Proper Postures During Mass
By Father Richard Frank:
From time to time it is a good idea to be reminded of the proper postures we should have when we celebrate Holy Mass.
During one of the Penitential Rites at the beginning of Mass (“I confess to Almighty God . . .”) we are supposed to strike our breast three times when we say: “Through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.” Simply follow the example of the celebrant.
There are a couple of times when we should bow from the waist and not just a nod of the head. One is during the Profession of Faith, as indicated in the missalette, at the words “and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.” There are two times in the year when we genuflect instead of bow – Christmas & Annunciation March 25. The other bow is before we receive Holy Communion either on the tongue or in the hand before we respond “Amen.” Some try to say “Amen” when the Host is already in their mouths.
Receiving the Eucharist Correctly
If you receive Holy Communion in the hand, the hand you use to put the Host into your mouth is the hand underneath. You are not supposed to switch the Host from one hand to the other. Nor are we to receive Holy Communion with only one hand. We are not supposed to palm the Holy Eucharist.
I have been following the practice of giving Holy Communion on the tongue when someone is holding a baby, using a cane or walker, or has an arm in a sling since it is more dignified that way and keeps a person from having to make twists and gyrations in order to hold the hands properly.
Some Catholics have adopted the practice of the “orans” position of the hands during the Our Father, holding the arms outstretched with palms upward, similar to the priest celebrant. Also, some like to hold hands with those around them during the Lord’s Prayer. These practices have probably developed at the encouragement of some priests or religious educators in the past, but they are not prescribed postures in the liturgy for congregations. (Learn more here and here.) As far as I know, they are not forbidden either. I do not promote these postures myself because the Church’s liturgy does not promote them, but I do not say anything one way or the other if people have been assuming those postures and like to do it. However, when I am asked, I do tell people that they should not feel obligated to hold hands or to hold their hands up like the priest if they choose not to do so.