Q: I just read an article that said “The Deacon is expressly forbidden to hold his hands up in prayer.” If we learned this in formation I have forgotten it. Is it true? Many years ago, (during a training session on the GIRM, I think) it was suggested that the followers of Jesus would have prayed with their hands held up. I have prayed that way for many years. I do not want to continue a practice that is ‘expressly forbidden’. If I change now it will be quite noticeable and I anticipate people will question why. Can you provide a citation so I can explain the change, if indeed, a change is required? Thanks.
A: Nowhere does it “expressly forbid” a deacon to hold his hands up in prayer. However, the Vatican did issue an instruction in 1997 on certain questions on collaboration of the non-ordained faithful: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cclergy/documents/rc_con_interdic_doc_15081997_en.html.
In eucharistic celebrations deacons and non-ordained members of the faithful may not pronounce prayers — e.g. especially the eucharistic prayer, with its concluding doxology — or any other parts of the liturgy reserved to the celebrant priest. Neither may deacons or non-ordained members of the faithful use gestures or actions which are proper to the same priest celebrant. It is a grave abuse for any member of the non-ordained faithful to “quasi preside” at the Mass while leaving only that minimal participation to the priest which is necessary to secure validity.
If you are holding your hands up during the eucharistic prayer in the same way that a priest does, you shouldn’t do that. But if you’’re praying on your own apart from the eucharist, there’s no harm in it.