Catholic Husband

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Holding Hands During the Our Father

When I was going to Mass as a single man, I'd go to the 7:00am Mass on Sunday mornings. It was the best because it was quiet (read "peaceful"), it gave me a great boost to my day, and the Mass was about the Liturgy, not about everyone catching up with each other.

One of the things my wife has taught me about the Mass is why holding hands during the Our Father is a non-starter with her. It is a tradition in the American Church which has some tenure, but it's mostly wrong. A nice idea, yes. Liturgically, though, it's incorrect.

Holding hands is a sign of unity. Whether it's at a rally of some sort or on a logo for world peace, if people are holding hands, they're together. Heck, if you see a young man and woman holding hands, you suspect they're dating… or in a union of some kind.

The problem with this show of unity during the Mass is that we already have a sign of unity… the Eucharist. The Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, truly present in the Eucharist is what unites us. It pulls us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually into the Body of Christ, namely Him and His Church. So the hand holding is really just a cheap imitation. No sign could more truly or fully express the unity of the Catholic Church than the Eucharist.

Now, my wife and I will hold hands during the Our Father. But wait, didn't I just call that a cheap imitation? Not in this case. When we conferred the Sacrament of Matrimony on each other, and because it was blessed and witnessed by the Church, we now approach the Throne of God as one. "What God has joined together, let no man put asunder." So, as a married couple, our holding hands is an outward sign of this reality.

I'm not overly strict about this policy. When I'm home, my family always held hands, so I will with them. Of course, there is difficulty when other people reach out to grab my hand out of habit. My wife and I deal with this awkwardness in one of two ways. She puts her free hand over our joined hands and I put mine in my pocket.

I'm not saying you need to take this stance, but I think it's an interesting discussion on the Theology of Marriage. We are truly one and this outward sign is just one way we can remind ourselves of that reality.