When one assists at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the Venerable Gregorian Rite, commonly called “the Traditional Mass”, one of the very first things you notice are THE HANDS. Both the priest AND the servers in the sanctuary hold their hands as a default posture in what is called the “Orans” position. “Orans” is a Latin term meaning “one who is praying or pleading”. We all know it and do it almost, and perhaps literally, instinctively. It is the posture of holding both of your hands in front of you, roughly at the sternum with the palms together, fingers outstretched, and thumbs crossed, right thumb over left thumb. Sometimes the fingers are laced, but in the Sanctuary, the fingers of the priest and servers are almost always straight.
Like I said, this posture is ubiquitous. Do a web search of “praying hands”, “praying figurine”, “praying man”, and you will see the Orans posture across the board. Here is an image from a book on serving The Mass for lads showing the proper Orans position. Citation on the Servers Orans position HERE. Excellent little reference page for Altar Servers of all ages. Worth a bookmark.
It bears mentioning that the Orans position with the hands approximately one foot apart is ONLY to be done by the priest, as at the Preface and the Pater Noster. The fad of the past 50+ years of having the laity assume the priestly Orans (palms apart) during the Lord’s Prayer is an illiceity designed to blur the distinction between the the priesthood and the laity, which is to say to denigrate the priesthood.
Before the consecration, the priest’s fingers are extended – after the consecration, to protect from any loss of particles of the Host on the priest’s fingers until his fingers are purified in the Ablutions, the priest diligently holds his thumb and forefinger tips together in every hand posture. EVERYTHING has meaning and significance.
When one sees a lad or a man who is just learning how to serve the Mass, and has not been told how to hold his hands and thus is seen walking, standing or kneeling with his hands hanging at his sides, or even held together down in front of his pelvic area, it is jarring and distracting. How to hold one’s hands in the Sanctuary should be the very first thing a lad or man is taught, because even if the neophyte server makes a mistake, he will always be properly comported, and can receive instruction of correction from the priest, emcee or senior server possibly without any of the faithful realizing it, and certainly not being jarred into distraction by an irreverent posture.
Well, this little jaunt down Rubric Road is all well and good, but what is the point? The point is the answer to the question WHY is the Orans posture what it is? Why isn’t the Orans posture to hold one’s hands at one’s sides, or on one’s hips, or grasping one’s head? What does the Orans posture symbolize or demonstrate? What does the Orans posture MEAN?
The answer is, it means PERFECT HUMILITY – the opposite of pride, and this is why it is the default position in the Sanctuary and for all Liturgical functions.
But WHY does this posture signify perfect humility? Ah, let’s do an experiment. Put both hands in front of you at chest height. Now, touch the insides of your wrists together. You know this posture. This is the posture of a man in fetters, manacles or handcuffs, or submitting himself to have fetters, manacles or handcuffs placed upon him. Yes, when the priest and servers in the Sanctuary hold their hands in the Orans position, this signifies that they have freely chosen to be slaves to Christ – they are offering their hands to be bound by the Lord. Now go back to our “handcuff” position from above. Hands in front of you, insides of your wrists touching. Now, lace your fingers together. This is the posture of PLEADING. In order to plead, one MUST be humble before the one being pled to, whether it be God, or a person.
Makes sense, right? There is nothing more awesome than the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. No one is worthy to offer it, or even serve it. So, the only possible posture is one of total self-humbling, to communicate with one’s body, “I AM CHRIST’S SLAVE!” Now, most western post-Christian men blanch at the notion of “being a slave” to anyone or any thing – even God. How can it be wrong, bad or not in one’s very best interests to freely choose to have God Almighty, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as one’s Master? How can it be anything other than incomprehensibly GOOD to be enslaved to PERFECT, INFINITE LOVE HIMSELF? Being a slave to Jesus Christ is INFINITELY BETTER than being the master of anything.
If Lucifer told God, “Non serviam,” that is, “I will not serve,” then what MUST our answer to God be? “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Now, let us look at some helpful counter-examples from Antipope Bergoglio himself. Oh yes. They are myriad – or should I say… LEGION.
First, let’s compare Pope Benedict XVI when he was announced as the Vicar of Christ on Earth back in ARSH 2005. Note how his hands keep coming back to being clasped in front of him. Knowing what we now know about the true meaning of the Orans posture and of displaying your hands in front of you as offering your hands to be bound in servitude, watch this with fresh eyes. Pope Benedict tries to wave to the crowd, but JUST KEEPS COMING BACK to the posture of hands in front of him. This isn’t Pope Benedict saying, “I won,” it is Pope Benedict gesticulating to the crowd, “Bind my hands. I am God’s servant, and thus your servant.” The timestamp is 2:48, but I think the embed should start at that point automatically. The Italian commentator even says at 3:14, “Ecco questo gesto con le mani.” “Look at (behold) this gesture with the hands.” Indeed. Watch this, and every time Pope Ratzinger does the clasped hands gesture say, “I am your servant.” The point becomes clear.
Now, watch this Diabolical Narcissist PSYCHOPATH. This is a monster, drinking deep from the cup of power, surveying all the “useful idiots” that will “love him, and despair”. Look at the hands. Down at the sides. No humility. Only pride bellowing out at the world, “I’m in charge here!” Knowing what we know now, the signs were all there from literally the first seconds of this foul wretch Antipope usurping and squatting upon the See of Peter of what he was.
But remember, the reason why Bergoglio is an Antipope is because Pope Benedict’s attempted bifurcation of the papacy and “partial resignation” of only the “ministry of the active governance of the Church, and NOT the Petrine Office, was invalid due to “Substantial Error” per Canon 188, not anything Antipope Bergoglio has done. The issue is February 28, ARSH 2013, NOT March 13th, ARSH 2013. This is just an interesting illustration of Antipope Bergoglio’s glaringly visible luciferian pride, malignity and an illustration of how and why the carriage of the hands matters, and what it communicates.
But wait. There’s more. Perhaps you remember this horror from ARSH 2013. Antipope Bergoglio went downstairs into the grottoes beneath St. Peter’s Basilica where many Popes are buried. There was a lad server there, and the wretched, wretched Antipope when he saw the lad server standing with his hands in the Orans position literally pried his hands apart and said to him in Italian, “Are your hands bound together? It seems like they’re stuck.”
Filthy wretch. He literally tried to convince the boy to join Lucifer in his cry, “I WILL NOT SERVE.” The despicable apostate Antipope was trying to create another prideful narcissist storm trooper for satan’s army.
Let’s all, clergy and laity, take Antipope Bergoglio’s question and make it a point of departure for a meditation when we assist at Mass, serve in the Sanctuary, or for the priestly readers, even offer the Holy Sacrifice. And for those of you who have lads that serve, or who train lads to serve, PLEASE, PLEASE EXPLAIN things to them. Absolutely EVERYTHING in the Traditional Mass is SATURATED with meaning. Nothing is random. Show them how to properly hold their hands, and then PLEASE explain WHY. And if you are a priest, remind them that you hold your hands in the same way for the same reason. The greatest producer of vocations is the Liturgy itself, but only so long as the demonic spirit of incommunication is thwarted and lads and young men are told all of the whats, whys and wherefores of what they are doing.
Likewise, as we laymen approach the Communion rail, we too should hold our hands in the Orans posture both coming and going. You don’t sidle up to Holy Communion like you are walking through a mall, or getting ready to board a roller coaster. You don’t go up to Communion with Our Blessed Lord with your hands in your pockets, or with your hands all over your spouse, or with your arms crossed. Remember those sweet nuptial words from Ephesians 5: 24-25
Therefore as the Church is subject to Christ, so also let the wives be to their husbands in all things. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the Church, and delivered himself up for it.
-Ephesians 5: 24-25
Finally, one last image for you. If you have ever been to Rome, you might have visited the church of Santa Prassede, just a few feet from St. Mary Major. It is hidden on a back street, and would be easy to miss. Inside this church is the very pillar at which Our Lord was scourged. The top is broken off, but it is only about three feet high. It is not a full-height column as often depicted in art.
If you have ever watched Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ, you surely remember the Scourging scene, and that Our Lord was depicted being manacled to a short pillar. Think of this when you go to Mass. Assume the Orans posture exactly as Our Lord did when He went to the Pillar to be whipped until He was skinned for my sins and for yours. When you join your hands in prayer, remember that Jesus Christ, Almighty God, “took the form of a slave” for you, and held out His hands to be shackled to the Pillar. Not only should we “take the form of a slave” for Him, we should literally BE His slaves, and submit ourselves entirely to His sweet yoke.
So…are YOUR hands bound together?
YES. I AM CHRIST’S SLAVE!
I hope this helps.