Expert Answer Forum

Our Father prayer and Kneeling after Communion QUESTION from Donna Johnson March 4, 1999
After taking this web site's Liturgical Quiz, was surprised to see that holding hands during the Our Father prayer during Mass was not approved by Rome. Why is it not OK? We hold hands during informal prayer groups; should we stop? Also, you explain that there is no required posture (as in kneeling) following reception of the Eucharist. I've always heard you should kneel, pray for those in need or simply contemplate Christ, and remain kneeling until the Host is returned to the tabernacle. Please explain. ANSWER by Mr. John Miskell on March 21, 1999
Dear Donna, There's nothing wrong with holding hands outside of the celebration of the Mass, it's just that holding hands is not part of the Mass. Our sign of unity at Mass is the Eucharist. We believe that Jesus is physically present in the Eucharist, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. It's at Communion where Catholics who are prepared to receive Jesus, walk up to the front of the church and experience Him -- one on one -- in the Eucharist. We don't just ask Jesus to come into their hearts, we receive Him into our very bodies and become one with Him physically as well as spiritually. Now that's unity. Now that's accepting Jesus.
A number of years ago the American Bishops' Conference (NCCB) asked Rome for clarification on holding hands during the Mass. The following is the official response received. . . .holding hands is a sign of intimacy and not reconciliation, and as such disrupts the flow of the Sacramental signs in the Mass which leads to the Sacramental sign of intimacy with Christ and our neighbor, Holy Communion. [Notitiae Vol. XI (1975) p. 226] As far as the correct posture after Communion goes, there is no cut and dry answer. This is essentially left to local custom. I suppose that it has to do with the different circumstances in each parish. For example, at the parish where I grew up there's rarely more than 100 or so people at a Mass. Kneeling until everyone has received and the Eucharist is reserved to the tabernacle wouldn't be a problem. The parish where I live now is a very large suburban parish. At the 10:30 A.M. Mass on Sunday there's often more than 1,000 people. Even with two Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist assisting three priests and a deacon, it takes a long time for Communion to be finished. For some people it would be very difficult to kneel for such a long time. I hope this helps. In Christ, John Miskell Back to Index Page

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