"Ask the Pastor"
Check here frequently for answers to questions submitted by parishioners* to Msgr. Maniscalco. Depending on the nature of the question the answer may be directed to the questioner and not shared on the web site.
*The identities of those whose questions are chosen to be answered publicly will be kept confidential.
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What is the propriety of members of the congregation taking the orans posture at Mass? I always thought it was just for the priest.
When we pray holding our arms stretched out with palms turned heavenward we are using what is called the "orans" gesture. "Orans" is the Latin word for praying. At Mass the priest uses this gesture whenever he is praying as the leader of the congregation on behalf of all present. This is the case with the opening prayer, the prayer over the gifts, Eucaristic Prayer or Canon of the Mass and the prayer after Communion. When he is praying with the people, such as the Gloria, he usually has his hands folded. The one exception is the Our Father which the priest is praying with the people but he is also instructed to use the "orans" gesture while doing so. This has led to some in the congregation to assuming the "orans" gesture as well during the Our Father. The bishops of this country seem to have decided not to turn the matter into a formal rule either way. One reason may be that in some places a custom of joining hands during the Our Father has grown up. So there may be a hesitation to choose among different customs. However, the Our Father would seem to be the only place in the Mass where the gesture is appropriate to both priest and people, because they are praying the same prayer together. Whenever the priest is praying on behalf of the congregation, the "orans" gesture is appropriate to the priest alone.