"Is it appropriate to hold hands during the 'Our Father' at Holy Mass?"

By Paul Dion, STL

We received the following "Burning Question" from a regular reader, Laurence Gonzaga. He is someone whom we respect and this question of his is quite challenging. It is therefore good for all of us to toss it around in our minds.

Laurence wrote:

"I don't know if this 'burning question' ever crossed your mind, but here goes: "Is it appropriate for the congregation to hold hands during the 'Our Father' at Holy Mass? "When I go to daily Mass, I notice most people do not have this practice. I guess it depends on the place. I try to sit in a pew that is vacant. Ever since I was young, I always hated this part of the Mass. I would always 'go to the bathroom' to avoid it. When I am at Sunday Mass, I do it, because my Dad does it, and the people give you a funny look when you don't want to hold their hand. But when my dad is not with me, I close my eyes and keep my hands to my side. It's not that I am trying to be anti-social, it's just that, I don't want to be forced to do it when it is not really called for in the Mass. It is not even rooted in tradition."

What do you say, Dear Reader? Chime in.

CLICK HERE to view the answer to this Burning Question


  1. Anonymous10:52 AM

    I do not remember when I began doing this at Mass. Been a Catholic over 60 years now. I just know it feels like the right thing to do. And I can feel the spirit of communion and oneness with the entire congregation. So even if the original apostles didn't do it in their time, so what? It's good for the congregation. No harm, no foul.

  2. Anonymous10:53 AM

    Go ahead and hold hands. It's the neighbourly thing to do. What's so bad about that?

  3. Anonymous1:50 PM

    I find the holding of hands during the Our Father,as a beautiful way of coming together as a Catholic Community and displaying fellowship. I have heard from many of our Protestant brothers and sisters that that's the one thing they do not find among Catholics is fellowship.The holding of hands and the "peace be with you" shaking of hands is a perfect time to invoke our fellowship and love for Lord Jesus Christ. As for the person who wrote that he does not want to be anti-social, well you are being anti-community by not embracing the chance to reach out to your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

  4. Dan,
    You have to be kidding me... You think that just by doing a gesture of holding hands with people I don't even KNOW is "displaying fellowship"??? Ummm, sorry, but perhaps you havent seen the hoardes that flee after receiving Holy Communion, before the final blessing... don't they want to be part of the "community"? I shake hands, I don't despise the practice... but I notice one thing, most of the folks don't even look at me when they do it. If this is the case, it might as well not be done. It is silly. it makes more sense in a charismatic Mass...

    The thing about the Protestants is that they have REAL fellowship, because most of their members STAY after their services to "fellowship", and get to KNOW each other. And that's why I think the holding hands business at Mass is largely superficial.

    God Bless,
    Laurence Gonzaga

  5. Anonymous3:07 PM

    We are brothers and sisters in Christ. We are offering peace in the name of Jesus Christ to our extended family before receiving communion. We can see all the faces God has created and we have just told all the bad things we have said or done to God and he is gloriously happy to receive us as we are and we are happy to find ourselves in this position of his loving kindness and acceptance of us as we are. We are his family. Even so we are about to receive Jesus Himself In the Euchrist the fulness of Christ even with the brothers and sisters that go up for a blessing, what a joyous time not to be rejected but accepted and loved; I have to say this the smiles and wet eyes that my eyes have seen throughout the years at this high point of the Mass as people acknowledge one another in the name of Jesus PEACE and in the collecting of hands we are one family in Christ Jesus. The Mass is what is going on in Heaven ie. Peace, Joy, Contentment, Serenity, Praises, Love, God's Glory.
    Tell me isn't there a Banquet waiting for us in Heaven? Are we just going to sit down and eat? or is there going to be some Heavenly music by the Choir of Angels in Heaven and joyous moments in which we all partake.
    Now those few who do not give eye contact or a smile at the sign of peace, could it possibly be they are suffering souls but they are there, could it be they are the luke warm Jesus talks about but they are there. We must not close our eyes to these children of God but approach one after Mass and say how wonderful to see you again my name is Manny. Since I have that gift of seeing and recognizing the child of Christ who is suffering then I have to listen to my calling and bring one more in for Christ, what better thing to do after receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. I don't have to be in a position in the Church where everyone knows me to do this.
    Remember some Masses are quieter than others very little singing by the congregation. Now take away the holding of hands and the sign of peace and something is being trimmed away. Something that is not bad nor inappropriate.
    Remember this verse "Lift up Holy hands". Clapping in praises to God I've seen in teen Masses and Charismatic Masses even lifting up holy hands in praises to our great God. There is communication here to all our brothers and sisters in the presents of Jesus Christ. I believe we are slowly bringing them into the Shepherds fold. Rember some may take years but that is Gods work through his people us you and me Manny. Take to heart that Gods arms are stretched open to receive his people sons and daughters even at the last moment of life if he she truly repents.
    If that person is occupying a space in the pew God put him, her there. Remember the words "I have left you all this work for your salvation". Go in Peace to Love and SERVE one another.
    God bless everyone

  6. Manny,

    I have attended "teen Masses" for years, on the same days I attend the Tridentine Mass. Quite a contrast, anybody would admit... I have even been involved in these "teen groups". I have one question for some people to ponder... If these groups are really successful, why is it that hardly any of the teens whom they serve, ever join their ranks once they are confirmed? Why is it that the leaders "disappear" after a few years? I know of many who are not even practicing their faith anymore. In my opinion, while they preoccupy themselves more with learning silly hand gestures to their songs, and learning the beats to clap to, they don't study their faith. And if they don't know their faith, they just might find another place where the hand-holding and the hand clapping is even more satisfying, even if that means it is outside of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.


  7. The questions posed are valid ones. The answers go beyond the way that we celebrate the Eucharist. The answers have eluded the Church for longer than anyone can remember. Manny is not going to be able to answer the questions. No one has been able to resolve them so far, so they will hang around for quite some time.
    Before the Tridentine Mass had a label other than just "the Mass", people were dropping out after Confirmation. That was in the days of reverent silence in Church, solemnity in the Sanctuary and in the pews, bombastic sermons and of intense Catholic education in the parochial schools. We got confirmed and made "Soldiers of Christ" before graduating from tghe ninth grade and entering the public high school. The ranks of the "Soldiers of Christ" thinned out dramatically and the Church wrung Her hands. Her teen-age children went off to die in foreign lands. They came back and the fox-hole believers put it all behind them and prospered with their GI Bill benefits from their new Savior, Uncle Sam. I could go on for quite some time because I remember it very well because it afflicted my very own family, just as it did millions of others.

    I have lived through pre-Vatican II changes that turned a lot of people off on the Church. HUGE changes like the declaration that water did not break the Eucharistic Fast, the shortening of the Fast, the changing of the Holy Week, the creation of the Sacred Triduum and the changing of the meaning of the Friday Sacrifice.

    I know that you don't want me to go on and on, so I won't. I just have two more sentences to go.
    1. Whoever is not against us is for us
    —Mark 9:40
    2. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    Stay zealous, stay peaceful and serene in the grace-filled presence of the Spirit and God has promised us that He will have the last word.

    Paul Dion, STL
    Theology Editor

  8. I see the "over reaction" from both camps, the "traditionalist" and the "progressivist"... for the one it seems to be "all work and no play" and the other is "all play and no work"... both are gravely deficient, in my opinion. I think a balance must be discovered. And I don't believe they should be combined in the same event, such as the Mass. There's a time for "dancing", and then there is the time for prayer. I know there is a resistence to the "alternative" youth group at St. Christopher, but from what I have experienced, it is youth group "done right". They have their time to strum their Lifeteen-esque guitars and bang the drums, in their prayer meetings (I don't like it myself, but you know the saying, de gustibus non disputandum est), then there is the time for prayer and study. These teens are devoted, zealous, and consistent. Everywhere I go, other parishes even, I see them and they inspire me. It is a discipline I would have shunned myself, if I were still their age.

    If they have ever been "disobedient" to the norms, it has at least been within the brackets provided for in the universal norms of the Church. Whereas, other youth groups have been documented as being "disobedient", and outside of the rubrics and norms outright (teens giving "homilies", and "teen consecration", etc). Yet, they receive no "crack of the episcopal whip", so to speak.

    Do I want the pre-Vatican II Church to be re-instituted? NO, of course not. The Church is never stagnant, it is living. But, like the Scripture says, it is the wise man who can take out of the storehouse, the old and the new... What did the past do RIGHT, and what does the present do RIGHT, and let's go with that!

    Thanks Paul for reading and responding to my rants... it is the least you can do for me since I read your rants as well :-)


  9. Dear Readers: has published these comments because they are civil, polite and truly catechetical in their own way. It doesn't get published if it is a "Rant and Rave" :-)

    To all of you I have to mention that there are a couple of large, world-wide groups who practice lay "homilies", "con-celebrated" Masses including laity, both young and old that have attracted the "crack of the whip," not only from local bishops but even of the Holy See. That is not to say that there are no more abuses. There are. But this line of thought will have to wait for another wave of Burning Question. I will make a note and you will see it surface in the near future.

    So, let's all join hands so that we will not have to cry at one another's funeral.

    Paul Dion, STL
    Theology Editor

    PS If you want an interested read related somewhat to this discussion, cfr. Leviticus 19, the reading for today's Mass (Feb. 11, 2008)

  10. Anonymous4:03 PM

    You are right Paul Dion no one has all the answers. What I see is this and it is very plain to see with our eyes and we've heard it in homilies at Mass; the story of the Prodical Son. Many kids fall off after confirmation, some don't return until they hit their 30's or 40's. While people are entering the church before Mass I can take a good look at who enters and the difference in ages, many more are elderly than youth. I ask myself at what point did God's grace return his sheep here? Where did they wonder, what did it take for them to come back.
    Hope is not lost we do not dispair nor become dispondent. I can tell by all of the responses that we all care and our personal prayer and relationship with God is what will bring back a lost sheep back to Christ sometime way after we have left this world. We plant seeds and release them to Christ. All those teens that have not returned are busy with the worlds cares, they all have storms and tornadoes to go through as we all do. BUT THEY'LL BE BACK!! I came back, not perfect but I came back, someone must have really been on their knees. I know my Grandma was.
    Praise the Lord