Bishop of Covington, Roger J. Foys issued some directives on the proper postures at mass. Here’s a doozy.

Special note should also be made concerning the gesture for the Our Father. Only the priest is given the instruction to “extend” his hands. Neither the deacon nor the lay faithful are instructed to do this. No gesture is prescribed for the lay faithful in the Roman Missal; nor the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, therefore the extending or holding of hands by the faithful should not be performed.

Here we go…

My first thought is that this is silly. Who does it hurt if some people wish to hold hands during the Our Father (or at any other time for that matter)? For the record, my wife and I hold hands throughout mass for the most part. We are praying together as a married couple and uniting not only our marriage but our prayers to God. I give her hand a little squeeze when at the prayer of the faithful we pause for our own personal needs because I want her to know that I’m praying for her at that moment. A Bishop would have to pry her hand out of my cold dead one before I stop doing that. Has it helped our marriage? You bet. Does it makes us want to pray together more often? Bingo. Is it a sign of our married love for others? Some people tell us it is and others admittedly, think we’re a bit much.

That said, I also think that nobody should be compelled to hold hands either. I know I see medical students holding hands at mass during the Our Father and other students who don’t do it. No harm, no foul. Look at the picture I selected, some are holding hands and others are extending theirs.

Simply put, we’re all different. Some folks have a more private spirituality and others are more communal. Some would say that corporate prayer should maintain some uniformity–where we all do the same thing. I can see the point, but only to a point. Should we all pray for the exact same thing each week? Sure. But again, only to a point.

To repeat a strain from yesterday, isn’t there more that Bishops and all of us for that matter should be worried about? If we’re going to alienate a group of people how about the atheists? How about companies that embezzle? How about war mongers?

I’d also like to see how the Bishop in question plans to enforce this. Perhaps a mild electric shock is given every time someone touches someone else in Covington?

I get that some people don’t want to hold hands during the Our Father. Some are germ phobic. Some don’t want to notice how clammy, cold or warm another’s hands are during the prayer because it distracts them. But some also have a prayer life enriched by it.

We should encourage freedom in prayer. If that means praying with one’s hands extended, or holding the hand of someone else who is willing then there’s no harm done. If that means we close our eyes and keep our hands at our sides, then again, no harm is done.

It’s not like someone decided to breakdance to “One Bread, One Body.”

With all due, respect…get over it, Bishop. You can’t force people to pray in the way YOU’D prefer them to.

And if I’m ever in Covington, I hope you come and say hi. You’ll find me at mass holding my wife’s hand.