Via Ignatius Insight is canon lawyer
Dr. Edward Peter’s article at Catholic Exchange titled "Another Look at the Orans Issue."
Orans is Latin for “praying.” In liturgy today, the “orans position” is the gesture whereby the priest extends his arms out from his sides, with hands open and facing up, during certain of his audible prayers at Mass.
The orans position (or sometimes, orante), is obviously different from the priest folding or joining his hands, and is prescribed for the celebrant at various points in Mass: for example, during the Opening Prayer, most of the Eucharistic prayer, and the Our Father. The “orans issue” is the recent practice of some lay persons in the congregation adopting this gesture as their own, notably during the Our Father, and introducing thereby, if nothing else, disunity in worship.
I remember it being widely reported before that the orans position was approved by the bishop’s conference for the laity. Understandably there was a lot of confusion on this issue since the bishop’s site left old information that this would be permitted with the new sacramentary. This did not happen and the information to this was not removed for a long period after the new sacramentary was approved (though it appears to be finally gone now.) There is more in depth information on this in the Nov 2003 edition of Adoremus Bulletin.
I think much of the postures used by the laity is like a game of Simon Says. They adopt or mimic what the priest is doing regardless of the posture (or lack of posture) specified in the GIRM. That in these days of radical egalitarianism that people feel left out if they are not engaging in the same posture as the priest. Like they were in an aerobics class following the instructor. More blurring of the lines between the priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial priesthood. Funny how some are always talking about the priesthood of the faithful and yet are not willing to make any sacrifices. Too many have confused the call for "active participation" in the Mass by Vatican II with physical and not prayerful action.
Update: Jimmy Akin comments on the same article and makes the same observation I did.
Could it be . . . a desire to get the laity to imitate the priest and thus further blur the lines between the two?
And then goes on to quote a Vatican document that expressed the same concern. Read his post for the paragraph he quotes and what it means. There is a very powerful statement made about the non-ordained faithful to "quasi preside" at the Mass and he further comments on the weight of this document.
Interestingly he also does the same thing I do during the Our Father.
In my own case, I solve this problem by clasping my hands in front of me and closing my eyes. 99.99% of the time that takes care of the issue, though I did once experience an elderly woman using her fingers to pluck at my elbow in an attempt to pierce through my obviously meditative attitude and get me to Conform to the handholding she wanted to inflict on me.
No I don’t get upset if this doesn’t work since I realize the other person is simply ignorant of the fact that this is not an approved posture. Something you really can’t blame most people for since it is so prevalent at many Churches (though fairly rare in my own.) But as I side effect I have found myself closing my eyes during many parts of the Mass and simply listening to be helpful for concentration.