I’m a touchy guy, I’ll admit it. I always love those Italian movies where folks are running around kissing everyone they know on the cheek as a standard greeting. I love to hug people, and I’ve got a pretty firm handshake. I like to touch people.
In my family, we are very touchy as well. I will be cooking dinner, and guaranteed, either my wife or either of my daughters will come in for one of my 5 minute hugs while I’m cooking up a roast. I just like people, and it just seems natural to share actual physical contact.
Not very American, I know. We like to stand far off from one another, and a far reaching, weak handshake is usually our norm. Often this is followed by a quick dip into the purse for our own personal bottle of hand sanitizer.
So be it I suppose, but that’s not me.
Holding hands doesn’t bother me. It really doesn’t. I like to hold hands.
When we get to the Our Father at Mass though, I’m not so into it. Don’t get me wrong, if someone reaches out and grabs my hand, I’m not going to jerk it away. I feel being charitable is more important than my own proclivities, but that doesn’t mean I like it all that much.
Even my own family does this. My daughters are the first to want to reach out and hold everyone’s hand, including my own, but I must admit, I feel that it is really bad communication.
When we all hold hands during the Our Father, what is it that we are saying by this action? What feeling are we trying to convey? I would argue that we are expressing oneness, or togetherness, and I’m just not so sure this is the right time to highlight that aspect of our being together.
Let me be the first to say that we are a community praying together, that’s why we are all here right? So if we want to hold hands, could we not pick a moment so near communion, when we truly become one? Let me show you how this plays out in my mind.
We all hold hand like we are at a girl scout camp out singing Kumbaya. We feel great. Then we kneel to let God know that we are not worthy, and we instantly get caught up into our own bubble. Then we are all rather silent as we go up to receive our Lord. So the togetherness is accented before communion, and our solitude is accented during communion.
This just doesn’t feel right to me. What brings us together, what truly makes up one is communion itself. We become One Body because we share the One Bread, not because we decide to hold hands. It just seems to place the focus just off center.
Again, holding hands is fine. Why not pick another time in Mass, like the opening hymn? Why the Our Father? I think it’s just too confusing.
If we really want to do it right, we should hold hands after communion, to show that what was separate is now brought together.
Don’t get me wrong, if you wanna hold my hand, I’m cool with that, I’m not going to pull away. I mean, come on, there is no reason to be rude.
If you don’t offer though, don’t expect me to.