Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Introductions and Hands

Tom and I are splitting Mass up every week, 
because of Simeon and the germ thing.
Tom usually goes Saturday night 
which is another parish in our cluster.
I usually go to our regular Mass at 10:30 on Sundays
Last week, I switched with him
(to be nice, I do that sometimes)
Well...the other parish does that thing at the beginning where you
are supposed to turn to your neighbors and 
introduce yourself.
No one introduces
Everyone just says "hi"
and people, (at least I) start to move our right hand
out to almost shake, but then pull back, realizing it's not "Peace" time.
This is so forced.
Does anyone really like to do this?
I don't, 
Don't get me wrong,
I love to talk
(I'm sure you've figured that out by now)
I love to smile and say "hello"
Just not right before Mass starts.
Not when I'm thinking, trying to pray, trying to ready myself 
for everything that is about to happen.
Because afterward, I'm thinking about 
what I'm writing right  now, 
how forced it is and that no one really 
"meets" anyone that way.
Wouldn't this be great to be done after Mass?
What about the "Our Father"?
(during Mass)
Do you hold hands with your neighbor?
Do you hold your hands up high, like the priest?
Do you hold them up to God?
do you do like me?
Hold your hands in prayer, to yourself?
I'm kind of private that way.
I have to say, I'm with Father Z!
(Click on Father Z)


  1. Ah! I'm so glad you posted this Jamie! The same discussion went on in the Little Catholic Bubble so months ago.

    I feel the same way you do. It feels forced and like you, I want to get centered on Christ and the Mass, not the person next to me. We're all there for the same thing, right? So why do we need to introduce ourselves like the person next to us is going to help us get through the mass or something? I understand it's meant as a community thing, but I agree, save it for after Mass!

    The Our Father...yes, for me, I close my eyes and put my hands together. If someone next to me is holding out there hand for me to hold it, all they have to see is that I'm already praying. I don't feel any closer to God by holding my neighbors sweaty/clammy/cold hand.

    Nuns don't pray this way. Monks don't pray this way. Why do they think the laity need this extra "help"?

  2. We are like you on both counts. My family and I don't like the intro thing for the same reasons you mentioned!! Also, we don't hold hands (too much fighting about who got to hold who's hand...) and we don't raise them either (I've heard that is a priestly posture and we're not priests) so we simply pray the Our Father and fold our hands. I guess I'm with Father Z, too!
    God Bless.

  3. Sorry, one more thing. My kids don't "get" why I don't want to do the hand holding thing during the Our Father. They think I'm being mean and say, "Everyone else is doing it!" It's so confusing to the kids.

  4. So, here are my thoughts...

    I don't mind saying hello if I am at my home parish and I know everyone. It is nice to greet everyone we see every week. It is like being at a celebration and we are all excited about the guest of honor. But we just moved and the church we went to Easter Sunday did this and no one said hi to us and it made me feel very alone.

    When I went to college Mass at the Newman Center was at 9pm. It was packed. During the Our Father everyone held hands. We stretched across the pew and we were one body of Christ celebrating together. There were Masses that I would cry at the sight of this. It was so beautiful to see young adults worshiping Our Lord in a world that is so contrary. Thus making this very personal to me. And we are human and we bring emotion and feelings to Mass.

    We hold hands as a family. If we are particularly familiar with a family in the same pew we hold their hands as well.

    I know the pendulum is swinging. We went totally wild after Vatican II and now we are reigning ourselves back in. Celebrating Mass is with a community. I am for being part of that community.

    I am now rambling, just wanted to share a different view.

  5. I hate to say it, but the hand thing can be so germy. A man sneezed in his hand and turned directly to shake hands with my husband. That put my husband in the awkward position of having to nod to him and not take his hand. The whole thing is uncomfortable- no matter what point in the mass it is. In addition, hand holding is not prayerful to me. It may be to others. I don't mean to take that away from them, but please don't ask me to participate. Yet, people grab my hand when I have my eyes closed and my hands folded! I am not trying to be rude. Just praying. I do not judge others who feel differently. Honestly. I am always afraid in these conversations that someone is going to be offended or think that the non-hand holders are snobs.

  6. In my church, our pastor always has a time for us to get out of our pew and go greet people. We've got about 600 in our church, and when we first started doing this eons ago, I felt a little uncomfortable, but now I only regret that it's not a long enough time for me to say hi to people on the other side of the church.

    Can you tell I like to meet people and talk??? :)

  7. Thankfully our Church doesn't do a greeting time at Mass... I know I'd hate it if they did. It's hard enough to not be distracted when praying and I need that time at the beginning to pray!! And depending on my morning, calm down a bit! ;)

    I never hold hands with people. Never. Sometimes I'll close my eyes if I think someone is going to try & hold my hand, or I'll hold my hands close to my body.

    I hold them up, not at hight as the Priest does though, usually about shoulder height.

    I love Fr. Z!! :)

  8. My kids asked a while back if we could, as a family, hold hands during the Our Father. We started doing that and the entire time they tried to see who could squeeze whose hand the hardest. Needless to say, we don't do it anymore.
    I too am uncomfortable with the greeting. Probably because we didn't grow up doing that in our parish and my current parish doesn't do it either.

  9. I, like Shelly, like to meet and greet people at church. For many years I volunteered as a greeter so I could see friends I have not seen in a while, shake their hands or even give them a hug. I loved that but do not care for the "forced" greeting during the service. That I feel is a time for worship and should be devoted only to God. That's just Odie

  10. I feel and act the exact same way you do.

  11. I've not heard of the meet and greet at the beginning. I don't mind saying a quick hi to someone I know, but once I'm in the pew I'm trying to settle down for prayer. I do wish people would stick around after instead of zooming off like their pants are on fire. It's hard to get to know people when they do that. I come from a Protestant background and I remember the social hour after church being so nice.

    The Our Father... holding hands is something we did as a kid, but when I converted the church I went to did nothing except be in a prayerful pose. I got used to that but when we moved, everyone holds up their hands. I heard at one point that the holding up of hands was to discourage holding hands but I can't remember where the source.

    On another note, the sign of peace is nice but I always cringe when I know we've been sick, and I really hate the thought of germs passing back and forth (not wanting to get someone else sick or to get sick again!).

  12. AMEN! The only hands I'm holding are my littles ones at Mass so they won't try to escape the pew :)

  13. Thankfully, we don't do the meet and greet thing at our churches (we still pendel between two, the one where we used to live and the closer one).

    As for the "Our Father", I asked a priest about this very topic a couple of years ago. I am not sure where his information was from, but he said not to imitate the priest by holding up your hands, just fold them in prayer. He said definitely not to hold hands, that is a Protestant thing. So I just fold my hands, as I was taught as a kid.

  14. Towers Family--I know I thought that if I were at my parish would it be would probably be better...but I know it makes others feel not OK, like visitors!

    Thanks for your opinion, I really just wanted to know what other people do and how they feel about it! SO no judging here.

    I do think though, that maybe too many things were changed for that "community" feel. I like the reigns being pulled back.

    We had a priest once that for daily Mass (that's how long ago it was, pre-children, when I was able to go to daily Mass! haha) would not do "peace" I loved it when he would do caused an extra time for reflection.

    SO Jessica--Why? Why do you hold your hands up? Is there a reason or are people just copying the priest? I've always wondered. Most people do what you do, hold their hands up. Is it that being "open" to prayer, to God?

    I have an older lady that I've been sitting by quite often, she goes to Mass with her daughter and her family and when it's only me and a couple kiddos, we fit in her pew. Well, anyway, she grabs my hand for the Our Father, I have no choice. I really don't like holding hands with people, especially because of Simeon and the whole germ thing, but I DO love her smile she gives me and how happy it makes I swallow my pride and do it and smile back, she always asks about the baby after Mass too.

    Kathleen--Oh my gosh, you made me laugh out loud!!! That is totally what would happen if we did that, I think they would come to fist a cuffs right in the pew and we'd all fall down!! haha!! My oldest daughter will copy people and hold my hand, and I really don't mind within our family, because, well, it's just a loving thing, right?
    I just don't want to make anyone if they are not wanting to do so....and I really don't want to either.

    OH, Shelly--I could just picture you visiting, wish I could really meet you someday!! I think that's it, it's uncomfortable when we don't know anyone and that's why it's forced...that's why I like the donut Sunday thing, visit afterward. Maybe if a specific question was given for us to ask...just "hi" is just so....forced.

    Odie--Now you are talking!!!! I love our greeter!! I actually look forward to seeing her every Sunday, it's the same woman, and she holds the door open for everyone, she has 10 children of her own and grand children coming to Mass and she always has a big smile and "Welcome"!! I could totally picture you doing that!!

    I think with all the distractions normal life has, even without 6 busy kiddos and the rush to get to Mass dressed and fed and looking half decent, well, I need that quiet time when Mass starts to ready myself.

    I love visiting a fault. my husband has threatened many a time to leave without me.

    Nicole--Me too!!! So often there is someone I want to say hi to and they zoom off, even just to introduce myself because we see them every week...but they zoom off. SO I totally agree.

    Interesting about the Our Father...It seems it's whatever people want to do, which, really is fine, I mean we are all there for the same reason. I just don't like to be forced to hold hands if I don't want to. (I sound like a baby) It's that germ thing, like the sign of peace....I have my hand sanitizer, have to now because of Simeon and if anyone says I'm rude for putting it on after the sign of Peace...well, I'll probably lose it and yell "I have a baby at home and he can't get sick!!!"

    It never fails, we always get sick 3 days after Sunday--it takes that long for the germs right?

  15. Tina Marie--Interesting what your priest told you...

  16. what a great subject to post about, Jamie Jo. I don't like the hand holding with strangers during the Our Father, but I do do it with my husband and daughter because to me it signifies to the three of us (my daughter!) that we are praying the prayer together, bowing our heads before Our Lord. It actually helps to get my daughter's attention focused which can be a difficult thing at times. The raising of the hands toward the end made me a little uncomfortable, but i will tell you, the three of us have started to do this refently, and I think it is because my daughter sees others doing it, and thinks it is nice. And, now, doing it, it doesn't seem that bad :) But I wouldn't want to do it with strangers. Maybe I'm a bit proprietary ;)
    The greeting when Mass starts -- no thanks. fortunately, they don't do that at our parish, but I've seen it elsewhere. I'm in prayer at the beginning of Mass or trying to bring myself into the presence of God and don't need to be making friends or smiling with strangers. They do that greet thing at the (non-Catholic) Evangelical churches.

  17. I haven't read the comments here, but for me personally I am uncomfortable with the "introductions" at the beginning of Mass and proceed to say hi to those around me reluctantly without offering my hand. I do try to smile though; I'm not a total grouch. LOL ;) Though we are usually in the cry room so it's not usually a big deal as it's the same group of families in there with us most weekends.

    As for during the Our Father, we were instructed by our Bishop to *not* hold hands. I was much relieved when we were informed of this in the Bishops letter. We now say the prayer keeping our hands to ourselves folded in prayer (this is how I do it) or to our sides with palms up.

  18. I TOTALLY do not like the introduction to others in the beginning. This is not how you are going to meet your fellow parishioner. Even after mass when there are do-nuts we always sit with the kids and are busy taking care of a two year old. At least I am.
    If you really really want to meet people, get involved.
    As a family, we sometimes hold hands during the Our Father prayer. Out of habit.
    I would love to get rid of the screens at our parish. so distracting.

  19. Why do I hold my hands up? lol.. thanks for putting me on the spot. ;)

    I guess I do it for 2 reasons. First, I joined the Church 3 years ago and was told in RCIA that's what you're suppose to do; hold your hands up but don't hold hands. ... That's the one thing I didn't question when I was looking into becoming Catholic though now I feel like looking into it more.. so thanks. :)

    The second reason is that I'm, at times, comfortable doing so. I was raised in a Protestant church and I'm the kind of person who will raise her hands up when singing and at times when I pray. I guess it's my way of offering myself to God - hands/arms lifted in worship & open to Him & what He has for me... it's hard to explain.

    The hardest part is keeping my mouth shut during the homily and not yelling out an, "AMEN!" at times. LOL!!!

    But yeah, basically I do it because that's what I was told to do.

  20. Hey Jamie and anyone else curious
    I'm protestant but married to a Catholic theologian so I ask a lot of questions like that.

    Protestants do hold their hands up as a way to feel closer to God. (I always found it to be a bit showy though. I'm from the mindset that my relationship with God is personal, but the Catholic mindset is that the relationship is personal and communal.)


    Holding the hands up is called the Orans Posture or Gesture.
    If you have time ... haha... you can read about it here:

    But basically Tina Marie's right, it's something the Catholic church has just the priest doing, usually.
    Husband explained it once and from what I gather, the Priest is the one lifting the prayer up to God, the laypeople are just supporting, so they don't (usually) do it.
    "It indicates his praying on BEHALF of us, acting as alter Christus as pastor of the flock, head of the body." via ewtn


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