Saturday, January 10, 2009

Holding hands not encouraged

During the summer we become more lax about attending mass. During the school year S goes to Sunday School and so that basically keeps us committed to attending mass. Late in the summer we missed a couple weeks in a row and when we returned, no one held hands during the Our Father. A few weeks later my in-laws visited and after mass they asked what had happened. Everyone used to hold hands and I mean EVERYONE. People would reach across the aisles to hold hands and the entire church would be linked. It was very nice and comforting. I especially liked seeing my daughter's shy smile as she took the hand of an elderly woman next to her (we have a pretty old congregation) and then the smile on the woman's face as my daughter over eagerly raised her hand up during the last part.

There have been other changes...other changes on a more conservative path, such as using the bells during communion, bowing more, genuflecting because the tabernacle was moved to the alter. The bells I understand. I can say to S that when she hears the bells that tells her the body and blood have been consecrated. But, I still don't like it.

I grew up in a liberal church. A church that had a "folk group" during the "family" mass. I love the music and singing praise is what makes church worthwhile for me. I'm pretty sappy, so sometimes when my current church plays a song I know from my childhood I get a little teary. I also get very annoyed when familiar songs are played too slowly by the organ, which apparently has precedence. The Church may eventually lose us if it goes much further.

I said to Will, it's as if the bishop declared there to be no hand-holding. Low-and-behold that's exactly what happened. Apparently there's this document called "General Norms" and it tells exactly how to do mass in a particularly diocese. Here's what it said about the Our Father:

"79. While it may be a custom in some places to hold hands as the Our Father is prayed, this gesture is not encouraged as the reception of Holy Communion is the sign and bond of unity of the Church at prayer."

I can just see our Deacon announcing this. He seems to be a very intolerant person, so I can imagine him taking joy in this. A mean statement, but I'm pretty upset about this. I actually cried when I read Number 79. It's just disgusting. The offering of peace has gotten shorter as well. It used to be you could offer peace to everyone around you, as long as they were trying to do the same, but now it's much shorter and people don't try to get more than a couple people or maybe even just the people they know. Community is basically the main reason I decided to stay connected to Church. If I walked into my church for the first time tomorrow I'd hate it. I'd feel it was a cold, unwelcoming place where the people aren't very friendly (though many are). I mean, when I looked around and saw families not even holding hands... no one... it was so sad. I will not stop holding hands during the Our Father. It wasn't forbidden, just not encouraged. But even if it were forbidden, it wouldn't stop me. Silly though it sounds, changing these little things are big steps backwards and I don't want to take them.

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