Today I would like to talk about our posture and gestures during the celebration of the Mass. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal directs us on what we should be doing during the different parts of the Mass. This document is important for the simple fact that we can truly worship in unison throughout the entire world.
What is the GIRM?
The GIRM is an acronym for the General Instruction of the Roman Missal. It is the handbook for how to celebrate the Mass. While it’s not the only resource, most questions about the Mass can be answered by the GIRM.
It covers such things like the structure of the Mass, its elements and parts; postures, processions and gestures; silence and singing; liturgical furnishings; the role of the deacon, liturgical ministers, and laity, and much more.
The GIRM provides instruction for how to celebrate the Mass throughout the world. That’s why you can walk into Mass anywhere in the world and recognize certain elements . . . no matter the language, no matter the cultural norms.
Why is the GIRM important?
This sums it up: “Liturgy is a prayer like no other. It is the source and summit of our life as Catholic Christians. So let our words and actions, our prayers and music, our worship spaces and liturgical furnishings and art, be worthy of the profound mystery we celebrate.”(http://www.archdiocesesantafe.org/Offices/Worship/GIRM/English/GIRM.pdf)
Now, what does the manual directs us to do when we pray the Our Father during Mass? Well, we are to stand, but nowhere is it explained that we are to hold hands. Hence, the proper posture that we ought to hold is to stand and pray. Since there is no direct explanation that we are not to hold hands, it is generally accepted to allow individual church traditions to be continued in regards to holding hands while we pray the ‘Our Father’. It is not condemned but neither is it condoned.
While holding hands is allowed please don’t go doing acrobatics just so you can hold the hand of the gentleman in the other pew or to go on tapping the lady’s shoulder that’s standing next to you when she doesn’t extend her hand to hold yours.
Personally, I would like us to refrain from doing extraneous gestures that are not specifically spelled out for us to do in our official Manual on how to properly celebrate Mass.