Monday, August 24, 2009

More Questions?

Add them as comments here. Try to shorten them. As you have seen, the questions can become so involved that they become difficult to use.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

DIALOGUE: A Response from Ms Combier-Donovan

Catherine Combier-Donovan <>
standing maryanna <>
Wed, Aug 19, 2009 at 9:19 AM
RE: A Request from the blog: Richmond Voices

Dear Blogmaster,

Thank you once again for the invitation to enter into dialogue with you and other members of the Diocese of Richmond. The question about the tabernacle tends to be an emotional one, so I would like my response to be prayerfully pondered and carefully crafted. Because I will be out of the country for the next two weeks, I don’t have enough time to do this well right at the moment. Rest assured, however, that I will respond when I return.

I’m sure some of my colleagues would be interested in participating in the kind of dialogue you are proposing, for we see poor communication as one of the biggest stumbling blocks to effective ministry.

In the peace of Christ,

Catherine Combier-Donovan
Office of Worship


standing maryanna []
Tuesday, August 18, 2009 8:43 PM
Catherine Combier-Donovan
A Request from the blog: Richmond Voices

Dear Ms Combier-Donovan,

Your kind response to the question about Holding Hands During The Lord's Prayer was gratefully received by the people who frequent my blog, Richmond Voices. Actually, they were quite surprised that you took the time to respond to the question. Again, I thank you for doing so.

In continuing the discussion on the blog, a question was raised about the possibility of opening a dialogue between the Lay Leadership on the Diocesan level and readers of the blog.

I am very much aware that many people on the parish level in our diocese and elsewhere have questions that have been posed to their parish leaders or to others in diocesan leadership positions about why certain changes occurred in the Liturgy or in the church building. Either the changes were not properly explained or the questions were dismissed. This has been hurtful to many people who love the Church and love their parishes.

When the question was raised about a dialogue with you and others, I thought it was a very good idea and an opportunity for this blog to be useful for our people. I also realize that even if you were agreeable to a dialogue, you might not want to use a blog for the dialogue. An alternative venue could be through a column in the Catholic Virginian.

At any rate, I want to refer you to another article that I wrote where a dialogue project could be commented on. That article is Project: Discussions and Questions for the Diocesan Lay Leadership. But first I would ask you to read the comments to the article referenced in the first paragraph above since that is where the discussion began.

It is my hope that you will consider such a dialogue with my readers; either through Richmond Voices or some other venue. There have already been several questions posed as you will see when you read the comments. I have found that those wishing to ask questions have done so in a respectful manner.

Thank you for your time. I hope to hear from you soon. God's graces and blessings are being wished for you this evening.


standing maryanna
"Richmond Voices"

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Project: Discussions and Questions for the Diocesan Lay Leadership

Perhaps it is time to start a separate article about the project that several of you have requested about contacting the lay leadership of the Diocese of Richmond to ask questions that are a concern for some of you.

This idea of a dialogue with the diocesan lay leadership was originally expressed by an anonymous poster. Mark then put the idea into perspective and added some questions of his own. Others have begun to add their remarks...

Please continue the conversation under this heading. If it suits those interested, I will again email Ms Combier-Donovan to ask her to read your remarks and encourage her to be part of this dialogue.

Let me know your wishes...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Where Y'all From? ~ Visitors to the Blog

Thought you might like to see where visitors to Richmond Voices hale from. Here is the list for the past several days. Not counting duplicates...

Fredericksburg, VA
Wise, VA
Suffolk, VA
Norfolk, VA
Bremerton, WA
Virginia Beach, VA
Newburgh, Ontario, Canada
Podgorica, Montenegro
Glade Hill, VA
Marthaville, LA
Louisville, KY
Hudson, OH
Kanate, Ontario
Hartford, Connecticut
Marion, VA
Stockholm, Sweden
Glen Allen, VA
Mountain View, California
Chesapeake, VA
Midlothian, VA
St. Mary's, OH
Richmond, VA

Not a huge number of visitors but good enough.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Ms Catherine Combier-Donovan: Holding Hands at the Lord's Prayer

I received the following email from Catherine Combier-Donovan, Director of the Office of Worship of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond in response to the question about hand holding during the Our Father at Youth Masses, etc.

The information was too long to go into the comment box so I am giving the email its own article.

I want to thank Ms Combier-Donovan for responding to the question so completely and thoroughly.



Dear Blogmaster,

Thank you for sending me the question about holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer at youth Masses. Here is as official and complete an answer as I can give you.

It is often a practice in many American Catholic churches for everyone to hold hands during the Lord’s Prayer, sometimes snaking around the room to sure that no one is left out. The origins of it are not clear, though some have suggested that it may come from AA meetings or the home Masses of the late 60’s and early 70’s. It is a lovely sign of solidarity, especially meaningful for a group praying outside of Mass, but it is not a liturgical gesture envisioned in any rubrics.

Hand-holding becomes the only gesture demanded of everyone, one to which it is difficult to say, “No, thank you” without being considered unfriendly. Many people are not comfortable or do not wish to hold hands for personal or health reasons, yet they are forced to do so as their hands are grabbed without asking. Often when I speak of this gesture to church groups around the Diocese, the strong response is that this is their real sign of unity! But do we need that as a sign of unity? After holding hands we must break apart and turn to one another at the Sign of Peace, our sign of the community’s unity in Christ, which prepares us for the most unifying moment of all – namely the sharing in the Eucharist.

No particular gesture is mandated by the General Instruction of the Roman Missal for the assembly. While holding hands is not prohibited by either the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, nor the USCCB Secretariat for Divine Worship, it is described nowhere. A few years ago, the US Bishops considered ruling against it, but decided not to do so since the custom was so ingrained in many parishes. The presider, however, is directed by the rubrics to pray the Lord’s Prayer with his hands extended.

The orans, the standing posture of praying with hands open and arms raised, is the oldest prayer posture of praise in the presence of God, described both in Hebrew Scripture, in the New Testament, and by the Early Fathers of the Church (see Gen 18:22 and Mk 11:25). For centuries the Virgin Mary has been portrayed in iconography with hands extended in prayer this way (see the Virgin Orans). It was the common posture until around the 9th century, when it became perceived as the posture of the ordained. Vatican II restored it as the posture for the whole Body of Christ. It connotes vulnerability, surrender, praise and supplication, and is the universal posture seen in churches around the world.

There is a very rich tradition, both scriptural and patristic, that supports the orans, while nothing other than localized American custom supports holding hands during the Lord's Prayer. There are other ways to pray this. Therefore, while some people, families in particular, may certainly hold hands, others should be free to pray in the orans, to simply pray with their own hands clasped together, or to do nothing at all other than utter the words in fervent prayer. However you pray the Lord’s Prayer at Mass, just remember to allow each person to pray it as he or she wishes, and to impose it on no one. This goes for presiders as well…

So the final answer to “is there an official Diocesan policy about holding hands at youth liturgies?” is multifaceted. Is it an official posture? No. Is it prohibited? No. May it be done? Yes. Is it obligatory? No. And this applies to all liturgies.

A word about singing the Our Father: The Sacramentary/Roman Missal provides a chanted setting (which very few people know) for this prayer and it may certainly be sung to other settings. My preference for not singing it, as noted by John Southworth, applies only to weddings, funerals, and other liturgies where there may be non-Catholic Christians. We have this prayer in our common memory. Recite it and you welcome them. Sing it and you exclude them.

Catherine Combier-Donovan
Office of Worship
Catholic Diocese of Richmond
7800 Carousel Lane
Richmond VA 23294

From: standing maryanna []
Sent: Sunday, August 02, 2009 7:06 PM
To: Worship Office
Subject: Blog question for the Office of Worship


I am the blogmaster of the blog titled, Richmond Voices that can be found at One of our readers has posed a question concerning the holding of hands during the Our Father at youth Masses.

Please take time to respond to this question since it concerns the official position of the diocese.

Here is the blog article: Official Posture for the Our Father at youth liturgies

Thanks for your time...

standing maryanna

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Official posture for the Our Father at youth liturgies?

Anonymous brought up a Liturgy question about the official posture for the Our Father at youth liturgies...

I am assuming that since the question has been asked, that I have permission to make a separate blog article of this question. Here is the question posed by Anonymous. I have taken the liberty to divide the one into several paragraphs for easier reading.

"...Will the Diocesan Liturgy office please give us some guidlines regarding when we are to hold hands during the liturgy and when not to hold hands. It's fine that families adopt a costum of holding hands if that's what they wish but why extend to other members of the congregation during a prayer of petition like the "Our Father"?

Having gone to many youth liturgies across the diocese, it seems that holding hands is the official posture for the Our Father at youth liturgies. If this is the case, where is this written? If this is not the case, then why is this either being encouraged, promoted or not being addressed. It seems to me that the posture should reflect the prayer and handholding is not really a posture of petition, it shows unity which to me further confuses since we should be united through the entire liturgy, not just the Our Father.

The adults need to start catechizing the youth about this when teaching them liturgy; otherwise, we just get one more manufactured practice that our diocese is so noted for doing. What is the official posture for the Our Father at youth liturgies?"

Do we have a reader from the Diocesan Office of Worship here? Actually, I will email the Office of Worship and see if someone can respond to this question. Others, of course, may wish to have some input also...