Five signs we get wrong at Mass

When you should make the Sign of the Cross

sign+of+the+crossThe following excerpts come from a January 15 posting at

Bowing of the head:
[General Instruction of the Roman Missal] 275. A bow signifies reverence and honor shown to the persons themselves or to the signs that represent them.

a) A bow of the head is made when the three Divine Persons are named together and at the names of Jesus, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of the Saint in whose honor Mass is being celebrated.

Yes, every time Jesus name is mentioned, at any point during the Mass we are supposed to bow our heads. This also means, that when we sign ourselves with the sign of the Cross (since all three Divine Persons are named together) both at the beginning of Mass and at the end of Mass, we are supposed to bow our heads.

Bowing of the body:
b) A bow of the body, that is to say, a profound bow, is made to the altar… in the Creed at the words et incarnatus est (and by the Holy Spirit . . . and became man).

The only exception to this rule is on two specific feast days, when we do not bow at the waist but genuflect, namely the feasts of the Incarnation – Christmas and the Annunciation. As Christians, the very central doctrine of our faith is the Incarnation. Therefore, we reverence it every Mass at which the Creed is prayed with the bow of the body.

We used to genuflect twice every Mass, in reverence of this great mystery. Vatican II’s reforms attempted to elevate the reverence shown on the feasts of the Incarnation by changing all other days to bows. What happened instead is that people stopped bowing. We need to regain this for the sake of progress.

Striking the breast:
The Order of the Mass calls for us to strike our breast during the Confiteor (I confess to almighty God…):

I confess to almighty God

and to you, my brothers and sisters, that i have greatly sinned,

in my thoughts and in my words,

in what I have done and in what i have failed to do,

and, striking their breast, they say:

through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault;

then they continue:

therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin, all the angels and saints,

and you, my brothers and sisters,

to pray for me to the lord our God.

In the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, this rubric, “and, striking their breast…” reads, “and, striking the breast three times…” In which case, we would invoke GIRM 42 and say that traditional practice is three strikes, and no specific number is given so we should continue the practice of three. With regard to this number, however, clarification was given in 1978: ….Therefore, it seems that the breast is not to be struck three times by anyone in reciting the words, whether in Latin or another language, even if the tripled formulary is said (mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa).

One striking of the breast is enough.

(Not 14 (1978) 534-535, no. 10.)

So, regardless of traditional practice and for the sake of noble simplicity, whether we like it or not, the rule is one strike for three mea culpas.


Things we are not supposed to do but do

Making the sign of the Cross: 

An almost ubiquitous practice of making the sign of the cross at one particular point in the Mass seems to have cropped up without good reason. Almost all of us do it or have done it. Following the same penitential act, when we fail to strike the breast at all, we make the sign of the cross for no good reason. There is no rubric anywhere nor at anytime that has ever read ”making the sign of the cross the priest says… May almighty God have mercy…”

What seems to have happened is that the Extraordinary form, when it was the only form in use had us make the sign of the Cross during the Indulgentium, which is no longer a part of the rite. It has been dropped in its entirety. What remains is the small prayer prior to the Indulgentium, which is called the Misereatur.?Ignorant people knew that a sign of the cross was made after the Confiteor but did not know that that same sign was associated with a specific prayer. So, when the new order of the Mass was promulgated, they kept making a sign of the cross after the Confiteor?even though the Indulgentium?was omitted completely.

If you want to make the sign of the cross more, just go to Mass in the Extraordinary Form. There is simply no reason for it to be made in the Ordinary Form during the Misereatur.

hands-orans-postureHolding hands or using the Orans posture:

The vast majority of dioceses in the US have adopted one of these two postures during the Lord’s Prayer. It, however, ought not to be done. There is no posture given for us to adopt during the Pater Noster nor is there any traditional practice of any other posture. In the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, in fact, the congregation is silent for the entire prayer until the words, “sed libera nos a malo (but deliver us from evil).”

If you will notice, all those places where the priest prays on behalf of the people are the same places that the priest adopts the Orans posture (hands apart and palms up). The Lord’s Prayer, as I have just said, used to be prayed by the priest alone, and therefore, he used to adopt the Orans posture. It seems more of an accidental holdover then anything that he is still given the directive to adopt this posture, since everyone prays the Pater Noster together.

In 1975, some clarification was given on the practice of holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer. It was said that the holding of hands during the Our Father was not found in the rubrics and was meant as a sign of peace, but that there was another place designated for the sign of peace. Doing this takes away from the sign of peace that immediately follows the Lord’s Prayer, and therefore, it should not be done.

To read the entire posting, click here.


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  1. Clinton R. says:

    All this is a reminder why we need the restoration of the TLM as the Ordinary Form of the Latin Rite.

  2. R.B. Rodda says:

    The author of this article, Abram Muenzberg lacks the authority to say lay use of the orans is prohibited by the Church. It’s not, even though it drives the fundamentalist Catholics nutty when they see people doing it.

    • David Reed says:

      R.B. Rodda,
      you are simply wrong and here is how we know it:


      Not to mention lay people in the orans positions looks rather dumb!

      • R.B. Rodda says:

        Settle down. It also doesn’t say to pray the Rosary DURING the Mass but plenty of Tridentiners defend that practice too. Next?

        • R.B.,
          When the priest uses the orans position at Mass, that means he is praying as a priest on behalf of all of us, as in the Preface. Therefore, we should let him do his job. No orans for us – just him. (Notice he does not do it at the Glory to God because all of us are expected to pray it.)

          The orans position was first adapted by the Charismatics at their prayer meetings (not at Mass) but was wrongly carried over to the Our Father at Mass. On the other hand, there’s the dropping of the Amen, during private praying of the “Our Father.” (Both are no-no’s!)

          Rubrics have meanings, therefore they need to be followed.

          As for praying of the Rosary during the Tridentine Mass, it shouldn’t be done. But for people who have no missals, they do it because, frankly, they don’t know what else to do, especially if they don’t understand what’s going on. That is why people should try to obtain for themselves the Mass texts and translation and study the Mass, what the prayers and chants mean because they are integral to the Mass.

          That said, praying the Rosary during Mass isn’t exactly out of the realm of the liturgy, if you consider its contents. The Mass is the Sacrifice of Christ, even starting from His pre-incarnation, when people longed to be delivered from sin. (The Kyrie Eleison.) Next, the Glory to God (with the angels proclaming the Birth of Christ is the third joyful mystery, the Nativity.) His Public Life (the Luminous Mysteries, the Proclamation of the Kingdom and call for Reconciliation (the Readings). The Canon of the Mass makes present His Passion and Death (the Sorrowful Mysteries pointing to the Echaristic prayers and Consecration); the Agnus Dei (His Resurrection) and the Sign of Peace, Communion, and Last Blessing. (His Ascension and sending forth of the deciples). A beautiful Marian hymn is ideal as processional (maybe the Alma Redemptoris or Salve Regina) to remember the Assumption and Coronation of the Blessed Mother, both glorious mysteries.

          So you see, it’s not that the Rosary is anathema to the Mass, although it may be a matter of matching meditation of the different mysteries to what’s going on at the altar.

          But I prefer to use a missal.

          • Mackz formerly known as max says:

            Hmm… Mousey, some interesting points.

            However, the celebrant uses the “orans posture” during the Lord’s Prayer when ALL are saying it, so this does not fit into the theory that he only raises his hands when he’s “praying for us” and we’re “listening.”

          • Mackz,

            You are right to point out that the priest in the OF still takes the orans position even when ALL are praying the Our Father. Even the eminent canonist Dr. Edward Peters raises this issue up.

            But it’s still in the rubrics that only the priest (not even the deacon) should assume orans position. Go figure. Anyway, here’s Dr. Peter’s take on it:

            “…the orans position in Mass has come to symbolize priestly prayer on behalf of the congregation instead of prayer with it, then the rubrics should no longer call for the priest to extend his hands during the Our Father as if he is praying on behalf of the congregation. He should instead be directed to join his hands as he does for all other prayers said with the congregation. And if priests do not assume the orans position during the Our Father, laity will not imitate it. If the rubrics for Mass are changed to direct the priest to join his hands during the Our Father, priestly gestural symbolism will once again be consistent through the entire Mass, and the orans issue will probably resolve itself rather quickly.”

    • Abeca Christian says:

      Rodda I think I know who really are the real problem here. You are like a rebellious child, a rebel filled with anger, blaming and resentment. I read it in your comments against the more traditional element of the faith. It’s sad but its true. I tried giving you the benefit of the doubt in the past months but I read your last comment, it may have been subtle this time but it sure speaks volumes.

      • R.B. Rodda says:

        Has nothing to do with a “traditional element of the faith.” That’s your excuse to try and control others when it’s not your job. Your personal interpretation of the GIRM means absolutely nothing at all. It carried no authority. I honestly hope you realize that.

    • Rodda, you are wrong. Holding up the arms is for the Priest only during the Lord’s prayer, and at other times of the Ordinary Form of the Mass.
      Please see GIRM (General Instruction of the Roman Missal).
      In addition the Faithful are not to hold hands during the Lord’s Prayer.
      GIRM also states we are not supposed to do anything to draw attention to ourselves / be different from others.
      GIRM is approved by the Vatican and can be found on their web site.

      • R.B. Rodda says:

        Actually it’s you that’s wrong. You’re not the arbiter of what is allowed and what is not — nor is your personal interpretation of the GIRM. It’s up to your bishop.

    • Rodda, you are quite correct.

      Just because some guy (or gal) writes an article, is doesn’t mean it’s the law from Mount Sinai, nor the word from the Vatican.

      • max you are wrong. The Vatican does require that GIRM be followed. Apologize for confusing Rodda.
        You can find GIRM (General Istruction of the Roman Missal.)
        GIRM is the word from the Vatican.

        • MAX, actually, you are mistaken.

          Holy Mother Church makes no statement one way or another about this orans posture, as you will see from this quotes from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in their fun little Q and A section on the web:

          “Orans or Open Hand Prayer Posture

          “QUESTION: Many Catholics are in the habit of holding their hands in the ‘Orans’ posture during the Lord’s prayer along with the celebrant. Some do this on their own as a private devotional posture while some congregations make it a general practice for their communities.

          “Is this practice permissible under the current rubrics, either as a private practice not something adopted by a particular parish as a communal gesture?

          “ANSWER: No position is prescribed in the present Sacramentary for an assembly gesture during the Lord’s Prayer.”

          So there you have it.

          • R.B. Rodda says:

            Be careful. You might cause his head to explode. The need/desire of some to CONTROL others during the Mass is hideous. Sickening actually.

          • Ok but the point is Christ would not want us acting like Pharisees where we are more concerned with the law than with mercy, and that’s a fact! We too as Gentiles, Christians , the vine grafted in, not to become too haughty and I agree with some others that we are doing that when we overly concern ourselves with what people are doing in mass. I too have caught myself , and I don’t feel God wants his children squabbling. Most Catholics as they become deeper in te faith will research how to give the uproots reverence and due honor to Christ and will do as called to do. So let us just pray for all our brothers and sisters to come to that fullness of mass through Gods timing, not our forcing or pushing it.

          • Abeca Christian says:

            lets be realistic, no ones head is gonna explode. What do you do? Watch too much beavus and butthead stupid cartoons to assume that!

    • Rodda, who do you believe has the authority to add to or subtract from what is in the GIRM?

      • R.B. Rodda says:

        Who has the authority to interpret the GIRM? Certainly not you!

        Your bishop does!

        • Rodda, so then you would agree that the priest does not have the authority to interpret the GIRM either? That being said, I don’t think Bishops are needed to “interpret” the GIRM either. Really, Rodda, why would you need a Bishop to “interpret” statements like “stand up”, “sit down”, “kneel”, or to be able to repeat the prayers that are written there in plain English, or whatever Language it is printed in.
          I recall the Bishops announcing way in advance that a new wording of the Roman Missal was going to be used. Once it came out the same Bishops asked us to follow the new words and rubrics. Really, Rodda tell me what is so difficult about that? We either follow it or we don’t. What is to interpret? I have never heard of an illiterate priest. I really think that all of them can read and understand the words printed there.

          So again Rodda let me ask you a more direct question. Do you think that a priest has the right to “add to” or subtract from” the GIRM?

        • Rodda, anyone who can read, can interpret GIRM. It is not written in parables, or in a 2000 year old language.
          That is why all abuses of GIRM should be reported to the Diocese Bishop, and if that does not work to the US Papal Nuncio and the Vatican.

          • Abeca Christian says:

            MAC I like how you used the phrase “it is not written in parables” that is so true. If only people would set aside their bad will, what ever is complicated would diminish…

  3. Martin Barillas says:

    Any reason in particular for depicting Russian President Medvedev in an apparently Orthodox Christian liturgy?

    • David Reed says:

      I was wondering the same thing!

    • Medvedev is Russian Orthodox, same as Vladimir Putin.

    • Probably because the Orthodox make the Sign of the Cross about twelve million times during each Liturgy…

      • I have not read where either Medvedev or Putin are religious hypocrites like the American (allegedly) Catholic politicians. Putin’s publicity seems to promote respect for the Church, unlike American (allegedly) Catholic politicians.

        • Mackz formerly known as max says:

          Ha!!! Putin the essence of discipleship? You MUST be kidding! Tell that to all the dissidents he throws into prison at the drop of a vodka glass! You are hilarious! (Putin, on the other hands, is not …sadly.)

  4. ” The care shown in promoting the faithful observance of these norms becomes a practical means of showing love for the Eucharist and for the Church.” [ECCLESIA DE EUCHARISTIA #42] and “Priests who faithfully celebrate Mass according to the liturgical norms, and communities which conform to these norms, quietly but eloquently demonstrate their love for the Church.” [ECCLESIA DE EUCHARISTIA #52]

  5. Robert Lockwood says:

    Most of what is here I learned in the first grade seventy three years ago. Today the problem is that there is no instruction consistent with the GRIM and every priest and every parish and every diocese leads us differently. Until there is unity by the church leaders there will not be unity in the pew. Vatican II blew church unity out of the water.

  6. When in Catholic grammar school during the middle of the last century (!) I leaned to bow my head at the name of “Jesus”. I continue to do that to this day, anytime I hear the name. At Mass I am always surprised (and pleased) to find one or two others, including a priest now and then. It is a beautiful tradition and I wish more people would participate. I would rather bow my head a hundred times as worship to Jesus than hold hands during Mass as an artificial gesture of what, I’m not even sure.

  7. Rose Sweet says:

    Where some may see this as nit-picking rules and regulations, I understand ( and apppreciate!) that every physical action has great meaning. We speak a language with our bodies, and we all know that there are ways to speak to another, and with another, that can be confusing,unclear or even deceitful. We take care to read books on how best to speak to others in business and in intimate relationships; well, our “body language” in the Church community and toward Our Lord, his angels and saints, speaks volumes, too. I want my “visible and invisible” words to be the most pleasing at Mass and thank the Church fer helping me/us.

  8. What has happened to a genuflection to Christ in the Tabernacle?
    Giving all this attention of bowing to the altar in my opinion while ignoring Christ in the tabernacle, is a disgrace and no wonder only about 30% of Catholics believe in the Real Presence. This article failed to address this omission by the faithful and should be rectified by California Catholic without hesitation or delay!

    • That’s what I understood too. You bow to the tabernacle because that is where Jesus it. Not the altar. If all tabernacles were behind the altar as I think they should be then bowing to the altar would be correct.

    • Both are important.

      One should genuflect toward the Real Presence in the tabernacle, AND one should bow toward the altar, where the Eucharistic Sacrific is celebrated.

      For Mass, one needs an altar, but not a tabernacle — as you will see if you attend Mass at Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome with the Holy Father.

      He bows to the altar, kisses the altar, etc. — and has the tabernacle in a side chapel.

    • mrpkguy, I am not sure if you or others have witnessed this, but I often see people, (including parents, instructing their young children) genuflecting in front of the altar, in churches where the tabernacle has been removed to the side of the altar, and then casually walking past the tabernacle on their way out of the church without any acknowledgement of the tabernacle at all. I can only presume that they were taught to genuflect as children in front of the altar at a time when the tabernacle use to be behind the altar and were not taught that it was Jesus in the tabernacle which they were showing respect to and not the altar. So now that the tabernacle has been moved, they continue to genuflect before the altar and ignore Jesus in the tabernacle.

  9. Holding hands during the Our Father is so “Kumbaya”. I go to all lengths to avoid it but if the church is full I grudgingly do it. What’s with the “little squeeze” at the end?? I recently joined a church that does not hold hands, nor do they wave to every person in church during the kiss of peace (another distraction in the Mass that I find annoying).

    • Peggy, Don’t do anything at Mass with other people that you find annoying or distracting.
      Kneel when you are supposed to according to GIRM, etc.
      Hold your Missal or Prayer Book with both hands to avoid shaking hands.
      We are supposed to be at Mass to worship God.

      • Sometimes the “other people” behave like wild hogs on meth, and physically step on and push those who do not fall in step with their hand holding.

  10. Steve Phoenix says:

    And yet none of this was prescribed by Sacrosanctum Concilium (SC), not even the tantamount abolition of the Tridentine Liturgy, no where found in the text of SC. First hand witnesses at Vat2 (Card. Ratzinger, Card Stickler, Card Ottaviani, too many others to name) tell us the expectation was some small changes (as had occurred in the 1950′s) but they never could have conceived that Bugnini and Weakland (read his autobiography: these two were drunk with power and concocted a foreign liturgy entirely out of whole cloth, and Weakland is proud of it!). Yet Abp. Bugnini openly declared, “We must strip the Mass of all its Catholic elements..” in an effort to accomodate a interdenominational “New Liturgy to a Modern Age.” (SC also stipulates “The norm of the liturgy is to be in Latin”, the preferential use of Gregorian Chant as liturgical music, and the organ as the preferred instrument of accompaniment. Read it. Love it. Live it.) So now we have the confusion and rootlessness of an entirely human liturgy (as predicted by Anna Katerina Emmerich: read in her writings about a “strange liturgy that lacks the Last Gospel at the end of the Mass” in a new age of trial in the future Catholic Church), in which people don’t know if they should cross themselves or not, or what does any gesture even mean any more, now that kneeling and genuflection have become alienated from its own centuries-old liturgy? God is a God of order, not confusion (1 Cor 14:33), a basic rule of the discernment of spirits, and this disorder and confusion and noisy restlessness of the Nervous Ordo is patently obvious on its face.

  11. Frederick J Hass says:

    About that Orans Posture
    What is it? What does the GIRM say?
    The orans posture is one in which the arms are extended, It is an ancient Judaic prayer posture and in the Roman Catholic Church it has always been reserved for a priest during celebration of the Mass. The liturgical use of this position by the priest is spelled out in the rubrics and is specifically forbidden for a deacon.
    Ihe General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) provides liturgical laws governing how we celebrate the Mass of the Roman Rite throughout the world.
    It is appropriate to review the actual regulations on the orans posture.
    What does the GIRM say?
    First of all, nowhere in the current General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) does it say that the orans posture is recommended for the congregation during the Our Father. The orans posture is not only not required by the new GIRM, it is not even mentioned. In GIRM 43 and 160, the paragraphs dealing with the people’s posture during Mass, the only posture specified for the congregation at the Lord’s Prayer is standing. It says nothing at all about what people do with their hands. It does specify that during Mass, “A common posture, to be observed by all participants…” .Having some “participants” assuming the orans posture, and others not doing so, would be contrary to the Instruction.
    The orans posture has never been the custom in the Latin Church for the laity.
    In discussing the ICEL [International Commission on English in the Liturgy] revisions,the bishops specifically rejected the orans posture.

    Thus, it is improper and a violation of the GIRM for the laity to assume the orans posture during Mass.

  12. Rubrics are in place for a reason. If there is no mention in the GIRM that something should be done, it also means that nothing is to be added; such as, the laity adopting the Orans position or holding hands during the Our Father. No one has the right to change the liturgy. I believe that we are to genuflect to the altar (not bow) when the Blessed Sacrament is reserved on the altar.

    • Kenneth M. Fisher says:


      When the Blessed Sacrament is reserved on the altar, we are to genuflect on BOTH knees, and we are not supposed to turn our backs on the Blessed Sacrament on the altar. At traditional parishes you will witness persons walking backwards until they are out of the Church proper.

      God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
      Kenneth M. Fisher

      • Mackz formerly known as max says:

        “At traditional parishes you will witness persons walking backwards until they are out of the Church proper.”

        Oh, Kenneth, you always come up with doozies… here we were worried about the danger of GERMS and you now show us the danger of COLLISIONS.

  13. Father Karl says:

    As I wrote previously concerning the abuses found during Christmas Masses, many of the Ordinary Form Masses do not follow the rules. While blessing oneself during the absolution, or striking one’s breast three times can be termed an abuse, it is not as terrible as the orans position or the hand holding (even across the aisles) that is so common today. The kiss of peace IS Optional, but had I omitted it when I was at my former parish, I would have been totally black balled. And as I wrote earlier, while I was distributing Holy Communion, the congregation was still giving each other the sign of peace. The bishop still names each communicant, and one priest squeezes the hands of those receiving the Body of Christ.There is total choas, because for MOST of the modern day Catholic, the Mass is NOT a sacrifice, it is a meal, a picnic in the park. Until it is taught that at Mass we worship God, and NOT each other, these looney liturgies will continue. The little guidelines that are published by Rome will NOT be followed or enforced by many priests, and so the nonsence will continue. That is why I believe the TLM will survive, while the Mass of Pope Paul VI will not survive these turbulent times.

    • Where are the Bishops instructing and enforcing. Why can’t they appoint someone to go from parish to parish to straighten out the abuses like some of the saints did hundreds of years ago. At our parish we have an openly practicing lesbian as an EM, we stand for the Great Amen and sit for the, ” Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands..”. Everyone is holding hand for the Our Father or the hands up position. I email the Bishop on the EM and wrote to the parish committee. The only improvement is the lesbian EM is not sitting with her partner during mass.

      • lisag, are you writing about Sacramento’s St. Francis Church? No, they would not have been intimidated enough to have the lesbians not sit together.

      • Lisag, I don’t believe I am being called to be an EM, not because God made me a lesbian, but because God made me a KLUTZ.

    • Fr. Karl, I am now hearing a new phrase, usually mentioned by the cantor prior to the beginning of Mass, “Our “presider” for todays “Eucharistic celebration” is Fr. _____. Please stand for our opening song…. I have heard this at several different parishes, so I conclude that this phrase must be promoted by my diocese. What do you make of this? Only in Spanish do I ever hear the term “Santa Misa” (Holy Mass) used anymore.

      • If I may comment on the issue of using words such as “presider”, this sort of thing is a move towards transitioning faith in the Real Presense to faith in symbol. This movement wants to replicate what they think was the way things were in the second century. They do not seem to want to live in the present or in the eternity of Christ that the Real Presense provides us. It is in other words a move towards the sentimental and away from the actual.

        • Mackz formerly known as max says:

          The word “Presider” (rather than “Celebrant”) is perhaps used by some wellmeaning people to convey the truth of what Holy Mother Church teaches about WHO celebrates the Mass — it’s not the priest alone, with everyone else as audience.

          In the Catechism, for example, we read:

          1140 It is the whole community, the Body of Christ united with its Head, that celebrates. “Liturgical services are not private functions but are celebrations of the Church which is ‘the sacrament of unity,’ namely, the holy people united and organized under the authority of the bishops. Therefore, liturgical services pertain to the whole Body of the Church. They manifest it, and have effects upon it. But they touch individual members of the Church in different ways, depending on their orders, their role in the liturgical services, and their actual participation in them.” For this reason, “rites which are meant to be celebrated in common, with the faithful present and actively participating, should as far as possible be celebrated in that way rather than by an individual and quasi-privately.”

          • This is the first I’ve heard that there are eight sacraments, “‘the sacrament of unity’.”

          • Mackz formerly known as max says:

            Well, then, Skai, perhaps you should read the Catechism more.

            And of course the Catechsim is not claiming there are more the seven Sacraments, but you are just “carrying on” to stir the pot…

          • Well, max aka Mackz, how does seven sacraments plus the sacrament of unity not add up to eight sacraments?

          • Mackz,
            Not enough to read CCC’s part of the priesthood of the faithful. Read about the ordained priesthood and the sacrament of Holy Order and you’ll understand – there is a difference.

      • Tracy,
        Things outside of the “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” at the beginning of the Mass and the last Blessing, are not part of the Mass. Therefore the Good-morning-our presider-is-please-stand-etc., even the Opening and Closing songs, are not parts of the Mass and may not be considered abuse.

        That said, it’s sometimes annoying to hear those announcements and personally, I wished they’d keep it to the bare minimum. Or nothing at all. Print them in the bulletin instead.

        • Mackz formerly known as max says:

          The opening hymn is indeed part of the Mass. Read the official Church documents and you will learn this basic fact.

          Mass does not begin only when the celebrant reaches his chair for the Collect.

  14. Eric Augustine says:

    The Latin Rite must be restored if our Church is to survive – There is too much of this going on and with the Latin Rite there was only one way all over the world -

    • Mackz formerly known as max says:

      Eric, ALL Roman Catholics already celebrate the Latin Rite.

      This is why we are called “Latin Rite Catholics” as opposed to Byzantine Rite Catholics, and so forth.

      You, I assume, are talking instead about the Tridentine Mass…

      • Eric Augustine says:

        No, I am talking about the Roman Church in general – I am talking about returning to the true Catholic Church not what has been going on since Vatican 2 – Tell me about the decline of religious orders, lack of priests, lack of leadership, lack of helping the poor and, most of all, attending services that just seem anti-Catholic -

        • Eric, it is not possible to be a Catholic and denigrate one of the Councils of the Church. You need to study your Catholic faith.

          • Mackz formerly known as max says:

            Well said, Emmet!

            There are so many in here who worship Vatican I but demonize Vatican II, for example.

            An ecumenical council of the Catholic Church is the highest form of teaching we’ve got!

        • Eric,

          BOTH the Tridentine and the Novus Ordo are the Latin (Roman) Rite, just different forms. Vatican II is valid and whether you agree or not, it’s a continuity of the life of the Church. The Pope was there when it was convened with all the Bishops of the world present. Where the Pope is, there is the Church.

          Those who do not recognize Vatican II are in danger of being outside of the Church. You can stage the most beautiful Tridentine Liturgy, but if it’s done outside of the Church, it’s merely theatre, not worship. And what’s the use of theatre?

          • Eric Augustine says:

            Catholic means ‘Universal and One’ – We are no longer one – I asked several questions of Mackz in my reply of January 17th, and I have yet to receive a reply – Maybe you would care to reply and while your at it explain to me why millions of dollars are spent building and buying Church’s instead of helping the poor and educating the children -

      • Mackz, explain why the Latin rite has 8 sacraments while the Byzantine has 7.

        • Mackz formerly known as max says:

          Oh, dear, Skai, are you STILL on this craze about there being 8 Sacraments? You really need to practice your sums and realize this is not so…

      • Mzkca, simply answer the question posed to you by Eric A, without all the double talk, ok.

  15. In addition to reading GIRM (General Instruction for the Roman Missal), a short but very good book is: “DOMINUS EST – It is the Lord” by Bishop Athanasius Schneider.
    The Preface to the book was written by the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

    Does anyone know who started standing and receiving Communion in the hand ?
    Zwingli, Calvin and their successors who denied the Real Presence, introduced standing and in the hand during the 16th century. Several of their Synods forbade kneeling in order to avoid any suggestion that the bread was being venerated.

    I am giving a copy of Bishop Schneider’s book to my Diocese Bishop and Pastor.
    It gives the entire history from the beginning of the Church on this subject.

    It even goes back to the tradition in the middle east at the time of Jesus by which the head of the house feeds his guests with his own hand, placing a piece of bread into the mouths of guests.

    • MAX, I have read this very informative short book. I would love to know if your pastor was influenced by it. It sure influenced me!

      • Tracy, I just gave it to him.
        And just mailed one to my Diocese Bishop.
        So it’s too early to tell.

        Our Parish Priest does follow GIRM, and is obedient to our Bishop.
        It influenced me as well.

  16. First, I believe that anyone who is in the presence of the Lord at Mass should be reverant and paying attention. I also believe, however, that holding one’s hands in an open prayerful manner is not an abuse. If we all followed the GRIM to the letter we would attend Masses that resemble those on EWTN. Who would want that? The fact that this thread has received so many comments, and the tone of many of them, illustrates why so many people are leaving the church in droves. People, no all, want to praise their Lord, worship in an active participative manner, open their hearts to hear the word and receive communion. The fact that their hands are open has little if any real importance. If people want to join as a community in saying the Lord’s prayer, they should not be repremanded for it. If they want to offer the sign of peace to their fellow believers, that should be a good thing. The liturgy is not a place for total silence and no movement. It is a time and place for joyful prayer, singing and fellowship with the Lord.

    • Bob, what you personally believe does not matter.
      Holding hands and raising arms by the people during Mass has never been approved by the Vatican.
      It is very Protestant.
      These have been introduced on personal initiative. The Holy See has authority over the liturgy according to Vatican II’s “Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy” #22 and canon 838 of the Code of Canon Law.

      You should not try to distract others, who are not interested in your personal form of the Litergy when they want to pray to God.

      • Protestant?!?

        MAX, MAX, MAX, where do you get such ideas?

        Even the Bible talks about the people of God lifting their hands to the Lord in prayer, and, even though some parts of the Mass are reserved to the priest alone, this particular hand gesture has not been outlawed by the Holy See.

        When and if it DOES get outlawed, we’ll hear about it, and the fur will be flying. But until then, there is nothing wrong with the orans position. Look at Church art throughout the ages, and you will even see pictures of the Blessed Mother in the orans posture, and she was not a priest.

        • The Bible also (St Paul) instructs the faithful to do their carrying on apart from Mass.

        • max,

          People can pray in the orans position outside of the Mass, but not at Mass. (For example, when praying the Divine Mercy chaplet.) Or if you like praying like Old Testament people, you may use the orans position. But not at Mass.

          When the priest at Mass uses the orans position, it means he is praying as our priest, on behalf of all of us. He does not do this at the Lord Have Mercy or at the Glory to God because we all pray those. But he does it at the Preface, at the Eucharistic Prayer and the Our Father because he is THE priest. It’s the rubrics. Let him do his job.

        • Mrxak, A. we do not necessarily hear about the activities that are outlawed; B. gestures, postures, etc arise from elemental instincts, and are not well messed with. Too many people today have no clue because they were never taught. They were never taught because, A. nobody cared enough to teach them, B. their sloth took precedence over any motive to seek the truth.

          • Mackz formerly known as max says:

            Skai, actually, we DO hear about things at Mass that are forbidden.

            For example, the Church explicitly states that the chalice may not be left on the altar for the faithful to receive the Precious Blood from it themselves.

            If and when Holy Mother Church outlaws the holding of hands during the Lord’s Prayer, or the faithful adopting the ‘orans’ posture, we will hear about it — just as we HEARD about it when Cardinal Arinze told us to make sure the wine was poured into the chalices BEFORE consecration.

            When the Church decides on something, especially something liturgical (such as the new translation a year ago), we all hear about it.

    • Well, Bob One, maybe you’ve just hit the magic answer button with your “anyone who is in the presence of the Lord at Mass should be reverant and paying attention.” No wonder they all do strange acts and behaviors at those kinds of liturgical events … because they are not being in the presense of the Lord and thus feel no need to be reverent.

  17. I do understand the benefits of a uniform mass practiced the same way all over the world. It helps promote a sense of harmony and unity that a catholic can go anywhere in the world and feel just as included, feel just as connected to God and just as welcome and “with it” as anyone else in the Church. However, when we elevate precise gestures in such a way that they sate a barely-controlled desire for status and the drive to erect new and ever more elaborate totem poles to allow some particular individuals to demonstrate, for all to see, that they are “better”, or more devout, or more likely to go to heaven, than someone else is as damaging as rebellion and error. Is anyone under the illusion that a serial killer who goes to the TLM and knows with great exactitude every direction from the GIRM has, in some way, dispelled the spiritual demons created by their horrific acts? Our choices, acts and intentions define who we are to God far more than hand gestures, genuflecting at the tabernacle, or kneeing at precisely the right moment with our bodies held at angles within a millimeter of desired postures as defined in church manuals. More than any posture adopted in Church, or prayers said in public, I think we are far more defined and blessed by managing to treat with christian love and fairness people who we despise and revile because of their acts or belonging to a social group who engage in socially unpopular behaviors. That does not mean encouraging them, or joining in sinful behavior, but does mean conquering things like contempt, disgust, revulsion, cruel words and the impulse to thoughlessly ostracize those struggling with spiritual flaws and insead learn to see God in their soul.

    • JonJ, in a nutshell, I agree with your take on the matter if the person not following the GIRM and is ignorant of it, that they are not necessarily “less Holy” than someone who is following it. I would make an exception to this when it comes to the priest who is not following the GIRM and encourages his flock not to follow it.

      The priest is the Bishop’s helper. He is suppose to be obedient to the Bishop and to the Pope. If he decides that he does not like the way those in authority above him have decided the Mass should be said and decides to change the words and rubrics to his liking, then he is really acting no different than a Protestant at this point. The only difference is that unlike the “Protestant” he says he is Catholic.

    • If you spend enough tme on this site, which is the work of well intentioned and devout people, you will, however find that most articles each day are dedicated to what is wrong with the church and its people and not with the good that is inherent in our fellow parishioners. Much of this is due to the fact that there is a great divide in the church between those who are most concerned with the moral issues of abortion, contreception and same gender sex and those that are most concerned with the moral issues of hunger, poverty, injustice, etc.. Both are moral issues that deserve our prayers. The divide, however, has created almost two different sets of Catholics who can’t abide the other. What we should do, of course, is accept the moral strengths of both sides of the divide and become one again. There are those who believe that the only salvation for the world depends on doing away with the regular Mass and using an extraordinary form. Some would make you believe that if you work in the soup kitchens but don’t pray in front of abortion clinics you have wasted your time and will not get to heaven. And, as you have seen on this thread, the angle of the bow and the position of the hands, if not exact, will surely lead to hell. Woe to the one who opens his/her hand upright when praying! Church needs to be not about thou shall nots, but thou shalts. At the end of Mass we are told to go forth and take the light of Christ with us. If you do that, I really believe that God will forgive the posture of your hands, but many people on this site won’t.

      • Bob, people who try to grab other people’s hands, and raise their arms in the air – without permission of the Vatican while at Mass – are merely pretending to be Holy.
        They should join the Holy Roller Church.

        This is very disruptive and distracting to those who want to focus their attention entirely on God.

        I can’t usually get to Mass during the week, so Sunday worship of God is very important to me.

        Sorry, but I’m not interested in holding anyone’s hands during Mass, not even family – those I love the most.

        You are trying to perpetrate an abuse, and justify improper behavior at Mass.

      • The Holy Catholic Church founded by Jesus is both “thou shall not” and “thou shall” . We have the 10 commandment contain both the “I am the LORD your God. Thou shall worship the Lord your God and Him alone thou shall serve.” and ” Thou shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” There is unity in both when the center of the worship is God but when the worship is away from him, there is a division. BY THEIR FRUITS YOU SHALL KNOW THEM. Those who are for speaking their mind out and their conviction are not comdemning anyone. John the Baptist did not condemn anyone to hell when he preached for the people to repent. I think we should be all mature enough to be able to speak out our mind and not be labeled that it is a condemnation to hell.

        Ask yourself, what fruit has Novus Ordo produced in the last 40 years? Has it succeeded in uniting the people, strengthening the faith; has it solved the social issues that was emphasized; has it produced growth and development of our spiritual life enough to live it by practicing its moral values; has it built churches that could be called so magnificent that just being there gives us a feeling of serene peace almost lifting us above towards heaven?; has its music brought the young into the road of moral values in their lifestyle? If each one of you would sincerely analyze and answer it truthfully, an honest answer would definitely show if there is unity or divisiveness. Then each of you who has answered it truthfully can objectively make a conclusion what Novus Ordo has done to the Church. The TLM can be analyze the same way and look how the devotions and true worship has done for centuries. There is universality, unity, and the magnificent churches that were built because tradition believed in the real presence of Jesus should be given a fitting royal place of grandeur and not like some churches that looks more like a sports arena.

        If God is the end all and the be all of our worship, there will be unity, peace, and love. If there is confusion, then the devil has cause it and there will be chaos and confusion.

        As father Karl said: “it is God that we worship and not each other” therefore, when we become united in acknowledging this truth, there will be unity in our way of worship. Our bishop must first be united in teaching what Jesus, the eternal high Priest has taught the Apostles and handed down to us.

      • Kenneth M. Fisher says:

        Bob One,

        You are so far off on what you wrote above that it isn’t even funny.

        I know of no pro-life, pro-family Catholics who are not also concerned about the poor and the downtrodden, we just don’t want to leave it up to our very corrupt government, and you liberals worship at the government troth.

        God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
        Kenneth M. Fisher

        • Kenneth, I keep trying to tell you I am not a liberal. I am a moderate “republican”, but I know that is becoming an oxymoron. I am a very traditional Catholic. But, I am not at the extreme ends of politics or religion. Even Reagan would be considered too liberal by today’s tea party standards. Archbishop Lafevre (sic) might think I was liberal, but he was so far out that he and his lot are not even Catholic anymore. Think moderate.

          • The SSPX bishops provide valid sacraments, Bob One. They are neither heretics nor in schism. The Orthodox Churches are in schism, and yet they too provide valid sacraments.

          • Bob One what would you know about the Tea Party except what the liberal news media tells you… You sir are liberal to your core, and the SSPX is NOT in schism or heretical…but modernist liberals are…

        • Good word, Kenneth, “troth”; now this is no criticism but an applause, since you’ve inadvertantly (I’m guessing) used a literary form similar to a pun or double entendre: The Mass being something of a marriage, and this being done through a “taking and eating”, then “troth” (as in betroth) and “troth” as in a mispelled “trough” conveys both issues simultaneously. Of course I say all this with a straight face.

      • Bob One, wasn’t it you who voiced the same complaint previously about this site only posting complaints about the Church? You surely know the answer, which is to read only your diocesan paper/site, which will give you the warm fuzzies.

  18. Only and only the return of The Traditional Latin Mass will the Church correct itself from all of these abuses, our Holy Father has given us Summorum Pontificum as a starter, he cannot change overnite what has been going on now for over forty years and we understand that. Pray that our next Holy Father leads us all to the TLM, maybe Pope “Burke”???

  19. Only the Holy Priest may do the Orans posture, not the congregation. And the holding hands is so “Hippie” and infantile beyond embarrsing.

    “22. 1. Regulation of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, that is, on the Apostolic See and, as laws may determine, on the bishop.”
    “22. 3. Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.”

    For those who think they are better than the Vatican, think again.


    The posture of the people during prayer at Mass is not one of the items in the GIRM list that a bishop may change on his own authority (see GIRM 387). Thus it is not legitimate for a bishop to require people to assume the orans posture during the Our Father.

    The GIRM does say that a bishop has the “responsibility above all for fostering the spirit of the Sacred Liturgy in the priests, deacons, and faithful”. He has the authority to see that practices in his diocese conform to the norms liturgical law, and, mindful of this, a bishop is to “regulate” these things:

    1) “the discipline of concelebration”;

    2) “the establishing of norms regarding the function of serving the priest at the altar”;

    3) “the distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds”;

    4) “the construction and ordering of churches”.

    The posture of the people at prayer is not on this list.


  22. Kenneth M. Fisher says:

    When attending a Novus Ordo Mass, just look around you during the time that the faithful are supposed to bow. If you yourself are bowing, your a probably the only one. Not even the priest celebrants bow for the most part.

    At Tridentine Masses, all, including the priest, genuflect!

    God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
    Kenneth M. Fisher

    • Your Fellow Catholic says:

      Dear Kenneth – It might be true what you say. But is it possible that it is true because people who attend tridentine masses have an exceptional belief that they must adhere to every last iota of the law? If people attending the ordinary form mass believed that the iotas were important, they would adhere to them. So what I am saying is that it is the person, not the liturgy, that makes adherence “stick”.

  23. Father Karl says:

    Tracy, a priest is one who offers sacrifice. At Mass, I am NOT primarily a presider, I am a priest, acting in place of Christ. Presider is basically a novus ordo term which is used to pacify non-Catholics. The Mass is a re-inactment of Calvary. Words are very important, and you can tell where your parish stands by the terms used at Mass and in the bulletin.

    • Mackz formerly known as max says:

      Father Karl, the Catechism makes it clear that the whole community offers the sacrifice:

      1369 The whole Church is united with the offering and intercession of Christ. Since he has the ministry of Peter in the Church, the Pope is associated with every celebration of the Eucharist, wherein he is named as the sign and servant of the unity of the universal Church. The bishop of the place is always responsible for the Eucharist, even when a priest presides; the bishop’s name is mentioned to signify his presidency over the particular Church, in the midst of his presbyterium and with the assistance of deacons. The community intercedes also for all ministers who, for it and with it, offer the Eucharistic sacrifice:

      Let only that Eucharist be regarded as legitimate, which is celebrated under [the presidency of] the bishop or him to whom he has entrusted it.
      Through the ministry of priests the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful is completed in union with the sacrifice of Christ the only Mediator, which in the Eucharist is offered through the priests’ hands in the name of the whole Church in an unbloody and sacramental manner until the Lord himself comes.

      PLEASE NOTE: “The community intercedes also for all ministers who, for it and WITH it, offer the Eucharistic sacrifice…”

      The operative word here being “with.”

      • Excellent, Mrakcz, you prove my point that we don’t need bishops or priests at all … all we need is whatever that book is you’re quoting from. In fact we don’t even need that book because, according to your colleague Rodda, none of us should be reading anyway, especially about Catholicism. What might help us all, Zmkcrx, is to have the CCC and the GIRM replaced by a video game, interactive, with a bouncing ball on the wall to highlight each word. Just hope no hackers mess it up though, right?

        • Mackz formerly known as max says:

          Um… Skai… guy… I hate to break it to you, but that “whatever book” I am quoting from is called, on this planet, THE CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.

          Perhaps you have heard of this book?

      • I do not trust this English translation. In fact I am finding these quotes from these rule books to be extremely wanting in clarity. It looks like Vatican Two Speeque if you ask me. No wonder nobody pays any attention to these tomes … plus the fact that they keep issuing revised or new versions every once in a while. It sort of makes me wonder if the intention is to slowly and undetectedly bring about a change in Catholicism, in a way that people won’t generally notice. Slick, if you ask me. But you can ask non-Catholics also, and the educated ones will laugh at your confusion.

        • Abeca Christian says:

          Skai you make a good point, I say this with all due respect to our CCC but it does need to be taught accurately. If people misinterpret the holy word of God in scriptures, I definitely know as well that the same happens in the CCC. It is a good tool to learn the faith but it is incomplete. But I do think that people should read it, the seed needs to be planted and started somewhere.

          When one reads the Holy Bible, one needs to pray to the Holy Ghost for His guidance, one needs as well need to study what the church says about the word of God. It is always a learning time, one never stops learning in humility! Take pride and agenda’s out of the equation so one can grow more in wisdom and knowledge in the Lord, always beginning with a contrite heart and with the fear of the Lord!

      • You confused the meaning, MXZk. The passage clearly distinguishes the clergy from the laity.

        • Mackz formerly known as max says:

          Skai, I included the distinction between the clergy and the laity on purpose, when I quoted from the Catechism.

          However, the previous paragraph, also from the Catechsim, corrects the wrong idea the “only” the priest is involved in the Sacrifice of the Mass, and the lay people are merely “spectators.” This is why the Church explicitly states that “The whole Church is united with the offering and intercession of Christ.”

          The WHOLE Church — not only the ordained.

          • maxakaMzxkc, Jesus unites the faithful to God through the Holy Eucharist, which is consecrated by the priest “in persona Christi”. None of the laity are “in persona Christi”. None of the laity consecrate the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus. The priest does this. The Church does not unite itself, but is united by Jesus via the priest. Jesus became man in the presence of one human being, and She was not the priest, but the laity. And it was a mystery of faith which was beyond Her then, as it is beyond us now.

          • Anonymous says:

            In Baptism. we become members of Christ.

          • Anon, Christ is both man and God. In baptism we become members of Jesus the man; but to become united with God, this happens through the Holy Eucharist.

  24. Fr. Bob B says:

    The article states that during the Profession of Faith on the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord and on the Feast of the Annunciation, the usual bow is replaced by a “genuflection”. I’m certainly open to correction, but I believe that on the two celebrations mentioned priest and people are asked to pause and kneel for a short while—-which is more than a genuflection.

  25. The missal that I have (Daily Roman Missal published for Midwest Theological Forum 2010) instructs all to kneel on the Solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord and to genuflect on the Solemnity of the Annunciation of our Lord. Neither exception is mentioned in The Order of Mass which instructs all to bow.

  26. Here’s a question: Which is more important in terms of our standing with God 1) making sure we genuflect at the right time or 2) learning to master a surge of contempt for our neighbor who fails to do so?

  27. I’d also like to add a 3) refraining from attributing specious benefits or harms to a particular form of the mass simply because it suits our tastes.

  28. Mackz formerly known as max says:

    On Jan. 18th JonJ made two very sensible posts.

    We are all fighting about posture and such like vultures over a carcass.

    Reminds me of the Russian Orthodox fighting over the “Old Believers” and how to make the Sign of the Cross ‘correctly,’ leading even to blows and death.

    • max or mackz,

      Stopping abuses during the Liturgy of the Mass is very important.

      People can not do whatever they feel like doing.
      Not even Priests can do whatever they feel like doing.
      This even includes misguided public acts of piety.

      What is pious to one person may be distracting to others.
      Do you know how to follow directions?
      When are you going to read GIRM ?

      Adhering to GIRM is very important.
      When you start your own Church you can do whatever you want – hold hands, raise your arms in the air, sway with the music, or even stand on your head or rub your head and pat your tummy.

  29. Oh dear .. Do I listen to Abram or do I listen to my bishop and pastor, and for that matter my previous bishops and pastors? Really!

  30. I have another question. I have a teenage son who has a psychiatric ailment which causes him to behave badly in church, Yes it does. I’m not just making excuses for him. He talks out loud and talks back to the priest when the priest says anything. I can’t count the number of people who ask me to leave him at home and go to church by myself. Of course they don’t understand his problems but they don’t understand either that the only way I can go to church is to bring him with me. I can’t go into a long explanation but that’s true. I still bring him to church with me because I would really like to be able to pray. He’s not being rude or obnoxious. He just has these problems and I try as hard as I can to get him to speak quietly etc. etc. etc. What to do? Some of you may have problems like mine and may have answers. I think I have tried everything and nothing works. Thanks.

    • Abeca Christian says:

      tom first I want to sympathize and my heart goes out to you in your current situation. why not ask your pastor what he suggests? If he does have a serious problem as you say, can you schedule a priest to visit and bring him our Lord, maybe you can have someone watch him and you can take some along time with our Lord as Mass…praying for your son and it also allows you a small break with our Lord.

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