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...
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.
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.
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.