This weekend, changes in our liturgical celebrations, specifically the celebration of the Mass, will begin. A few years ago we had some changes when we started using the new Roman Missal with the new translation and it was quite an adjustment. I think it will take some time too to get used to the new postures that we will now do. As in the changes that took place when we started using the new translation of the Roman Missal, these changes in postures will also make us more united to the universal church.
The “Orans” (extended hands) gesture of the priests especially during the praying of the Our Father is reserved only for the priest as a representative of the whole congregation. It should be understood that when the priest extends his hands in prayer (when he assumes the Orans posture) at Mass, he is praying on behalf of the whole community. There is nothing wrong with the people doing the Orans posture while saying their private prayers, but the Mass is not private – it is a public prayer of the church. So when the congregation assumes the Orans position with the priest while the deacon is not doing it (because he is not allowed to do it), it creates confusion and disunity in the celebration. Please refrain from assuming the Orans posture while at Mass, although privately, you can, of course, do it. Some hold hands during the praying of the Our Father and nothing is wrong with that, but please don’t be offended if your neighbor does not wish to hold hands with you and chooses to just put his or her hands together.
Beginning this weekend too, the congregation will kneel after the Lamb of God for the elevation of the Eucharist. The priest will then present the Lamb of God to the congregation (Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world…) and kneeling is the right posture for that moment when the King of Kings is elevated for people to worship. For those who cannot kneel, they are to be seated so as not to block the view of those who are behind them. They are to remain kneeling until the time they are to stand for the communion line.
The giving of a blessing for those who are not able to receive the Eucharist will also be changed. The people who are not receiving the Eucharist (for whatever reason) but who still wish to come forward are asked to cross their hands over their chest and make a profound bow towards the Eucharist. Instead of giving them a blessing, the priest or deacon will also make a profound bow to the Eucharist as a gesture of adoration and worship. The blessing is given to all by the priest just before the end of the Mass.
These are changes that aim to unite the church (specifically here in western Oregon) in her liturgical practices. It will take some getting used to but I do believe that it will help in making our celebrations more beautiful and reverent.
In Christ, Fr. Maro