confusion on rubrics

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I attended a Mass last weekend while traveling in MN where I believe I observed several liturgical abuses. It was FIrst Communion and the priest had 8 children come up all around him at the altar during the Consecration and Eucharistic prayer. (not correct, right?) One child had his elbows all over the altar the entire time. The priest asked everyone to join hands for the “Our Father.” He also held hands with the deacon and altar servers (isn’t he supposed to be in the orrans position?). The priest came out of the sanctuary to shake hands with all around during the “handshake of peace.” (not correct, right?) But, the worst, after the “Our Father” where we say “and deliver us from evil,” he did not finish his part of the prayer, but rather, raised his hands (while still attached to the others) and said "For thine is the Kingdom . . . etc. I was stunned!

I know that most Catholics hold hands during the Our Father (I do not), but it is my understanding that this is not approved by Rome and is a Protestant gesture brought into the Catholic Church by the laity. Our unity is supposed to be the Eucharist, unlike Protestants who hold hands for unity because they do not have the Eucharist.

I would appreciate your consideration of these questions.
Regarding children standing around the altar, there is no place in the rubrics that allows for this.

As for the position of the priest’s hands during the Our Father, the GIRM states:
“After the Eucharistic Prayer is concluded, the priest, with hands joined, says the introduction to the Lord’s Prayer. With hands extended, he then says this prayer together with the people” (#152).

As to when “For yours is the Kingdom . . .” is prayed, the GIRM says,
" After the Lord’s Prayer is concluded, the priest alone, with hands extended, says the embolism *Libera nos *(Deliver us). At the end, the people make the acclamation *Quia tuum est regnum *(For yours is the kingdom)" (#153).

As to the procedure for the sign of peace, the GIRM explains,
"Then the priest, with hands extended, says aloud the prayer, *Domine Iesu Christe, qui dixisti *(Lord Jesus Christ, you said). After this prayer is concluded, extending and then joining his hands, he gives the greeting of peace while facing the people and saying, *Pax Domini sit simper vobiscum *(The peace of the Lord be with you always). The people answer, *Et cum spiritu tuo *(And also with you). Afterwards, when appropriate, the priest adds, *Offerte vobis pacem *(Let us offer each other the sign of peace). The priest may give the sign of peace to the ministers but always remains within the sanctuary, so as not to disturb the celebration. In the dioceses of the United States of America, for a good reason, on special occasions (for example, in the case of a funeral, a wedding, or when civic leaders are present) the priest may offer the sign of peace to a few of the faithful near the sanctuary. At the same time, in accord with the decisions of the Conference of Bishops, all offer one another a sign that expresses peace, communion, and charity. While the sign of peace is being given, one may say, *Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum *(The peace of the Lord be with you always), to which the response is Amen( (#154).

As for holding hands during the Our Father, “The Holy See has not ruled directly on this issue. In response to a query, however, the Holy See stated that holding hands ‘is a liturgical gesture introduced spontaneously but on personal initiative; it is not in the rubrics.’ (Notitiate II [1975]226,DOL 1502 nR29). For this reason, no one can be required to hold hands during the Our Father” (*Mass Confusion, *Jimmy Akin, p. 161)

I hope this clears up some of the confusion.
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