“You Are God… but Who Am I?” — A Reflection on Faith and Identity

I confess my first draft of this article started out very differently. Prior to the release of the Holy Father's motu proprio, a question weighed heavily on my mind: Would the Latin Mass bring an unseasonable chill to the "Springtime of Evangelization" proclaimed by John Paul II?

As it turned out, I needn't have worried. Since the Latin form of the rite remains the "extraordinary" form, there are still plenty of opportunities for seekers to experience the holy sacrifice of the Mass in their own language. (And if it happens that a visitor stumbles on a Latin Mass, he or she can still hear the readings in the vernacular.)

Once that issue was settled, I began to ponder the letter that accompanied Summorum Pontificum. One word jumped out at me: identity. In its original context, the word was used to describe Bishop Lefebvre's camp … and yet, the Mass as a "mark of identity" has implications for the rest of us as well.

Identity Crisis

Joshua said to them, "Pass on before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder … these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial for ever" — Joshua 4:5-7.

In a seminary class on the sacraments, Father Dan Jones introduced me to the writings of Father William Lynn, S.J., S.T.D. http://www.pcj.edu/aboutus/lynn.html, who spoke of the "Incarnational Principal." This principal says that God initiates contact with the human race through the material world.

 Moreover, how we interpret what we see, hear, taste, touch, and smell profoundly affects how we see ourselves (our personal identity) and how we approach God (our religious identity). Religious identity is formed to a great degree by two things:

1.  Previous experiences (especially previous religious formation). For example, someone who was raised on the Latin Mass may continue to have a great devotion to it. (However, not all those who have a devotion to the Latin Mass were raised on it.) Charismatic Catholics have entirely different associations, based on their experiences with the charismatic gifts of the Spirit. Those who convert from the evangelical tradition, as I did, may appreciate aspects of the liturgical renewal that strike traditional Catholics as "touchy-feely," Protestant, or irreverent.

(For example, the music I encountered at those early liturgies was a tremendous source of consolation and hope. As it happened, the parish I first visited sang many of the same hymns I had learned as a child — "Amazing Grace," "For All the Saints," and "How Great Thou Art." And the very songs that so many Catholics are fond of disparaging — "Eagle's Wings," "I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light," and "Be Not Afraid" — reassured me that Catholics also experience intimacy with God. It was an unexpected and delightful surprise.)

2.  Personal charisms. Have you ever noticed how two people can attend the same liturgy and walk away with very different impressions of the event? Our experiences are always filtered through the lenses of our individual giftings, values, and sensitivities. God made us this way, so that every part of His Body would receive what it needs to serve Him in the world.

One of the things that I have most come to appreciate about the Catholic Church is that, even among the faithful who are fully obedient to the Pope and his Bishops, there is a considerable variety of perspectives, personalities, and gifts represented. There are traditional Catholics and charismatic Catholics, Dominicans and Franciscans and Jesuits, contemplative Catholics and Catholics who see Jesus most clearly when they stand in the serving line of a soup kitchen. Even among religious, there are cloistered orders and orders that focus on education or medical assistance. One that I encountered recently — the Carmelites of Reno — make their living by creating lovely greeting cards from their own original works of art.

The Apostle Paul taught that the Body of Christ contains many members that "though many, are one body, as it is in Christ" (1 Cor 12:12). Just as the human body has multiple layers — an inner core containing vital organs; a skeleton that provides structure, support, and protection; and an outer fleshy covering that facilitates our interaction with the world — so does the Body of Christ. At the center core are the mystical and intercessory charisms, those whose prayers are the very lifeblood of the Church; next the dogmatic and apologetic charisms, which provide structure and direction; finally, the outer core, whose charisms draw to the Church all those still outside, through gifts of empathy, hospitality, and social justice. (Each of these "layers" has distinctive applications to individuals, whether lay or religious.)

Liturgy and Identity

Each individual's religious identity is built over time, formed from the earliest impressions of childhood to the present day. The Holy Father's letter reminded me that, for Catholics, the Mass is a crucial part of that identity.

When the liturgical form changed, those changes (particularly the more drastic improvisations) struck at the heart of the religious identity of faithful Catholics around the world. And yet, how they processed these changes may have depended to a certain degree on where they "fit" in the Body of Christ. Those with a mystical/intercessory bent may have relied more heavily on their devotions and personal prayers to help the whole Church through the time of transition. Those with a relational/hospitable charism saw in Vatican II the opportunity to "throw open the doors for Christ," and make the Church a more welcoming place. Those with more dogmatic or apologetic leanings watched first with concern, then with alarm, as the Mass in some places was "hijacked" (often by well-meaning individuals) and taken to places the Conciliar Fathers never intended.

Even when the new form of the liturgy was implemented correctly, however, some Catholics still craved the reverent and glorious beauty of the Latin Mass. The reason was simple: The Latin Mass was at the heart of their identity as Catholics. In many cases, the individuals in question had not even been raised on the Latin Mass. One friend said to me, "I was drawn more and more to both the new and old Mass in Latin because I found it more prayerful, and more focused on the worship of God. Also, as I studied the Council documents and the writings of various popes, I realized that the Latin was more in line with tradition, as well as with Vatican II. So it is not a matter of nostalgia with me at all. It is something new, and as St Teresa of Avila said about the Mass: 'This is something that is happening NOW.'"

For this group of traditional Catholics, everything about the Latin Mass — the altar rails and chapel veils, the incense and chant, the ancient murmurings of the universal language of the Church — had a "pride of place" in their hearts. For this group especially, the Holy Father's rescript was a welcome reminder that this important tradition had not been — was never intended to be — forgotten.

Reflections from the New Kid on the Block

While I cannot pretend to speak for all converts, Vatican II — and in a special way the papacy of John Paul II — represents for me an era of unmitigated grace. Because of it, my impressions of the first Catholic Mass I attended bore no resemblance to the soulless institution ex-Catholics (who now belonged to the faith communities in which I grew up) had described to me. Without exception my friends and family had been horrified that I would throw away my spiritual birthright and "take up with those damned papists."

For me, the decision to enter the Church represented a different kind of identity crisis. It was a lonely journey, full of misgivings and incessant questionings. Ironically, many of the same "irregularities" faithful Catholics most often rail against, shed a ray of light for me at times when I most urgently needed it.

Early in my Catholic formation, for example, I attended the closing liturgy of a religious education conference that made a deep impression on me. I watched with open mouth as sacred dancers in full national costume followed a long line of celebrants of every race and color processing down the center aisle. I've since learned that the bishops have declared "sacred dance" to be unsuitable within a liturgical event, at least in the West, and I willingly assent to this teaching. At that time, however, it was an unforgettable reminder of the meaning of "catholic," that the Church I was preparing to enter has a truly universal character. 

Another, far more common, example happened every week at Holy Family — the parish in Southern California where I was brought into the Catholic faith. We always held hands and sang the "Our Father." Now, some Catholic apologists express strong reservations about this custom, and some even denounce it entirely. However, as far as I know the bishops themselves have not definitively settled the issue. As for me, this custom of holding hands touches upon my own sense of religious identity. (Just as for some, refusing to participate is important to them. It is perhaps fortunate that I did not encounter this latter group early on in my formation; what they no doubt see as "correct," to others can seem cold and dismissive.)

In 2003, Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum, wrote about this issue, stating that the posture of the people for this prayer is not specified in the rubrics, and the bishops have not passed a measure that would preclude this custom by the required two-thirds vote (if there have been more recent or definitive rulings of which I am not aware, I would be grateful if someone would send me the citation.)

The U.S. bishops' conference debated a proposal by some bishops to allow the use of the orantes [arms extended] posture while discussing the "American Adaptations to the General Instruction to the Roman Missal" last year. Some bishops even argued that it was the best way of ridding the country of holding hands. The proposal failed to garner the required two-thirds majority of votes, however, and was dropped from the agenda.

Speaking as one whose entering the Church resulted in the estrangement of most of my friends and family, I sincerely hope that one day the "Our Father" custom is officially recognized as an "organic development" and the sign of unity, rather than an awkward distraction. In the meantime, I urge those who are disinclined to participate to find other ways to express kindness to the person sitting next to you. He or she may be someone who desperately needs a reminder that we do indeed stand together as one family in Christ.

The reason I mention both these instances in my formation process is not to generate a lot of heated debate about the liturgy (though doubtless there will be some). I simply want to demonstrate how people, based on their particular religious identities, can have different impressions of the same event — and still be faithful Catholics. Moreover, these different perspectives are needed in order for the Body of Christ to function properly: the "kitchen police" who keep the troops fed; the soldiers who resist the enemies of the Church; and the medics who rescue those caught in the crossfire, and tend to the wounded.

Together, we are truly the Body of Christ. And it will be because of this "spirit of the liturgy" — the Spirit in whom we are united despite our differences — that those who are not yet a part of us will want to take a closer look. Doubtless there is room for improvement in many parishes, both in how we worship and how we evangelize. And yet, in the words of the great Latin hymn:

Ubi caritas, et amore. Ubi caritas, deus ibi est.

Simul ergo cum in unum congregamur:
Ne nos mente dividamur, caveamus.
Cessent iurgia maligna, cessent lites.
Et in medio nostri sit Christus Deus.

Where charity and love are, God is there.

As we are gathered into one body,
Beware, lest we be divided in mind.
Let evil impulses stop, let controversy cease,
And may Christ our God be in our midst.

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  • Guest

     

    Dear Ms. Saxton,

    As I was reading your article, all I could feel was the tremendous grace God had poured upon you as He called you to come home.  Surely He has His reasons for calling back someone with your writing talent and the experience of being once a "non-Catholic."  And I can only praise God that His grace has given you a bigger heart to "see" with compassion the differences and why precisely such differences make the Catholic Church universal.   

    God bless.

    Ray Fragante

    Philippines 

  • Guest

    When the focus of the Mass was removed from Jesus Christ, physically, (tran)substantially present – Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity – on the altar to community, the Mass lost something huge.

    The previous form of the Latin rite retains the intense, personal experience that the newer form replaces with holding hands.  If it works for you, TERRIFIC!  But it leaves me cold and empty and frustrated.  The Catholic Church is truly a 'big-tent', and there needs to be both forms of the rite available.

  • Guest

    Regarding holding hands during the "Our Father" (which I know was not the point of your article), there are several reasons why I disdain the practice.

    1. It was swept in with the "tides of change" that included the congregation saying "Through Him, With Him, In Him. In the unity of the Holy Spirit…..".  That practice was clearly condemned and affirmed as a prayer of the celebrant only.  However, MANY churches still participate in the prayer and faithful, uneducated Catholics are drawn into it thinking and "feeling"  they're "more unified" as a congregation.  Also, many innovations, including women and non-Catholics reading the Gospel and giving a homily came in with the hand holding OUr Father.  Unapproved Eucharistic prayers were,and still are, recited because they were/are considered more appropriate for a particular community and they built unity.  Communion in the hand is another aberation that came about post Vatican II.  It started in Holland in 1965/1966 as a result of some laity questioning whether Jesus was truly present in the Consecrated HOst.  Pope Paul VI wrote the Dutch bishops telling them "to once again return to the traditional manner of receiving Holy Communion".  John Paul II never supported it and would not distribute in this manner.  He said in  Germany in 1980, " But I say that I can not be for it (Hand Communion) and also cannot recommend it." Mother Theresa and the Sisters of Charity allow only Communion on the tongue and said receiving in the hand was one of the worst evils in the crisis of the Church.  Many Cardinals who supported the  exception at the time regretted the change saying that the practice did not encourage respect for the Eucharist.  Cardinal Julius Dopfner shortly befor his death in 1976 said, "Had I known that through Communion in the hand so much lack of reverence was to be practiced, I would have never wpoken for it….Get rid of Communion in the hand!" Even Martin Luther said that receiving in the hand was "an expression of lack of faith".  Moving on, we still are left with standing during the consecration even though the GIRM specifically rejects that posture as a rule.  Other innovations include the priest conforming to the protestant practice of saying the "kingdom, the power, and the glory…." doxology immediately after the Our Father.  (That protestant practice was instituted during the Reformation as a way to distinguish protestant liturgy from Catholic.  Protestants even ammended Sacred Scripture for hundreds of years.  New Protestant bibles have removed the doxology.) I associate holding hands during the "Our Father" with the disobedience characteristic of those who need their feelings stroked and emotion evoked during the Sacrifice of the Mass.  (I am not saying that people who hold hands during the Our Father are being disobedient to any rubrics at this time.)  However, the history of the institution of the practice makes me very suspicious of it.  I don't view hand holding as an "organic development".  I view it as yet another practice that Satan has used to distract one from the supreme mystery occurring in the sanctuary.  (Do you think the angels are surrounding the alter holding hands?  Does scripture ever mention the practice of holding hands during sacrifice and worship?)
    2. The in situ practice raises suspicion too.  Very often hand holding is not voluntary but obligatory.  I have hand my hands grabbed by strangers while I was actively nursing and supporting with that hand a baby!  I have had people with colds grab for my hand.  (With ten kids, I don't need to be united to your cold!)  I have seen gymnastics in church spaces with  people  manuevering around the church to hold hands…including the priest coming down out of the sanctuary to stand united to the people.  The mass is where we worship and praise the Triune God and participate in Christ's once for all sacrifice.  It is where we are fed in a singular way on the Body and Blood of our savior.  It is not where we build community.
    3. Building community is something that happens as a result of receiving the body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ in the Eucharist.  It happens after mass, not during (although we do come together as a community during the liturgy as we all face east, so to speak, to worship God, not each other (so why do couples smooch during the kiss of peace?)  Heidi, you said, "I urge those who are disinclined to participate to find other ways to express kindness to the person sitting next to you. He or she may be someone who desperately needs a reminder that we do indeed stand together as one family in Christ."  First, hand holding is not the rule.  It is an addition. Therefore, I would say, "those of you inclined to hold hands, even in a community where it is the norm, need to be respectful of others".  Secondly, I frequently speak to and welcome strangers after mass and outside of the church space.  Further, those who want to build community, which should be everyone, should do so as the fruit of receiving the Eucharist.  There are many ways to do so. Such as: fellowship receptions after mass, bible studies, support groups, benediction, works of mercy, etc….

    Catholics are not Protestants.  Fellowship with one another holds many of those communities together as  social groups with the peripheral identification with Christ.  Catholics are held together through the Eucharist which comes to us through the mass.

    The mass is an intellectual endeavor of the will.  Many saints have said that the Deceiver comes to us through our senses and emotions.  I have to believe that is true with the changes instituted by "touchy/feely" liturgies.  All data shows that belief in the Real Presence in the Eucharist has fallen to about 30% of Catholics.  Disobedience in matters of morals is rampant among Catholics.  Mass attendance is down.  Vocations are down.  Family size is down.  Churches are falling down.  Divorce is up. Fornication is up. Abortion is up. Experimental in liturgy is up (and now trying to be reined in).  Holy days of obligation are down.  Attendance at the few left is down…..etc…etc….etc…..

    I believe there are few coincidences.  True, I know of no GIRM guidelines regarding hand holding at this time.  However, I know the history of the practice, therefore, I am very suspicious of its use as I said.  I think we all could benefit from reading some of the excellent books on the mass available, including Scott Hahn's The Lambs Supper.   The mass is not about us!  contrary to what  the me generation has promulgated.  If one fell in love with the me generation liturgy,  I  know that God can use that love in His Divine Mercy to draw believers of right intention into the unfathomable mystery of the Sacred Mass.

    Peace.

  • Guest

    Heidi, the church and Pope John Paul II did make a statement that there should not be holding hands during the Our Father…

    however, most catholics do not know it because they have not researched it enough..

    even fr. trigilio spoke out against it on ewtn. He said how this is not to be done because it is showing unity with the other members of the church, and this is not when the unity takes place.  it takes place when we receive the Body and Blood of Christ. this is something protestant that got ushered in with vatican II.

    people need to stop taking part in this abuse. and instead of thinking that those that don't take part are being "cold", you should be thinking wow, these are the people who are following church teaching and tradition and not causing confusion and error in the church…

  • Guest

    Obviously, you have very strong opinions on the subject — as I said, the Body of Christ needs a variety of perspectives and charisms. I would point out, however, that it was while I was still in RCIA (and therefore unable to receive the Eucharist) that the practice of holding hands meant a great deal to me.

    "The mass is an intellectual endeavor of the will." For some, I suppose it must be … but because we are both corporal and spiritual beings, God intends worship to affect us heart and soul.  (Psalms 111:1 Praise ye the LORD. I will praise the LORD with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation.)

    Similarly, a marriage can be held together through sheer intellectual assent and force of will. But that is not the "two made one" kind of intimacy God intended. 

    Papal bull, again if you could please give me a citation for the Our Father issue, I'd be most grateful.

    Heidi Hess Saxton Editor, "Canticle" Magazine Blogroll

  • Guest

    Heidi, an excellent perspective on our faith and the Mass. As a cradle-Catholic I'm with you in spirit. I'm actually a revert so I have a good dose of the neophyte zeal that is characteristic of the converts. You converts are a rejuvinating force in the Church. It's trully the Holy Spirit at work.

    You received JPII's New Evagalization a certain way. I speak his native language. I rode out on horseback with my father to greet him and escort him as he came to our town. He was then bishop of Krakow. We understood his papacy somewhat differently. There was the Soviet meltdown, there was the feeling of the close to the heart Mother Church. JPII never strayed from orthodoxy, he was more a fulfillment of it, if you will. Today the Church in Polish communities is pretty much the way it was, conservative and traditional. The vernacular is closer to the Latin and Communion is more on the tongue than in the hand. Yes, there was the occasional "polka mass"  that tickled the fancy of those who were "americanized" by that I mean that they really didn't speak the language and were bitten by the bug of modernity. The rest of us looked upon it as silly at best and probably borderline sacreligious.

    The point being that this was one example of a parochial interpretation. There were and are counless others in all the congregations that are out there. Now that the effects of VII have played out, the Church needs to get a handle on the fragmenting and customizing of the tenets and forms of worship. As stated, the Church already has so many facets and venues that attest to it's universality. The Liturgy of the Mass, not originating from the faithful, needs to be the opposite. The Mass should unify us in one form of worship. We are the Catholic church not the Ecclectic church.

    There's also bad psychology at work here. The customizers and revisionists are really more interested in their own versions gaining acceptance. They really have no greater interest because they do not know. They do not know the source of the mystery that is present or it's transforming power when it's arranged a certain way. Those who are in the Occult actually know very well why a rite works a certain way and is ineffective another way. Let the faithful express their unique gifts through all the various celebratins that we Christians have. Defer the Sacred Liturgy to those who know, The Congregation for the Doctrine.

     

    Goral

  • Guest

    I wonder if the author had converted from buddism if she would argue just as eloquantly for the use of the lotus position during mass? Maybe we should start full prostrations on the ground to make muslims feel more welcome. How about getting rid of anything that looks too "papist" so as to make the largest heresy of our day feel more at home. Converts do not have the right to bring in foreign customs in to the Church. Why would they want to when the tradition that is already there is so wonderful?

  • Guest

    Goral: Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences. I agree that the Liturgy of the Mass should be a unifying experience of the universal Church everywhere. And I agree wholeheartedly that it is in the interest of unity that the faithful must look to the Magisterium — and in a special way the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — to determine what is and is not appropriate.

    However, given the fact that there are 22 different Catholic Churches (I think that's the number) all in union with the Pope, and all of whom celebrate the liturgy a bit differently, what does this say about the "unity" that is required of us?

    Jgreenlee, there is a great difference between a Protestant and a Buddhist. The Church recognizes Protestants as our brothers and sisters in Christ by virtue of baptism. I did not bring any customs into the Church — or even into the parish that welcomed me. However, God used those points of connection to draw me into the fullness of the faith. To intimate that our Protestant brothers and sisters, who love and serve God faithfully using their many God-given gifts, have nothing of value to contribute to the Church is spiritual hubris.  

    Heidi Hess Saxton Editor, "Canticle" Magazine Blogroll

  • Guest

    Good point, Heidi. We've all gotten comfortable with what we grew up. It's the Holy Spirit that has given us a bigger tent, we need to get out of our comfort zone a little and welcome, especially true beleivers like you. The two groups that annoy me the most are those who can't recognize good change- growth and those who want change for it's own sake-liberals.

    Goral

  • Guest

    more on Our Father and Holding Hands and the TLM

     

    when my children went through Novus Ordo Altar training, they were told to come and hold hands with the priest and deacon.  My son protested, saying it was incorrect.  The deacon instructing insisted.  My son looked at me for guidance and I told him to obey at present, and we would get it straightened out later.  I talked with the deacon and sent USSCB faq page (since then removed) stating that holding hands was not the preferred posture.  The Bishop when he comes never engages in any hand holding. 

     

    I never got a good response.  All I was told is that 'well, here in this parish this is what we do'.  It seems that there is a great (albeit exceedingly weak) defense of 'tradition' while 'Tradition' is easily ignored.

     

    This is an example of the mindset of the post conciliar church.

     

    We have since begun attending the TLM (traditional latin mass) and the grace of God has poured forth with miracles in my family I would never even have dared to pray for!  I never ever have to worry about the mass anymore — my prayer is that it become more readily available that others may receive from God what I have and am receiving.

  • Guest

    The understanding I have is that holding hands with each other before becoming intimate with the Holy Eucharist is a reversal of importance. It is the out flowing of the Grace received in the taking of Communion that finds us serving each other. To connect with our brethren before receiving Jesus is to misalign the priority of the two greatest commandments. As in the sign of peace we are making right with those around us, not asking how their day is going. This is the acknowledgement of the need of forgiveness before approaching the altar of the Lord, not the concern of charity and mercy in our lives. This is another "innovation" that BXVI has considered rearranging because of the close proximity to the Eucharist, making the “sign” too casual and breaking up the honor and attention given to the Sacrifice on the Altar.

     

    Is this a correct understanding or am I off kilter? 

    "Do not try to please everybody. y to please God , the angels, and the saints. These are your public. If you are afraid of other people's opinion, you should not have become Christian." St John Vianney

  • Guest

    I enjoyed your article, Heidi.  I am a 28 year old cradle Catholic and I teach high school CCE & Confirmation (we use the Life Teen model).  I appreciate where many come from regarding the use of the Latin Mass (I have several friends who still insist upon it, and respect my preference for a Mass with music I hear on the local Contemporary Christian radio station).  I remember once at a Life Teen training conference, a priest said "We are so concerned about teens being irreverent in Mass that we've lost sight of the fact that they find it irrelevant."  This quote struck me.  I know some teens whose parents raised them attending Mass in Latin, and that remains their preference.  Yet, living in Houston where the likes of Joel Osteen and the evangelical Protestants are very persuasive to these teenagers, it is a helpful tool to maintain the sacred beauty of the liturgy while still speaking their "language" so to speak.  I know some may find this appalling or offensive, but it works.  Teens have developed a deeper love of the Eucharist and are inviting their non-Catholic friends to Mass. 

    May we continue to journey in holiness together – Kristan

  • Guest

    Dear Ms. Saxton,

    Here is a link with information regarding the citation you are looking for

    http://www.ewtn.com/expert/answers/holding_hands_at_mass.htm

    EWTN is not the only place that you can find the reference to

    "Notitiae 11 (1975) 226.  [Notitiae is the journal of the Congregation in which its official interpretations of the rubrics are published.]" I have been told that Notitiae is not required reading for bishops and priests but  that they are required to follow and implement any of its instructions.

    This is common knowledge for any Catholic who studys the faith on their own due to a lack of formation given in just about any diocese. It saddens me that at Catholic Exchange so many people come here for hopefully a source they can trust but get opinions instead. 

    If you ever go to a mass that is concelebrated with many preists, you will notice that they do not hold hands either, I suspect it is possible you may see it in a very liberal diocese.

    Holding hands during the Our Father is an expression of unity which we as Catholics find in the reception of the Eucharist. The time at which we recite the Our Father during mass has a significant meaning in that we are asking God to heal any division (disunity) between us before we all come together in this moment of unity when we recieve our Lord in communion. The verse "as we forgive those who trespass against us" has a strong meaning at this point, when we say this we are ackowleding a disunity whcih may exist and we are asking God for healing before we recieve Him and come together in the ultimate act of unity.

    As for people who are in RCIA, not Catholic, or not in a state of grace the desire for the unity which we recieve in the Eucharist should move them forward with wanting to bring Christ closer to their lives and learning more about the Church that He gave us and to follow its teachings. This desire can be weakend when another sign takes the symbol of unity in mass. The same can be said about people coming up for a blessing during commion in the event that they are not able to receive.

     

    As you continue your faith journey you will learn that faith is a choice and not a feeling. Our feelings can betray us an lead us away from the truth. You are a person of influence and I read most of your articles, I just wish that at this point you were better formed in the faith before writing so much. I am a catechist that is very devoted to what I do and I had to wait and study many years before I started teaching because any information that I pass on could lead others astray which is the last thing in the world I would want to do.

     

     

    God bless,

    Mark Garcia

  • Guest

    intresting article thanks for the prespective.

  • Guest

    Heidi, I am also a convert. I have yet to experience a 1962 Latin Rite Mass, but will in a couple of weeks when our Bishop celebrates one on the Feast of the Assumption.  I have to admit that I am eagerly awaiting it.  In preparation I purchased the Angelus copy of the 1962 Missal and already the notes in it have enriched my participation even in a Novus Ordo Mass.  I have to say that part of what lead me in the direction of the Catholic Church was a dissatisfaction with the lack of reverence in the Protestant churches I attended.  The fact that Protestant worship was becoming more and more congregation centered and entertainment based was another source of discontent.  It's not WHY I became Catholic, but it certainly made it easier for me to begin reading books like Evangelical is Not Enough, Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail, and ultimately the early Church fathers, Chesterton's Orthodoxy and Scott and Kimberly Hahn's Rome Sweet Home. 

    I have been fortunate to have landed in a parish that is relatively conservative in its approach to liturgy.  We don't have dancing girls, we have at least two Masses a weekend with the organ, chant is not unheard of and Latin makes an appearance on a frequent, although not continual basis.  Sure we still have to put up with Marty Haugen music on occasion, but we also get to sing the O Salutoris, and the Pange Lingua on occasion as well.   

    Did this take some getting used to?  Sure, and I imagine it did for converts like St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, G.K. Chesterton,  and others who converted in the pre-Vatican II era.  What saddens me as a convert is the number of cradle Catholics who don't understand their faith, who don't even know what the Church teaches about the Eucharist, who don't understand that the Mass is a sacrifice, not an hour long entertainment.  I assume that as a convert you do understand much of that, but it sounds like you think that people wouldn't convert if the path led them through a Tridentine Mass. 

    You are probably not aware of the huge numbers of people who converted to the Catholic Church in the years immediately preceding Vatican II, all of whom converted in the context of the Tridentine Mass.  I suspect that more people would be interested in conversion if the local Catholic parish didn't so often look like a badly done version of Protestantism.  I've often said that if I wanted Pentecostal worship (I grew up Pentecostal) I wouldn't go to a Catholic parish for it because even charismatic conferences at Steubenville couldn't hold a candle to traditional Pentecostals for hoop and holler.  If I wanted contemporary music I wouldn't go to a Catholic parish either because frankly Marty Haugen can't hold a candle to the likes of Michael Card or other CCC artists.  However, I became Catholic because I truly believed what the Church teaches is true and because I really wanted the Eucharist.  I love reverence, the more of it the better and if bringing back the 1962 Mass will also cause some of the more reverent spirit to spill over into Novus Ordo Masses I'm all for it.

    I would really recommend you get your hands on a copy of the Angelus edition of the 1962 missal and read to the participant in the Mass (on the edge of the pages).  I think it will encourage your heart and also encourage your participation in Mass no matter which way it is celebrated.

  • Guest

    Mr. Garcia, thank you for writing. While a bit condescending in points (I assure you that if I based my faith on feelings rather than fact, I would never have joined the Church in the first place), I appreciate you took the time to find a citation for me.

    The EWTN quotation you sent to me refers to an instance where the holding hands during the "Our Father" takes the place of the sign of peace. I have not seen such a thing happen … one usually follows the other. (On a side note, I do not understand how "bishops and priests" may be expected to follow and implement" the instructions of the Notitiae without it being "required reading.") 

    I also appreciate the emphasis placed on not refraining in a way that is alienating to those nearby. I've always wondered how pulling away in horror is more "liturgically correct" than a clasped hand.

    I've heard the argument that the more "intimate" (holding hands) should not precede the less intimate (sign of peace). Those who make this argument never bring up the point that in the earliest forms of the Mass, St. Justin Martyr offers this instruction: (Apol., I, 65) "When we have completed the prayers we salute one another with a kiss [allelous philemati aspazometha pausamenoi ton euchon], whereupon there is brought to the president bread and a cup of wine." (Catholic Encyclopedia, under "Kiss of Peace.") Some argue that this kiss of peace takes place outside the liturgy … and well it might … but what St. Justin describes here sounds an awful lot like the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

    In addition, there is the matter of spiritual authority. Why is it that moderately informed individuals (on CE and elsewhere) hold themselves up as "experts" in matter of liturgy, better able to interpret what is and is not appropriate than their own bishops?

    Each bishop has authority within within his own diocese, to interpret and apply the directives of the bishops in communion with the Holy Father. If the bishop and priest, after reading the GIRM and other relevant liturgical writings, have not instructed the faithful to refrain, why not?

    Perhaps more to the point, if my bishop and my pastor (both learned men) have not seen fit to stop this "abuse," who am I to hold myself up as an "expert" above them? And if holding hands were such a horrible abuse, why does the USCCB not come out definitively against the measure?

    Catholics often accuse Protestants of "Bibliolotry." I wonder if there comes a point where we fall into the same error by taking onto ourselves the interpretation of the written word, thereby usurping the teaching and administrative authority of those God has placed over us.

    God bless you, brother.

    Heidi Hess Saxton Editor, "Canticle" Magazine Blogroll

  • Guest

    Heidi,

    I agree that I could have better fine tuned my statement that the mass is "an intellectual endeavor of the will".  I thought about that after I posted the comment.  I don't have the opportunity many times to work extensively on my posts.

    That being said, I do understand Theology of the Body, etc….I know that we receive the Eucharist into our bodies via our mouths.  (Eucharistic adoration is not enough.)  However, if one expects lightning every time or even ever after receiving our Lord in the Eucharist, they have a false understanding of the effects of worthy reception of the Eucharist.  What I meant is that belief in the Real Presence is not dependant upon feelings.  It is through faith powered by grace that we know Jesus is fully present in the Sacred Species. 

    Many Catholics leave the faith because they expect to "get" something–emotional–out of the mass.  The liturgy is not about feeding one's emotions and feelings.   After mass, as I stated, we can hug, kiss, and express these things.  Of course, please remember to bring your body to mass in order to fully participate.

  • Guest

    Hi, Merrylamb!

    I smiled when I read your observation about the pre-Vatican II converts. In the original version of my article, I acknowledge the same thing. God's grace is amazing and abundant, pouring out upon His children exactly what they need, when they need it.

    I agree about Michael Card vs. Marty Haugen, too. I've often wondered why he doesn't convert — his theology is very incarnational.

    I agree wholeheartedly with much of what you have to say. The Eucharist is the Church's single best argument to the "why convert?" question. We can argue theology with those outside the Church until the proverbial cows come home. But there always remains the simple question: "What will you do with Jesus? Neutral you cannot be! Someday your heart will be asking, "What will He do with me?"

    Reverance is as much to do with one's intention as anything else — including whether the words we are saying are spoken in Latin or English or Swahili, or what we are doing with our hands when we say them. The whole point of this article (which seems to have escaped most people) is being aware of how our religious identity affects what we see and hear, and to make allowances for those around us who are processing things a bit differently. That is the way of love, and of reverence.

    God bless you!

    Heidi Hess Saxton Editor, "Canticle" Magazine Blogroll

  • Guest

    Dear Ms. Sexton,

    Bishops and priests are not above the laws of the church. We are Catholic because we are the same in each time and place. Now some people are stronger leaders than others when it comes to enforcing church laws and directives and they do so. I recognize that not all Bishops and priests come from the same mold but at their ordinations they do make prmoises to uphold church laws nd to the Supreme Pontiff. I undestand that they are just human and imperfect just like the rest of us but that should not stop them from occassionally giving minimum effort. In dioceses where the GIRM matters you see the faith flowering and vocations increasing and where the GIRM does not matter you see the opposite. The Holy Father is constantly reaching out to those of us who want to see and end to liturgical abuses and we just want our bishops and priests to live out their vocation in union with him and not independently of him. If Benedict XVI and the Bishops in union with him approve something, then I am right there with them. If a bishop ignores the Holy Father then I will not support that bishop either. We are always obigated to obey the highest authority and have no obligation to obey someone that that breaks ranks. I live in a country were abortion is legal and I guess a person could say that I should respect my leaders and support it too since God gave them  to me. However, I will not do that since I must always obey the higher law and instead I will always pray that whoever leads me whether in the church or in the secular world will do the right thing. I know abortion is taking things to the extreme but right is right and wrong is wrong.

    Our bishops and priests are under a huge amount of pressure in an increasingly secular world. I don't think I can begin to imagine the number of complaints they get asking them to conform to the secular.  I know that they are just human like you and me and they all need our constant prayers and support.

    Sorry about earlier if you thought I was condescending. I do respect you and hope that you might take some comfort with knowing that most of my best friendships started off on the wrong foot. Take care and have a blessed week.

     

    God bless,

     

    Mark Garcia

  • Guest

    In the Vatican II document the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy #22.3 it states: "Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may ADD, remove, or change ANYTHING in the liturgy on his own authority."  Since holding hands is not mentioned in the rubrics for the liturgy, wouldn't this be something that is added and therefore forbidden by the Constitution?

  • Guest

    Mark,

    I had a similar experience to yours with regard to my "fitness" to teach. (You alluded to years of prep before becoming a catechist.)

    I, however, was the prideful one.   Years ago, a priest asked me and my husband to lead Engaged Encounters.  I was all for the opportunity.  I later realized it was my pride that pushed me forward.  My husband said, "No" to the invitation.  He reasoned that we had only been married 5 years and at the time he was not Catholic. (He converted 5 years later.)  He felt like we did not have proper authority, knowlege, or experience for the grave responsibility of guiding young couples as they prepared for the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. I was very angry with him at the time.  Now I know he was right!

    After 21 years of marriage, I  feel more unworthy to go before engaged couples than ever!  In addition, I have 10 children, with baby 11 due in Dec, and almost never set myself up as an authority on parenting.  I can share my experiences, but always with the caveat that "God will show you how best to parent your family."

    Even when I taught 8th grade Faith Formation last year, I expressed a great fear to the children.  I asked them, "Do you know what my nightmare was last night?"  They replied, "That we'd be a horrible class!"

    I exclaimed, "No!  I was afraid that I would not pass on the truths of the faith, faithfully."  And, I told them that if I was ever unsure of something that came up in class I would NEVER give my opinion but rather research the subject and get back to them.

    Passing on the faith is a grave duty.  It requires charity and humility.  I am not an authority on this website and I know you recognize that you aren't either (which is why you provided a citation for your statement).  We're just readers trying to connect.  Those in authority, such as the published authors on CE must write with great sensitivity for the truth and for readers.  Opinions aren't good enough when people are seeking the truth.  I think that is a point you are trying to make.

    It is tough on a website such as this to separate out facts from opinions at times.  With regard to matters of faith and morals and the liturgy, utmost care must be taken by authors not to lead people astray by misinformation of by lack of charity.

    Peace!

  • Guest

    Mr. Garcia:

    You know, I really don't mean to be obtuse about this … I'm not clear about what "law" you are referring to that the bishops are failing to uphold. The case does not appear to be as cut-and-dried as you suggest.

    I'll leave you with two quotes from the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.

    From  par 9:  "Following 'the norms of the holy Fathers' does not, therefore, mean preserving only what we have received from our most recent ancestors. It means understanding and evaluating all the periods of time and ways of thought in which the one faith of the Church has been expressed in terms of the widely differing human cultures formerly obtaining in the Semetic, Greek, and Latin worlds."

    From Par 21: "However, it is for the Bishop's Conference to adapt the postures and gestures here described as suitable for the Roman Mass, so that they accord with the sensibilities of their own people, yet remain suited to the meaning and purpose of each part of the Mass."

    Under the par concerning The Lord's Prayer (56.a.) it says simply, "The priest invites the people to pray, and all should say this prayer with him… The invitation, the prayer itself … and concluding acclamation by the people should be sung or spoken aloud." While the Rite of Peace refers to "word and gesture," no mention is made of gesture in the above paragraph. Consequently, nothing is being changed or added, since it is the words of the prayer, and not the actions that accompany them, that are prescribed.

    As I read this, it would seem that so long as no words are added or changed, and our conference of bishops has not ruled on the practice, no law is being broken here. This would be particularly true in those cases where a bishop has been asked to address an issue, and has not forbidden a practice. Obviously this would apply to actions that reflect a sober and reverent spirit, condusive to worship (as interpreted by the pastor and bishop). The key word, as someone rightly pointed out, is reverence — both interior and exterior.

    I find the generalizations that people make here about "alive" parishes following the GIRM/following the Latin form, etc. unpersuasive. My parish — St. Andrew in Saline, MI — is one of several vital parishes in the area. And (surprise) we do hold hands during the Our Father. Likewise, my parish in Southern California was one of the most vital and active parishes in the area. And yet, nay-sayers could make the point that the fact that these parishes are full is evidence that people are getting what they need not only spiritually, but emotionally as well.

    Bottom line: I do wish people reading this article would take to heart the idea that two faithful (and reasonably well catechized) Catholics can hold diverse opinions on a subject. Oftentimes it is not that the other person is ill-catechized, but that the person is processing the information in a way that is consistent their religious identity. Someone once described this to me as a "paradigm shift." Similarly, two people can read a Bible verse and interpret it very differently.

    I've really got to sign off now … my husband is home, time for dinner to the table. God bless!

    Heidi Hess Saxton Editor, "Canticle" Magazine Blogroll

  • Guest

    Thank you for your article, Heidi. What it means to be Catholic differs for each of us and is dependent on so many factors. There is room for all of us here.

     

    As for holding hands during the "Our Father," some in our parish do, some don't (in general, I don't but once again, it is because I wasn't brought up doing so.). The majority that do so hold hands with members of their own family. If one wants to join hands in prayer with their own family, I truly have no issue with it. I can understand how holding hands with strangers (even though we are brothers and sisters before the Lord) might make some feel uncomfortable.  

    Best wishes,

    Patrice 

  • Guest

    Jgreenlee's post is the impetus for this response.  He mentioned prostrating ourselves like the Muslims with what came across as contempt.  Prostration is not exclusively Muslim.  What do you think the people who "fell on their faces" before Jesus in Scripture were doing?

    I realize it's a "side-issue" to the article, but fyi: I am both a convert and re-vert.  When we moved to my current parish, the priest was (I thought at the time) balanced between the "new" creativity and the "old" tradition.  However, he had a real problem with my genuflecting before receiving Jesus in Holy Communion.  Once, in private, he got a bit "hot under the collar" about "people who are more catholic than the Pope" and related that to my genuflections, demanding that I "compromise".  Since our conversation was private, I responded with: "Father, I'm not trying to be more catholic than anybody.  It seems to me that, if we really believed what we profess–that we are actually receiving Jesus Christ, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity–in the Eucharist, the only sane, logical response would be to receive Him flat on our faces on the floor!  Since that is not practical in a Mass with over 1,000 people, I am compromising by merely genuflecting." 

    Lastly–and this does relate to the article–a major factor in my return to the Church was a growing dissatisfaction with the "Jesus-is-my-best-bud" mentality of the Fundamental/Evangelical sects I was involved with.  I was looking for more reverence, that "Otherness" quality I remembered in Catholicism.  Amazingly, I found it—not in the Tridentine Mass (which now leaves me cold), but in the Novus Ordo!  It seems that Jesus really DID want to become my "best Bud", but in a truly authentic way that those without the Eucharist will never understand. 

  • Guest

    I really enjoyed reading the excellent comments on this board, especially elkabrikir.  I just wanted to add that although I'm delighted that the laity will have more access to the  the 1962 missal, I'm even more excited by what this liturgy will do for the priesthood, which as we know is under diabolical attack.  A priest friend of mine confided to me that he says the Novus Ordo every day (out of obedience), but on the weekend he is allowed to say the traditional liturgy.   He looks forward to saying it because it reinvigorates him and helps his spiritual life tremendously.  I pray there will be many more priests like him.  As Father Euteneur, head of Human Life International, once said it will take the church militant to combat the culture of death.

    P.S: I loved the picture in your article!

  • Guest

    wow– all of this ws generated in one day! I am so happy to be Catholic with all of you! The post from "cooky" made me think of the reactions of some of the visitors at a wedding Saturday at St. Joseph's, what with all the stand up, sit down, kneel or don't kneel– and also think about Garrrison's Keilr's program this weekend, where he mentioned going into a Lutheran church "where they just sit there" and having the impulse to kneel because he had a prayer he wanted to offer and felt that somehow kneeling might help the prayer–  his story was funny and meaningful as always-  But all of that brings me to our various postures during Mass, their importance and the importance of catechesis about the liturgy for all of us in the pews– I think it is neat when we all of one accord stand- moving to to our feet as one body. But I have recently been attending a parish where the priest didn't use to wash his hands, and would just direct the congregation to stand by gesturing to them.  Now thank God he is washing his hands, bu the people don't know to stand when he is done and must be told–it always feels so contrived to me, not like we are really honoring God by coming to our feet, but that we are just following directions– so i wish we would all learn more about when and how we do what and why. 

  • Guest

    I live in a very liberal diocese, and my biggest pet peeve is the lack of kneeling during the Eucharistic prayer.  Many of the churches in our diocese don't have kneelers, and even among those that do, many people continue to stand.  Luckily in my parish people do use the kneelers (except for during the Lifeteen Mass), but if my pastor had his way they wouldn't.

  • Guest

    I wonder how many saints could be accused of "spiritual hubris"? How about Pope St. Pius V, Were his restrictions on the liturgy to overbearing? I think it is a little off base to say converts have more to offer with new styles of worship than centuries worth of tradition that was good enough for the saints. You are right in that there is a difference between evangelicals and buddists but you missed my point. Novelties in the liturgy should not be tolerated because they make non-catholics feel better about our historical form of worship. I think I'll start attending a baptist church and requesting that we kneel occasionaly and if they don't agree I'll quote a relevant bible verse and accuse them of "spiritual hubris."

  • Guest

    Anzlyne:

    You are so right about saying all of us should know why we use various postures and say "x,y,z" prayers.  A priest gave a homiy recently at a church I had attended while traveling, in which he said how sad it was that Catholics didn't understan what they were saying many times.  He encouraged the congregation, in this case, to study the word "apostolic" in the Creed.  (Which led to a great homily on our own apostolic "famliy tree".  Which bishop confirmed you? Who ordained him? Under which pope, etc….down through the centuries.  Of course we all go back to the apostles.)

    Now to address your point of priestly hand washing.  It is required of the priest, but that's not my point.  Read Exodus 30:17-21.    I was so very excited years ago during a bible study on Exodus when I learned that our Catholic tradition of the priest saying, "wash away my sins and cleanse me of my iniquity" before offering the Sacrifice of the Mass actually has its roots in Exodus.  The practice is thousands of years old!!   "The Lord said to Moses, "YOu shall also make a laver of bronze…for washing….With which Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet…when they come near the altar to minister, to burn an offering by fire to the Lord, they shall wash with waster, lest they die…."

    I stand by my very first comment posted, that we all could benefit from ongoing study of scripture by reading books on specific subjects such as Scott Hahn's The Lamb's Supper.

    Peace!

     

  • Guest

    Greetings Heidi–

    I agree with your statement that two people can read something and interpret it differently.  I am referring to the citation by Fr. Edward McNamara that was refered to in your article.  Although I see not even one statement in support of hand holding (except perhaps within your own family) there are many, many reasons he discourages it. Re-read with careful attention to each paragraph.  Listen to what he is saying.  Please, read me out to the end.

    Although I whole heartedly agree with all Fr. McNamara's objections to hand holding during the Our Father perhaps the reason most bothersome to me is the fact that it is all too common to begin the recitation of the Our Father while we are still scrambling around, smiling at our neighbor, settling the siblings who would rather squeeze to distraction (rather than hold), and assuming the twister positions required at the end of the pew while we are supposed to be lifting our hearts up to God our Father!  I respectfully close my eyes and assume the normal prayer position of folded hands and have actually had a person pry my hands apart in the middle of the prayer.  How nice of them to be so inclusive as to include those who prefer to "follow the universal customs of the Church"(quote from Fr. McNamara) whether they like it or not!  Incidently, we have only half of the twister positions in our former parish, as our priest instructs us to "join hands and to reach across the aisle", eliminating two end rows of twisting and at the same time making us feel all the more united.

    Although the mere act of "our singing or reciting the prayer in union (already) expresses"  the "family union of the Church" (Fr. McNamara), it is the receiving of Holy Eucharist which is the ultimate union we share with each other and with God. Implying that holding hands during the Our Father is "the sign of unity" (from Heidi's article) is theologically wrong. 

    How can being a part of a mass of people coming up together to receive intimate union with the body, blood, soul and divinity of our Risen Lord, Jesus our Savior, the Zealous Lover of Our Souls not be the ultimate union we could possibly have this side of heaven?  This is, at the same time, both a very vertical union (with God) and a horizontal union (with each other).  Jesus's love for us is so great that he found a way to remain with us (and indeed within us) here on earth throughout time.  Not even the angels receive such a gift of intimate union with the One that they adore!  This beautiful gift that we receive is a mystery, the depths of which we cannot fully fathom.  We can only gain a deeper awareness of it as we fall more and more in love with Our Lord.  And as we do so, we are inclined to see Christ in all those around us and a desire increases in us to love one another with the same love that Our Lord has for each of us.  This is indeed how "we stand together as one family in Christ" (Heidi) in the Catholic Church.  Non-catholics do not have the real presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, so the Our Father is indeed presumably their sign of unity.  When a person becomes Catholic it's perhaps time to do a little adjusting and updating of their religious identity.  Now you are Catholic.  Now you have a fuller expression of unity.

    The practice should stop if for no other reason than because it sows at least some confusion among the faithful about where the ultimate unity exists.  It should stop precisely because of that.

  • Guest

    Honestly I have very little issue with handholding.  It seems like a lagitimate local custom that probably arose spontaniously in small parishes and was thought 'cute' and thus imported to larger ones.

     

    Unless there is definitive direction via the magisterium that it must stop, of which I am unaware , it seems like an uncomely thing to bicker over.

     

    there are so many more agreavious and common liturgical abuses that this one seems like a waste of energy to bothered over.

     

    How about the many churches out there that neither have a crucifix displayed directly above or alternatley carried in and placed by the alter?

     

    How about songs sung with excited energy to the point of distraction as the third communion song during what ( although a song is allowed as an option in one place) is supposed to be the grand silence where people contemplate the fact that Jesus has just entered thier bodies and take time to commune with him.

     

    How about people other then ordained clergy reading the gosphel or giving the homily or some combination thier of?

     

    All of these things I've seen in more the a few parishes and all of them are strickly forbidden by the GIRM.  No one of them is probably as common as hand holding , but wouldn't it be better first to focus on getting to the point where we as a community honor the GIRM and then worrry about the things that are not specifically addressed.

     

    Incdiently how many parishes have you been in where gregorian chant has a 'place of pride' and all songs sung have approval of the local bishop as specified in the GIRM?

     

    Maybe we should worry about some of these things first before bothering about something that really has no standard.

  • Guest

    Fishman,

    in my opinion every abuse you mentioned goes hand in hand (pun intended) with hand holding during the Our Father.  It is part of the touchy feelly modern Catholic Church. (I mentioned examples in my first post.)  It's about you, Man, and your personal spirituality and how you feel about your relationship with Jesus and how your emotions can be stroked with as little cost as possible…as in the cross.

    There have been excellent posts by fellow CE readers explaining why this "seemingly" harmless local custom actually is an attack on the Eucharist.

    If you have a few hours, read all the posts!

  • Guest

    Heidi, I told you that you converts are reviving the Church. We're still commenting and this is not even about the hypostatic union. Nonetheless to those of us who love tradition, it's important because it reaches back to our ansestors. Afterall, we have the Communion of Saints. Good show.

    Goral

  • Guest

    I agree that the hand holding probably is in the same spirt.  My point is why not be generous and focus first on those practices that are offically condemed and remain as agreeable as possible about the issue the magisterium has not specifically addressed in full.  Surely we should request such clarification , but to argue amongst ourselves when there is no clear cut rule seems … unhealthy … perhapse even prideful.

    If people we first convience people to approach the mass properly then other minor issues will disapear on thier own. 

    Spending energy on hand holding seems something like treating a symptom rather then the problem.  I think the problem would be more efficently solved by first insisting on doing rightly those things on which there is no room for argument , before progressing to other practices in which there can at least be seen some glimmer of justification in as much as they are not offically condemed in the cannon.

  • Guest

    A few years back, we had our bishop clarify this for us, in a letter read at every Mass, that we are in a "vertical" orientation during the Our Father and just a minute later we are in a "horizontal" orientation for the sign of peace. So, our bishop said, we should not hold hands during the Our Father.

    People still did it and continue to do it.

    *sigh*

  • Guest

    Fishman I agree!  The Holy Spirit can work on people's souls through their intellect.  Therefore, an excellent ministry is one of buying and sharing apologetic literature. (The Catholic Company sells only truthful books that ar in line with Church teaching.)  I have learned more about my faith from reading–that's how I best take in information–than any other way.  (I read the lives of the saints, I read Church documents.  I read apologetic material, I read spiritual books (Interior Castle, Dark Night of the Soul, Imitation of Christ, Story of a Soul, St JOhn Vianney's sermons, St Franis de Sales, the church fathers, etc….), the Holy Scriptures.

    I have come to a deeper love of Christ and His Church as a fruit of my reading and, of course, faith is pure gift.

    A major of gift of this particular discussion on "hand holding" is that I have gone back to various sources to research the issue.  I know that when I next participate  at mass I will do so with increased piety.  (And actually I feel  as if my "emotions" have been stoked with more love and fervor for the Eucharist.  Therefore, I thank you CE readers for your insights and time spent on this issue.

    Finally, another lesson has been reenforced during this discussion:  If we disagree on a topic we must not be disagreeable.  Satan will use any hook to destroy people of good will from within.

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