Recently, the question was raised among friends about the appropriateness of holding hands during Mass while the congregation prays the Our Father. Predictably, this potentially polarizing topic quickly stiffened more than a few spines. Could we disagree on this critical subject, yet still remain friends!?
I have too many diapers and Math tests today to share here anything more in-depth than a quick weigh-in (and lunch and laundry are right around the corner! Oy!), but here's my take on our discussion:
You see, I believe we only will benefit and increase our erudition in the Catholic Faith by learning the Church's specific intent behind the clearly articulated rubrics of the Mass, via either respectful personal discourse (as with my dear friends) or edifying dissertation.
As the highest form of prayer, the Mass deserves our highest consideration, as do our fellow Catholics who, like us, also seek to praise and worship Almighty God as He deserves. Let us be truthful yet amiable in our speech, lest we defeat the origin and fruits of our worship by allowing ourselves to degenerate into morally opprobrious conduct amidst each other.
"He gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ, so that we may no longer be infants, tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery, from their cunning in the interests of deceitful scheming. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ." (Ephesians 4:11-15)
(...my underline emphases added...)
So. That's how we discuss it. Now how do we practice it? Having just concluded the Eucharistic Prayers, during which our Lord Himself has been made Real and Truly Present on the altar, do we turn the focus on ourselves and stretch across the aisle kumbaya-fashion to hug, shake hands, fist bump, or engage in other similar gestures?
Um, no. I'm with Father Z.* on this. While the Our Father inherently unites us in Faith, the reverential aspect of the Mass demands our highest regard and obeisance. Personal interpretations of the Mass (other than ethnic/cultural variations approved by the Holy See) by priests or laity, no matter how seemingly insignificant, small, or well-meaning, whether unwitting or deliberate cozenage, are scrofulous and a slippery slope to outright heresy. And certainly no congregation specifically should be impelled to participate in a way that is not within the rubrics of the Mass.
Far more wise and saintly hearts and minds than mine have weighed in on this oftimes delicate topic, so I encourage you to research it personally, as well.
* Father John Zuhlsdorf addresses this and many other liturgical questions on his excellent blog, "Father Z's Blog - What Does The Prayer Really Say?" You can find his entry regarding the above topic at the following link: http://wdtprs.com/blog/2011/05/quaeritur-our-father-hand-holding-fr-z-rants/