Dawn and I attended the 11:30 Mass on Sunday. I had volunteered to be at the Faith Formation table after that Mass for the Parish Council Ministries & Committees Fair, being that I’m a member of the Adult Formation Committee. Since the Mass was in English, I had the usual orans dilemma.
Usually we’re at the Latin Mass, and I have to hold the book during the Pater Noster. So there’s not really any option for holding out my arms in the orans posture. But, during the English liturgy, I’m not holding any book. And Dawn says we’re really supposed to adopt orans, although she usually forgets until about halfway through. I never forget, but I usually wait for her to see if she does it. But I never really want to do it, but I feel guilty because I feel like I’m supposed to do it. I felt a little better last week when I looked over at all the nuns in church and specifically noted only one or two of them using the orans.
So today I did some Googling during my lunch hour. And I’ve got good news.
The bishops of the Church in the U.S. are members of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The USCCB is itself a member of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy.
So apparently, according to Adoremus, the Society for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy, in 1995 the USCCB’s committee on the liturgy, the BCL, debated the ICEL’s proposed revision of the Sacramentary, the prayers for the Catholic Mass. Among many, many other things of course, the BCL considered recommending that the entire congregation adopt the orans posture during the Lord’s Prayer. After some debate, with some bishops objecting to the laity adopting the orans posture rather than reserving it for the clergy, the BCL made the orans a “permissible option” for the congregation.
The ICEL then in 1999 sent their proposed revision to the Sacramentary, including the orans for the members of the assembly, to the Holy See for approval. In the meantime, the BCL posted on their website that, while it was not yet approved, soon the Sacramentary would provide for the orans gesture.
His Holiness Pope John Paul II approved in 2000, and the Holy See issued in 2002, the new edition of the Roman Missal, after having rejected the ICEL revision regarding the orans.
The USCCB now simply says: No position is prescribed in the present Sacramentary for an assembly gesture during the Lord’s Prayer.
So officially it’s okay to hold hands, but I’d really rather not. And I find the orans posture personally distracting. With my hands clasped in front of me I feel like I’m praying; in orans, I feel like I’m holding my hands out. So now I know I don’t have to it. Hooray!