Wednesday, November 19, 2008


My husband and I were watching the news this morning. I don't remember what triggered it, but suddenly my husband said, "There is so much confusion no one knows what one is supposed to believe about Catholicism anymore. The problem is too many changes."

I agreed. Case in point--the orans position.

Some years ago we had mini-chaos at the Our Father as everyone scrambled to find a hand to hold. It was worse in some places than others. Some congregations made an effort to be sure that no hand should go unheld. It made for a lot of movement in the pews. Then Bishop Pilla did away with this scramble in the Cleveland Diocese, offering other postures that did not involve seeking companionship with anyone but the Lord. Among those suggested as options was the orans position. It has been taken up by a majority at the Masses I attend and always seems stilted and affected to me, so I don't use it.

I was poking around the Catholic web yesterday and stumbled upon this little bit of information at the EWTN website:

In the rubrics the Orans gesture is asked principally of the Main Celebrant, but on those occasions where either a priestly action is done (Eucharistic Prayer) or prayer in common (Our Father) all the concelebrants do it.

It is never done by the Deacon, who does not represent the People before God but assists him who does....

As the Holy See has recently pointed out, confusion has entered the Church about the hierarchical nature of her worship, and this gesture
[orans] certainly contributes to that confusion when it conflicts with the ordered sign language of the Mass.

Nice. Pope says "no", bishop says "yes". Shall we flip a coin?

The USCCB website doesn't help. It tells us:

No position is prescribed in the present Sacramentary for an assembly gesture during the Lord’s Prayer.

So we are left with opinions--like Bishop Pilla's opinion.

He had some other opinions as well. I quoted them in an ancient blog for which the coding has become undone. Scroll down to near the bottom of the website where a blog on Sunday, September 21, 2003 is titled "GIRM". Ironically, while orans caught on, bowing during the Creed, also suggested, did not. Neither did standing for communion, though there frequently appears in any given congregation, one or two people who determinedly stand in the pew during communion. I always have to suppress a little chuckle over that.

Saint Louis Catholic recently took up the question. The following is taken from the answer by Msgr. Matthew Mitas:

In the 1990s, many of our American bishops were disturbed that a great number of our people had adopted the practice of holding hands at the praying of the Lord’s Prayer, another practice not mandated. Unsure of how best to bring this abuse to a halt, they proposed making the orans posture mandatory for all the faithful at Mass, and petitioned the pope to ratify the change. The Holy Father, however, rejected their petition, because the orans posture is recognized as a priestly posture and inappropriate for the laity to assume at Mass. (Anyone, of course, can assume whatever posture he chooses in his private, non-liturgical prayer.) By that time, however, some parishes and priests had already jumped the gun and started the practice and, obviously, have failed to curtail it despite the instruction from authority in Rome.

Over at Adam's Ale, where Fr. V blogs from Cleveland, the subject of the "Pilla Rite" has turned up in a comments box:

Anonymous said...

Father V,

Do you think the Diocese of Cleveland will be doing away with the "Pilla Rite" Masses anytime soon? The Orans position and the standing when we should be kneeling are drving me crazy!
Tuesday, May 08, 2007

uncle jim said...

last anon-

for the sake of comparison and comment, can you tell me when in your diocese you stand when you should be kneeling, etc.
just so i can compare to what is happening where i live
and when the orans [is it your contention that it should never be used?]
Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Fr. V said...

Section 43, paragraph 3 of the GIRM states in part that in the Unites States the people should kneel from after the Sanctus until after the Great Amen. Then again after the Agnus Dei unless the diocesan bishop determines otherwise (as is according to the universal rite.) Bishop Pilla has determined that we should not. I'd rather especially in the doubful Eucharistic climate in which we live that we kneel - but it is a matter of obedience. That is what we are called to and it is a matter over which he has (had) jurisdiction.

The orans position however is not. Confronted about this innovation the person who introduced it to the diocese backed off stating that it was a suggestion (a forceful one, but one none-the-less) I must say that although I personally find it a bit trite in this situation it is a far, far improvement of some of the absolute silliness that we've witnessed with holding hands at the Our Father - you'd think in some parishes that that was the most important part of the rite.

It is true that standing after communion is preferred, but JPII stated emphatically that if one chooses to kneel after returning from communion even if for purely personal pius reasons, he shall not be refused the right to do so (those aren't the exact words, but I am too tired to look it up tonight.) So at my last parish I would not give an instruction. I said it was preferable to stand but they had a right to do as they pleased. Interestingly some people were quite angry. (Somebody is always angry) Some wanted me to force everyone to stand, some wanted me to force everyone to kneel, some wanted me to tell them one or the other so that they didn't have to decide. I felt I didn't have the right other than to inform them of the above. In the end it worked out rather well - or at least I think.

He seems to have a nice sense of humor about it, which beats getting angry every time, though even as I strive for humor instead of anger, I wonder if that's a Christ-approved response to the goings on at Mass.

It's also nice to discover that Fr. V. gets angry when he attends a Mass filled with innovations:

Sunday morning, because of the situation, I attended mass in the pew at the church where I was as opposed to my usual role as celebrant. The mass was so poorly celebrated, there were so many invented rites and additions to the mass that I found myself angry. It was a struggle to remember that I was there to pray and not to critique but all I could think of was grabbing the priest afterwards and asking what the get out he thought he was doing. (I didn’t.)

In any case, we seem to be a congregation of reprobates at the parishes where I attend Mass, since we kneel after the Our Father, whether retired Bishop Pilla likes it or not!

On a positive note, I attended a Baptism last Sunday, conducted by a newly ordained deacon on his way to the priesthood. It was gratifying to listen to him talk about original sin and the grace from the sacrament wiping it out. None of the nonsense about joining the Church was brought into the rite. Instead it was beautifully Catholic. We were told this was the deacon's first baptism ceremony and that it was going to be a baptism of fire because five babies were being baptised. The "fire" did not even come close to consuming him. He "burned" like incense with the fragrance of heaven. I'm already wondering whether this future priest's first assignment will be within driving distance.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com

<< # St. Blog's Parish ? >>