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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Our Hands, Our Father

The discussion on "Our Father Hand Holding" has been so lively in the comments section, I've decided to repost them here to we can all follow along.  Apparently there has been some major amok running as regards the "Our Father" at Mass:

Hi Sister- I've followed your blog for a couple of years (I think it was the first blog I ever followed) but this is my very first question (and it's rather long!). 

The beginning of this post reminds me of the moment that makes me wince at nearly every Sunday Mass at our parish. The Our Father is sung while (almost) everyone hold hands (a few of us hold out... we have little ones in our arms which is a great excuse!). 

The part that really, really bothers me, however is that they have actually changed the words to the prayer so that it is sung: "Give us this day, our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, father hear our prayer. And lead us not, into temptation but deliver us, deliver us, from all that is evil, hear our prayer.

Changing the words can't possibly be okay, can it? I feel like my husband and I are the only ones bothered by it. We're hoping our new pastor (third pastor in three years now) is going to say something like: "we're going to use the words Jesus taught us and that's that!" but since it hasn't happened up until this point I'm not exactly optimistic. 

No one seems to want to challenge the status quo (except that apparently they did at some point and someone let it slide). 

But changing the words isn't acceptable, is it?

Well, yes and no.  When you sing something sometimes you have to make a couple of changes to fit the words to the music. The changes of which you speak don't change the meaning in any way as far as I can see.  Although I have heard plenty o' versions of the "Our Father" sung that don't change anything. They are all ghastly, in my opinion. There is no cadence to the "Our Father", it's not a poem and it can only be shoehorned into music.  But that's just me.  My heart goes out to you.  Singing the "Our Father" never works out very well.

But back to the comments:

Here's my 2 cents which will probably irritate a lot of people. I've no idea what the official view is on this and don't claim to know everything (or anywhere near) about Catholicism or Christianity. I don't see how either holding hands or putting in "Father here our prayer" is in any way unacceptable. Fair enough, don't add or take away anything from the mass but can't common sense be used. Surely little things that can't possibly be seen as evil or deviant by anyone's standards are ok? Is there an official document anywhere that says people must stand/sit/kneel with their hands, legs and head at a certain angle during mass? If so, fair enough, but I still think it's being extremely petty. I can't help but think of all the references to Pharisees paying too much attention to little details of the law while ignoring the more important matters of religious teachings.

To which we get this very well thought out response:

There actually IS a document! It's called the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, or GIRM for short. And while I agree with your premise entirely, that it seems all too petty to worry about concise language and posture, when all of these are intended to draw us more deeply into the love of God and love for neighbor, here is thinking on that: If you do not have a standard, then what are the boundaries, exactly? Father Joe at St. X parish decides it's okay to say "Father, hear our prayer, hear our prayer." Not so far from the original - but then Father Larry across town starts to use a version with inclusive language. Next thing you know, Father Steve decided to substitute the prayer of the native Sufi tribe in place of the Lord's prayer, because it contains many of the same types of petitions - forgiveness, tolerance, dependence on a Great Spirit. Do you see where this is going? Someone has to decide which form of prayer should be used, and yes, whether or not the people should be standing, kneeling, or seated. As a Catholic who travels quite a bit, I've found it very comforting that I can attend a mass in any country and know when to stand, sit, or kneel, and even if I cannot read or speak the language, I basically know exactly where I am in the mass because of the uniformity in the liturgy.

Catholic School Teacher

I agree with Catholic school teacher! If we just start changing these things, aren't we basically no longer Catholic in a way? I mean, Luther just wanted to change a few things here and there, and then Calvin wanted to change a few more, and before you know it: BAM! a million little offshoots with no authority! The Catholic church has standards and rubrics and a Pope and a Magisterium in order to keep all these things nice and (excuse the pun) "kosher." 
Now, at my church we sing the Our Father and it just drives me nuts. But we don't even change the words. Just the act of singing it bothers me. But that's just me, I guess...

No, it really, really isn't just you.

The churches in our archdiocese ask us to join hands (if we like) during the Our Father. I don't see anything wrong with it; it's not adding anything out of line to the Mass. (We don't change the words.) When I close my eyes to say the prayer, I know I'm holding hands with my family, and I envision the family and friends who aren't with me at that moment holding hands and praying with us, too.

Sometimes we'll try singing the Our Father, but the tune our choir uses isn't that great. I heard one good choral version of the Our Father sung at a parish several years ago, but most of the time it doesn't quite work.
Peaceful discussion continues:

Thanks for all those responses, it's interesting to know there is a document - should have guessed! I do see all your points but still think common sense could be used. I don't know what all the differences are between Catholics and other Christian churches but imagine they're a bit more than whether hands are held during the "Our Father". I do see it's easier to make rigid rules and have no confusion between one person's version of common sense and another's. But I still think we shouldn't place too much importance on it or let it bother us when it's something as minor as holding hands. I can't see it bothering Jesus but could be wrong.
But of course:
The problem mph is where does it stop? It is not petty when one sees week after week the reverence of Mass eroding into trivality. Talking during the silence of the Church before and after Mass trivializes the space and makes it difficult for people who wish to pray. Wearing flip-flops and shorts to Church trivializes Mass and turns it into a tourist activity. Holding hands makes Mass trivial.
And while we're on the subject:

Sister, one of my other pet peeves (besides the cum bya of holding hands during the Lord's prayer) is when the parishioners break out into applause for the choir--at least they normally wait until after the recessional (I hope that is the right word). The choir rarely sings at the early Mass my family and I attend except on special occassions. So, I guess it is just "too special" not to acknowlege with clapping?? Isn't the Mass--meeting the Lord in His Word and receiving Him in the Eucharist enough for people? They've already erroneously turned the altars all different ways. Our tabernacle is in the back rear of our sanctuary behind glass. It is like seating the banquest's guest of honor in the kitchen. Thank God our current pastor started a campaign to raise money to build a new home for the tabernacle front and center in the sanctuary. (Praise God our parish is also debt-free!)

One of my main goals as a Catechist is to make sure that I instill in my students reverence for Christ's presence in the Mass. One of the most important things they need to know is God's love for them and His coming to them in a very real, tangible way in the Mass. God loved them so much He suffered and died for them--He deserves our love, reverence, and devotion. They cumbyas and hand holding should be reserved for summer camp, youth group, and Kindergarten class.

Sorry, I'm babbling. My two cents. God bless you sister.
Deep breath (or is that too "Eastern Religion-ish"?).  Of course, everyone will want to know what I think.  
Everyone is right.  Seriously, that's what I think.
I think we should do things the way they are supposed to be done because there is a reason they are done that way that has been picked at and turned over and thought about and refined for CENTURIES. They didn't just say to everybody, "Oh, let's stand up now, we've been kneeling for so long."  Or "Jesus made a nice prayer, what if people don't get it? Maybe we should dumb it down."
I'm not sure how many of you saw this, but the Pope recently said that homosexual male prostitutes and  female prostitutes should be encouraged to use condoms. Now don't lose sight for one second that sex outside of marriage is a mortal sin, period. And so is using a condom.  Did the Pope bring that up? You'd think he'd want to take this opportunity to drive that point home.
Nope.  He was much more concerned with any tiny thing that could help a person a little closer to doing the right thing.  So he suggested that these colossal sinners would benefit from doing something that caused them to think of the safety of others and thus bring them one step closer to an inkling of a holy life. 
So, if people are holding hands during the "Our Father" and it's bringing the closer to God, hooray! They're at Mass!  With their family!  Maybe later we can mention that we don't do that and why and they can mull that over, maybe try it next time. We can set a good example, meanwhile.
But stop that clapping! That's just wrong.


berenike said...

"I'm not sure how many of you saw this, but the Pope recently said that homosexual male prostitutes and female prostitutes should be encouraged to use condoms. "

No he didn't. And you can see that he couldn't have. You wouldn't believe he'd said "murderers should be encouraged to use sharp instruments to kill their victims painlessly", would you? He was clearly (if you read the relevant part of the interview) talking about what the inner change that led to such a decision might mean. A serial bandit who used to torture his victims to death and then is moved to kill them quickly and painlessly may do so as a result of some move to a more moral understanding of his acts, but you wouldn't go around encouraging murderers to kill quickly and painlessly, if they must kill.

mph said...

I should really just leave it now but want to say that all the things mentioned - clapping for the choir, wearing flip flops and shorts and especially the loud talking the moment mass ends bother me as well and I don't approve of them, but holding hands for the Our Father - I still don't see the harm. I've never personally seen it done but it doesn't seem to quite fit into the same irreverent category as the other things.

Farmwife said...

I didn't know you weren't supposed to hold hands during the Our Father until I read it here. You see, I'm a revert after 40 years away so I assume that everyone else knows what to do and I follow. I'll gently give the news to my family so that we can do the right thing whether anyone knows it or not.

Anonymous said...

This is all so interesting, and informative. I have been to several, but of course not all Catholic Churches here in Dallas, TX and holding hands during the Our Father is done, including the Cathedral of Guadalupe. I will bring this up with our breakfast club (we meet after Mass on Sunday). I have noticed that some people do not hold hands, but usualy those that are alone.
I love this blog, I learn, find solace, things to meditate on, prayers to say and lots of laughs. In other words you help me on my quest for intimacy with Our Lord.
Thank you all, and esp. Sister Mary Martha.

Anonymous said...

Well, at our church, people clap after baptisms. And after blessings of all sorts (e.g., the Mother's Day blessing, the Father's Day blessing, the new parish council member blessing, the whatever-someone-dreams-up blessing). I don't clap. Don't believe it belongs in church. (Neither do the blessings, since all of they are all about calling people into the sanctuary and talking about how great they are. Happy to know it, hope they are blessed -- but it is NOT part of the Mass AND it is very hurtful to people who are "left out" through life circumstances not of their choosing).

All that aside, I do believe our first call is to act with charity toward our neighbor, even in a circumstance where the "rules" might be different. CF: http://livejesus.blogspot.com/ on the Pharisees paying so much attention to Rules that they forget People and Compassion. A hard thing for all of us. It has caused me to reflect, to be sure.

Peace and grace to all.

abishag said...

Our parish is very respectful of the liturgy and does not applaud the choir - but when those Christmas/Easter churchgoers show up, sometimes there's applause after the anthem from enthusiastic people who don't know any better.

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.

And we split the difference on the Our Father - it's more of a chant than a song.

Bamboo said...

We don't hold hands since I realized that it was not in the GIRM but if the person next to me obviously wants to hold hands I'll just hold that person's hand. I was so conflicted about how to handle it and one lady got angry at me one time because I "shunned" her by not holding hands (sigh) - she gave me really mean looks during the sign of the peace. I felt horrible that I was the cause of her anger right before Communion. This seems to be a charitable compromise for me.

Paige said...

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.

Cammie Diane said...

The clapping stands out a lot at our church because our two year old breaks into hysterics every time the entire church breaks out in thunderous applause. Since this happens (or at least it did until we got a new pastor two weeks ago) at least two (usually more) times during each Mass, the clapping made me want to cry. She would sit, perfectly quietly for the rest of Mass, but every time there's clapping, hysterics. So I have another motive for not liking clapping... and it really drives me crazy!

slimsdotter said...

Thanks, sister, for the good teaching you give us. I've been following your blog for a while now and am finally on track to enter the Church this Easter vigil. This topic came up once before here, I think, so I asked my local friends about the handholding. They told me it got out of hand, with people reaching across the aisles to hold hands and trying to form a long "snake". Finally the bishop said you could hold hands with someone you were close to (like family) if they were in close proximity (next to you) but cut out the snaking!
My husband (who is not converting) says it is a danger for a convert to try to be more catholic than the catholics. Cuz I like rules and if SMM says it's against the rules to hold hands then don't touch me!!
I think I'll go with Bamboo's philosophy... don't hold hands, unless it is going to offend.

neener said...

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!
In terms of clapping in Church, I think it's a time and intention thing. At my parish we only clap when someone is leaving or when some one new joins us (deacons, preists, special homilists, etc. not parishoners). I think this is ok because we are showing our appreciation to that person and it is only done after communion, but before the closing blessings (the part where Father reads out any announcements or remiders) to me this seems like a perfectly reasonable and appropriate time to thank someone for their services through applause. This past year I went to church one day with some LDS missionaries and was shocked when they were thanking someone for all their hard work doing whatever they were doing. The presider guy asked the congregation if they would like to thank said person as a point of order in a meeting. the motion was seconded, and all who wished to express their gratitude raised their hands.
that's no fun at all. at least applause feels more like a family or a community.

so, to sum up, singing Our Father: no good.
Applauding only at appropriate times to express gratitude: good.

Toyin O. said...

very interesting, thanks for sharing:)

NCSue said...

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...

Anonymous said...

Every Catholic church I've been to holds hands during the Our Father. I have been told by our current priest that we are actually supposed to hold our hands out in prayer. I don't see the big deal. I don't mind the singing of it either. Who are we to judge how one parish does it? As long as they don't change the readings, and the basic fundamentals I am not upset. Be happy they are there and love your neighbor I say. During daily mass I don't hold hands, and on Sunday I do. I think it shows unity - that can't be bad. It is a celebration you know!

Anonymous said...

Dear Paige,
I agree that it's wrong to clap for the choir- we're not supposed to be worshipping the choir. However- I don't believe it is wrong to clap to the beat of a song during mass because God calls us to worship with all we have- you voice and your body- clapping for Jesus is just another way to worship Him. If it makes you feel uncomfortable thats ok- but theres nothing wrong about someone worshipping with their whole body for Jesus.

berenike said...

You guys do all know that there are actual notes, melodies, that belong in the Mass as much as the words do? Of course they go with the Latin words, but there are "translations", adaptations, of the tunes for the English translation. Then it doesn't sound silly. Every single part of the Mass (the Eucharistic prayer aside) has its own proper melodies. And, as I said, there are versions of these melodies to go with the English words as well.

If you really hate the daft melody to which the Our Father is sung in your parish, see if you can get your parish to sing the version that is in the Missal. I can't find the current American version online, but here is the version that will come in with the new Missal this year:

Youtube (sung with music shown

the notes and words (pdf)

Ren said...

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 handkercheif 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.

Paige said...

Hi Anonymous,

I agree that you can worship using your whole body, and I really think that can be okay. It's hard to convey the way they do this, but it's like something out of Veggie Tales or something. The melody is this weird, fast singing and it really reminds me of a campfire song. And I don't like that they cut the word "Alleluia" in half in order to accommodate the clapping. This parish also always claps after the recessional for the musicians and seems to always throw some weird instrument in (once there was a solo cantor and someone playing the clarinet). One time, they had a cantor who sang "Amazing Grace" but refused to say the word "wretch" because she didn't agree that she was ever a wretch...

albin said...

Maybe it's a cultural thing - for example, in other countries(such as Italy) men holding hands is not only accepted but encouraged as a sign of affection for the other. In the U.S. men are far more comfortable with a gun in their hand than a man's hand in their hand, broadly speaking.

But I don't like the hand holding thing either - it's too Protestant, kumbaya for me - so where does that leave you? I guess it depends on how much you care about what other people think?

St.Gemma didn't even want her father to hold her hand. I wonder about that....

JP said...


THANK YOU for your gentle correction of SMM with regards to the condom/prostitute issue.

Sister, you need to post a retraction on this. It is a very important issue and you've voiced a common misconception with regards to what the Pope said in its regard. Really. I implore you.

Anonymous said...

This is really enlightening! I am a serious worshipper in the Protestant tradition, but I feel as many of you do about clapping and holding hands in services of worship. I think there are more reverent ways to express ourselves, and I certainly respect your thoughtful attention to the things that many people do without a second thought.

Anonymous said...

And now for something completely different. . .

Dawn said...

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.

Matthew Green said...

The Our Father sung in Gregorian Chant is reverent, faithful to the text, not overly long, and endorsed by the Church.

As Berenike commented above, there are decent equivalents in English which can be used, but since Vatican II the Church has repeatedly encouraged having the congregation learn at least some invariable parts of the Mass in chant in Latin as well.

Martha said...

It creeps me out. And disturbs my thoughts- I'm trying to concentrate on the meaning of the prayer, and all I can think of is that my hands are sweaty, or cold, or when can I let go?

I suppose it's better than what we do at our parish- hold our hands palms up, as though we are ALL PRIESTS, and his Blessing is coming through our consecrated hands or something. Now THAT'S creepy.

Martha said...

One more thought; many of you said, in defence, that Mass is a 'celebration,' and so why not?

A celebration it may be- but it's mostly remembrancing a sacrifice. It's serious, people, not a circus. The Lord requires reverence, awe, and respect for His giving sacrifice that we are remembering. People would do well to get a little healthy Fear of God going on, and stand in awe of our Creator, not with drums and singing, and waving hands like a bunch of voodoo people.

Think about what's REALLY happening at Mass, and then think about what's actually appropriate at that moment. Don't forget that we are lifting up our hearts to the Heavenly worship in Heaven with the angels surrounding God's throne. That's heavy stuff.

Where have the Mea Culpa moments gone? Where have the My Lord and My God! moments gone? I think they left with the youth choirs and drumsets.

Sharneliz said...

Having been in music ministry for 30 years, give or take, I have been to several liturgy workshops with regards to choosing music for Mass. One of the things that was impressed upon me at virtually all of them, is that of all the parts of the Mass, the Our Father is the ONE THING in which every person in that building should be able to participate, and we as music ministry should do nothing to impede that participation. There are some people who just don't or can't sing. Or there may be people there who do not know the tune. The recommendation has always been-unless you are in celebrating in a smaller group, who are all comfortable with the tune-that the Our Father be spoken and not sung.

Whitney said...

My fiance has just moved from his home country of England to start a new life together in America. He is suffering from culture shock. Is there a patron saint who helps in a situation like this?

Lisa said...

I popped in once before to say that if the bishop approves it, we can hold hands. There are lots of things that have changed over the centuries. I am amiddle-aged church lady, so I feel a lot of sympathy for all the ladies who at some point in the 3d century were probably complaining that this newfangled hair-wetting trivializes baptism and why aren't we taking off all our clothes and gonig all the way in and coming out and receiving nice white robes from our brethren (or sistren depending on our sex because of course we were separated for this)? We don't all dig in for a whole meal around the altar, either --and I sympathize with all the old ladies who said this newfangled host trivializes the Eucharist and why won't Father let us bring our casseroles for the agape meal any more? But over the years things do change and the way that they get changed is THAT THE BISHOP SAID SO. That's their job. We can feel our feelings and express our preferences but --they are just preferences. Even when they are for doing things the way we used to do them. There is so much that it is the laiety's job to correct. But this is not one of those things.

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of comments here, but I'm going to weigh in anyway.

Clapping for the choir - As both a professional musician and a Church musician, I hate it when people clap for the musicians. The music sung or played during Mass is an integral part of the prayer happening withing the context of the Mass. It is not a performance and should never, ever be confussed for one. Clapping is something that should be done after a good performance, not during Mass.

singing the Lord's Prayer - This is my personal opinion, but I feel completely disconnected when the Lord's Prayer isn't sung or chanted. Music has always been prayer for me and there are certain prayers that just feel lacking somehow without it. Those who don't want to sing it don't have to; they can follow along with the words, recite them while everyone else is singing, or participate by prayerfully listening. I know many people who do one or another of those things and do not feel left out in any way.

holding hands during the Lord's Prayer - My home parish always understood the hand-holding as a reminder that we are all coming to the eucharist as a community, not as a bunch of individuals lumped under the same roof, but as a community of believers gathered to meet Christ in the eucharist. I will also mention that we are meeting Christ in each other as well. I have a really hard time feeling like part of a community when visiting a parish that doesn't hold hands. It's like going to Mass and refusing to extend others the sign of peace; it just feels cold. I'm not suggesting that people who are sick should hold or shake hands at any point in the Mass; that's different and there are ways to make people understand that you simply don't want to pass germs.

As for strictly following the GIRM, it is a good thing, but it is not an all-inclusive document. There are different ritual acts, musical norms, and cultural accomodations made for parishes that are perfectly "legal." The GIRM is just what it says it is, a general instruction. St. X on Elm Street may not be permitted to do something (use of liturgical dance is a good example) but St. Y on Maple Street may have the requisite approvals to do it because of ethnic make-up, a long history of practicing the action, or some reason unknown to us. Different dioceses can have different rules as well. Just because your own priets or bishops states that a ritual being done at Mass is against the rules does not mean that it is against the rules in all cases in all places. Now, that being said, common sense does have to be utilized here. There are many, many actions and rituals which should never be permitted to happen within the Mass anywhere for any reason. Just be careful about making blanket statements about what is/is not permitted.

Richard Collins said...

I would never, ever hold hands during this important prayer. It is silly, unnecessary and intrusive.

Maureen said...

Two quick points. When the GIRM (General Instruction of the Roman Missal) was last updated, the Bishops of the United States put forth a question to the Vatican regarding the posture for prayer during the Our Father (hold hands? lift one's hands? put hands in your pockets? etc.) The decision from Rome was that the GIRM would be silent on this matter and local custom/practice would prevail. If that means holding hands and you don't like it, offer it up. ;-)

Second, I worship at an historically African-American parish. We clap hands a lot. For us it is a way to praise God, not the singers. We also talk back (out loud!) during the homily (say Amen somebody!) and sing every verse of every song, often from memory. Mass usually runs about 2 hours and no one is looking at his watch.

I guess the only thing we don't do is hold hands during the Our Father! :-)

Nenai'sMom said...

I know this is an old post, but I felt the need to comment. There is a reason that there are so many churches of the same denomination in any given area; we are not all the same. You go and find a center of worship that is a good fit for you and your family. Don't like holding hands? St. G's doesn' t do that. Love feeling connected to your fellow parishioners? St. H is the place for you! As a newcomer to my new hometown, I spent a lot of time "shopping" for the right church and I'm comfortable worshipping there. I came from a parish where the children were called up to the altar during mass so that they could see what the priest was doing, visiting a parish where thechildren were sent out of the church during mass was not a comfortable fit for me, so we don' t attend service there. We do have some choices.

Anonymous said...

To hold hands or not to hold hands, that is a question...in a Roman Catholic Church? I think not. However, why is the Lord's Prayer sung? and since when? Vatican 11? We sing hymms and chant but why is the Lord's prayer sung? Anybody?

Mary Ellen said...

So, trying to be a good organist, I actually read Musica Sacra, the encyclical on Magisterium of Music at the Mass(on the web). Changing words to anything at the Mass is not ok--but lots of parish musicians don't know it, as they figure the selections in the missalette are approved by the Church--they aren't. They are just selections that the publishing company thinks will sell.

If a congregation claps, it's a signal to the musicians that they are putting on a show instead of serving the congregation's music needs.

Holding hands for the Our Father is Pentacostal--and many Charismatics have picked it up since it "feels good". Not a Catholic practice. Makes lots of folks feel creepy.

And while we're talking about creepy, what about couples kissing at the sign of peace?

Anonymous said...

old post. i know. dont care. i have been through all the comments on the multiple posts on this topic and there are a few very important points i have still not seen mentioned. so im going to mention them!

1) before i was Catholic, i was an Orthodox Jew. in a midrasha in Israel, i learned that what it means to be "holy" is to be "set apart". thats what "holy" means in Hebrew. before becoming a Catholic (less than a year ago), i went to a whole bunch of Protestant churches. i couldnt for the life of me see how they were any different from my daily life, how they were "set apart" or holy. the Catholic Mass is HOLY. it is not supposed to be like anything else we do. thats what makes it special. (well, the Eucharist makes it special, but the Eucharist is unlike anything else!) thats what gives it the ability to move us, to wake us up to God. when people turn the Mass into entertainment by clapping, into a group hug by holding hands, into a social get-together by chatting in the sanctuary before and after Mass, they are rendering that space and time just like every other space and time we experience outside of Mass. and that is the very definition of irreverent.

i understand that, in some cultures, it is acceptable and even desirable to make a lot of noise at Mass. i think thats wonderful. but part of belonging to a parish is observing its norms. i am in the Diocese of Richmond, but i often visit a church in the Diocese of Charleston (WV). in Richmond, we kneel after reciting the Lamb of God; in Charleston, they don't. i would never dream of doing "my own thing" in either diocese, just because i liked it better. when in Rome/Richmond/Charleston/MASS!... similarly, it would never cross my mind to ask people in a historically African-American parish to quiet down. i'd go for the experience, and i bet i'd enjoy it immensely. but at the same time, when i am in a parish that purports to celebrate a traditional, (Caucasian) American Mass, i expect some silence and reverence. and i never get any. so, personally, i dont think that it is me who needs to change in this situation. i am respecting the Mass, the Pope, the GIRM, and local tradition. others are not.

i think that two more concerns arise out of the fact that Mass is not (supposed to be) like anything else in our worldly existence:

2) it is the place that we learn reverence. where we learn to put God first. yes, we should do this in our daily lives, but we fail so often there. we can at least endeavor to do it for one hour a week. if we can do it there, maybe, God help us, it will begin to spread out into our daily lives, too. but if we don't learn reverence at Mass, where will we learn it? in our intensely secular, materialist, consumerist society, i cannot see any other place we could even come close. and if we never learn reverence AT ALL, then how do you think that will impact our relationship with God?

3) it is the place where we learn obedience. where we learn to obey the direct Word of God and the Magisterium of the Church. yes, we should do also this in our daily lives, but here, too, we often fail. so we can at least squelch our own personal preferences for one hour a week, FOR THE SAKE OF UNITY. after all, it is FOR THE SAKE OF UNITY that the Church fathers bother to write a liturgy and a GIRM in the first place. if everyone just does whatever feels good to them, they invite DISunity through their selfish individualism. i think our society is plenty individualistic enough. we follow our own whims and fulfill our own desires all day, every day. for one hour a week, for crying out loud, be obedient. where else do you expect to learn that these days? and again: if we never learn obedience, what will happen to our relationship with God?

and then there is this:


Anonymous said...

4) i am a young woman with Asperger's Syndrome, which means i have atrocious, near-debilitating ADHD (a common co-morbid of Asperger's). i live in an apartment below a child who jumps and runs and bounces balls at all hours of the day and night. the neighbors on my floor slam their doors 50 times in an hour. the guy downstairs blasts heavy metal and cusses at 200 decibels anytime there's a football game on. at work, i share an office with two chatty cathys who never give me any peace. i cant even go hide out somewhere in my car, because i am too poor to have a car. there is nowhere—literally NOWHERE—i can go to to enjoy peace and quiet. when i pray at home, i often put in earplugs AND turn on Gregorian chant to drown out the noise of neighbors, just so i can focus for all of 20 minutes to say a rosary. why don't i go to church to pray, you ask? because, for one, i am in a small parish where the church is locked at 5 pm sharp. and two, because CHURCH ISN'T QUIET. NO PLACE in my world is quiet. but youd think church would be. its SUPPOSED to be. only its not, because my fellow parishioners—almost all of whom own their own stand-alone homes on large plots of land, multiple cars, and have their own private offices at work—have decided that there is no difference whatsoever between the narthex and the sanctuary, nor between the Mass and their social hour.

what options are left to me? ear plugs and a prayer shawl closed tightly around my head, that's what. only then i get rude comments and distasteful glances because i am a "holier-than-thou" convert.

i do not think it is too much to ask other people to do what they can do anywhere ANYWHERE BUT CHURCH, so that i can do what i can do only at church AT CHURCH.

[continued... again!]

Anonymous said...

maybe we can learn from the Jews (again): when i was still Jewish, i studied abroad for two years in Germany. as soon as i arrived, i learned that, since the Jewish population of Germany had been decimated, the very few synagogues that remained were ALL Orthodox. not because the people were all Orthodox—most of them didnt even come close. but even the Reform Jews recognized that only at an Orthodox synagogue service can ALL Jews participate. an Orthodox Jew cannot pray in a Reform synagogue, but a Reform Jew can pray in an Orthodox synagogue. therefore, in order to ensure that everyone at least has SOME place to pray in community, they rendered every synagogue in every German city Orthodox. (there's one in Berlin that's Reform, but only because there were already multiple Orthodox synagogues in Berlin.) as Catholics, i think we could learn something from this. it is all well and good to have many "interpretations" of the Mass in a place where there are dozens of Catholic churches. but in a rural place where there is only one, i think it is of the utmost importance that that one be as faithful to Orthodox Catholic teaching as possible (which includes following the GIRM!). if someone in that place doesnt like the Orthodox Catholic way, then they should (a) embrace the opportunity to at least learn what that way is, (b) "offer it up", and (c) practice obedience!

i have often heard people say that the only reason they came to faith in Christ through the Catholic Church in the first place was because they felt so comfortable in one of the more "contemporary" parishes in their town, and that had there only been a more-traditional Catholic Mass in the area, they never would have come to Christ. in my opinion, that is loyalty to a local parish church, not to Christ's Universal Church. i understand the importance of the externalities for the "initial draw", but i think it is important for such people to recognize that becoming a Catholic means throwing in one's lot with Christ's people the world over (even when they're being "annoying"/"holier-than-thou" at Mass), and that means getting at the core of Church teachings and understanding what is SUPPOSED to happen at Mass, and being ok with that. (as an aside, has anyone noticed how popular this "Taize" worship stuff has become? has anyone noticed how it is more or less exactly what the Catholic Mass USED to be: chanting, silent contemplation, quiet prayer, individual communion with God... even Protestants are beginning to feel the lack of those things in our world!!!)

[continued... last time!]

Anonymous said...

i saw in several places people comment that they would rather the "annoying people" be at Mass annoying others than that they not go to Mass at all. this seems very kind and charitable on the surface, but i dont think those people recognize the consequences of such people going to Mass. will they get closer to God by attending a Mass where they are encouraged to do and wear and say whatever makes them feel good, or by attending a Mass where they are encouraged to obedience and reverence? if they stop coming to Mass because someone begins to insist that they show proper obedience and reverence, then how faithful were they to begin with? if they are coming only for the socializing and the "show", then i would much rather they not come and that the holiness of the Mass be preserved in their absence, so that, when they finally are willing to subordinate their selfish desires to the holiness of the Eucharist, there will actually be a place remaining where they can do that.

to the person whose husband told her that it is "dangerous" for a convert to be "more Catholic than the Catholics": if you are a convert, you ARE a Catholic. dont ever let some cradle-Catholic try to tell you otherwise! (im sure that wasnt your husband's intent, but others perhaps have caused you to feel "less" Catholic because you are a convert...) i sympathize with you. i have had snide comments made to me as a convert before. they are shocking and show the most fundamental ignorance of what it means to be a follower of Christ. not to mention, they hurt like nothing else.

thank you, Sister Mary Martha, for providing a place for people to talk about these issues. i have never met someone who felt only lukewarm about them. clearly, there has been a lot of venting. but i think that is healthy. the more we talk about things, the better we will understand others' viewpoints, the sooner we can get these things straightened out!

God bless all those who have contributed.

in Him,

P.S. YES—i will RUN FOR MY SOUL to a MEF the second i move away from podunk!!! ;-)

Anonymous said...

@NC SUE, you said "If we're striving for unity, should we allow such petty things to separate us for the others in the congregation?" My answer is YES, YES, YES!!! In the military groups of soldiers are formed into UNITS. UNITS wear the same uniforms with the same patches and everyone ahderes to the same rules of conduct and follows the same orders hence the name UNI-T Holding hands during the Our Father and clapping during Mass are not found anywhere in the GIRM. Neither one is part of the Mass and therfore both are abuses of the Mass, it's just that simple. It's no differnt than if 2 soldiers in a unit decided to start holding hands in formation of if I decided to start responding with ALLELUJIA when receiving communion instead of saying AMEN. UNITY means ONE, if all are ONE that means ALL are are following the same guidelines. If parishes all over the world introduce their own unique innovations and twists on the mass pretty soon there is no unity and a Catholic cannot travel the world and attend Mass at any parish without being lost. "UNI" means "ONE" in other words we can only be "ONE" if the Mass is truly "ONE" Holding hands during the Our Father and clapping in Mass are are not found in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal so they are technically abuses of the Mass. Differences don't UNITE us they set us apart and separate us. God Bless.

Anonymous said...

I'm sick and tired of all the nonsense and the bad example so many Catholics have been for each other. Talking before and after Mass, disrespectful dress, casual reception of the Blessed Sacrament, the clapping after some Masses, the comedy routine of some priests, the fluff passed off as a sermon... it has all eroded the beautiful Church of Christ and His truth. If we all truly believe that the Body of Christ dwells in our Church, in our midst, then why aren't we acting like it?? Go to a Traditional Mass and see the difference regarding respect. It's an eye opener!

Bridget of Lone Tree said...

I try not to wince at the hand-holding during the Our Father, but I never participate. I have a hard time with the whole handshake part of the mass, too. I wish that, like the last commenter, people would direct more reverence toward God and the Real Presence. Dress properly, act properly before God, and for goodness sake,stop with the gum flapping while in church. Have more respect for God and for the people around you who might be trying to pray.