No Holding Kentucky Hands

The decree from Bishop Foys of Covington is making the rounds.

Man, this has got to be taken from a chapter of the Joseph Ratzinger Manual for Public Relations. I can’t think of a worse time to throw a wrench from the Hermeneutic of Subtraction into the Catholic liturgical works. How about adding something to the liturgy?

  • What about encouraging thirty, or even twenty seconds of silence in the liturgy in between the readings and orations to get into the spirit of Advent?
  • What about singing penitential act form 3 to get people used to it?
  • What about everybody taking more time to distribute the Eucharist?
  • What about asking every priest to spend fifteen minutes every Friday afternoon to prepare the new translation of the orations?

What is it with these guys who are always trying to find ways to subtract something from the liturgy, and to do so in such a way to encourage Catholics to line up on both sides of a fence over it?

For the record: there is no rubric for the laity to do anything at the Lord’s Prayer, so we can pretty much do anything that harmonizes with the spirit and decorum at the Mass. The rubrics don’t instruct me to hold my wife’s hand during the homily, either. So do I stop doing that? The rubrics don’t tell us how to calm an upset child, how to pick up a dropped host, or what to do when our cell phone goes off. Do we just freeze like a liturgical deer in headlights? I think not. We do what is necessary. No more. We do not need imprudent clergy to tell us what to do on this point. We do not need another wedge driven into Catholic unity. We definitely do not need another pep rally with two sides attempting to outshout the other.

And as for the practice of holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer, it’s not a favorite of mine. Progressive liturgists were naysaying it a generation ago. I remember a liturgy conference in San Antonio where one of the presenters spoke against it. And wouldn’t you know, at the concluding Mass, everybody around her held hands, practically the entire attendance list. And her wish not to do so was respected. I think nearly everywhere the wish to not hold hands is noted and respected.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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8 Responses to No Holding Kentucky Hands

  1. John Drake says:

    Well, as far as ADDING something, how about the terrific, long-awaited, new corrected translation we just got? That adds immeasurably to the Mass, in my book.

  2. GNW_Paul says:

    Why is it when illicit innovations to the mass are resisted it is “driving a wedge” but when they are pushed upon the congregation by the new priest or liturgical director that isn’t divisive? And yes, I remember 2 parishes of my childhood where that is exactly what happend.

    Of course there is no ban on holding hands. You can hold hands with your wife or child. The difference is that congregational hand holding in unison around the whole church which is just silly and always has been is to be discouraged.

  3. Jimmy Mac says:

    The last time I looked Catholics view all of their sisters and brothers in Christ as members of their family, their community. So why is holding the hands of your family in Christ “just silly?”

    • GNW_Paul says:

      Silly is a subjective opinion. However, in this case not a particularly rare one. But that is totally beside the point,

      The real point is why is it considered more “divisive” to find congregational hand holding “silly” and wishing it to be discontinued, than it is to promote the practice and insist on it as a “right.”

  4. FrMichael says:

    One of the earliest things I did at the current parish is to put an end to universal congregational hand-holding. If you want to hold your kids’ or your spouse’s hands, great. Across-the-aisle-lifting-hands-up-at-the-doxology, no thanks.

    It was the best thing I ever did to get the men of the parish onboard with the idea that Sunday worship is a serious thing for adults and not some childish thing that has to be tolerated for the sake of the little ones. It also let the previous parish liturgical and catechetical establishments know that a new sheriff was in town.

    • GNW_Paul says:

      Fr. Michael – Thank You!

      Those who claim that “holding hands ought to be permitted” because it isn’t specified miss that: there is a huge difference between leaving people at liberty to hod hands with their spouse and encouraging congregational hand holding.

    • Marilyn says:

      yeah, what good are local customs, anyway???

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