Sunday, October 24, 2010


Click once or twice on photos to enlarge them!

I scratch my head on this one, not because of the location, obviously it is a special Mass in an auditorium for a convention of Marriage Encounter couples. But why in the world drag in "devotional" hand raising and hand signs of this movement during any part of the Mass. What's that all about? I scratch me head on this one!

This is a photo of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass at the recessional. While I have no problem with that aspect of the photo, what jumps out at me is that there is a second altar in front of the original altar, what some would call the pre-Vatican II altar. It is brought down many steps from the original altar, is pretty, but closer to the congregation and much lower, probably making it impossible for people to see in a full church even if you are three or four rows behind someone on the front. You can only imagine what those in the back see of this new altar, nothing! But they can still see the higher original altar in all its glory. All its accoutrement are to bring you eyes to it, as it should be. The new altar is an after thought and in no way compares to the original. Thus the symbolic statement being made is that Mass on the new altar is downgraded compared to Mass on the High Altar. We've dumbed down the Mass and the new altar is a symbol of it. But the new Mass could have just as easily been celebrated on the High Altar and ad orientem. Liturgists, not church documents, demanded what you see here with the new altar.

Holding hands in private or devotional prayer came in vogue in the ecumenical 1960's and through the Charismatic movement. Prior to that, it was not a Catholic custom to hold hands when praying, one's hands were folded together. Then someone got the wise idea that wouldn't it be just "neato" to hold hands during Mass, in particular at the Our Father and to show our unity even join the two sides of the church by crossing the aisle. How awesome! But no where in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal is this novelty to be implemented. What is the liturgical significance of this during the Our Father? I scratch my head!

On this one, I look more at the architecture. Evidently the congregation sits on three sides of the altar meaning that two groups view the altar from its side. But look at the "Lincoln Blocks" construction of the altar and ambo (behind the altar). I wonder how the ambo appears when one is seated directly in front of the altar? The altar is a table emphasizing "meal" but the primary aspect of our salvation is the "Sacrifice" which seems to be diminished in this photo.


SqueekerLamb said...

I was attending Mass in a different city about a year ago. When the time came to recite the Our Father, I was jerked out of my deep prayer and folded hands by the lady on my left basically insisting that I hold her hand. So I did, so as to be loving to her even though I didn't feel like holding hands.

If I'm ever in that situation again, I'll probably hold hands...but I won't like it. If I want to be ina charismatic prayer group, then I'll join one.

takosan said...

As I went through your pictures, all I could think was ... standard.

The "new" (post VII) altar at my parish is several steps below the still intact and beautiful high altar and, especially at the last Mass on Sunday, hand holding and singing with your hand in the air (accompanied by the band) is the norm. Sigh.

The ambo behind the altar is a new one though.

Anonymous said...

last picture looks like a methodist service ang church

Marc said...

Why do priests not bother to actually tell the people not to hold hands during the Our Father? Clearly, the people lack proper catechesis on this point. I don't blame them for not knowing, I blame the priests for not telling them about proper rubrics.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Marc, the problem with coming down too hard on those who would like to hold hands is that there is neither a rubric saying it can be done or one that says it can't be done. What I suggest is that no one force someone to do it and that if it is an important piety for someone's family, that only the family unit do it.

Marc said...

I agree to a certain extent, Father. But, where there is no "black" saying that people should be holding hands, the addition of that into the rubrics falls outside the rubrics and is therefore an improper addition.

If people want the priest to only "say the red and do the black," that implies the priest should not add things into the rubrics. The people do not have the liberty to add things either.

I guess I'm saying that, since the rubrics are silent on the point of hand holding, that means that people are not to hold hands. I don't think the rubrics have to specify each thing the people are not supposed to do.

I'm sure there's some history here that I'm not aware of and that you are aware of, Father. So, I say all this with utmost respect and deference to you.

Gene said...

Holding hands during the Our Father is annoying enough. Just remain with your hands folded in front of you and ignore them. If they mention it after Mass, tell 'em it is a Liturgical abuse (which I was told by one Priest that it is).

What is even more annoying is the people copying the oracular gestures of the Priest by lifting their hands like this was some snake-tossing, hopping up and down charismatic event. I believe this could and should be addressed by the Priest. That seems to me a definite Liturgical abuse...or, at least, an inappropriate liberty.

Anonymous said...

Our parish can't get enough hand holding adn shaking. We even stand and shake everyone's hands before the mass as a warmup. We have an adult altar server who replaces 'His' in the Gloria with 'God's' in a singular display of public piety that is at least as distracting as it is vane.

I participated in RCIA a couple of years ago. Two events stand out in my mind. First was the only actual prayer session we had in the church. We were asked to pray for about ten minutes while considering certain ideas. It was one of the most enjoyable events of the session, to me. Unfortunately, the woman running the session admitted to the class how much she did not like it. Later she read a story of a young Brave, as in the Atlanta kind, who acted selflessly for his selfish tribe. He somehow ended up thrown from a cliff into a river only to be resurrected as an eagle. I was appalled.

Folks, this stuff we have is ALIVE. There is a living GOD out there who is mindful of us that we can reach through prayer. There are real stories of sacrifice and bravery that would curl the hair on your back. Anyone who has to embellish or modernised it does not understand it.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Confusion galore exists, and it is all about the loss of Catholic identity, discipline, spirituality and common sense. But we can and will turn it around! Fr. AJM

Anonymous said...

"Peace of Christ!" and then a hand-shake to nearest in the pew. Sign of peace issued to another and received from another, recognizing the rest of human kind in each other and asking forgiveness for transgressions made so as to worthily receive our Blessed Lord in the Most Holy Eucharist. Beautiful, no? But all that beauty and significance is lost when we've just spent the last couple of minutes lovingly holding that "other's" hand.