My facebook feed included a link to Deacon Greg’s mild takedown on holding hands at Mass. Another link was cited, with some limp-wristed reasoning:
The practice of holding hands while praying the Our Father comes from the Protestant world. The reason is that Protestants do not have the Real Presence of Christ; that is to say, they do not have real and valid sacramental Communion that joins them among themselves and with God. Therefore, they turn to the gesture of holding hands as a moment of communion in community prayer.
Actually, I thought it originated in the charismatic movement. Like Roman Catholics, I don’t think any non-Catholic missal includes a rubrical directive to hold hands. My sense would be that a lot of Christians find hand-to-hand communion a positive worship expression. Including many Catholics.
I also think the cited priest would have a hard time demonstrating that non-sacramental Churches do not experience a real presence of Christ in any number of ways. I doubt they need to join hands for that moment. Though doubtless, some experience it then. Including some Catholics.
Is it really necessary? No. Is it disruptive and distracting? Sometimes. It also puts you in the uncomfortable position of feeling compelled to engage in a kind of social intimacy, holding hands, even if you don’t want to. Is the Mass better off without it? Yeah, I think so. It might be helpful if Rome said as much.
Um, no. Hands off hands together would be my motto. People I know who feel strongly about the practice will not be compelled to link fingers and palms. Neither will they be dissuaded from doing it by a word from on high, be it a pastor, bishop, pope, or the CDWDS.
I think I’ve blogged on this more than once. It’s not a practice I would implement in a parish I served that didn’t do it. I wouldn’t bother with naysaying it in a community that did. Better to focus on other issues. Hospitality. Preaching. Music. Leave the hands alone, I say.