The Southern Cross : October 2013
October 2013 Page 15 www.thesoutherncross.org.au The Southern Cross news | FAITH What's your question? Question: I have noticed that during the Our Father at Mass some people either hold hands with the person next to them or hold their hands out using a gesture similar to that of the priest. Could you clarify the right thing to do? Answer: The gesture in which a person stands with arms extended and hands with palms uppermost is called the orans or "praying" position. It was common to most ancient religions, and from wall paintings in the catacombs and writings of the early Church Fathers, we know that it was part of early Christianity too. It symbolises openness to God as well as being a sign of entreaty or supplication. In the Mass, the rubrics (or "rules") assign this position to the priest, when he is praying on behalf of the people. Thus, the priest extends his hands for the Collect (Opening Prayer), Prayer over the Gifts, Eucharistic Prayer and Prayer after Communion. When priest and people pray together, such as during the Gloria and the Creed, the priest joins his hands. Interestingly, during the Our Father, which priest and people pray together, the priest is instructed to assume the orans position. While this seems out of keeping with what has just been said, we can find the reason for this "anomaly" if we take a short step back in history. In 1958, Pope Pius XII gave permission for the people to join in praying the Our Father, as long as they prayed it in Latin. Since such participation was optional the priest continued to assume the orans posture. When, after the reforms of the liturgy following the Second Vatican Council, it became the norm for the people to pray the Our Father together with the priest during the Mass, the rule concerning the orans posture simply passed into the new rite without alteration. What then, should the faithful do at this time? It can be argued that, since no other instruction -- apart from asking them to stand -- is given regarding the posture of the people, they can legitimately extend their hands in the orans posture. However, since deacons are not permitted to assume the orans posture, it would seem odd for the faithful to do so. In fact, it would make more sense if the priest was asked to join his hands in the same manner as he does for the Gloria and the Creed. The other alternative is for the Australian Bishops Conference to ask permission of the Holy See if all may assume the orans posture, a permission already granted to the Italian Bishops Conference. What about people holding hands during the Our Father? While this might seem a good way to express the unity between the members of the congregation, holding hands has never been a part of the liturgical "vocabulary" of the Church. The fact that we are singing or praying the prayer together already demonstrates our unity. In our society, holding hands is regarded as a sign of personal friendship, and we must remember that this prayer is not just the prayer of those gathered in this place at this time, but of all Christians gathered with Christ in praying to the Father. To sum up, then, neither the orans posture nor holding hands during the praying of the Our Father is forbidden; in fact there is no mention of either in liturgical law. However, it would be more in keeping with the liturgical tradition of the Church if we simply joined our hands -- that is, put palms together, crossed thumbs and either extended or folded our fingers -- and gave our full attention to either singing or saying the words of this wonderful prayer as a preparation for the moment when we will approach the table of the Lord and receive his Body and Blood in Communion. Answer supplied by the Office for Worship. Please forward your liturgical question to cathcomm@adelaide. catholic.org.au. Annual lecture The Friends of CTC will hold its final annual lecture at the Adelaide College of Divinity Campus on October 17. The lecture, which has been a popular event for the past nine years, will be given by Father Denis Edwards who will explore some of his recent research at the Woodstock Centre at Georgetown University. Entitled God the Trinity: In the Context of Evolution, the talk will cover questions such as what difference an evolutionary view makes on our understanding of God. The lecture will be held at the Brooklyn Park college from 7.30pm to 9pm. Contact Cris on 8416 8460 or email cris.henriksson@flinders. edu.au BLESSING OF ST PIUS X: Oblate Provincial Father Leo Mifsud OMI visited St Pius X Parish in Dernancourt recently to bless a new statue of St Pius X. Pope Pius X was canonised on May 29, 1954 by Pope Pius XII. Born Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto, he was Pope from August 4, 1903 to his death in August 1914. Pope Pius X was known for promoting devotional practice and traditional theology. He published the first Code of Canon Law into one volume for the first time. He promoted living Catholic, piety reflected in everyday Christian values. NEW MEMORIAL GARDEN: The Passionist Memorial Garden was opened by Passionist Superior Father Tom McDonough CP, assisted by parish priest Fr John Curtis CP, on August 26 at Glen Osmond. After a short prayer and dedication Fr McDonough invited members of the organising committee to unveil the dedication plaque. The Memorial Garden has been developed to commemorate the deceased of the parishes of St Paul of the Cross, St Raphael and the wider community. Simple memorial plaques are placed on the kerbstones in the garden adjacent to the existing cemetery which is for members of the Passionist Order. The gardens have been beautifully landscaped and provide a restful area for family members to remember their loved ones. Good deeds South Australians are being asked to think of good deeds for this year's national Green and Gold Day, organised by the Mary MacKillop Foundation. Participants either commit to do a good deed themselves, or support someone else's good deed, and at the same time raise money for small community-based charitable projects that make a big difference. People can also dare their friends to do a good deed through a dedicated website and social media. Once the deeds are nominated, donations can be made online. Deeds can be as simple as offering to pay for a stranger's coffee, donating books to a children's hospital, washing a friend's car, or helping an elderly person with their grocery shopping. However, participants are encouraged to have fun with the project by thinking outside the box, such as committing to sing at a nursing home. Sam Hardjono, CEO of the Mary MacKillop Foundation, said: "The Mary MacKillop Foundation hopes that by Australians doing their own good deeds through this new initiative, they not only realise their community imprint but also the fact that they are the forerunners of a flow on effect where even more good deeds will be funded." Registrations for the Do Good Deeds challenge are now open, and can be made at http://www. greenandgoldday.org.au/do-good-deeds-home/ The Mary MacKillop Foundation has the responsibility of continuing the legacy of Australia's first saint in a practical way by supporting small community-based projects.