What should your relationship be with other people’s husbands? Should you hold their hands and pray with them? Should this be a required activity? Do you have the right to decide if you are going to hold another person’s hand or not? How about total strangers?
The latest attack from the “Church of Nice” that is my home parish was a homily from Father saying we should hold hands during the Our Father at Mass. Most people do this already but I have not, choosing to just fold my hands in front of me instead.
He actually had an interesting explanation for why “the Church” asks us to do this (I have heard no such universal proclamation.) Remember when Amalek led the Israelites into battle and they were only winning when Moses’ arms were raised but it took a really long time so Aaron and Hur held up Moses' arms all day until sundown and the Israelites were victorious? (Exodus 17: 8 - 13) Well, apparently, when we hold hands during the Our Father we are encouraging our weaker brothers and sisters in Christ by holding their arms up. Or maybe they are encouraging us by holding our arms up . . . ?
On rereading this passage I wonder if Aaron and Hur looked all dignified, standing still and stoic under Moses’ arms all day. I giggle to imagine the squirmy reshifting that I would have done in their place. Balance Moses’ arm on one shoulder, then the other, maybe on my head. I imagine resting my arm on my neighbor’s head as I solemnly pray the Our Father. Well Aaron and Hur’s arms would have gotten tired, too, you know.
But I digress.
Until the recent announcement about this new expectation for proper community participation at the Holy Sacrifice, I preferred to leave the communal hand holding to those who are comfortable with it. But lately I have been rather a thorn in the side of my pastor, asking him to do this or that to appease my traditionalist sensitivities. The heresy level on this is low so I choose to shut up and obey with a smile on my face (and snarky blog post.)
If I teach you anything in this blog, My Children, may it be this. “Always take the easy ones.” Your God will ask many difficult things of you before you die. Some you will likely and unfortunately say “no” to. If He asks you something small and easy, at LEAST do that. If you obey on enough of the little ones maybe it will make up for one of the big ones you really can’t man up for yet.
So what is my problem with holding the hand of the person next to me when I pray? Well sometimes that person is a snotty, sick five year old (through no fault of their own.) That is just unpleasant. But this brings us to the topic of what you should do with other people’s husbands.
You should not hold the hands of other people’s husbands in the name of some vague communal uplifting. Good reasons I can think of for holding the hands of someone else’s husband . . .
- They have fallen into a pit and you are the only person around to pull them out. Their wife is out buying groceries or something.
- They are dying and you are offering them final prayers and spiritual consolation in the absence of a priest while their wife is out buying groceries.
- Um . . . that’s all I got.
This squeamishness also keeps me out of community theater where similar problems exist.
And do NOT get me started on random, co-ed, Holy Thursday foot-washing lines. . .