1. Jerome Jay

    I definitely have to disagree with one major point of this article: “Because no position is prescribed, it is true that prayer posture during the “Our Father” comes down to opinion and personal preference.”

    Because no option is listed, there is no option to add your own posture. It would be equally inappropriate to throw both hands into the air and wave them around during the Our Father. You could do that while praying the Our Father privately, but the Mass is not a private prayer.

    Why does it matter, if it isn’t a “law of God”, and if it is a “non-salvation” issue. For one thing, any good father will back up his wife. Mothers’ often appeal to the authority of the father to get children to behave, “Just wait until your father gets here”. It is similar with Holy Mother Church. God has given his bride The Church authority over His children, the faithful. Some sins are even binding under pain of mortal sin, such as going to church on Sunday, even though they are strictly speaking “mere” ecclesiastical laws. Any disobedience to the laws of the Church is disobedience to God. You just wait for your father to get here.

    Consequently, while I would agree that it isn’t the biggest deal in the world, the real worry is that in showing this willfulness in small matters that one will encourage within themselves a spirit of willfulness in large matters as well. As we pray in the Our Father: Thy Will be done.

    I would agree with most of the rest of the article, most especially: “In many cases, the best choice, perhaps, is to simply fold your hands and bow your head.” Just close your eyes, and fold your hands, and you will never have to worry about, or be distracted by, this issue again in your life. Unless, that is, your friends on Facebook tag you in a post on the subject.

  2. Michael

    As long as we’re talking gestures, I’m a convert, and have always wondered why, at the end of mass, the priest blesses (sign of the cross) and we do the same to ourselves. It is ubiquitous so I assume it is proper; but why?

    • I’m actually not sure, but that’s a great question. If anyone knows, please comment! I did a little research but wasn’t able to find much in way of results.

  3. Sherry

    Erin, I would find your reflections more compelling if you referenced liturgical theologians instead of EWTN. You write very clearly, with logic and passion. One guideline for prayer I use is: God doesn’t should on us (scrupulousity). If a prayer practice/posture leads you closer to God, it is good for you. I do like your four concluding points, especially #4. Keep writing,

    • Thank you for the thoughtful comment, Sherry. Are there any theologians that you yourself prefer or any books/websites you recommend? I’m always looking for new sources, and I would definitely rather use stuff directly from (good) theologians. Unfortunately my bookshelf is a little bare at the moment and I always get nervous using stuff I find online unless it is something that I know is generally well-respected (hence my using sites like EWTN, Catholic Answers, CNA, etc.).

      I completely agree with your statement that “God doesn’t should on us.” That’s why I included the last bit in my post about how this isn’t a salvation issue. It in no way affects God, but I still think it’s important to consider these things, not only because it is interesting, but also because knowing why the Church does why it does and the reasoning behind the prayer positions we choose can help us draw closer to God.

  4. Ellen

    Great post! Knowing the reasoning behind things is one of the most beautiful things in the Church. Those details are meant to help us as humans remember and connect with the theology as we pray. Everything from the stained glass, to the postures, to the words is meant to remind and focus our attention on our prayer and follow the theology that leads us to the most meaningful relationship with God.

    • Thank you Ellen 🙂

      That’s part of my reasoning behind doing this “Catholicism Unwrapped” series. Every little detail in our beautiful Church has a purpose, and I love that. I really want to dig into all the obscure details and find out why things are done the way they are because it adds so much to our prayer life and to the liturgy!

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