Why the hand posture during The Lord’s Prayer is being discussed online

January 26, 2023 - 5:33 PM
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Filipino Catholics maintain social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) during mass on Ash Wednesday at Baclaran Church, Paranaque City, Metro Manila, Philippines, February 17, 2021. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

The position of hands during the Lord’s Prayer (Our Father Prayer_ was discussed on Facebook after a page about Catholic beliefs shared a post about it.

In its post, Catholic Apologetics PH said that attendees of the Holy Mass should hold their own hands instead of their seatmates during the prayer of the Our Father or the Lord’s Prayer.

For years, Holy Mass participants conduct the Lord’s Prayer with open arms. Those who have seatmates also held hands.

Citing the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, the Facebook page noted that this practice is apparently wrong.

“Ang GIRM (General Instruction of the Roman Missal) ay walang itinakdang posisyon ng kamay para sa mga layko tuwing ‘Ama Namin’ sa Misa, dahil dito, maaring pagdaupin ng mga layko ang kanilang mga kamay,” the Facebook page said.

“Orans Position o nakalahad na kamay sa Misa ay para lamang sa mga Pari,” it added.

The GIRM is a manual or guidelines for the celebration of the Holy Mass as the source for this information.

It was first published on April 6, 1969. Years later, it was canonically approved for use by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on Nov. 12, 2002.

“Gayunpaman, tuwing private prayer, ang Orans Position ay maaring gawin ng bawat laykong Katoliko,” the page said.

An infographic also accompanied this post to demonstrate the supposedly “correct” gesture of praying the Lord’s Prayer.

The post had since garnered 8.800 reactions, 1,200 comments and 27,000 shares on the platform.

In the comments section, some Filipinos countered the information in the post. They argued that no priest has addressed or announced the right way of praying the Our Father.

“I think none of our priests corrected us doing the Orans Position marami pang mga mas importanteng bagay na dapat gawin to continue our mission being a Roman Catholic,” a Facebook user said.

“Matagal na akong nagsisimba pero ni minsan hindi ko narinig na ang mga pari ay sinusuway nila ang mga nagsisimba na mali ang gesture ng kamay tuwing inaawit ang Ama Namin,” another commented.

Others also pointed out that what has been practiced will be difficult to change if the Church itself is inconsistent.

“I remember before, pari pa mismo ang nag-eencourage na maghawak-hawak ng kamay before dasalin/kantahin yung Our Father. It only stopped during Covid. It’s honestly getting confusing,” a Facebook user said.

Guideline for praying

The guideline for praying the Lord’s Prayer is mentioned in Paragraph 237 of the GIRM.

“Then the principal celebrant, with hands joined, says the introduction to the Lord’s Prayer. Then, with hands extended, he says the prayer itself together with the other concelebrants, who also pray with hands extended and with the people,” it reads.

It did not mention the right position of hands for the co-celebrants during this part of the Mass.

According to a website dedicated to Catholic teachings, meanwhile, it was stated that the Holy See has not yet formally prescribed the posture to the Catholic faithful.

“Thus, if neither the bishops’ conference nor the Holy See has seen fit to prescribe any posture for the recitation of the Our Father, it hardly behooves any lesser authority to impose a novel gesture not required by liturgical law and expect the faithful to follow their decrees,” the website of the Eternal Word Television Network said.