The following comes from a Sept. 16 story by Msgr. Charles Pope on the websire of the Archdiocese of Washington.
1. When making the sign of the cross upon himself at the beginning of mass the Celebrant uses his right hand. But his left hand should not be left suspended in the air or dangling. He ought to place it on his chest, just at the bottom of the breast bone as he makes the sign of the cross with his right hand. When finished his hands should be rejoined in the center.
2. The same is true when blessing the people at the end. The celebrant places his left hand at the bottom of his chest and he blesses the people with his right hand: fingers joined and straight. His right and left motions should reach far enough, to his left and right shoulders. Again, when finished, his hands should join in the center.
3. The hands – In general when the celebrant is standing and his hands are not in use they are joined, fingers straight and thumbs crossed at his breast. When the celebrant is seated, his hands should rest, separated, palms down, one on each thigh, near the knee.
4. When the celebrant moves somewhere in the sanctuary, he ought to turn in that direction, hands joined at the chest, prior to moving in that direction. In general simply stepping laterally to the left or right should be avoided.
5. The bowing of the head – It is appropriate at Mass to bow the head at certain times, such as after the priest says, Let us pray,” or at the name of Jesus. The simple bow of the head is accomplished entirely by the neck. The shoulders do not lunge and the torso does not move at all. The neck is like a hinge and the bow of the head is accomplished entirely at the neck and above.
6. Turning pages – When the priest is at the altar and turns the page of the missal, he does so (usually) with his left hand, while his right hand rests on the altar, not suspended in the air or dangling.
7. Epiclesis – Likewise when the priest makes the sign of the cross over the bread and wine just prior to the consecration he does so with his right hand, while his left hand rests on the altar, just outside the corporal. The left hand is not dangling in the air etc.
Well this is enough, since most of you are not priests. However, it is always good for the laity to encourage those of us who are priests when you observe reverence. We are human and can become forgetful of things in the Mass. Sometimes too we are not aware of how we come across. So, encourage us when you observe devotion and piety. Some years ago it was called to my attention that I tended to fiddle with my glasses a good bit when at the altar and that sometimes my fingers moved a lot when I was praying the Eucharistic prayer. I was unaware of these things and was (kindly) informed by the deacon….
To read the entire story, click here.