The results are in: NCR readers on hand-holding during the Our Father

The results are in: NCR readers on hand-holding during the Our Father


[“Vox populi, vox Dei”: The People of God have spoken through the National un-Catholic Reporter (reminiscent of the 451 A.D. Council of Chalcedon’s response to Pope St. Leo the Great’s letter on the two natures {divine and human} in one person {Jesus Christ}: “Peter has spoken through Leo”); FYI: Next week’s question: Is Jesus God-made-man or a man-made God?]

Peter Feuerherd | Jul. 27, 2017 | NCR Today

The vast majority of those who follow NCR via social media are a friendly bunch who don’t mind holding hands during the Our Father at Sunday Mass.

Responding to an article that first appeared online June 29, an overwhelming majority of readers say they either are hand-holders or don’t object to others who are.

A total of 711 respondents from 50 states and 25 countries responded to an NCR Survey Monkey poll. In that survey, 43 percent say they were members of parishes that held hands communally during the Our Father. Seventeen percent said they were hand-holders, but only with friends and family.

Twenty-four percent don’t hold hands, but don’t object to others who do in their parishes. A minority said either their parish does not hold hands but it might not be a bad idea (four percent) or that the practice should not be allowed at all (11 percent).

A Twitter survey had similar results but with less enthusiasm for hand-holding.

Twenty-four percent said they did it and thought it was a good idea to link hands with fellow parishioners. Twenty-two percent opt only to hold hands with family and friends. About a third (32 percent) don’t belong to hand-holding churches but have no objection to the practice. About a fifth (22 percent), responded that hand-holding during Mass should be discouraged.

Some who commented on Facebook wondered what the big deal was. “There are important things to consider, like feeding the poor, clothing the naked and feeding the hungry. God doesn’t care one way or another. So why do we? This is a silly debate. If you want to hold hands, do it, and if not, don’t. Simple,” wrote Jeffrey Huot.

Others, however, felt that the Our Father hand-holding was an important symbol.

“It is a powerful statement of unity by the congregation,” wrote Mary Poundstone Miller.

Some felt that opponents of the practice are overly stringent. “Being instructed that we may not hold hands was one of the final reasons my husband and I left the Catholic church,” wrote Gigi Becker.

Elaine McCabe sees theological significance in the practice.

“We are praying the Our Father and not the My Father,” she wrote.

Some objected on doctrinal grounds.

“How about more reverence for the real presence instead of feel good sentiment?” wrote Tom Grunhard. He added that the practice was Protestantism creeping into Catholic practice, which he sees as not a good thing.

The most opposition came from those who feel the practice is a health risk. “I don’t because of my immune system. I just wish people the Peace. A lot of us elderly have a problem with our immune system,” wrote Sue Whittaker.

“Hate it,” wrote Margaret Gibbs McCain. “I have a chronic illness, and during flu season the last thing I want to do is to have to make hand contact.”

Others argued that human touch is emotionally healthy.

“My mom always did it,” wrote Kathleen Pitt Skidmore. “She said that you never know but that when you hold that person’s hand, that may be the only physical human contact they have for the week. Don’t deny them on legalistic grounds.”

Brittany Wilmes, engagement editor for NCR who organized the social media discussion and the surveys, said interest in the topic was high. Contrary to many online discussions, where ideological brickbats are thrown regularly, this was a more personal debate.

“People were really sharing their own experiences,” she said. “People cared about the topic.”

According to Wilmes, a total of 92,500 people were reached via Facebook; 1,500 looked at the surveys; and 10,500 went on to read the original piece on the topic. More than 2,000 shared the piece and commented.

The last word goes to Judith Gerharz, a Facebook responder, who offered a unique response. She said she is proud to be counted in a parish where Our Father hand-holding is common. That parish is very likely located about halfway between Chicago and Green Bay, Wisconsin.

“It’s especially uniting because where we live, it’s the only time Bears and Packers fans agree on something,” she wrote.

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2 comments on “The results are in: NCR readers on hand-holding during the Our Father


    How it’s done at a Life-Teen Mass:


  2. Captain Kirk: Mister Spock! Negative responses to holding hands at the Novus Ordo and rumors that Pope Francis will crack down on the Latin Mass… analyze using your superior Vulcan logic.

    Spock: Fascinating, Captain. Of course, some would consider holding hands to be one the stages of intimacy which could provoke some discomfort with strangers. On the other hand, perhaps they are hiding their joy, Captain.

    Captain Kirk: Hiding their joy?

    Spock: A frequent refrain in the neo-Catholic charismatic movement, Captain. When they have nothing else to offer in the liturgical and theological revolution of the Spirit of Vatican II, they accuse fellow Catholics of hiding their joy. This distracts attention away from the heretical disasters of the modernist revolution while rewarding themselves with a feeling of moral superiority.

    Captain Kirk: I see. Perhaps we should study this phenomenon and see what other surprises it has in store…

    Küng Fu: Modernism the Legend Continues

    Master Po: What is troubling you, Grasshopper?

    Kwai Chang: I am confused, Master. Why do modernist charismatic neo-Catholics constantly accuse others of hiding their joy?

    Master Po: Strange are the ways of the cycle of karma, are they not, Grasshopper.
    Perhaps joy comes to some more easily than others. For who can know the way to San Jose?

    Kwai Chang: I cannot be certain, Master. But when a modernist bishop scolds others for hiding their joy, why does he not see that scolding others constantly is also a form of hiding one’s joy and that such scolding is very annoying?

    Master Po: Ah, Grasshopper, perhaps the disappearance of the study of logic is catching up with them. Come, we have much to contemplate and study. Do you wish to be accused of hiding your joy by falling behind in your studies?

    Kwai Chang: No, Master. That would be passive-aggressive. It might also indicate that you are hiding your joy by being too ready to scold me for hiding my joy and you would not wish to fall into the same passive-aggressive trap as the charismaniac neo-Jansenists. I notice that you also are small in stature and enjoy scolding the novices too much while you hide in this monastery because you could not survive in a regular job, raising a family and paying off the mortgage on a house, like a normal man with a family. Perhaps that is why some modernist bishops enjoy scolding laymen too much.

    Captain Kirk: Do neo-Catholic modernists enjoy scolding others too much, Mister Spock?

    Spock: Affirmative, Captain. Unfortunately, a higher than normal average of passive-aggressive types seek positions of spiritual authority to scold others endlessly. Hence, the attrition rate in organized religion.

    Father Mulcahy, S.J.: Oh, yes. Jansenism continues to be a problem.

    Hans Küng: I would like to address that…

    Sulu: Perhaps they need to learn their Enneagram numbers, Captain.

    Captain Kirk: Mister Spock, would it help for passive-aggressive modernist neo-Catholic charismaniacs to learn their Enneagram numbers?

    Spock: It’s possible, Captain. At least it would divert their attention away from the annoying habit of scolding others for hiding their joy.

    Mike Brady: That’s it, Carol! All this time we’ve been trying to reason with Jan from the point of view of our postmodern Western bourgeois decadence, alienation, and self-estrangement, as if simple common sense and reason would get through to her confused teenage mind. But if a weekend Enneagram seminar can help crazy passive-aggressive modernist neo-Catholic charismaniacs, it’s got to work for Jan, right?

    Carol Brady: Gee, I dunno, Mike. She just wants to wear that crazy wig around and make a fool of herself like an idiot. What if she comes back from the weekend Enneagram seminar all pumped up and wants the rest of us to find out our Enneagram numbers? At four hundred dollars a pop. With five more kids, Alice, and the two of us, that’s….

    Mike Brady: Oh. I hadn’t thought of that….

    Father Fitzgibbon: What’s an Enneagram?

    Walker Percy: Get some popcorn…

    Father O’Malley: We didn’t cover that at St. Mary’s. Maritain, on the other hand….

    Reverend Neuhaus: That’s my opening….Forgive me for interrupting again as aggressive and pushy professional Protestant converts sometimes do, but speaking as a semi-recovering former Lutheran familiar with the pitfalls of eliminating reason and logic from discussions of religion, this might be a good time to discuss the Naked Public Square in modernity, Max Weber’s concept of disenchantment in modern culture, and Professor Taylor’s secularization theories….

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