The Orans

Jude Missa

On July 16, 2023 during the Memorial of our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Archbishop Victor Bendico of CBCP and also archbishop of Capiz, released circular no. 2023-03 on the question as whether the faithful are allowed to hold or raise hands during the Lord’s prayer in the Mass. He indicates Pope Francis’ catechesis last March 14, 2017 that everyone can do the raise hand gesture and to hold hands of Our Father. In recent years, some churches stop using Orans to the faithful, but because of this statement of the CBCP, it brings confusion for some of the faithful who don’t know if they will use this gesture or not. Is the Pope and CBCP correct about this matter? Before we answer that, let’s take a look of the origin of the Orans.

Orans gesture can be found in the Old testament’s Isaiah and Psalms and also indicated by St. Paul the Apostle in his two letters, from Timothy and Hebrews. The Lord’s prayer was not included in the first centuries of the Holy Mass until it was added and was prayed by the priest with a Orans gesture, while the faithful are standing doing the praying gesture. During the codification of the Tridentine Mass, the Orans during the Lord’s prayer was still used by the priest alone and not the faithful. While protestants include their followers to do the Orans during this prayer. When Pope Paul VI reform of the Holy Mass, the usage of the Orans still remains for the priest only, except in America where the priest and the faithful was influenced by the protestants where the people also do the Orans then later, with a holding the hands of another faith. Because of American influence, the Orans of the faithful and holding hands spread to other countries including the Philippines.

But why are some Catholics preventing the Faithful to use the Orans’ during the Lord’s prayer? The Priest represents Christ including the celebration of the Holy Mass. He has his own gestures than the faithful because he is the person who leads them. Also, in the rubrics of both Traditional and Novus Ordo Mass, there’s no instruction that the congregation must lift up their hands or hold hands to one another. Orans also shows the authority of the priest during the Holy Mass. Even praying the Lord’s prayer, in tradition, the priest only prays the whole prayer while the faithful only prays or sing “but deliver us from evil” part.

So, what should we do during the Lord’s prayer? CBCP gives us freedom to use the Orans, holding hands or the praying hands. But we suggest only the praying hands because Orans and holding hands for the congregation is not in the rubrics of the Holy Mass. If it is not in the rubrics, we should not do it. We must obey the rules because it gives us order, as God is the God of order. The freedom of doing anything we want may lead us to disorder. And too much disorder will lead us to chaos.

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