Skip to comments.What is the Catholic origin of the "Orans Position" (vanity)
Posted on 01/13/2005 7:02:20 PM PST by netmilsmom
There is a big discussion going on at this site. I know there are many FReepers there.
Could someone please give me a Catholic perspective on the "Orans" position?
I know the GIRM says nothing about it, but where did it come from? I did a Google seach and found that this is traditional for Muslims but brand new for Catholics.
I didn't think Catholics were allowed to do it in the Orans position.
>>I didn't think Catholics were allowed to do it in the Orans position.<<
Wasn't it a charismatic invention?
Indeed it is a very ancient praying position, It isn't common in Orthodoxy these days except among Arab Christians and it definitely predates Mohammedanism. Interestingly enough, full prostrations before the altar or an icon in Great Lent, on certain feast days and in certain liturgies are still done in Orthodoxy, another practice the Mohammedans picked up from the Christians.
This position of prayer is a very common stance in the Pentacostal/Church of God/Church of Christ.
I have seen it many many times during Church service. It also looks to be a commonly assumed stance when one is 'receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost' or speaking/translating the gift of 'Tongues.'
I know this is appears to be a Roman Catholic thread and I don't mean this as a flame or anything. Just an observation.
It is a posture prescribed in the rubrics for the priest during parts of the Mass.
It is not even prescribed for the deacon.
"I know this is appears to be a Roman Catholic thread and I don't mean this as a flame or anything."
Didn't look like a flame to this RC.
"Do you know why it isn't common any more?"
Haven't a clue. The priest does use it in the liturgy, though.
Thank you so much everyone!!!!
>>Wasn't it a charismatic invention?<<
I think so.
TC, what is your take on this?
>> I know this is appears to be a Roman Catholic thread and I don't mean this as a flame or anything.<<
Thank you for coming in and giving an opinion. It truly is most welcome.
Heh! I see I slept through this :-). FWIW, praying with raised hands is described in the New Testament ("I desire that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands in supplication ..."). Praying with hands folded is never mentioned in the Bible. Because of this, some fundamentalist congregations teach that one should only pray with hands raised.
I just remembered that the "orans" position is mentioned in the 141 Psalm, the first two verses of which we always chant at Vespers:
"Lord, I call upon Thee, hear me. Hear me, O Lord.
Let my prayer arise in Thy sight as incense.
And let the lifting up of my hands be an evening sacrifice. Hear me, O Lord."
Also in Psalm 63: 4, "So I will bless Thee as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on Thy name."
The controversy/problem occurs when the laity use it during the mass, when it is proscribed only for the priest. The subtle or not so subtle message is a diminishment of the unique and distinct role of the priest, who is offering the sacrifice of the mass on our behalf, in Persona Christi.
>>Heh! I see I slept through this :-).<<
Hehehe! You are such a peach, thanks for your input! See you at the Family Table....
Kolo - you mention that the orans position is a very ancient one and have shared a beautiful psalm with us. Our pastor encourages us to pray the Our Father in the orans position, during the Divine Liturgy. Given what you posted, it now makes sense. Thank you again!
Makes sense that the Abounna would do this. Like I said, the Orthodox Arabs do this. We have a Syrian/American girl in the parish, a student at the local college, and she always says the Our Father that way. She is very pious, chants and has the voice of an angel.
You nailed it.
I know the priest assumes that posture at several points during the Mass, but is it not the prescribed posture for all during Our Father?
"I am not comfortable with using the orans position because of my Roman Catholic upbringing, and it could be easy to suspect a modernistic intent on the part of some in this day and age."
You know, I wouldn't either. It looks hokey to me, but like you, that's my upbringing. I know if I see an Arab doing it, that is what they do and have for 2000 years so its OK. Now I'll tell you, if I saw the orans position in an RC church during the Mass, my immediate reaction would be that some nun in a pants suit came up with the idea to make the Mass more touchy/feely. That is very unfair of me, I know, but I don't react at all rationally to some of the things I see going on in places where I am used to seeing something else entirely!
It is not prescribed. Nor is it proscribed. The GIRM makes no mention of it so far as the faithful are concerned because it doesn't contemplate the possibility at all (what planet are these jokers on, I wonder).
On rare occasion I might adopt the position for private prayer, but I would never use it at Mass, for the reasons I've already indicated.
And faithfulness to a liturgical tradition is critical to what we do as Catholics.
I know if I see an Arab doing it, that is what they do and have for 2000 years
Give or take 600 years.
my immediate reaction would be that some nun in a pants suit came up with the idea to make the Mass more touchy/feely.
My reaction would be that it came from a nun all right, but one who had reduced the Mass to its externals and was therefore jealous of priestly "power", without regard for what the priestly office signifies.
"And faithfulness to a liturgical tradition is critical to what we do as Catholics."
Well, we Orthodox are not exactly known as liturgical innovators ourselves! :)
"My reaction would be that it came from a nun all right, but one who had reduced the Mass to its externals and was therefore jealous of priestly "power", without regard for what the priestly office signifies."
That too! The pants suit is usually a dead giveaway!
No, in fact it is the specifically stated posture for only the priest. Deacons on the altar are directed not to do it. There is no specific direction for lay people, but if the deacon is not supposed to be in that position...
I went to mass where I usually go these days, St. Rose in Sacramento (well, I'd usually go on Sunday). It is by no means a liberal parish, very reverent. I noticed some standing with their hands folded. Most, however, hold their hands up, -- which up till now I though was the proper posture, -- and some join hands in a Protestant way.
There was another moment when most held their hands up, and that was at the beginning of the Eucharistic prayer, -- "Lift up your hearts, -- We lift them up to the Lord". Is this also incorrect?
Thank you both for educating me, by the way.
Hope this helps, or you could just find a Traditional Latin Mass :-).