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Liturgy & Liturgical Law Forum: Doxologia and Our Father

by Catherine Frakas 12 Feb 2001

Doxologia and Our Father QUESTION from A. Basto October 31, 2001
I have noted that it is very common for the people to engage in the Doxologia Finalis, at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer, together with the priest. Is this correct? I have always been told that the words of the doxology are to be said by the priest alone, with the people joining him in the great Amen.
Also, in the course of this last year, I have noticed that, in many parishes, some people sligthly elevate their right arm with the palm of the hand turned upwards in the moment of the doxology. (in the same way concelebrants do, when they are not holding the paten or the cup). Shouldn't the priest give some sort of instruction to the faithful before mass so as to avoid the continuation of that practice?
Further to that, I would like to know what is the Orans position. Is it the position the priest assumes during the Our Father and during the Preface (Vere dignum et justum est...). I ask that because in almost all masses I have ever attended in my life, it is common to elevate both hands slightly when saying the Lord's Prayer.
When I read in this forum that the Orans position is not to be used by the faithful during Our Father, I presumed that the Orans was this elevation of hands and, last sunday, I tried to keep my hands down during the Lord's Prayer. Immediately, my Father approached my ear and said in a low voice that I was supposed to raise my hands.
Also, it is the ordinary practise in some parishes I visited, especially during teen Mass, for the people to hold hands during the Our Father. Sometimes, the people in the first bench go to the Altar to hold hands with the Priest. For eight weeks now, I have been listening to Sunday Mass in a nullius diocesis Abbey of the Order of Saint Benedict, known for their aincient practices and their reverence in the celebration of the Sacraments, and there is no hand holding.
(I must say that the number of people desiring an Authentic Liturgy seems to be growing, and I want to share this good news with you, that is known to be a fierce defender of the Roman Rite. To attend this Mass sitting in a bench, you have to arrive at the abbey at least one hour before the beginning of the service. The mass is one hour and twenty minutes long, with incense, deacon present to assist the celebrants, readings from the Book and not from the leaflet, kneeling during the consacration, respect for the rubrics and for the official text of the mass and gregorian chant instead of drums. The strange thing is that some people speak the words of the doxology, as in other parishes. People come in their cars and in cabs from nearby towns and neighbourhoods to listen to this wonderful Mass. My father and I for instance, travel half an hour by car to arrive at the Abbey.)
So, since they never use the hand holding practice, I started thinking that perhaps hand holding during the Lord's Prayer may be illicit. Is it?
Once again, I congratulate you and the Legion of St. Michael for this excellent site. God Bless! Yours in Christ,
A. Basto
ANSWER by Mr. Jacob Slavek on November 29, 2001
Dear Mr. Basto,
To answer two of your question, I'd like to show you Ecclesiae de Mysterio, a 1997 document which dealt with the use of non-ordained faithful in sacred ministry. A Portion of article six reads:

In eucharistic celebrations deacons and non-ordained members of the faithful may not pronounce prayers, especially the eucharistic prayer, with its concluding doxology, or any other parts of the liturgy reserved to the celebrant priest. Neither may deacons or non-ordained members of the faithful use gestures or actions which are proper to the same priest celebrant. It is a grave abuse for any member of the non-ordained faithful to quasi preside at the Mass while leaving only that minimal participation to the priest which is necessary to secure validity. There it is, as if it weren't obvious enough from all the documents preceding 1997. Grave abuse... This is serious language and ALL priests and those involved in Liturgy NEED to pay attention.
So, should the priest give some instruction before Mass to end the abuse? I don't consider myself a pastoral expert, yet I believe it depends on the nature of the congregation. Either an announcement before Mass or a printed announcement in the parish bulletin would be appropriate.
I would like to add, more on a spiritual note rather than liturgical, that I tend to offer MY OWN prayer of praise mentally during the doxology (Through Him, With Him, in Him) and usually it is the same text that the priest is saying and is prayed at the same time. This is a good practice. The IMPORTANT distinction here is that my own prayer is just that.. my own personal prayer. I do not dare offer it as the same divine liturgical prayer that is being offered by the priest, but I may borrow the text for my own personal prayer. If I were to pronounce it out loud with the congregation, the distinction between priest and layman is blurred, along with the distinction between universal liturgical prayer, which is strictly regulated by the church, and private devotional prayer. That is why I think that Rome is so clear in prohibiting pronouncing it.
Just a brief point for clarification... the people do not join the priest for the amen of this prayer, and those similar, for the priest does not say the amen. Rather, they respond as the priest is silent.
The orans position... Yes, it is the position assumed by the priest during the Our Father and Preface(Father, all-powerful and ever living God,..) among other prayers. Orans is the Latin word for praying. The English Missal describes the orans posture as the priest extending his hands. Look at the quote above and you will see that it is illicit for the faithful to use the posture, since it is proper to the priest.
The evidence (proof, actually) that you need to show that holding hands during the Our Father, or any part of Holy Mass, is ILLICIT, is found in the journal Notitiae, Rome's official interpretation of the GIRM. Holding hands was addressed in 1975.

QUERY: In some places there is a current practice whereby those taking part in the Mass replace the giving of the sign of peace at the deacon's invitation by holding hands during the singing of the Lord's Prayer. Is this acceptable? REPLY: The prolonged holding of hands is of itself a sign of communion rather than of peace. Further, it is a liturgical gesture introduced spontaneously but on personal initiative; it is not in the rubrics. Nor is there any clear explanation of why the sign of peace at the invitation: Let us offer each other the sign of peace should be supplanted in order to bring a different gesture with less meaning into another part of the Mass: the sign of peace is filled with meaning, graciousness, and Christian inspiration. Any substitution for it must be repudiated.
It is clearly stated that holding hands is not in the rubrics. You don't need to be told that, just glance through the Sacramentary. But the fact that Rome clearly states that it is not there reaffirms the church's disapproval of the gesture.
Vatican II states that it is illicit to add anything to the rubrics.
To all my readers: Please don't be shy about asking me for clarifications if something here doesn't make sense. I said a lot today. :-)
Mr. Slavek
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