My own posture for praying the Lord’s Prayer is hands together, palms up. I don’t know where that got started, but if I’m by myself at Mass, that’s what I do. When I sit next to my wife, we hold hands. If a parishioner offers to hold hands, I generally accept. We had a parishioner submit a question to the parish question box recently about holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer. I was asked to explain:
Why do some parishes hold hands during the Our Father and others do not?
It’s a matter of local custom. Some observers have noted that holding hands during prayer was a practice of many groups in the charismatic movement (1970’s) and from there, it seemed to spread not only to Catholic charismatic groups, but people in circumstances of intense or intentional worship: retreats, home Masses, and parishes with a special apostolate (like our campus ministry focus here at STA). Obviously, something clicked, because holding hands is now a fairly common posture during the Lord’s Prayer in American parishes.
The Church has no official position on the practice. It is not given in the rubrics, nor is it forbidden. At STA, some people hold hands, and some do not. For the former, it has spiritual meaning. For the latter, they know they are not obliged in hand-to-hand contact, and are free to make any gesture they wish—or none at all.
I’ve never been in a parish where it was an official expectation. I’m sure people feel a bit of pressure both ways, depending on the surrounding practice. If I were put in a position to institute or ban the practice, my choice would be to decline, either way. Some of my liturgical colleagues see it as a problem. I dissent from that. I was in one parish once where a new parishioner thought it should be more widespread than it was. I counseled her to go easy on it.