Any visitor to a Catholic mass will probably tell you that there’s a lot going on – all kinds of prayers and responses, hymns, crossing and hand motions, sitting and standing and kneeling.
Quite honestly, some elements can be unclear for us average Catholics, too. And I wish congregants were better “trained.”
One thing that happens at one point during the mass is the praying of the Our Father. From what I’ve read, in days past the prayer was offered by the priest on behalf of the congregation.
These days, the whole congregation prays together. One thing that’s always bothered me (though I have never really been able to put my finger on why) is how at some churches, many congregants will join hands and/or raise their hands palm upward as they do this.
This morning I came across a couple tweets that illuminated this for me.
So this gesture is apparently called the “Orans Posture.” And although I’m sure there is no ill will (and in most cases probably no willful ignorance either), the practice of the congregation taking this posture during the prayer is poo-pooed in Catholic mass.
There are some very detailed explanations out there to be Googled, but the upshot is that the priest takes the Orans because he is praying on our behalf, and the form of the mass dictates that the congregation not copy the gestures of the priest celebrant.
Good to know.