. Others extend their hands in more charismatic posture. Some simply keep their hands folded. (There is a picture of two hands holding each other)

I thought this was interesting since I had just read the posts below. Clearly is there is literature out there that states you can join hands, from a reputable company than it can't be that wrong or rather we can't get upset because this is what we are teaching.

Anonymous said...

I miss the days when it was possible to find a quiet, contemplative, one-on-one moment with God at church.

There was always a point in the old service where it got very personal; I'd hear the familiar language of the mass recitations begin, and that lovely feeling of here's-the-part-where-it-is-all-about-me-and-my-God would descend. It was the part of mass I looked forward to more than anything else. I loved how everyone lined up silently to receive communion, and returned to their seat to pray for a few quiet minutes in a peaceful, reverent state until everyone had received . . .

A lot of this hand-holding, hugging and clapping etc. leaves me feeling guilty for not liking it and totally trapped --- like there's no polite way to tell people I need to be left alone to get into a quiet and contemplative state that prepares me to accept the host in a personal, spiritual way.

I've had people come up and tap me on the shoulder to talk to me when I am on my knees, head-bowed praying . . . seriously, any appreciation or understanding of the need for quiet prayer and contemplation within the Catholic service is dying.

It's very sad, and a little nuts.

Anonymous said...

You may not get leprosy from hugging lepers, but there is little credible doubt that you can and DO get influenza and other viruses from direct contact with the germs on other people's skin and on surfaces touched by infected people. And there is little credible doubt that influenza can and does seriously sicken and even kill people every year. There is good common sense and charity in refraining from spreading communicable illnesses that are relatively easy to curb with good hygiene practices. The Lord has given us knowledge to understand these things and rather expects us to use it, I'd think.

After all, the fact that the consecrated wine is fully and entirely the actual Blood of Christ makes it no less intoxicating when taken in excess and no less a hazard to those who have a physical addiction to alcohol. Let's not think that Jesus spreads magic juice on people so that we don't get their germs in church, but we can still get them outside of church.

And I am fairly sure all the clapping won't squash the viruses.

Paullie said...

Sister Mary Martha,
What's up with that scary lady in your posting? She gives me the creeps.

Anonymous said...

"Since we are on the topic of Mass etiquette, what about Chapel Veils? I see them becoming more common at my church and I am curious if anyone else has considered wearing them."

Only if men will wear them too....

Anonymous said...

Why is it always me that has to offer it up? Why do I have to go along because "those people" NEED to hold hands or dance or clap? Why aren't they EVER ASKED TO TONE IT DOWN FOR PEOPLE LIKE ME WHO NEED THE REVERENCE THAT SILENCE AND QUIET IMPLY????

Anonymous said...

If the purpose of Mass is to worship God...to be instructed by His holy Word...to be strengthened by receiving His most holy Body and Blood...
then why oh why do we want to have a Protestant service?

Our "separated brethern" have the people-focused services they have because they do not have sacraments to focus on instead.

The Mass, reverently and faithfully celebrated is a PRAYER, not a campfire gathering. We can socialize afterwards, not during the time we should be focused on GOD.

I am with people every day; I want the opportunity to be with God for one hour without interruption.


Anonymous said...

I'm going to weigh in on the chapel veil comment (and that will probably unleash another torrent, but here goes!)
"Back in the day" when ladies wore chapel veils, it was considered a part of modesty - along with wearing at least 3/4 sleeves, skirts below the knee, nothing open-toed or heeless, NO pants, and when going formal, ladies always wore hats and gloves.
Well ladies, that ship has pretty much sailed. And it makes absolutely no sense to veil on Sunday (for the sake of modesty) and then let modesty fly out the window the rest of the week. So, if you're going to veil (and draw attention to yourself, and make the rest of us feel like we are somehow not as holy as you) then go right ahead, but keep the rest of the standard at all times or you are a hypocrite. We have a woman at our parish who wears a veil and pants, simultaneously. Another much younger woman wears a veil over her head, but a backless dress, spaghetti straps, or a cleavage fest. For the life of me, how can anyone rationalize that modesty is only from the neck UP?
-Fed up with the holier-than-thou

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mph said...

If the church is the body of Christ and each part is supposed to work together then what is wrong with praying together (and possibly holding hands if that's how it's done in your particular church, for the life of me I still can't see how this could be considered irreverent) instead of wanting to focus on God without being bothered by others. The mass involves the whole congregation, who come together to focus on God. Solitary worship can be done any other time.

Matthew Zwilling said...

The GIRM says no holding hands during the Our Father and the Pope says no clapping. Wouldn't you say that is case closed?

It is right that we shouldn't get so flustered by such things. If someone reaches out to hold your hand, then use good prudence and weigh the social harm of denying them with the desire to encourage right liturgical behavior. In my opinion it's better to just hold their hand and not let yourself be distracted. Prayer is primary, posture is secondary.

The problem arises when our scales of prudence come to equilibrium and we are in conflict. The conflict at this point is not of our own making but of the ignorance of important liturgical norms, whether intended or not.

With regard to the Our Father, the holding of hands is a premature sign of unity. We are not one Body of Christ because we like each other enough to hold hands, we are one Body because of the deep sacramental bond of the Eucharist itself. Holding hands during the mass detracts from the reverence due to this sacrament because it is an unnecessary distraction.

mph said...

All I can find on the GIRM's position on the Our Father is that hands should be extended and it makes no reference to hand holding in one way or another. No, we are not the body of Christ because we like each other enough to hold hands, but we probably shouldn't shun each other either or get irritated about having to have some sort of contact with others in mass.

Anonymous said...

Consider this: in the Mass the liturgy says (in Old English) "And now, as our Savior Christ hath taught us, we are bold to say." Is holding hands and jumping around how you would react to someone you are bold to speak in front of?

mph said...

Who said anything about jumping around. I had no idea holding hands was considered so unchristianly or disrespectful until now.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I just found your blog. I go to the Latin Mass (FSSP) and I love it. All that hand-holding, clapping, etc. is too destacting for me. And I DO wear a veil. BTW I think the saint of the day is St. John Bosco.

Angela said...

Forgive me if this has been addressed... I believe the "Alle *clap clap* Luia" mentioned in the first comment might be similar to "Halle Halle". I've been to a few churches that have sung that. It's usually noted to be a "traditional Caribbean hymn".

It's a little strange for me to go to "hippie" Masses. But a good friend of mine is a fallen-away Catholic who has just started going back to church, and she feels more at home in a less traditional church environment. I went to Christmas Mass at her church, as she sang in the choir that day. Right after the Mass had ended, the choir sang "Joy to the World (Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog)" by Three Dog Night (with slightly altered lyrics). I personally was uncomfortable with it. But since she's started attending Mass again, her demeanor has improved greatly. I'm happy that she's found a way to connect with her faith again. And I feel it's not my place to judge how she wishes to do so.

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog today, refreshing you are. I find that people get tied up in the details of church and what to do and what not to do. I dont like the term born again Christian and I don't like to act like it. I am Catholic, I love the ritual of the mass and the music ... it is my time in the week to worship My God and to be in His house. I prefer not to sweat the small stuff and enjoy the ride while I'm at church. I like things plain and simple and know the ones in my church who are touchy feely. I just sit a few pews away from them ...boom problem solved. Being in a rural area, all the issues you all are talking about are irrelevant...we're just happy to have a priest in our parish so that we can actually celebrate mass. Now, if priests could marry and woman could be priests, I'd have no trouble in getting a priest IN my church. Have a good day!

Diane in Canada on the Prairies