Full Question

In our parish, during the Lord’s Prayer, we hold hands. I have heard that this is not an acceptable practice. Can you please tell me what is and where I can find answers to similar questions?


Jimmy Akin’s book Mass Confusion, available at shop.catholic.com, is an excellent resource for questions like this. Concerning holding hands during the Our Father, Jimmy states, “The Holy See has not ruled directly on this issue. In a response to a query, however, the Holy See stated that holding hands ‘is a liturgical gesture introduced spontaneously but on personal initiative; it is not in the rubrics’ . . . For this reason, no one can be required to hold hands during the Our Father” (161). Jimmy describes the practice as “discouraged.”


  • In my younger days, holding hands was not practiced by Catholics, universally, but after Vatican ll which was about 1962, the church have allowed this practice. They also have started receiving Holy Communion, the Body of Christ by their hands not by mouth.
    This was not acceptable to me ( i was wondering in anger ). I said, “Lord why do you allow these changes?”).Anyway, i continue receiving Communion by my mouth up to the present. To me praying the Lords Prayer while holding hands is not a good practice.. My opinion, it stains the hands, for not all hands are clean and receiving the Body of Jesus Christ by the hands is not appropriate, for the reason that our hands are not as clean as the hands of the priest (Celebrant) sanctified by God to hold His Body and Blood.
    It seems to me that Satan has already penetrated our Holy Catholic Church and we all allow this to happen. That is why holding hand at the Lord’s Prayer must not be practice it leads to the desecration of the Body of Our Lord God Jesus Christ.

    • If you are not comfortable holding hands don’t. It’s not a big deal. I think you are making much for no reason. Extend your both hands to our Lord and Pray that everyone follows suit. May God Bless you.

    • sheena says:

      Our tongues can be dirtier than our hands, however, Jesus can take care of himself be it on dirty hands or tongues. Love of God firstly then our neighbour are fundamentally the two most valuable gifts ….Jesus our loving Saviour cleans and cherishes all.

    • Noel David says:

      Simply holding hands (showing great love for each other or accepting each other as equals) while reciting the Our Father or some hymn and not being united once we move out from the place of worship – is meaningless. It is nothing but hypocrisy. To believe that our hands are unworthy to touch the Holy Eucharist but our filthy tongues are fit to do so is not right…. The Lord gave the bread to each of His disciples in their hands – and they didn’t swallow it but chewed and ate it… NONE of us are ever worthy to receive the Lord or touch Him but He out of His immense love for us sinners – makes us worthy to receive Him to be part of Him… We sinners can never ever clean ourselves unless the Lord touches us….

      • Randy Otis says:

        “The Lord gave the bread to each of His disciples in their hands”… so what your saying is that you were there and saw that?..making a proclamation of unproven fact shows ignorance.

    • Asar Ungas says:

      Holding hands while reciting the “Lord’s Prayer” is a sign and an act of UNITY among Catholics. Catholicism is universal and Unity among the faithful is a must. That is Jesus’ second commandment. Holding hands while praying is a simple gesture of unity. If you don’t want it, that’s your choice.

  • Christian Emmanuel Muñoz says:

    This is very rampant in the Philippines.

  • Deb Knight says:

    I am a bit sorry to hear this.

  • Lois Georgiou says:

    I see nothing wrong with holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer. It joins everyone together as “one” while praying to our God. It can also encourage someone who may not be comfortable during the Mass, example: someone attending for the first time. At first, when the practice began, I was embarassed and uncomfortable with it. Now, I see it as a sign of love and unity in worshiping our Lord.

    • anya crave says:

      Yes I agree with that Lois.

    • Michael says:

      Rather than comment on this, I’ll just ditto Lois’ comments.

    • Pam S. says:

      I Understand your feelings. But the rubrics are there so 300 people (my parish – 10:00 mass) from doing all the individual things that feel good or right to them. The Mass is a sacred ritual and we do our part in tandem with one another. If we are all doing our own thing, the majestic choreography is lost. Please, no one grab my hand.

    • Anne says:

      Maybe we can look at this situation this way – Why has the practice of holding hands during the Our Father? Why not during the Nicene Creed? Or the Gloria? Or any other prayer?
      It always amazed a late Catholic convert friend of mine that many Catholics were more into holding hands than the Holy Eucharist. She told me during one of our discussions that holding hands during the Lord’s prayer is a protestant practice, because protestants do not have Holy Eucharist to unite them as “one.” She felt very strongly that, as Catholics, we must emphasize the sacraments, T/traditions/vocabulary/rites we have in the Church.
      Having said all that, I will say that I agree with her. While I have difficulty with some of the teachings of the Church, that difficulty arises from emotion, not fact. When I look into “why?” the church says what it says, I can definitely deal with challenges more easily.

    • Linda says:

      I really hate the “holding hands” thing…When the apostles asked Jesus to “teach us how to pray” Jesus didn’t say hold hands so we can all be one. As far as making someone comfortable when their a first timer, I’d much rather welcome them to my beautiful Cathedral, and tell them “Welcome” Ever hold hands with someone who is sweaty? yuk!

  • maria maliza says:

    I agree, I prefer the old Latin mass before Vatican II, more solemn…another practice I don’t feel comfortable with, is shaking hands to acknowledge “peace be with you” for sanitary reasons, it’s embarassing when a person extends their hand to you even if you’re not, so you don’t have a choice but to shake their hand….we can just look at the other person and bow our heads and say “peace be with you”, instead of shaking hands……I see people coughing using their hand to cover their mouth and use the same hand to handshake, one way of spreading the germs that makes people sick…

    • Pat says:

      I so appreciate and understand what you are saying and concurr

      • Noel David says:

        As a youngster we used to served Mass and utter all those responses in Latin like parrots without understanding a single world….. Even used to sing all those Latin hymns without really knowing what I was singing… At least we know what we are saying now – though we may not mean it deep within…. Shaking hands is OK but it should not be a mere ritual practiced only during Mass (love for neighbour is not time bound nor does it have any barriers)… As for spreading disease, all the people dip their hands in Holy Water… Should this practice be stopped? Besides we touch the very pews where kneel and pray… If we have faith in God all these things need not bother us…. For even the most healthy conscious ones get affected with serious diseases….

  • Jesse says:

    whatever happened to Jesus’ command to “love your neighbor as I have loved you”? Would Jesus say to the leper “don’t touch me, germs.” or lay His hands at a distance from the sick person? If a person wants to shake hands with your “dirty hands” it’s his/her way to show you his/her love at the very least, why do we judge others so fast? I’m not saying that I condemn you for being too meticulous in behaving at the Eucharist, in fact i commend you because you know what to do and how Jesus, as our King, should be treated. But ask yourself, would Jesus be telling you to mind other people’s behavior at mass? If the Catholic Church, which was given authority by Jesus, says it’s alright to do these things why are we complaining as if the Church has no power to allow it?

    • Noel says:

      Jesse I agree with your views….and also what is unclean is the the one that comes out from our mouth most of the time.

    • Penny says:

      Amen Jesse. Again, people have the right to do it or not to do it – no doctrine here. Certainly does make us feel like more like members of the “family” of God vs just individual strangers sharing a pew. These acts are an outward showing of love.

  • Kathi says:

    I was at mass once at a Catholic Women’s Conference with a friend from our parish. The mass was celebrated by one of the Archbishops for the Military Service. When it came time for the Our Father, I knew not to reach for her hand as I knew that she was of the opinion that the practice was not appropriate. But apparently the person on her other side did reach for it and she refused. After mass, the bishop came over to her and told her that what she had done was wrong, and who was she to refuse a hand given in Christian charity. It made us all think.

    • Anne says:

      If you simply fold your hands in prayer, most people will understand that you do not hold hands. I do this at my mother’s parish, and people respect it.
      If the bishop did what he did, I am glad he isn’t my bishop. There is nothing “charitable” about holding hands during the Our Father. It is an automatic posture for some people, not a charitable move. To reprimand someone for doing something in line with Church teaching IN PUBLIC is befuddling.

  • Doug. Cooper says:

    I hold hands with my wife during mass especially during the Our Father.

    • Noel David says:

      Loving only those we love or who love us – is nothing great…. Even the Pagans do that…. We need to go beyond…. But it should not be a mere ritual during Mass alone….

  • Linda says:

    I’m not crazy about the hand holding thing…I’m also not fond of parishioners holding their hands in the Orans position. Half of the people who hold their hands in the Orans position look like they are being held-up. I understand the thought behind both so I figure live and let live, but I don’t like it. Also, if everyone really thought about what they were saying when they pray the “Lords Prayer” they might think twice about saying it. Forgive us as our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…that may be problematic if we are not very forgiving.

  • Dianna says:

    When we hold hands during the Our Father, we are like little children coming together to Daddy to ask for something important. I think it is a beautiful gesture of unity and support. But if someone doesn’t want to do it, they don’t have to.

  • lucia moro says:

    I attend a Vietnamese Mass during the week. As a sign of peace, each participant turns to the neighbor and bows his head in sign of respect. I LOVE this exchange.

  • Barbi says:

    My biggest problem with holding hands at Mass is the whole distraction aspect. Siblings wrestling with each other, or children (or anyone) being “forced” to hold hands with strangers, when to let go, those who insist on elevating their hands at the end etc. It distracts from the actual recitation of the prayer itself. We are already joined together in prayer it is not necessary to be physically joined as well. I truly think that not holding hands leads to a more respectful and reverent atmosphere, one that is far more conducive to praying. I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Akin and believe the practice should be [strongly] discouraged.

  • Marlene says:

    In my church, people do hold hands, and raise them upwards during the Lord’s Prayer. I wish this would stop, as well as the shaking of the hands during the “Peace be with you”. My hands are terribly arthritic, and it is very painful when people grab my hand tightly while raising it, or shaking it. I also find it very disruptive, and takes away from the beauty and simplicity of that moment. Also, how can I politely decline without appearing rude?

  • Jim says:

    Agreeing and dissenting views may have their merits and demerits and make us appear confused but this does not mean we disrespect one’s opinions and undermine other fellow Catholics’ ideas. The key word here should be respect. Let us respect one another while we strive to seek for the truth, the right and the proper for the glory of our Catholic faith. Sad to say that without respect and faith to our belief this would give an opportunity for protestants and fundamentalist to put their wedge and snatch people from the flock.

    • Noel David says:

      If we cannot accept (embrace/love) our fellow brother/sister (not just during the Our Father or Mass but always), we simply won’t be able to accept others/strangers outside the family….. If we do it only during Mass, it is nothing but hypocrisy…. “WHENEVER YOU WELCOME A STRANGER, YOU WELCOME ME….” says the Lord…. Here we are not even willing to accept our own family (CHURCH) members as an equal….

  • Ella says:

    The answer given makes it clear that holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer is NOT a part of the Mass, cannot be mandated, and is in fact discouraged and yet the response posts sadly tend to be very protestant-like in that “I like it so I’m going to do it anyway”, “I think it’s more Christ-like”, or other “I” “me” etc. themes which is all I ever heard as a Baptist; I expected better of Catholics.

  • reynaldo recto says:

    Yes I agree with that Lois.

  • Noel David says:

    These are nothing but mere rituals which most of us follow religiously like we do with many other rituals and practices i.e. shaking of hands or bowing to the persons next to us (which is known as the sign of peace) or even with the “kiss of peace” which is practiced in certain parishes…. All this is fine… but the thing is we (both Clergy and Laity) do it just for the heck of it at the spurt of the moment (as we are instructed by the Celebrant or the Church to do so) and forget to go beyond this MERE RITUAL in knowing and understanding the person whom we greet during Mass by building a strong and lasting bond of love/brotherhood/sisterhood which flows like the rivers…. Our love for each other has to be practiced at ALL TIMES AND IN ALL PLACES whereby the world will see and know that we are indeed God’s Children….. But alas!

  • Karen says:

    In our church (catholic obviously) when the Lord’s Prayer is said people hold hands or hold their hands lifted up to heaven. When I was a child all the way up to my 20’s we never practiced this. When it seeped into the church I frowned upon it, we were given a choice. I don’t do it and neither does my daughter. The church took out kneeling during the mass and I found that highly disrespectful and the ringing of the bells at the last supper. I understand some change, but for the most part I don’t like the changes brought in. Keep it the way it was.

  • Ron peralta says:

    The best posture during the “OUR FATHER” prayer is to fold our hands close to the chest because we are begging from our almighty God. The second vatican council intoduced this protestant like gesture. “HOLDING HANDS is not a catholic tradition period. If it’s not catholic, why do you have to follow it? Know your faith, know the church history.

  • manny says:

    Since the church did not explicitly discourage this practice, it would be deem to leave it to every member of the church his preferences. Only an official statement from the church could say what is do`s and don`ts.

  • Mario Simonelli says:

    Shaking hands or not shaking hands, you have made a man thing important, when you should recognize the blasphemy in what you are saying. For the most popular verses of scripture in the New Testament without doubt belong to the prayer “OUR FATHER”; and most of us have memorised those verses from childhood. But young and old alike have been unaware of the lie that it contains, for in Matthew 6:13 part of it reads: “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” This verse implies that God leads us into temptation, and that there’s the need to ask Him not to do that, but to deliver us from evil.
    But why should we ask Him “not to lead us into temptation,” when we all know or should know that the evil of temptation is not in God’s character? For we read in Romans 2:4: “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance.”
    And we read in James 1:13: “Let no one say when he is tempted, I am being tempted by God; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.” And 2Peter 2:9 has no ambiguity of the true work of the Lord for we read: “The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under darkness for the Day of Judgment.”
    So I am only suggesting to put the record straight, in harmony with God’s true character, in accordance with His true scripture by partly restoring Matthew 6:13, to read: “And lead us into repentance, and deliver us from evil.”
    The above verse now reflects the true work and character of our God. After all, we are talking about our Heavenly Father, therefore, we should know what He does and doesn’t do. I am sure that an evil man, an enemy of Christ, has cleverly inserted those lies in there so they would falsely assume the power of the Sacred Word and prevent us from truly knowing and trusting our God and Father.

  • David says:

    To me, the Lords Prayer is a Prayer from me, my heart and soul, to the Lord God, This is a personal prayer, not a communal prayer. I get mean looks and I am ostracized during mass because I will not hold hands. This is not right, it is not something I grew up with and to me it interferes with my worship.

    • Mario Simonelli says:

      Yes David it was meant to be a personal prayer; as a matter of fact it is a prayer to ask our father to give us His Holy Spirit. You can say “Thy Kingdom come” in me “thy will be done” in me “Give ME this day MY daily bread and forgive ME MY debts, as I also have forgiven MY debtors, and lead ME into REPENTANCE AND deliver ME from evil.” It sound a little selfish but after the Father has sanctified you, you can help lots of people. Or it can be a communal prayer but it loses something for the individual. Read my post above.

  • David says:

    I am a Maronite Catholic. We don’t do this. We hold our hands out and opem toward God our Father. We also do not have communion in the hand.

  • keda smith says:

    Some still receive communion by mouth in our Parish and some choose to kneel while receiving it. Personal choice I believe, either way hygiene comes into play (I think) Do whatever you feel is right for YOU

  • angus says:

    If it helps open a person’s heart to the Lord we should never discourage it. We are one Bread one Body in which my mother has always held my hand when I was still young even till this day it helps me feel the presence of the Lord strongly Because it is He’s words in how we should pray to Him. God bless

  • Marti Espenido says:

    I heard that the reason that holding hands is discouraged is because some people would be led to believe that it is the high point of us being one community. We seem to be united as one family when addressing Our Father. The oneness should be felt more in us receiving the body of Christ. The members of the Mystical Body partaking of the Sacramental Body. In Holy Communion, we become united with one another because we partake in one sacrifice.

  • Darla Moser says:

    The holding of hands during Mass comes more specifically from Pentecostal communities.The Mass s solely to worship and please God not for us to please and entertain ourselves and please each other.Our worship is directed solely to God and until each learns that there will be all kinds of new fads introduced into God’s Church sadly.

  • Jean says:

    Holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer is essentially a matter of hygiene. The cleanliness of minds and purity of souls are far more important. My family and I hold hands with each other only.

  • Ruth Ferreri says:

    For some people, especially lonely seniors, that may be the only touch they receive that day. How great that it came during the Mass with their community. You are exposed to more germs in the supermarket and a theater than you are during the Our Father. How do we know that Jesus didn’t have His apostles hold hands during His teaching of these beautiful words of unity and love to God and each other.

  • Pete Parks says:

    I have always and will always pray with my hands together and straight up.

  • Anthony says:

    If I make it to the golden gates I’ll ask the Lord how we did down on earth! If it feels righteous I’ll go with it, thats all I can do. The division of todays church makes me want to stay home on sundays.

  • The Church gives us the option of holding hands or not during the Our Father recitation, so let’s not criticize one another for not doing what we like or feel comfortable doing. God looks into our hearts and knows how reverent each one really is. If we don’t want to hold someone’s hand out of disgust or fear of getting sick, or because we really want to focus on praying and not be distracted by this gesture, God sees everything and he will judge us all accordingly. I believe his judgement is based on each one’s intention. We humans should stop making this an issue and stop arguing among ourselves like little kids, as this is nothing but another temptation from the devil to plant discord among Catholics. If you do not want to hold hands keep your hands clasped close to your heart and close your eyes in prayer before the Our Father starts. I assure you your neighbor will get it and not bother you. I don’t mind holding hands but I do respect your wish not to do so. No one is right or wrong in this matter.

  • Mark says:

    Wrong. It’s not discouraged but ENCOURAGED. This is a directive from the Bishop.
    Communion Rite
    27.The General Instruction does not give
    a specific gesture to be used by the assembly
    during the Lord’s Prayer. The instruction does
    highly praise unified and common gestures. (#42)
    Therefore, because the assembly and presider
    are reciting the Lord’s Prayer with one voice the
    gesture for prayer should follow that which is
    prescribed for the presider, that is standing with
    hands in the orans position.

  • Sharon says:

    Where has our Roman Catholic Church Faith Gone? Today we have the La Salette Catholics and the Maronite Catholics, which one is the True Catholic Faith? The Church has changed so much since I was raised. I still am a faithful church goer and I do not like the changes. Like the Nicene Creed where they have changed the words, from which I was raised with, and the kids today do not understand. The Hallalueh Clapping before the Gospel reading and people dancing, I think is disrespectful. The handholding during the Lords Prayer, like the other comments this is a personal decision, that has turned many people away from the Catholic Faith and from going to church. The real Catholic religion when I was younger gave the First Communion Day to the youngster who was receiving the sacrament to them as their day, Not to be a Parent/child day.. The youngsters walked down the isle as pairs in their dresses and young men in their suits and sat and waited for this special occasion to receive our Lord for the First time. This has changed now it is a family tradition. WHY? Same for Confirmation Most now are taking confirmation thru the computer, because they don’t have time to go to the classes. With Prayers and Patience and asking GOD’s HELP. he will bring back the old way of our Catholic religion and make people understand time may go forward but our faith must remain steady and strong to hold us together until GOD is ready to bring us to him.

  • Rosemarie says:

    Why do we sing bind together Lord with hearts that cannot be broken? Reach out and touch somebody’s hand make this world a better place if we can.

  • Daniel Rossi says:

    Wow, I cannot believe that I am seeing so many objections to touching another’s hand, whether it be in the Lord’s Prayer or in the offering of peace. I’ve seen comments ranging from saying its “disgusting” to “it takes the beauty away from the mass”. Ask yourself one question. Would our lord and savior object to holding another’s hand. I am happy that in my parish we have the option to hold another’s hand and of course it is absolutely mandatory to bid peace to other parishioners, which it SHOULD BE. This has been so for my 20+ years of being a Catholic. If you don’t want to hold another parishioner’s hand during the Lord’s Prayer then don’t but do not try to justify this as something contrary to God’s will or disgusting. That justification is what is disgusting.

  • Francis says:

    The more important issue on communion by the hand is the fear of having some particles of the hosts being desecrated when not completely consumed in the mouth. Thanks

  • Theresa says:

    The problem with this practice along with all the other new responses such as “And with your spirit” are all taken from the Protestant churches. The Catholic church is suppose to be the true church and so all of these new practices make some Catholics uncomfortable to practice.

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