Friday, September 7, 2012

"Prayer Hands"

I teach First Sacraments (second grade) class at my parish, and we teach them "prayer hands."  In other words they are to hold their hands together in a prayerful gesture in front of them.  It is in this way that they walk up to receive first communion--two by two with hands together in a gesture of prayer.  So, from the beginning, we practice this gesture in class.

Why is putting our hands together in prayer so important?  Usually we see the priest, the deacon, the altar servers with their hands together.  So, a lot of people think that gesture is only for those serving at the altar.  Why?  Putting the hands together is a sign of submission to God.  What could be more fitting then showing submission to God in our worship service?  Also, we try to teach them to cross their thumbs in a cross, representing Jesus, Our Lord. 

Prayer Zone
It is very frustrating, however, to teach the children this gesture when the adults in the church give such a poor example of piety or submission.  I try to teach the children not to talk in the sanctuary--it is a holy place where we can encounter God.  When the adults stand up after Mass and start talking as if they are in their own living rooms, what can you say to the children?  There is only so much I can teach them in an hour a week.  Not only the parents, but the rest of the adults need to be better examples.  We talk so much about community in the church, why isn't the community a better example for the younger members of said community?  I don't understand why teens and adults think that putting their hands together is childish or beneath them or only for those at the altar.

Gestures of prayer and submission are very important.  After what He has done for us, giving Him an hour of our undivided attention is not too much to ask.  Please, all adults be better examples for the children in your parish.  Stop talking.  Put your hands together in prayer.  God deserves our submission, our humility, our whole selves.  Do it.  Be an example of holiness, if not for yourself, for the children.  Someday, it will feel more natural, I promise.

I've been wanting to write about this for some time, but got the idea to write now from "Thank God I'm Catholic" blog.

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