Some faithful would argue that lifting hands or holding hands during The Lord’s Prayer at Mass is wrong and disrespectful. According to the GENERAL INSTRUCTION OF THE ROMAN MISSAL, INSTITUTIO GENERALIS MISSALIS ROMANI; Including Adaptations for the Dioceses of the United States of America CHAPTER I “The Importance and Dignity of the Eucharistic Celebration” Section 18 states; “This will best be accomplished if, with due regard for the nature and the particular circumstances of each liturgical assembly, the entire celebration is planned in such a way that it leads to a conscious, active, and full participation of the faithful both in body and in mind, a participation burning with faith, hope, and charity, of the sort which is desired by the Church and demanded by the very nature of the celebration, and to which the Christian people have a right and duty by reason of their Baptism. 28 is the reference material that is Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 14.
The GENERAL INSTRUCTION OF THE ROMAN MISSAL, INSTITUTIO GENERALIS MISSALIS ROMANI clarifies more in CHAPTER III, “The Duties and Ministries in the Mass.” Section II. “THE DUTIES OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD.” Subsection 96 states; “Indeed, they form one body, whether by hearing the word of God, or by joining in the prayers and the singing, or above all by the common offering of Sacrifice and by a common partaking at the Lord’s table. This unity is beautifully apparent from the gestures and postures observed in common by the faithful.” There is a clarion call to simply participate as a congregation far more than to adhere to a particular manner of praying over other ways to pray for the congregation.
The general rule of thumb according to the “Sacrosanctum Concilium, 22.3” to remember is; “no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.”
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) references the orans posture using the phrase; “with hands extended.” The GIRM instructs the priest to do this some twenty-eight times and is a direction only for the presiding priest of the Mass. The GIRM is starkly silent with respect to the congregation purposefully. Considering the totality of instruction found in the GIRM it is clear that a congregant praying with arms extended is neither an addition or change to the liturgy and in the same manner the holding of hands is not an addition or change to the liturgy in any way, shape, or form. In fact, these various approaches to praying the Lords Prayer at Mass are major factors in; “…the entire celebration is planned in such a way that it leads to a conscious, active, and full participation of the faithful both in body and in mind, a participation burning with faith, hope, and charity…” (GENERAL INSTRUCTION OF THE ROMAN MISSAL, INSTITUTIO GENERALIS MISSALIS ROMANI. CHAPTER I, Section 18)
Likewise, and for this same reason, when a congregant prays the Lord’s Prayer with hands folded in front is also just as important for these are all a means to more fully participate in the celebration. Of particular note is that when congregants hold hands there is a horizontal solidarity that is inclined to the vertical which expresses direct unity of faith toward God the creator of the universe as the object of worship in the celebration of the Mass. Clearly the intent is not to be a sheria like legalist and allow for the congregation to as fully as possible participate in the celebration and not worry at all about which way is right or wrong for the congregation to pray the Lord’s prayer. The one thing that is abundantly clear is that there will be a whole lot of surprised faithful who upon entering the pearly gates where they will find so many acceptable forms of pray in heaven.