A sane priest in Indianapolis: the Sign of Peace is optional

A reader alerted me to the comments of Msgr. Joseph Schaedel, of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, to his parishioners at Holy Rosary Church

Among other things, Msgr. Schaedel discusses the Sign of Peace.

Here is an excerpt from his Christmas bulletin.

They merit the WDTPRS touch, with my emphases and comments.

Some people have asked me about the Sign of Peace. They note that in most cases we omit the line, “Let us offer each other the Sign of Peace … ” during Masses in the Ordinary Form. Dozens of people have thanked for me this. One person inquired as to why. No one complained. And, the fact is that everyone is always free to “offer the Sign of Peace” to their neighbor. [I haven’t met many people who really like the Sign of Peace.  Many really don’t like and most just tolerate it.]

Here is the “why” part: Like many things in the celebration of Mass in the Ordinary Form, the Sign of Peace is optional. Several things are optional in “the English Mass.”  Other optional things are the ringing of the bells by the altar servers, the use of the paten at Holy Communion,  girls serving as altar servers, the priest facing the congregation, extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, even using a language other than Latin.  [Excellent!]

All of these things — and even more — are optional. They always have been. Yet, as we all know, some of these things have been pushed down our throats as if they had been the dying wishes of Christ written down by an apostolic liturgy committee on Calvary. [LOL!] Not so! And our current Holy Father, Benedict XVI, is finally helping us sort these things out.

From the beginning of the renewal of the Sacred Liturgy, some people have simply never liked the Sign of Peace — or at least the Sign of Peace where it was placed during Mass. It’s a grand thought: making peace with our neighbors before we approach the altar for Holy Communion. Yet, too often it turns into a free-for-all disturbing the solemnity of the moments just before receiving Holy Communion. Some people resemble politicians in heat prior to Election Day.

A few people object to the Sign of Peace for health reasons.  They watch their fellow worshippers cough or blow noses into their hands during Mass; then offer the same hands to shake at the Sign of Peace. In some places, where a flu or virus epidemic has been rampant diocesan officials have asked priests to eliminate the Sign of Peace for obvious reasons until health officials gave the green light.

Personally, I don’t have strong feelings one way or the other. [I do.  GET RID OF IT.] When I learned how to offer Mass in the seminary, we were taught to offer the Sign of Peace. No big deal. However, over the years, I began to see how it could get out of hand. I also began to omit it at daily Masses when the crowd was sparse and spread all over. If they were so interested in offering a sign of peace or friendship to another, I reasoned that they should have been willing to sit within twenty feet of one another.

At the moment, the whole concept of the Sign of Peace and if or where it should be situated during the Mass is under study at the Vatican. They will likely make a revision.  So, I thought: Heck, if the pope is not sure where and when it should be part of the Mass, who am I to worry about it?

If the priest-celebrant does not say, “Let us offer each other the Sign of Peace,” feel free to offer that sign of peace to those around you if you wish. No one says you cannot. If this causes you undue anxiety, sleepless nights, or a loss of Faith, I know a couple good therapists.

I feel sorry for those reading this pastor’s letter who expected a theological treatise on the true meaning of Christmas and the Incarnation.  No, it’s just the usual ramblings of the old monsignor at the Italian Parish.  Please excuse his attempts at being witty.  And, yes, he does have a serious thought from time to time.

Be sure to look at the bulletin also for his comments on the restoration of their church.  One of this comments about a woman who didn’t like their restoration:

I did meet someone last weekend who does not like the restoration. I forget what all she was griping about; but this person had nothing good to say about our church restoration. I quickly showed her one part of the church that has been beautifully restored in hopes that she would like it: the door.

I love this guy!

Give us, O Lord, more priests like this.
 

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170 Responses to A sane priest in Indianapolis: the Sign of Peace is optional

  1. Chris says:

    I think I need to move to Indy!

  2. kat says:

    AMEN Father!

    One of the things I dread when going to a Novus Ordo Mass is the passing of the peace. Everyone here has seen gross abuses, including people continuing to walk the aisle and gladhand each other while the rest of the congregation is trying to pray the Agnus Dei. The only thing worse is holding hands during the Our Father.

    If all priests were as unafraid of angering the “old guard” and willing to “do the red and say the black” the Church would be a whole lot better off.

  3. TNCath says:

    This is wonderful. Now I know where to go to Mass whenever I am in Indianapolis. What I really like about this guy is that he can communicate what he wants to say with a sense of humor. While he is serious in his convictions and committed to observing liturgical norms, he does so in a friendly way that makes it hard to disagree with him. As much as I might disagree with him about a great many issues, Father Andrew Greeley once referred to this style as “authority as charm.” There is something to be said for this approach.

    As for the Sign of Peace, isn’t the celebrant’s invitation, “Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum” or “The Peace of the Lord be with you always” enough? Anything more than that becomes a free for all.

  4. jarhead462 says:

    WOO HOO!

    Semper Fi!

  5. Ginny says:

    I always cringe to think that the priest has just consecrated the host and should be having his fingers together instead of shaking hands with anyone.

  6. The pastor of a parish at which I was assigned used to omit the sign of peace from October until Easter Sunday. His reason: “Flu season”. When parishioners quizzed me about why the exchange of peace was omitted, I explained that, when the priest said to the people “The peace of the Lord be with you always”, and the people responded, “And Also with you.”, that they HAD exchanged the sign of peace.

  7. sacredosinaeternum says:

    This Pastor gets it. Good for him and for the Church! Only one criticism- the paten for Holy Communion of the Faithful is not optional, as he says it is. Redemptionem Sacramentum clearly stated that it is to be retained. But he does make a great point about the options in the Ordinary Form. If only, we priests could choose to use them in faithful continuity with the Church’s Sacred Tradition.

  8. magdalene says:

    Not only do we have the noisy exchange of ‘peace’ (which wrecks the atmosphere of peace and recollection) BUT we also have a ‘stand up and welcome those around you’ before Mass too. So we are supposed to glad hand folks twice. And then we sing about how great we art. Sigh. When the focus is on on the assembly and the need to be nice and welcoming at the servcice, this is what happens. We, as a whole, do not understand about the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

    I will be happy to greet others outside the church at coffee and donuts though.

  9. Frank H says:

    “I always cringe to think that the priest has just consecrated the host and should be having his fingers together instead of shaking hands with anyone.” – Comment by Ginny

    To say nothing of the fact that most of those folks glad-handing each other will shortly elect to receive the Host in those same (germ-laden?) hands!

  10. jaykay says:

    “If they were so interested in offering a sign of peace or friendship to another, I reasoned that they should have been willing to sit within twenty feet of one another.”

    This I like. A blind friend of mine has a similar take. He’s assaulted by people grabbing his hand from all sides (which he hates) with that especially unctuous tone of voice used by people trying to show how sincere they are (“PEEEACE be with YOU”), and also in a louder tone of voice as though he’s deaf as well as blind, but as he says: “when I get outside, how many of them are running over to grab me and leave me across the road to the bus?”

  11. Mark S. says:

    I agree with Father Z. Please abolish the Sign of Peace completely. It’s a distraction. My own experience is that at weekday Masses, it gets completely out of hand, with people walking half way round the nave to offer each other the Sign of Peace, with the priest coming off the sanctuary to shake hands with as many people as he can. On New Year’s day we managed to have it twice – at the start of Mass, the priest asked us to shake hands and wish “Happy New Year” to everyone standing near us. At another parish I sometimes go to, the congregation exchange the Sign of Peace even though the Priest makes a point of not asking them to.

  12. David Osterloh says:

    “Some people resemble politicians in heat prior to Election Day.”

    Gotta love this Man, ROTFLOL

  13. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Love this Father, thanks for posting. Illustrates how charm, wit and kind remarks can put forth a good point better than anything.

    I too wish that the congregational Sign of Peace would be eliminated.

    When I visit my husband’s hometown in southern Virginia, the unfortunate poorly-educated congregation uses the Sign of Peace as a time of CONVERSATION. This sweet man behind us started asking us who we were, where were we from, blah blah blah. [can’t we do this after Mass? no, nobody approached us then!]

    This kind of understanding of the Sign of Peace typically goes with other poor formation. This congregation also ignores the Consecration although they cross the aisles to hold everyone’s hands at the Our Father. While they greet their neighbor and yak at Mass, no one seems to notice Jesus Christ.

    …Can’t find the Tabernacle… it is over on the side of a wall where It can’t be seen by most of the church. Hmmmm. Does this little detail contribute to the environment?

  14. Ed says:

    It does seem to depend on whether we actually care about the people around us, which is another way of saying whether we actually care about Christ’s unequivocal instruction about how we are to be with one another.

    I’m no fan of the “sign of peace” disruption at such a crucial time in the mass, of the forced-ness of it, and will be happy to see it, as currently practiced, disappear, but

    it always seems to be the “canned” nature of our expressions of peace toward one another that disturb us. Imagine if we focused on the wonder and power of having come together for and with our Lord, as He said to do; if we actually felt that.

    I’m reminded of a visit to a Sunday morning RCIA class, and hearing one of the class leaders, a Eucharistic minister, explain that Catholics are generally known to be the least friendly of Christians. He said this as if it were simply one the truths of the Church, to be accepted and honored, but I was pretty horrified at the implications of Christ’s true Church settling for such a shabby approach to one another. Something definitely out of step with Christ’s unremitting command to love.

    Be that as it may, if we cannot genuinely extend a sign of peace in the “new” way, without distraction, then out with the new.

  15. CBM says:

    I have opted against the exchange of peace at the weekly masses since my arrival here on 1 July 2008. It was the only “change” that was readily and gratefully accepted at the time of implementation. Thankfully everything has improved in these six months and has begun to be accepted and appreciated ( I’m talking consolidation of masses and basic beautification here not liturgical innovation or even purification). Please God the option will become the norm.
    St. Michael the Archangel
    Miami

  16. TJM says:

    I am in favor of abolishing the sign of peace except for the priest and his deacons. When you see them exchange it, it casts the Pax in an entirely
    different light and it is quite moving. However, among the congregation it has become a joke. This priest sounds like my kind of guy. Tom

  17. Michael says:

    I personally hate it. Not that I am against it in principle if some form were adopted from the Precalcedonic Churches in which is still practised in an ancient, pious way, but what we have now is the streetly handshake, inappropriate for the Mass, not to mention other abuses associated with it. I never turn back toward anybody, cannot refuse those who turn to me, but keep it to the utmost minimum. If there is a distance, I never move toward anybody, but only slightly bow my head if somebody tries to approach me. This irreverent custom, in the form as it is practised, should be boycotted whenever reasonably possible.

    When taking place in a church I always try to be away from others.

    But I try not to offend the people: I am less strict if a known person is behind me who, I think, might take offence, or if an older person tries to come to me from a distance. Likewise, if it is a black person, because I don’t want to appear a racist. Or if it is a disabled person near me.

    The Oratorians in London do not have it. Tip for priests: as soon as you have finished “The Peace of the Lord be with you always”, start “The Lamb of God…” and do is with a stress, loudly. And of course, do not have it with those who are in the sanctuary.

    As far as I remember, the Redemtionis Sacramentum forbids any movements around: it should be exchanged only with those next to one another.

  18. Brian Day says:

    David O. already commented on this line:

    “Some people resemble politicians in heat prior to Election Day.”

    That’s my favorite line of the piece.

  19. I think Fr. Toborowsky is right that when the invitation “Let us offer” is not given, the sign of peace is nonetheless given and returned at “Pax Domine sit semper vobiscum. Et cum spiritu tuo.”

    “I always cringe to think that the priest has just consecrated the host and should be having his fingers together instead of shaking hands with anyone.”

    The difficulty is eliminated when the sign of the peace is given and recieved in the Roman manner, which doesn’t interfere with keeping the canonical digits together. Indeed, the sign of the peace (and its current location) is a feature of the old rite as well as the new, although the congregational participation was almost unheard of.

  20. Jordanes says:

    This Monsignor is absolutely hilarious, and not at all timid. God bless him.

    I was surprised when my pastor told me a few years ago that the Sign of Peace was optional. He mentioned that if he wanted, he could skip it, but he said most of the people in the parish would get offended if he did that. But really, with one of our parochial vicars improvising parts of the Mass that he has no right to improvise, why not “change” a part of the Mass that the priests actually have authority to change . . . especially since the Sign of Peace feels so much like an interrruption, like we’re taking a short break for station identification before resuming our regularly scheduling liturgy?

  21. Subvet says:

    What would it take to have this priest transferred to the Diocese of Dallas?

  22. Jenny Z says:

    LOL!! I second what Subvet said. Dallas please!

    Makes me want to move to Indy. The temperatures make me think twice.

  23. One of the problems is that Latins do not know how to properly perform the Kiss/Sign of Peace. We have made efforts with the encouragement of our bishop to restore this sign to the faithful in the Byzantine Divine Liturgy. When done properly AND liturgically (the Maronites have the best that I have seen, although the threefold or double kiss on the cheeks saying “Christ is in Our mIdst” “He is and always shall be.” is quite beautiful as well.), the Kiss of Peace is a very worthy practice.

    But shaking hands and saying “Hey, Joe! Good to see ya!” is meaningless and liturgically ridiculous. It is not a chance to greet your neighbor or make the church a friendlier place. Its roots run far deeper than that. My own sense is: either do it right or eliminate it.

  24. Deo Gratias! Finally, a sane priest that is willing to say that some of the innovations in the Novus Ordo are optional. If more priests understood this then we would not be in the mess that we are currently experiencing in the Church.

    It’s interesting that some people out there in trad world tend to condemen Pope Paul VI for not doing enough after the decrees of the Council were promulgated. Yet I read somewhere that he wrote six letters about the abuses that were occurring in the Novus Ordo and now Pope Benedict is continuing in the same tradition.

    Once again, Deo Gratias for good priests!

  25. Peterk says:

    I always found this aspect of the Mass to be a free for all as described by this pastor. It broke up the Mass, why couldn’t it be given after the Mass?

  26. Eric says:

    You can’t have him!

    We love Msgr. Schaedel here. He is VG of the archdiocese and since Archbishop Buechlein has been ill, Msgr Schaedel has taken on many responsibilities.

    We suspect he will soon be wisked away to some needy diocese as bishop. We hope he stays on here and takes over when Archbishop Buechlien steps down but a jump straight to archbishop is rare.

  27. PMcGrath says:

    Lately, I’ve been refusing to participate in the “Sign”. I simply fold my hands, close my eyes intensely, and try to concentrate on the Divine Person who will be visiting me in moments.

    I’m going to copy this out and give it to my pastor.

    It will be an uphill battle to sack the “Sign” in our parish — it’s very popular, though people don’t march about the aisles here, as described above.

  28. Sawyer says:

    Sorry to be a party pooper here, but where in either the Order of Mass or in the GIRM does it state that the Rite of Peace is optional? “Say the black, do the red” applies in this case too, in which case omitting the rite would seem to be a liturgical abuse.

  29. et cum spiritu tuo says:

    I think this is the relevant quote from the GIRM. The whole rite isn’t optional, but the exchange of peace among congregants is:
    154. 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).

    Say the black, do the red!

  30. Michael says:

    DEACON DANIEL
    Do you mean that your bishop is trying to encourage kissings in a cheek? Some kissing enthusiasts tried to introduce it in the Russian Liturgy in London long time ago, but most of the people were scandalized and the practice was soon abandoned. It is not much different from the full embrace in the Neocats Masses, which are better called circuses, and can turn indecent if beteween persons of different gender.

    The embrace of the kind in the Byzantine sanctuary among the clergy is o.k., likewise among the clergy in the Latin Rite, but both are inappropriate among the people of different gender.

    Armenians make a gesture as if embracing, but do not touch one another. They put the right hand with the palm open against the chest, and bend the head forward toward the left shoulder of another saying: “Christ among us has been revealed”; while the person receiving the greeting does the same saying: “Blessed is the Revelation of Christ”

  31. Sawyer: where in either the Order of Mass or in the GIRM does it state that the Rite of Peace is optional?

    From the OF Missale Romanum:

    Sacerdos, ad populum conversus, extendens et iungens manus, subdit:
    Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum.
    Et cum spiritu tuo.

    Hmm … Wonder why the priest has to turn to the people (ad populum conversus) in order to extend the Pax to them?

    Deinde, pro opportunitate, diaconis, vel sacerdos, subiungit:
    (“Then the deacon (or the priest) may add:”)
    Offerte vobis pacem.
    (“Let us offer each other the sign of peace.”)

    That “pro opportunitate” answers your question.

  32. Great, I’m sending this to all my priest friends…This is witty beyond belief. I love it.

    Omitting an option isn’t a Liturgical abuse, it’s omitting an option. Some options are better than others. Some (such as the Saints in the Roman Canon) are good, while others (such as the sign of peace are horrific)

  33. Msgr. Schaedel certainly is (as some folks in East Tennessee would say) a real pistol, awright. Especially if he actually said from the pulpit what someone quoted a while back. He was criticizing the fact that some people were merely stopping to bow to the Tabernacle instead of genuflecting to it.

    Allegedly he said “Over here our sign of respect for the Blessed Sacrament is to genuflect. If you’re in Japan sometime, perhaps there it will be OK for you to just bow.”

    This was a second or third hand report, so perhaps not literally true. But nevertheless it’s right rich.

  34. Michael Val Hietter says:

    I remember as a child when the Novus Ordo was first introduced that the Sign of Peace was a very structured (and, being structured and formal, more reverent) rite–the person at the left side of each pew would start it out, turning to the person on his/her right, shaking hands and saying “Peace be with you” to which the second person would reply “And also with you.” The second peson would then repeat the process with the person on his/her right.

    The formality lent an air of liturgical dignity to the rite, a dignity totally lacking with today’s cluster-mess of a Sign of Peace (so well described above). However, this old way being so formalized seemed to drain any true wish of peace between participants out of the exercise. This leads me to the conclusion that the Sign of Peace simply cannot work as a liturgical exercise (too much dignity, and there is no feeling; too much feeling, and it is disruptive to the worship of God).

    One more thing–formalized or chaotic, the Sign of Peace really focuses on us the people, and that’s one more thing to take our mind of the sacrifice sitting on the altar. That seems to me to be the ANTITHESIS of liturgical action.

    Michael Val Hietter

  35. Rellis says:

    According to the GIRM, simply responding “And with your spirit” is a sufficient response to the priest’s offer of peace.

    Personally, I simply kneel after that, bury my head in reading the private preparatory prayer of the priest out of my Socias missal, and wait for the Sign of Peace’s merciful end and the start of the Agnus Dei.

    I’ve found this “conscientious objection” to be the best approach.

  36. fortradition says:

    Bravo to this Pastor. I think a better place to offer greetings and handshakes would be in the vestibule if one desired to do so. Besides, how sincere is it when we are TOLD to do this by the priest? The Holy Mass is the re-presentation of Calvary in an unbloody manner. At Calvary it would be hard to imagine those people around the Holy Cross shaking hands (or clapping for that matter!)

  37. Sandy says:

    Please God, inspire more priests to do this! The sign of peace makes me cringe also. I hate ruining the beautiful union with Jesus that I have just entered into at the Consecration. My choice of seats is planned with trying to keep lots of space around me, away from others so I don’t have to shake hands.

  38. CAL says:

    During orientation at the seminary I attended, we had formal instruction in how to properly give the sign of peace at Mass from the Director of Spiritual Formation in the chapel. We were all told to turn to face another person, raise our right arm over our heads and lower our left, walk together and then clasp each other, firmly. Unfortunately, we had to practice this until everyone got it right.

    It was gross, and if this is how clergy are trained, how can the faithful be held to a higher standard?

  39. Jack says:

    Somehow I feel there’s a lot of negativity and almost an air of resentment in most of the posts here. Why don’t we try to make the best of what we have? In our custom, we simply bow our heads to the priest then to our neighbors during the sign of the peace. However, over the years, shaking hands and giving hugs penetrated this custom (I actually like this better than giving a simple bow). The congregation still bow to the priest and shaking hands is more customary. I always understood that you are representing the body of Christ when you offer the sign of peace to your neighbors and that the only words that should be said is “Peace be with you.”, not “Hello, Joe”. I’ve never heard the latter of all the years in church. I’ve seen some occasional abuses, but for the love and mercy of God, I tend to shrug it off and not mind it too much. Perhaps having better catechesis for the assembly is long overdue.

  40. Kradcliffe says:

    That made me laugh out loud several times! Man, I’ll bet his homilies are good!

    I kinda like kissing my husband and children, and I’m OK with shaking the hands of people who are right by me, but I’d rather not, I guess. I definitely try to discourage too much of it – I do a quick shake with those who are right by me and immediately available to shake hands. I then quickly turn around and look focused on the Mass.

  41. CAL: It was gross, and if this is how clergy are trained, how can the faithful be held to a higher standard?

    I understand what you mean rhetorically. But almost every Catholic today has sometime or other received shabby liturgical “training”. Doesn’t each of us, whether lay or cleric, need to rise above this training?

    Surely we ought not sink to the lowest common liturgical denominator of the priests we see, some of whom — I take it from reports like yours — have received worse liturgical instruction than we ourselves.

  42. Geoffrey says:

    I don’t think the Rite of Peace will be abolished any time soon, as word is the Pope is looking to move it. I would like the “option” part of it to be stressed. Use it rarely. Very rarely. I would suggest never on Christmas or Easter, when the “Christmas and Easter Catholics” are always so rowdy!

    Another annoyance is turning around to find those sitting behind you busy shaking hands with those behind them, so I stand there waiting like a dope. Awkward! My new rule? If you’re not ready when I am, I’m turning around!

  43. David Deavel says:

    Two things. 1) When the novelist JF Powers died one of his specific requests for the funeral Mass was that it not include the passing of the peace because he hated that.

    2) Michael Foley had an excellent piece in THE LATIN MASS some time ago about the history of this part of the ritual and the problems with the way it is done in the NO. I don’t think it’s on the TLM site, but perhaps it’s elsewhere on the web?

  44. Kradcliffe: I kinda like kissing my husband and children

    Although this really sounds more like expressing human affection and good will, rather than extending the Peace (and protection from evil) of Christ who’s now on the altar, which I understand is what the Pax is really about.

  45. Warren says:

    One priest I know descends from the altar at the time that the faithful exchange the sign of the peace, and makes the rounds. To me this really destroys the continuity of the priest’s liturgical actions, and totally descends into maudlin displays of silliness. I think that an exchange of handshakes with those right around you does not destroy anything, and I do think people should be willing to tolerate those who wish to opt in, and those who wish to opt out of this exchange. In such things, let there always be a spirit of charity towards others. The church survived many centuries without this optional exchange. In the Trad. latin missal I have, the exchange of the peace is footnooted saying that “this exchange was originally among all the faithful, and was later changed to be among the clergy only, and is omitted entirely now”. So there, folks. Wide open. It’s still the mass, no matter which of those three options one chooses. The exchange of peace, as in the earliest church, is actually a return to a very early form. This is not the end of the world. But neither is it the end of the world if the Pope gets rid of it again. Nor is it anyone’s job, below that of the office of the local ordinary, to implement such changes. :-)

    Warren

  46. Lee Bohannon says:

    Amen! I usually kneel when the handshaking starts. This is not an optimal arrangement, as the act of kneeling makes me feel conspicuous at the time when I most want to forget myself and think of Christ. Hopefully the Holy Father will correct this abuse, or at least move it to a time that is less disruptive.

  47. Michael,

    The kiss of peace among the clergy is the model for the laity.

    That said, since there is no exhortation by the deacon in the DL of SJC or SB as their is in St. James of Jerusalem, it really is not catching on, despite its appearance in the liturgical books.

    Personally, I’m fine either way. I think it is a worthy practice, but, given its title “Kiss or Sign of Peace” it is certainly not something that should DISTURB the peace of the congregation!

  48. Give us more bishops like this.I would hope that BXVI would issue a new missal whih would make the Sigh of Peace obligatory.It would be everyone bows to each other-there is no touching! I once asked a catholis high school senior what was the meain part of the Mass.Her response was,”TheSign of Peace”.

  49. Daddio says:

    I love this guy. My favorite way to avoid the SOP is to blow my nose. Or help one of the kids blow his nose. That usually holds them off long enough.

  50. “The pastor of a parish at which I was assigned used to omit the sign of peace from October until Easter Sunday. His reason: “Flu season”. When parishioners quizzed me about why the exchange of peace was omitted, I explained that, when the priest said to the people “The peace of the Lord be with you always”, and the people responded, “And Also with you.”, that they HAD exchanged the sign of peace.”-by Father Toborowsky

    My wife and I attended a local Novus Ordo at a parish where they had one of those liquid hand sanitizer dispensers on the wall near the tabernacle like the one you would see in a restroom or near a food prep area in a restaurant.

    After Father received the gifts from the people during the offertory, he left the altar and went and put some hand sanitizer on his hands. He then prepared the cup and the paten and said the appropriate prayers.

    When he got to the sign of peace, he shook hands with all six altar servers (not sure why they needed six) and immediately left the altar again and put some hand sanitizer on his hands.

    When it came time for the “Our Father”, the priest held hands with the altar servers around the altar while they prayed the Our Father and immediately after this, Father left the altar again and put some hand sanitizer on his hands…..

    I also noticed that he did it one last time as he removed the reserved hosts from the tabernacle for distribution.

    Truthfully, I found it pretty distracting and rather comical.

    At another parish in the area the priest leaves the altar and shakes the hand of all of the altar servers and everyone sitting in the first row of the congregation. When I pointed out to him that the GIRM does not allow this except under very special circumstances, he got pretty upset with me and asked me why I would deny him giving the sign of peace to people……(Of course, he had no problem denying us a reverent and properly celebrated Mass which was disturbing the peace of this parish pretty badly but at least we got to shake his hand if we sat in the front row.)

  51. TJM says:

    WE have a priest in our parish we call the “buffoon.” He runs around the Church like a madman during the Pax pumping everyone’s hand like a water-pump. He must think by doing so that he is telling the congregation that he’s just a regular guy. It’s really a
    turn-off and as others have already said destroys the solemnity of the moment. Tom

  52. Oh yes, I forgot one other thing:

    One of our local guest columnists in our diocesan newspaper wrote how her parish extends the Sign of Peace during Mass to about 10 to 15 minutes so that people can visit and get to know each other. She said it was a great way to get to know fellow parishioners.

  53. Jason says:

    In Vietnam, the congregation simply gives a bow of the head towards the altar at the sign of peace. It is much more reserved and solemn.

  54. Rachel says:

    I always feel a slight buildup of anxiety just before the Sign of Peace, because I’m introverted and it’s awkward trying to time when to turn your attention to each person. One of our priests always skipped that part, and I was very grateful to him for that. It allowed me to feel more… peaceful!

    That same priest used to keep his fingers joined after the consecration, and just generally act as if he was saying the TLM even though it was the NO. I was always happy when I saw he’d be the one saying Mass.

  55. TJM says:

    Jeffrey Schwehm, for folks like the guest columnist you mentioned, it’s all about them. Tom

  56. Francisco says:

    Your attitude is the reason I am giving serious thought to becoming an evangelical christian.

    Why do you feel so much disgust for your fellow christians? Why is it so hard for you to give a sign of peace? To hug someone who is sick? I know Saint Francis of Assisi was sad about the deplorable state the Church was at his time because of people LIKE YOU.

    Meditate on the life of Saint Francis, please. I’ll pray for you and I send you a hug and my love and affection as a christian brother.

    Peace and good.

  57. David says:

    I like saying “Pax tecum” and looking for any sign of recognition.

  58. Mateo says:

    Francisco,

    While you may be in the right about the attitudes expressed about the Sign of Peace, this is hardly a reason for leaving the Catholic Church. Maybe, you can be a source of reformation, like St. Francis, in showing us how to unite the reverence of the Mass with the love towards our fellow Catholics at Mass!

  59. EJ says:

    Francisco, do you know your own Church so little, than you would even consider apostasy? – If you are really thinking of becoming an evangelical Christian, and you’re not just trying to make a point in a really immature way, then not even the best of attitudes will help you stay. I hope that you come to know what you have in the Catholic Church, or should I say WHOM – so that joining an evangelical sect shouldn’t even be a consideration for you. Catholic Worship is the worship of the Triune God – the abuse of the sign of peace in the Novus Ordo tells the Lord, present on the Altar in the Eucharist.. “Hold on Lord, let’s take a break for some good ole fashioned horizontal fellowship…I’ll be back to you in a jiffy.” Fellowship, acts of charity and mercy, visiting the sick etc. are good and necessary – but we give the Lord his due FIRST, through liturgical worship, in the Catholic Church.

  60. paul says:

    Nothing like a winter day, seeing people with runny noses- wiping them with their hands which in a few moments will be held out to you for the “sign of peace”. Peace.

  61. Ben Trovato says:

    My late father always threatened to respond ‘Not peace but the sword’ to anyone shaking his hand (though in fact he never did).

    For many years, I have offered my own sign of peace: which is to kneel after the conclusion of the ‘For thine is the kingdom…’ prayer, and to adore Our Lord present on the altar, praying: ‘May the adoration of the body of Our Lord Jesus Christ on the altars of the world be a sign of peace to the whole world,’ (thrice).

  62. Liam says:

    I have to say that I find abuses of the ritual described here are been getting much less frequent over the past decade or more – I encounter it only when assisting at youth-oriented liturgies, which could do with many improvements (but I’d rather start with better preaching on such occasions, yet I digress). I think relying on its optionality is to throw baby out with bath water. I also hope that the Pope eventually decided to keep the Pax where it traditionally has been placed in the Roman rite – it would be very untraditional for him to move it.

  63. Michael says:

    DEACON DANIEL
    I am fairly sure that the practice has fallen into disuse in Latin and Byzantine Rites exactly because it tended to disturb the peace. In a Coptic Church the men are in one half of the church, the ladies in another, and I remember the same practice in the Catholic Church in some areas. What the priests do is not a model for the congregation, because they are protected by what they wear, and their exchange of the kiss is in a full view of the congregation. Thus there is no comparison with the lightly dressed laity, particularly in summer time, crowded and frequently standing.

    But, as I said, I have no issue with the sign of peace as such, but with the present streetly kind of sign in the Western Rite, frequently accompanied with other abuses. The Armenian way, I described, is decent. Also decent is the Nestorian (Assyrian) way: one offers the sign with a bow and the hands clasped, another receives by clasping his own hands over the clasped hands of the giver, or v.v. (can’t remember exactly). The Ethiopians make a deep bow to one another.

  64. David Deavel says:

    As an ex-evangelical I’d like to respond to Francisco. I don’t like the way the Peace is offered to others and I would guess that St. Francis to whom you refer would not either. The liturgy is not the place for the kind of jovial hail-fellow-well-met free for all that usually happens. It is forced and awkward. That kind of false chumminess was one thing that actually drove me batty about many sectors of evangelicalism. It was less the peace of Christ and more feel-good-manipulation in many of their services.

    That said, I think that Catholics should be much more chummy and interested in their fellow Catholics after the liturgy. AFTER MASS, not during Mass, is the time for Catholics to get to know their fellow members of the Body of Christ. In smaller parishes or parishes with schools this is often accomplished much better. But in many parishes people can be very cold. My own thought is that this can be explained in various ways.

    1) Catholics include every kind of person, including shy, socially awkward, and curmudgeonly types. Many evangelical churches cater to one type of personality–namely the dynamic friendly people persons.

    2) While evangelical churches are composed almost wholly of committed believers, Catholic parishes include people with a variety of different levels of faith and activity. My experience has been that serious and devout Catholics are very friendly, but parishes as a whole are often not because of the wide variety of levels of connection to the Church.

    3) Evangelical churches are just simply smaller and cozier as a whole. During times as a Catholic when I’ve been a regular at smaller parishes, particularly Byzantine parishes, there are donuts and coffee after every Mass and there are few enough people that you get to meet most everybody. My current parish has a main Church that seats 800 and even at sparsely attended Sunday Masses there are about 400 people–and often different people from week to week, so you don’t always see the same people. It’s not hard to see why one might not feel that sense of community that many people crave–it’s just too many people for that.

    4) Finally, and most importantly, most Catholics come to Mass for a different reason than evangelicals go. Catholics come to worship God in the awesome mystery of the Sacrament, whereas Evangelicals, not having the Liturgy, go most often for a) fellowship, b)religious education in the form of sermon and Sunday School, and c) a kind of wholesome religious entertainment. As I said, I think Catholics should think more about how communion with God in the Sacrament should drive their behavior after Mass–many people experience God directly in the Liturgy but many people do not because they were poorly catechized and had bad experiences with other Catholics that seemed to negate what they did experience in the Liturgy.

    In short, Francisco, I think you’re on to a problem in Catholic parish life, but it’s not in the Liturgy but after the Liturgy.

  65. magdalene says:

    For Francisco and others to leave the church over others not wanting to glad hand is a sign of what has caused many millions to leave the church and that is a LACK of understanding of what the Mass is, the Holy Sacrifice.

    Today I worked at a Catholic charities and everyone there that I worked with seemed to be an ex-catholic. I meet ex-catholics all the time. So much easier at the non-denom. No rules and you don’t have to go to church on Sunday and everything. No judging; you can do what you want. More entertaining. More ‘welcoming’. More fun.

    IF only Catholics understood the incredible gift of the Holy Mass and the Blessed Sacrament and the sacramental life, how could they ever leave the Church over some small reason? But the thing, is that they do NOT know their faith! This is a faith worth dying for! One Mass is of infinite value for it is the entering into the One Sacrifice of Christ. And we can receive God in a physical manner! Why would anyone who knew and believed that ever go to a coffee and bagel church?

    Yes, it is upsetting what happened to our liturgy and that, thanks be to God, the Holy Father is trying to restore. It caused the death of faith in countless souls such that we bicker over some of the innovations added. We never needed them in the first place.

    I do love my fellow man. And I visit the sick and am not afraid to touch them. But at Holy Mass, my focus is on God. And I would appreciate not having so many innovative disruptions!

    I am happy to smile and greet others outside of Mass but at Mass, please may I pray and prepare my heart to receive my God.

  66. Origen Adamantius says:

    THe sign of peace is often misunderstood as reconciliation before communion, however, that occurs at the confetior. The sign of peace is offered only after Christ is present sacramentally within the community, because he is the source of the peace being offered–reflecting the resurrection texts. Unfortunately, in practice too many forget Christ, and as the good Msgr. said run around like politic ians in heat. Unfortunately, on the other side too many act as if their brother or sister in CHrist interferes with their relationship with the Lord

  67. Karen says:

    This morning at Mass, a visiting priest walked the aisles of the small Chapel to shake everyone’s hand. The aisle is narrow, and he knocked every other rosary, hanging on the pew, to the ground with his flowing vestment. I guess one can’t refuse to shake hands with the priest, but it is really annoying. One woman stays kneeling and puts her head down during the sign of peace. The other thing that is so, so annoying, is the immediate visiting that goes on “in” church after Mass. There is literally only one church that I am aware of, where I will spend time praying after Mass, because it is quiet and people don’t chit-chat all the way down the aisle and out the door. Why do people have to socialize immediately after Mass.

  68. Michael,

    Perhaps our experience is different in terms of modesty of dress. The men and women in our parishes dress and comport themselves very modestly.

    I believe that one should not regard as “erotic” that which is truly pure and good. That said, all should be done with propriety, avoiding all scandal and in keeping with the moores of the local culture.

    I disagree that the kiss of peace of the clergy is not a model for the laity. I have seen it done well and respectfully.

    I think the bow is a wonderful idea, as is the practice of the Armenians and the Maronites who do the same as the Assyrians, it seems. The Maronite acolytes receive the peace of the altar and the Holy Gifts from the priest and then process down the aisle extending it to the congregation in the manner you mentioned. It is a beautiful gesture, but not part of the Byzantine tradition I believe.

    Francisco,

    I personally favor the restoration of the agape service, insofar as that is discernable. A time of meal fellowship following the celebration of the Divine Liturgy/Mass is the opportunity to break the “bread of charity” with our neighbors. Too often, parishes lose sight of need to stay afterwards for fellowship. Perhaps you could start something like that with your priest or congregation? I think it would go a long way in realizing some of the ideals of Acts 2:42.

    God bless!

  69. Whatever benefit may be gained by using the Moore families of various local cultures as a standard for behavior, please forgive my mispelling of “mores”!

    “We learn humility through our humiliation.”
    – Blessed Jose Maria Escriva

  70. Geoffrey says:

    “We learn humility through our humiliation.”

    Thank you for that quote from St. Josemaria! It really puts things into perspective!

  71. Anthony says:

    “All of these things — and even more — are optional. They always have been. Yet, as we all know, some of these things have been pushed down our throats as if they had been the dying wishes of Christ written down by an apostolic liturgy committee on Calvary.”

    I seriously laughed out loud.

  72. Levavi says:

    Father Z: please could you correct in red that the use of the paten is optional; cf. Redemptionis Sacramentum paragraph 93.

    On another note: my mother-in-law objects to communion on the tongue owing to hygiene reasons (mad). But people who solely receive in the hands luuuurve the sign of peace, so I like the point about hygiene here…

  73. jared says:

    It isn’t only the placement of the sign of peace in the Mass or often confusion to what the sign of peace is that is the problem.

    -You can’t give what you don’t have.

  74. Michael Thoma says:

    The oddest thing is that many people refuse to receive Eucharist from on their tongue because “they don’t know if Father’s hands touched someone’s mouth”, yet they don’t mind holding clammy sweaty palms and receiving in the hand and swapping the Chalice… makes no logical sense.

    My opinion – as Father Deacon Daniel said – perform the Peace solemnly in the Syriac/Malankara manner [sorry, Father Deacon, we claim it as well ;0) ] and receive the Lord on the tongue.

  75. Levavi: I thought about that.  It can be argued that the use of the paten is obligatory, but the language doesn’t make it iron clad.  I would say that the language, with our tradition, with our belief in the transsubstantiation makes it nearly impossible to argue that it it okay not to use it.

    Reading Redemptionis Sacramentum…

    [93.] The Communion-plate for the Communion of the faithful should be retained, so as to avoid the danger of the sacred host or some fragment of it falling. … [93.] Patina pro Communione fidelium oportet retineatur, ad vitandum periculum ut hostia sacra vel quoddam eius fragmentum cadat. 

    Cf. Missale Romanum, Institutio Generalis, n. 118.

    Hard to say that all those factors, with the language here, would allow a person to say we don’t have to use patens for Communion.

  76. Canu says:

    Blessed are the peacemakers

  77. Erin says:

    Francisco, I agree with you that sharing a sign of Christ’s peace is an integral part of the Mass and of our expression of agape love as Christians, and like you I’m horrified to see that some of my fellow Catholics would prefer not to share Christ’s peace with others due to introversion or fear of germs (I’m similarly horrified by some of the very uncharitable responses to your post). But leaving the Church is not the solution; your problems with the Church seem to arise from the attitude of her members, who, like Evangelicals, are fallen sinners. Please be aware that many Catholics do share your views. Likewise, I suspect many Evangelicals behave in un-Christian ways that will alienate you from their institutions. I’ll pray for you.

  78. Denise says:

    Sorry, You guys in Texas can’t have him; we’re keeping him here in Indiana! I have gone to Mass several times at Holy Rosary. It is a delightful parish.

  79. God bless him! I started doing away with the “Sign of Peace” a few years ago during the cold and flu season. Now, we never do it on weekdays and I stop it beginning in late September until sometime in April. Many still offer the sign of peace, but a good number ask me not to bring it back. I find it a big distraction. Most people have no idea what it symbolizes so they talk about where they are going to breakfast after Mass. If people had so much fervor for receiving Our Lord in Holy Communion!

  80. I agree with you that sharing a sign of Christ’s peace is an integral part of the Mass …

    It isn’t an integral part of the Mass; it’s optional. That’s the main point of the post.

  81. Central Valley Catholic says:

    Oh GOD, how we need a bishop and priests like this great Monsignor in the diocese of Fresno Ca.

  82. sacredosinaeternum says:

    Fr. Z,

    Those were my thoughts exactly about the Holy Communion paten. Although, the language may not be ironclad, I don’t think we should say that so easily that it’s optional.

  83. Gere says:

    While I have the same reaction to the Pax as it exists and is conducted today as Father, let’s remember that for people like that sad, older woman who wrote the NCR piece revealing her lack of faith that was discussed here recently, it is one of the FAVORITE parts of the Mass.

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)

  84. Kristen says:

    I recently attended Our Lady of the Atonement, and there was no Sign of Peace. And I didn’t miss it.

  85. A Random Friar says:

    The “third rail” of liturgy for me isn’t so much the Sign of Peace. I think most can take it or leave it. It’s the blessings at communion (people coming up for blessings at Communion line). [Right… that topic is for another entry. But in my opinion, which I have voiced elsewhere, is that Communion time is not the moment for blessings.]

    I would love to stop it, but that’s not a battle that would be worth fighting solo. I think I would need heavy air support (i.e., a direct order from Rome to the faithful to stop it everywhere at once) to put a stop to it.

    But that’s a whole ‘nother subject. Fr. Z, if you have any thoughts on this for a future post, I’d be most appreciative.

  86. A Random Friar says:

    Mea culpa, I should’ve researched first. I see you’ve covered it not that long ago. Mea culpa maxima.

  87. Not a Wurlitzer says:

    Father I know you do not like anonymous postings, I hope you will allow this one, I do not wish to give away any of identity and reflect badly on someone
    I have to respond to the idea that whether or not Catholics like and initiate or return hadnshakes and hugs is an indication of their “friendliness.”
    I am not huggy, I am not talkative and I wont shake hands especially during flu and cold season, which in my area is 3/4s of the year.
    I donated an organ to an acquaintance. And I don’t mean a wurlitzer. I took some slight risk to have most of my liver removed and put into another man’s body.
    Everything went real well.
    His wife has since said that she was surprised to meet me and find out I’m not very friendly. quote.
    You do the math you define friendly.
    Touchy-feely people are not morally superior to us cold fish. Were just different
    I am sorry I knwo this is not what this thread is about but I wanted to ge t that off my chest

  88. David Deavel,
    I enjoyed your enlightening post on how you view the differences between Catholics and Evangelicals.

  89. Michael Thoma says:

    I think the “option” of the Communion Plate was so that other local uses could be retained as well — in the East, some parishes use a long broad (normally red) cloth, a or something similar to a paten, etc.. I think there are varying local traditions in the Latin Church as well…

  90. Michael says:

    KAREN, MAGDALENE,
    You have a sound sense of what it means to be Catholic, and to be present in the church during the Most Holy Sacrifice.

    Regretably, many do not have that sense and conceive the Mass as a jolly good party, at which the priest is “meaningful” and “relevant”, the people “feel well”, and at the end everybody is “pleased”, particularly the priest to whom yet another set of a “friendly” hand-shake is more important than the thanksgiving prayer, which he can’t say anyway, because of the endless “joyful” chat in the church that reassures him of his successful “celebration”.

    DEACON DANIEL,
    Please, tell your Bishop not the make this kind of mess of the bautiful Byzantine Liturgy, by digging out the rubrics of the practically abandoned St.James’ ritual. Vatican II asks the Eastern Rite Catholics to make their liturgies as close as possible to those of the Churches from which they stem; and, to my knowledge, the practice of the sign of peace in the Orthodox Church has long been abandoned. Why imitate the elements of the Novus Ordo disaster, from which you can’t learn any new good.

  91. J Kusske says:

    Sorry to be late to the party… I found a striking difference in attitudes regarding the sign of peace when I spent a few years in East Asia. The traditional Asian way of doing it is to bow with hands folded rather than shaking hands, first to the priest and then to the people around you. In China it often is given a lot of weight, with the priest often going into the congregation and a special song being sung during it (“peace be to you” in English, based on some allegedly Hebrew song)–I think this has crept in from the Philippines. This can last as long as a couple of minutes, and annoys me a lot. In Japan it is much less, with just a bit of bowing and nothing extaraneous. For my part I have adopted the bowing style for doing the sign of peace wherever I am, because I find it much more dignified, solemn, and appropriate–not to mention sanitary!

  92. Michael,

    The restoration of the Sign/Kiss of Peace has been discussed in Orthodox circles for a number of years. I understand that some churches have tried to implement it. But there certainly is not anything resembling some sort of mass movement (pardon the pun) for its restoration. Liturgy is not an archeological dig where when one discovers an ancient practice, it is suddenly resurrected and restored. These matters have to be discerned magisterially, and where appropriate as determined by one’s bishop (or synod and patriarch), integrated organically into the common life of the church.

    I trust my bishop’s judgement on this. I will say, though, that it is only an option listed in the rubrics that I have seen. We certainly do not force the issue. It does happen spontaneously at times, though. But as I said, without the deacon exhorting the congregation to make the Sign of Peace as done in the Liturgy of Saint James (and in the Ordo of Paul VI) it probably will not happen on any larger scale. (Except, perhaps, on the Feast of Saint James.)

    It will take more than a restored Kiss of Peace to derail the Liturgies of St. John Chrysostom and St. Basil, IMHO. I think it best to avoid overstating its importance and impact on our worship. I think a far greater disaster is the advent of the “spoken” liturgy in our churches. Nothing destroys the authentic spirit of SJC/SBG liturgies like an exclusively spoken service!

    As I said, the problem with the Latin West’s restoration of the practice is its general hokiness. People do not know how to make a sign of peace. I’ve been to Masses where people have made the “peace” sign with two fingers…at that point I half expected the “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” Coke jingle to be the Communion antiphon! Clearly there is nothing liturgical about it. People do not treat it as though it had any liturgical purpose, or as a way to fulfill the Gospel mandate to make peace with one’s neighbor before approaching the altar of sacrifice. That is why I agree with the idea of dropping it outright.

  93. John,

    Great insight! I agree completely. I liked the way the sign of peace was done in Tokyo. I would like to see someday the profound bow done in China.

    Arigato gozaimas!

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  94. Everyone:
    God bless you all.
    Peace is in the heart and not the hand. But an empty hand shows no danger.
    God knows the heart. I know your hand or bow.

    Never, ever, let anything come between you and Jesus Christ Truly Present Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity now present on the altar. And for this I truly say: “God bless ALL Priests and THANK YOU FOR BEING A PRIEST!!!”
    Amem.
    Bill Grothus wrote this. Thanks be to God.

  95. Vincent says:

    Regarding the communion paten about which some people seem to have gotten so worked up, it is used at Holy Rosary, so it’s not like Msgr. Schaedel is looking for a way out here. The parish is very liturgically solid and serves as an excellent example between both forms of the Roman Rite.

    Regarding those who believe those of us who dread the sign of peace are uncharitable: please, this is just absurd. Aside from issues of respect and reverence for the liturgy and what is or is not appropriate for Mass, which others have covered adequately, you have fallen into the classic example of “judging a book by its cover.” How do you know what the person behind you who doesn’t really want to shake hands does for the poor of his community? Maybe he spends every night working at the local soup kitchen or a free medical center or any other charitable work. You don’t know. There is no evidence to suggest that St. Francis went around hugging people during the liturgy. In fact, everything we know about how Christians regarded assistance at Holy Mass in the 14th Century would seem to indicate that this is not only improbable but impossible.

    I understand that many Catholics would like to make our liturgy a reflection of the values of our community. But there are two problems here. The first is that this attitude seeks to make something of the liturgy, which is not something for us to craft but rather a gift to us from God and an instrument of his Divine Revelation. The second is that this is to impose a most superficial understanding of the liturgy. The sacred liturgy is deep and full of meaning. We will not understand it by the initial impressions it leaves on us. Similarly, the attitudes and dispositions of a congregation are not so easy to understand either. This simplistic view not only sells short the liturgy but all people as well. Human beings are complicated and this superficiality amounts to a reductionist understanding of them. The liturgy does convey peace, a peace of the deepest sort, but it is something we must seek out, not something to impose on it.

    If concerns over germs are really the motivator here, then sure there’s something wrong, just like there is something wrong with people who do not want to receive communion on the tongue because of concern for germs. But for the vast majority of readers of this website the real concern is something far more important: the sacral nature of the liturgy.

  96. The other David says:

    Abusus non tollit usum.

    We must remember that despite the abuses of people who don’t recognize the purpose, the abuses do not negate the right use.

  97. Maureen says:

    I think it’s very interesting that the comments here connect the sign of peace to Christ’s peace, rather than to making your peace with your fellows before you go to the altar. All the catechesis I received in the late seventies/early eighties quoted the before you bring your gifts to the altar thing. (Which I guess really goes more with the old position?)

    Anyway, this was always a fruitful moment in my family when we were kids, because of course there was almost always somebody who really needed to make peace with somebody else. As we got up in the teenage years, it was less and less between siblings, and more and more between parent and child. But boy, did we need that moment of mortification and forgiveness!

    Now that I’m an adult, I seldom find myself at church sitting next to anybody who has had even the slightest opportunity to torque me off. So the sign of peace has seemed less meaningful. I will try to remember that it’s Christ’s peace now.

  98. stephan kaleniecki says:

    Get rid of it! As for holding hands during The Lords Prayer, I do not and will not. It’s a stressful act and does not belong.

  99. Mary says:

    I wanted to let all of you know of the fruits of exhchanging the sign of peace. My husband was Jewish and used to accompany me to mass during Christmas and Easter. One of the things that impressed him was the exchange of the sign of peace. That was one of the first things that drew him to Catholicism. Never under estimate what a geture can mean to someone. My husband is now Catholic and is in formation for the Diaconate.

  100. It appears that most defense of the sign of peace is based on the assumption that it is an exchange of “good will between men”, or of reconciliation between them before going to the altar to receive communion.

    It seems to me that this assumption lies at the root of most of the abuse.

    Whereas I believe the liturgical sign of peace involves instead the bestowal, via passing on from celebrant to minister to person to person — of the peace and protection of Christ Himself on the altar.

    As I understand it, nothing (peace or otherwise) is returned, so it’s not an exchange of anything, properly speaking.

    More generally, is it not apparent that lack of catechesis and proper understanding — perhaps stemming from the ordination of a couple of generations of priests without benefit of systematic priestly formation — is the root of almost all liturgical abuse?

  101. Maureen: I think it’s very interesting that the comments here connect the sign of peace to Christ’s peace …

    Indeed. I wonder how many of today’s greet ‘n grinners have never read or even listened to the words of the Ritus pacis (“rite of peace) in the OF missal:

    Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum.
    “The peace of the Lord be with you always.”

    That’s the peace of the Lord, Christ’s peace. Not my peace. Not your peace. Not our peace. But His peace.

  102. Henry,

    Here is Cardinal Arinze’s explanation:

    “Often the full significance of this gesture is not understood. It is seen as an occasion to shake the hands of our friends, when in reality it is a way of saying to the one next to us that the peace of Christ, truly present on the altar, is also for all mankind.”

    Here is also an interesting discussion at the Deaconsbench Blogspot:

    http://deacbench.blogspot.com/2008/12/sign-of-peace-sometimes-its-like.html

    I do not see the root of the issue being the “reconciliation between them before going to the altar” but I do agree with your point about it treating it like an “exchange of good will.”

    That said, the notion of “exchange”, so long as it is coupled with “participation” would be proper. We participate in the peace of the altar and, receiving it from Christ through His priest, we exchange it with one another.

    Certainly the priest leaving the altar and milling about the congregation shaking hands is not proper prior to receiving communion. (And since when has shaking hands ever been a liturgical action?) He place liturgically speaking at that moment is attending to and preparing for the reception and distribution of the Holy Gifts on the altar table.

    In the very least, I hope that Rome approves the move of this sign to the Offertory. It certainly makes the most sense, so long as they couple it with a catechesis on the proper liturgical action that should take place.

  103. Fr. Deacon Daniel: Thank you. I hadn’t seen that interesting quotation from Cardinal Arinze.

    I’ve been a bit puzzled by reports of “moving” the Rite of Peace to before the Offertory.

    On the one hand, the “exchange of greetings” rite certainly belongs somewhere else than in the presence of Christ on the altar. One the other hand, the liturgical Pax Christi surely in the Roman rite belongs where it’s always been.

    I’m no one to make suggestions at this level. But I wonder whether it would be appropriate to have both the people’s peace before the offertory and the peace of the Lord in its traditional place. Perhaps then there would not be such confusion as to the meaning.

  104. Stephen K says:

    Pharisees, hypocrites, conservatives, and germophobes! I sat with this article and comments for 24 hours hoping the Lord would give me peace about this, but am still moved to write.
    Folks, Is the mass a magic formula, or an exercise in precarious molecular chemistry? Will Jesus go away, leaving the host empty if we, the “uneducated”, who see that of Christ in our neighbor and wish also to make a sign of peace with that Person rather than just abstractly in our thoughts during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. How telling it is that our Faith was so brittle in the renewal of the Liturgy that so many fell away or cling to the shards of so called tradition, rather than to give themselves, in obedience, to the Word given to us in the miracle of Pentecost, through Baptism, the Communion of Saints, and by extension each baptized person. Holy Rosary Parish is, I believe, an exclusively “extraordinary form” parish. We are grateful for the fruits of their labors here in Indiana, but keep it in perspective. I once went to a parish where, during the sign of peace, and yes the Priest did ask for an exchange of the Sign of Peace, a woman disdainfully looked down at my extended hand and my gently smiling face before nodding and returning her gaze to the altar! ***I never felt such a rejection of the Holy Spirit as in that moment!***
    It is one thing not to wish to shake hands, but it is another thing entirely, with the excuse of “breaking the solemnity of the Sacrifice”, to rebuff another’s offer of peace. Wars are fought because of that. You may not wish to share your own flesh with your neighbor, but please at the least return their goodwill with a suitable sign.
    Is it in the book of Acts where it is said (paraphrasing) “When you enter a dwelling, say ‘peace be upon this house’, and if your word are returned to you then you may stay there.” No wonder so many move on!

  105. Jordanes says:

    Stephen K said: Pharisees, hypocrites, conservatives, and germophobes!

    Coming right out of the box with an accusation that those with whom you disagree are vile sinners is not the best way to convince people.

    a woman disdainfully looked down at my extended hand and my gently smiling face before nodding and returning her gaze to the altar!

    She nodded — there’s your Sign of Peace.

    ***I never felt such a rejection of the Holy Spirit as in that moment!***

    “Feelings. Nothing more than . . . feelings . . .” Don’t be so quick to impute your feelings to an act of the Holy Spirit.

    It is one thing not to wish to shake hands, but it is another thing entirely, with the excuse of “breaking the solemnity of the Sacrifice”, to rebuff another’s offer of peace.

    She didn’t rebuff your offer, and anyway in the Rite of Peace, the Peace is not yours to offer, it’s Christ’s.

    Wars are fought because of that. You may not wish to share your own flesh with your neighbor, but please at the least return their goodwill with a suitable sign.

    If the bishops say a little head nod is good enough for the Blessed Sacramen at Communion time, then it must be good enough to serve as a Sign of Peace.

    For myself and my family, we exchange kisses with each other and handshakes with a few of the people in the pew ahead or behind us. But if a priest were to exercise his option of not instructing us to offer the Peace, I wouldn’t get upset at all. It’s not an especially important or essential part of the liturgy, which is about God, not us.

  106. Simon Platt says:

    I’m sorry to have to say this Stephen, but …

    I had difficulty parsing much of your comment. For the rest, in at least one point you are clearly and objectively in error (viz. in your belief that Holy Rosary parish is dedicated exclusively to the extraordinary form). And I’m sure I’m not the only reader who strongly deprecates your disparaging of the commenters here. Many of them have made intelligent and well informed points; none of them deserves to be ridiculed.

    I’m sorry that you don’t seem to appreciate the distress caused to many faithful catholics by the way in which the kiss of peace is commonly given in the ordinary form.

    Please think more carefully before posting.

  107. Vincent says:

    Stephen K:

    You come straight out with a vitriolic accusation, so here is my initial observation about your post: you are profoundly ignorant with regards to the subject about which you write. Holy Rosary offers three Masses every Sunday. Two are in the Ordinary Form and one is in the Extraordinary Form. Msgr. Schaedel has never celebrated the Extraordinary Form publicly (and I doubt he has privately either). But that does not mean he does not respect it. Perhaps you could learn from this example.

    The fact that, after reading Msgr. Schaedel’s letter, you would believe that he is referring to the Extraordinary Form reveals your ignorance of that form, where the Sign of Peace is not passed amongst the people. Your experience at another parish has nothing to do with Holy Rosary. Our primary purpose of being at Mass is not to welcome people — it is to worship. Look at the text of the Pax rite. The priest invites us to share the peace of Christ with one another. We are not exchanging something already within us, but rather participating in the flowing out of Christ’s peace from the altar, where He is truly present. This can happen through the simple exchange between the priest and the people. Perhaps once we better recover a proper sense of liturgical action the sign of peace can be conducted in a more dignified and ordered manner, but there are very good reasons for taking a break from it for a while.

  108. Jack says:

    We are all a member of the Body of Christ. Turning a cold shoulder during the sign of peace is not the most charitable thing to do. It’s almost like saying “I’m in my own world at the moment. Don’t bother me.” As for the germs thing. That’s just a cop out. Just like not wanting to receive the Blood of Christ because you’re afraid of receiving someone else’s germs. We are talking about Jesus being fully present in the Eucharist and in the Assembly. Will Jesus let you down?

    Paul and his companions had to deal with those who obstinately want to adhere to the works of the law. I think we can apply to same principles here in saying that adhering to the rubrics without faith, love, and charity will only lead to disenfranchisement. I don’t think we need a GIRM police. Christ will love us however we celebrate the Eucharist as long as do it with the theological virtues.

  109. David Deavel says:

    Stephen K.,

    I agree that if the peace is offered one should return it with dignity and not look away.

    However, it’s the height of rash judgment to say that those who don’t like the current way the ritual is offered and avoid it do “not wish to share your own flesh with your neighbor.” Note the anonymous poster who is an organ donor yet hates and avoids the current way the peace is offered. Read also my comment on why evangelical churches have a different feel. In short, read the comments before you put down your anathemas.

  110. Nick says:

    As I recall the earliest liturgy, that of St. James, had the priest say “Let us greet one another with a holy kiss.” i.e., much like the European greeting of kissing on both cheeks. This evolved in the Tridentine Mass to the kissing of the “Pax” at, I believe, only Pontifical Solemn Masses. In the OF it devolved, at least in Anglo Saxon countries, into the stiff, awkward, ritual embrace among the clergy and the distracting cocktail party mess of handshaking and banal chit-chat among the laity. Liturgically, the notion of Christian greeting amongst the worshipers has always been there but the trick is in accomplishing it tastefully. Among the Orthodox the greeting, only among the clergy, occurs during the Creed. Someone should mass produce those liturgical “Pax”s again in my opinion. I suspect that the present reintroduction of the Sign of Peace was not only to bring back a semblance of the ancient practice but also to spur a sense of communal worship which the EF does not always clearly emphasize. Many people prefer the private devotional calm of the EF even if it could be misconstrued as isolationist. Ultimately it may be just a matter of personal taste regardless of how tastefully the business is ordered.

  111. TJM says:

    Many of the comments here are breathtaking in their lack of knowledge of the faith. I do not blame these folks for they are victims of a Church which for the past 40 years essentially taught its faithful nothing about the faith, the Mass, and the blessed sacraments. The Pax as practiced in most parishes has nothing to do with the Catholic Faith. It is a celebration of ourselves. I would think that some of you would defer to the educated and considered opinions of priests like Father Z. It’s kind of like the patient telling his surgeon how to do the surgery when they have never taken a science course in their lives. Tom

  112. Roland de Chanson says:

    “If this causes you undue anxiety, sleepless nights, or a loss of Faith, I know a couple good therapists!” Msgr. Schaedel is a riot.

    The restoration looks beautiful. It would be nice if the three windows above the side altars were restored to their original heights. I am surprised at the “Mater Christi” over the left side altar; as someone pointed out in another thread, this expression has quasi-Nestorian overtones: Christotokos rather than Theotokos. “Mater Dei” or the more seldom seen “Deipara” would be more accurate, especially in the context of the central inscription “Beatam me dicent omnes generationes.” But I don’t really mean to cavil expecially in light of the splendour of the renovations.

    It occurs to me that if all those optional things (i.e. abuses) mentioned by Msgr. Schaedel were ousted, we’d be back very close to the True Mass. Including the “pro multis” and the “mysterium fidei”. This would be the “usus qui tollit abusum.”

    If the Mass is the reenactment of the Sacrifice of Calvary, then it is out of place for the congregation to be glad-handing each other like whirling dervishes. Neither is there any need of Catholic “charismatics” to be ululating “in tongues”. There is a time for everything under heaven, and the time for pumping the flesh is the coffee hour after Mass and the howlers can join the snake handlers out in the barn.

    To paraphrase the exhortation to St. Francis: ripara la mia casa che sta già quasi in rovina.

  113. Nick says:

    An observation: the United States of America is fundamentally a Protestant nation culturally. Every religion that has set up shop has incrementally over time been “protestantized” in outlook and practice to a greater or lesser degree.

    Among the Jews there were two forms of devotion: the temple and the synagogue. The temple service was centered on sacrifice and prayer whereas the synagogue (“the school”) was primarily for instruction and study. Protestant worship is primarily that of the synagogue type. Reform Judaism often impresses one of a Baptist or Methodist service without Jesus. Even “American” Buddhism and Hinduism have not escaped “inculturation”.

    Roman Catholicism, like Eastern Orthodoxy (a “church” is called a “temple” in the Greek and Russian), was of the temple form until relatively recently when the transformation into the Protestant type with its fellowship emphasis has developed so rapidly. There is a great difference between being in a temple and a university lecture hall. Until the sense of place, worship and respect are regained there will remain the profane (“pro fanum”) atmosphere that is so much lamented here.

  114. MarkF says:

    This is a pretty devisive issue. What bothers me about all the handshaking is that it is often so superficial. I go to the same daily Mass for about a year, and all this handshaking has done nothing to bring me closer to these people. It actually feels somewhat more uncomfortable that we continue on this ritualized handshake level instead of getting to know each other.

    I’ve been told of all sorts of abuses made by the people who love the handshake against those who don’t. I was told of someone who kept their hands folded in prayer, I guess as a sign that they did not want the handshake, only to have a person come up and force his hand in between the person’s folded hand. Given how people have different feelings about all this, the handshake can become a time of awkwardness instead of unity.

  115. Susan Peterson says:

    If one is at a mass where people are shaking hands, one ought to shake hands with them and say “The Peace of Christ be with You.” One ought to shake hands with those immediately around one in the pews. One ought to do this even if it is not one’s preference and even if it isn’t the best liturgical practice, to avoid hurting someone like Stephen. On the other hand, if one is someone who loves the peace and thinks it is wonderful, and he perceives that someone is not comfortable with it, he ought not to push it on that person. I believe that this is what charity would have us do.
    I am not sure either party is absolutely right or wrong in this matter. Even if you think your position on it is absolutely right, I would say that charity towards others is the most important consideration and what Our Lord would want.
    Susan Peterson

  116. Mark says:

    It is not only the Sign of Peace that is a distraction and a break in the flow of the Mass. Actually, the entire first half of the Mass is a series of interruptions and changes in focus, from the priest who starts the Mass, then to the lay readers (while the priest sits and listens instead of actively praying as in the TLM), to the layperson-read Prayer of the Faithful, which is frequently a politically correct wish-list meant to somehow supplement the prayers of the Mass offered by the priest. Then we have the parade of EMs invading the altar to “do their part” distributing Communion… except for the Eucharistic Prayer, the priest frequently seems to be a secondary player… this, to me, is one of the great faults of the New Mass, and one that makes it supremely inferior to the Traditional Mass, IMHO.

  117. John says:

    A valid point expressed in the most lasting way- with humor. I try to be a charitable person, but gratuitous pawing at/by fellow parishoners is stressful and distracting to me (even before the exchange: for minutes beforehand my mind is utterly distracted with the dread of, “Oh no, here it comes….” How is this supposed to bring me closer to Christ? And how am I to believe that this silliness makes my neighbors more Christ-like when, after Mass, the parking lot resembles “Ben Hur” as everyone tries to be the first to IHOP?

  118. Susan Peterson says:

    I do have a problem with an extreme form of the “kiss of peace” I encounter at daily mass in one local parish. There are not so many places any more where one can go to a daily mass which also allows one to get to work on time. My Byzantine parish’s daily liturgy is too late entirely and also half an hour from my home and half an hour back to where I work. So sometimes I go to daily mass at one of the “worship sites” of my territorial parish “cluster.” I have written about this before, but I would really like advice about it. The daily mass chapel has a 3/4 circle of seats around the wall, the altar not elevated or separated in any way. At the peace, all 20 people there including the priest mill about in the central space, each hugging every other person. One woman plants a loud wet kiss on everyone’s cheek. I did ask her please not to do this to me, as my North European sensibilities shrank from it, and she complied. I think I managed to do that without her taking it too personally, although I think she thinks I am strange. But despite my not really sharing the discomfort most people here have for the “handshake of peace” and even liking it at times, I have become more and more uncomfortable with what happens there. Jesus lays ignored on the altar. People pass Him by over and over to hug each other. People pass behind the altar to hug each other. I made it a point not to go behind the altar, feeling that was the priest’s place and there should be some sense of sacred space, and that I can get away with without anyone’s noticing it. But then I started more and more looking at the altar, feeling I should genuflect when I pass it, and I would keep glancing quickly in that direction giving a nod to Jesus on the way to hug the next person. So what I am asking is, is there anything I can do to change what happens there? I am not a leader sort of person. I would have to tolerate this for a year to become a regular and an “in” person there. I have fantasies of getting up at the peace and going over and going on my knees in front of the altar while they have their melee of hugs. But people would stumble over me. I think they would ask if I am ill or think I have fallen. This would be truly outrageous and eccentric behavior in this situation. Is there anything, anything I can do? Please don’t tell me to write the bishop, as it would not concern this particular bishop at all.

  119. Nick says:

    Susan,

    Unless you can find another option you are stuck. You at least have the consolation of knowing that there are others who are silently suffering because of endless high jinks. You might want to offer up your anguish for the relief of the Holy Souls in Purgatory and I am not being facetious.

  120. CAL says:

    Stephen K,:

    Do you attend St. John’s?

    I think your ideas about the sign of peace in the Novus Ordo are indicative of the funadmental crisis of the theological and liturgical understanding of the Mass that the late and great Cardinal Ottaviani was so very concerned about, and moved him, along with others to intervene with Paul VI to stop its promulgation. It appears to me that such ideas stem from an emphatic focus on the nature of the Mass as a community action centered on the community, rather than a God centered action for the benefit of the community. In actually, the offering and reception of the sign of peace still rests in the narrative, Pax Domini sit semper vobiscvm. Et cvm spiritv tvo.

    Further, as someone who does not like to be touched and who generally despises the sign of peace, it seems to be an act of intollerance and completely against Christian charity to expect that everyone in the church thinks and should act in the same manner you do and then to pass judgement upon those who do not think and act as you do by pronouncing them to be “pharisees, hypocrites, conservatives and germophobes”. I don’t like the sign of peace, and most of the people I know don’t like it, when we attend the Novus Ordo we tend to place ourselves out of the way so that we will not have to deal with it (I prefer sitting in the choir loft). Just as it would be unfair and intollerant for those like myself to force you and people who think as you do to stop the sign of peace, it is unfair and intollerant of you to be so self absorbed and unconcerned about your neighbor so as to force yourself upon us. Perhaps you should keep in mind what Our Lord said about love of neighbor.

  121. dymphna says:

    StephenK, I don’t care to “share my own flesh” with anyone but my husband. That doesn’t make me a hypocrite, conservative or germaphobe.

  122. Jack says:

    I hope you guys don’t turn down the hospitality person when they greet you before mass. According to most post here thusfar, you only go to mass for one purpose and that is to worship God. Nothing else matters. So don’t talk to me. Pretend I’m invisible. I don’t care for your germs. I wonder how many here wipe their seat when they get into a taxi or wipe your utensils at the restaurant (you never know what that last waiter touched)? Spreading germs is just a big excuse and it shows big gesture of being uncharitable and uncomformity to the community as a whole.

    Until your bishop says to celebrate mass in a different fashion, I hope you comply. Your primary teacher is your bishop, not a priest or deacon. If we listened to every priest and deacon, the church would be in a thousand pieces. Until the time to change has come, lets make the best of what we have and act in a charitable fashion.

  123. Simon Platt says:

    Jack: give over.

  124. David Deavel says:

    Jack’s is yet another uncharitable judgment against all the evidence. I don’t think he’s read any of the comments.

    Again, deeper communion among those who are the Body of Christ is certainly necessary, but forced pleasantry in the midst of the Liturgy has nothing to do with it–and, as some have noted, triggers an allergic reaction in many people.

  125. TJM says:

    Jack, the problem is, sometimes the parish priest is orthodox, totally in communion with
    Rome, whereas the bishop may not be. A priest owes his allegiance to the Pope and the
    truth of the Church. If his bishop violates liturgical norms and encourages his priests to do so as well, the bishop can be ignored and should be. The kiss of peace as generally administered is a total joke, an act of self congratulation by the congregation, and disruptive of what should be a solemn moment. WHen you see the pax delivered as it should be, it is quite moving. And like I said earlier, not all opinions on this subject are of equal dignity. Priests like Father Z know and understand the liturgy. So their opinion on such matters carrys far greater weight than the assertions and feelings of the uninformed. Tom

  126. Jack says:

    I’ve read every single comment on here (if you go up to the beginning of this thread, you’ll see some of my posts; apparently, someone else did’nt read all the comments). All I see is a bunch of cry babies back in grade school not wanting to hold hands. [I don’t appreciate being attacked in this personal way.] This is not forced pleasantry. A rite or ritual is all about gestures. Why do we kneel at certain parts of mass? Why do we stand or sit? I can just as easily worship God by lying on my back. It’s all about community. We come together to worship God as a whole, not as individuals. Perhaps placement of the sharing of peace is not at the most optimum place in the celebration of the liturgy, but let’s make the best of what we have. (Apparently the allergic reaction seems to be uncharitability towards your neighbors. Sorry for using such strong words.) [You now have the opportunity to adjust your approach.]

  127. Jack says:

    Yes, the priest holds allegiance to the Pope and the college of bishops. However, since when did Rome make the change to get rid of sharing the peace and for now just ignore everyone around you when they hold out their hands to share the peace of Jesus Christ with you? There are certain steps that need to be taken when we feel that a bishop or anyone for that matter is in violation. I’m sure you know what the steps are. You can’t just ignore your bishop. That’s why we have so many factions. I pray almost everyday that we don’t go through another schism and that our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ become united once again.

  128. Jack: Okay… that’s enough.

    since when did Rome make the change to get rid of sharing the peace

    It has ALWAYS been OPTIONAL. That is the point the priest in the top entry is making. It is an OPTION. Rome did not “get rid” of it. In the older, traditional form of Mass it is uses in Solemn Masses. It may be used in the Novus Ordo at the discretion of the priest celebrant.

    The Church’s rubrics are to be followed and bishops and priests cannot change them. They also cannot make what is optional obligatory. Options remain options.

    The divisions in the Church are not going to be solved or healed because of the Sign of Peace, nor will Christian Unity be accomplished.

  129. GMO says:

    God bless Msgr. Schaedel and all that he does for Holy Rosary and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis as Vicar General. Monsignor has done a great job of exercising the options at his disposal to maintain the solemnity that is necessary (and should be inherent) in the Holy Mass. While I do not believe that popular opinion should be a factor in a priest’s decision to exercise specific options, I hope he does not mind if I give him two thumbs up!

  130. Jack: You seem to think hand-shaking has something to do with charitability. That there’s some correlation between sociability and casualness in worship. (Typical liberal logic?)

    But, in a half century of all kinds of Catholic congregations, I’ve never seen one more congenial and friendly than my present TLM community. A real Christian community, one might say.

    Though the issue doesn’t arise in our traditional Mass, I doubt that any of us lacks a sense of when to grip (after Mass) and when not to grin (during it).

  131. David Deavel says:

    “I’ve read every single comment on here (if you go up to the beginning of this thread, you’ll see some of my posts; apparently, someone else did’nt read all the comments).”

    Henry Edwards identified one logical fallacy in Jack’s comment–the notion that sociability is the same as charitability. Another one might be the above in which Jack mistakenly concludes that because he has commented before on the thread it is an obvious indication that he has actually read what the other comments say. If he did read the other people’s comments it is not obvious to me from the fallacy Henry identified.

  132. ssoldie says:

    I am so blessed as to be able to go to Flensburg, Mn and pray the TLM ‘Gregorian Rite’ none of the foolishness there. Come and join us, you are more then welcome,and have coffee with us after Mass(while Father is hearing confessions) in the basement of the church,and meet our wonderful family’s.

  133. TJM says:

    ssoldie, at last some common sense. Mass is about worshipping and praising God, socialibility with others is something to be done at coffee and doughnuts after Mass. I used to think switching from ad orientem to versus populum was the most deleterious liturgical change. I’m beginning to change by mind about that and shift my focus instead to the manner in which the kiss of peace has been implemented in this country.It’s now at the top of my list as to what’s wrong with the way of the Novus Ordo was implemented. Tom

  134. CAL says:

    Jack,

    The offering of a sign of peace among the congregation is a point of rupture with the tradition of the Roman Rite; just as the protestant doxology after the Pater Noster and the removal of the words Mysterivm Fide from the consecration formula to be made into an unheard of acclimation for the congregation. Those of us who have concerns about these, among other, changes in the liturgy are not “cry babies back in grade school not wanting to hold hands”, though I must confess that I didn’t like holding hands in grade school either, we are simply seeking the truth of the matter. We generally have a good understanding of the liturgical traditions of the Roman Rite and we find these innovations puzzling, and difficult to reconcile with the traditional teaching of the Mass.

    We also must remember that we are all individual creations of God, in His likenes and image, not merely mass produced clones meant to reflect one aspect of His person (at least not yet). To reduce the Mass, or any aspect of the Divine Liturgy to “it’s all about community” “We come together to worship God as a whole, not as individuals” is to eliminate intrinsic aspects of Man’s nature, the nature of the Liturgy, and the nature of creation. Not to mention that it is blatantly in opposition to what the Church teaches about the liturgy.

    Regarding obedience to bishops, I’m reminded of something we heard repeatedly in seminary, “The road to Hell is paved with the heads of bishops”. Isn’t obedience to bishops what gave us Communion in the hand, extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, female Altar personnel, the destruction of beautiful churches, empty seminaries, and the list could go on. If the question is obedience to the bishop, or obedience to the Church, I will alwasy be with the Church. Bishops are fallable, the Magisterium isn’t.

    Also, having worked in catering and restaurants for a number of years, yes, I do check the china, linen, silverware, and glassware and I won’t hesitate to send anything back or get up and leave if things aren’t up to snuff. I know all too well what goes on in kitchens.

  135. Midwest St. Michael says:

    “StephenK, I don’t care to “share my own flesh” with anyone but my husband. That doesn’t make me a hypocrite, conservative or germaphobe.”

    Well done, Dymphna! Hilarious!

  136. Curious Observer says:

    I just stumbled on this site and find it sad. I personally love the sign of peace, and I’ve been to Masses with people who resent the sign of peace, and they generally seem stern, sanctimonius, and unwelcoming(and some of these traits are reflected in the comments here). I would much prefer to be in a Mass where the people thought a visible sign of kindness and love was a more important symbol of Christ’s love than fear over flu germs.

  137. Jack says:

    This is my last point and I’m going to end it here. This forum is similar to a bunch of gnostics (the group that Paul warned about). “We know what to do to get heaven; everyone else is doing it wrong.” Martin Luther saw what appears to be abuses in the church and broke away from the church. Unfortunately, more than half of Christians today follow that route. I understand that the sign of the peace is optional; but if it’s customary, then I’d follow that. It’s better to be united than separated. One. Holy. Catholic. Apostolic. (Since when is sociability exclusive of charitability? That’s just a rhetorical question. Please don’t answer that. Not that I’m going to stick around to read the answer.)
    [Yes… that would be for the best.] I just hope that we don’t get another SSPX scandal.

  138. RBrown says:

    Pharisees, hypocrites, conservatives, and germophobes! I sat with this article and comments for 24 hours hoping the Lord would give me peace about this, but am still moved to write.
    Folks, Is the mass a magic formula, or an exercise in precarious molecular chemistry? Will Jesus go away, leaving the host empty if we, the “uneducated”, who see that of Christ in our neighbor and wish also to make a sign of peace with that Person rather than just abstractly in our thoughts during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. How telling it is that our Faith was so brittle in the renewal of the Liturgy that so many fell away or cling to the shards of so called tradition, rather than to give themselves, in obedience, to the Word given to us in the miracle of Pentecost, through Baptism, the Communion of Saints, and by extension each baptized person. Holy Rosary Parish is, I believe, an exclusively “extraordinary form” parish. We are grateful for the fruits of their labors here in Indiana, but keep it in perspective. I once went to a parish where, during the sign of peace, and yes the Priest did ask for an exchange of the Sign of Peace, a woman disdainfully looked down at my extended hand and my gently smiling face before nodding and returning her gaze to the altar! ***I never felt such a rejection of the Holy Spirit as in that moment!***
    Comment by Stephen K —

    1. Your comments are boring–they remind me of the garbage I’ve heard from liberals the past 35 years. Anyone who disagrees with them is accused of having some psychological or spiritual flaw–rigid, afraid of change, or, in your latest version accused of being “Pharisees, hypocrites, conservatives, and germophobes”.

    2. I find it presumptuous that you think you can the rejection of the Holy Spirit.

    3. BTW, personally, I could care less about the sign of peace, although I find it superficial. At daily mass I sit apart (as most of the others do), and I reply to a wave with a modified James Dean. On Sundays, if someone wants to shake hands, that is fine.

  139. Stephen K says:

    I will apologize: I was rash to post some of the thoughts I posted, especially having grown up in a parish that has been all about gratuitous hand holding and handshaking for all the 30+ years I’ve been alive. It was a community of people mostly whose culture reflects the Slavic and Romantic-language countries, and also Irish whose immigrants came 80 or 100 years previously to work in factories and steel mills. There didn’t seem to be anybody in a packed Mass that who was visibly uncomfortable with the Sign of Peace, even among the most senior parishioners. But then, maybe those folks went to another parish. We always felt uplifted and able to face the hard-reality of industrial decline that surrounded us. When the pastor was changed to one who wasn’t so encouraging of the prevailing culture, most of parish moved away. The parish languished for 20 years, lost it’s grade school, most of it’s ministries and the Church building deteriorated. My own parents left for 15 years, only returning when a new pastor was installed who was seemed more like the one we had in the “good old days”. When I moved away and found a similar community in southern Indiana, I was overjoyed. I still am.

    Please forgive me for the fervor and judgment in my previous post.

  140. TJM says:

    Stephen K, I hope you have a chance to experience authentic Catholic liturgy. Try the TLM or even a Novus Ordo, in Latin, ad orientem, and I think you may see what some of us oldsters are talking about. By the way, not to beat a dead horse, but the kiss of peace as it is administered in most parishes is a perversion of its purpose and intent. I think if you see how its done in a solemn, traditional Latin Mass you may begin to appreciate what some of us our saying. All the best, Tom

  141. athanasius says:

    What’s sad is the real sign of peace in the Traditional Mass is often omitted, because it can only be carried out at Solemn Mass and most Traditional parishes lack the clergy or choir for a solemn Mass.

  142. Regina says:

    I, too, have strong feelings about the Sign of Peace and the holding of hands during the Our Father at Mass. I don’t like either one of them but I do shake hands w/ the people in my immediate vacinty of where I’m seated at Mass. Many, many times at Mass, I’ve seen the Sign of Peace becomes a “free for all” where people are rushing clear across the church to shake hands w/ someone.

  143. TJM says:

    Regina, because that happens because it’s all about me, me, me, me and nothing to do with what the Pax is about. Tom

  144. RBrown says:

    Somehow I feel there’s a lot of negativity and almost an air of resentment in most of the posts here. Why don’t we try to make the best of what we have? In our custom, we simply bow our heads to the priest then to our neighbors during the sign of the peace. However, over the years, shaking hands and giving hugs penetrated this custom (I actually like this better than giving a simple bow).
    Comment by Jack

    I think hugging people whom you barely know is shallow and silly.

    Having said that, put Ashley Judd or Renee Fleming next to me at mass, and I’ll show you some industrial strength hugging.

  145. Nick says:

    Although this discussion is specifically about the Sign of Peace I noticed some entries about the paten. I once asked a priest why he no longer used the paten and his reply was “Didn’t you know? That fussy ‘theology of the crumbs’ (i.e. of the Eucharist) was done away with.” I have to say that with what I’ve seen of the prevalent “Communion in the Hand” he had a point.

  146. Athelstan says:

    TJM needs to realize priests take an oath of obedience to their local bishop and his successors,and not to the bishop of Rome.
    Only converts to Catholicism take an oath to the pope and the concept of papal primacy, but cradle Catholics don’t. Go figure. The papal road show still acts like a small 19th century Hungarian traveling circus. Is this Church screwed up or what?? How can it be infallible when daily it demonstrates it is a collection of stumbling, bumbling, incompetent bureaucrats, but with an ever faithful band of followers?? Sort of reminds me of the Nazi Party in the early days.

  147. “Although this discussion is specifically about the Sign of Peace I noticed some entries about the paten. I once asked a priest why he no longer used the paten and his reply was “Didn’t you know? That fussy ‘theology of the crumbs’ (i.e. of the Eucharist) was done away with.” I have to say that with what I’ve seen of the prevalent “Communion in the Hand” he had a point.”

    Nick,

    As a deacon in the Byzantine rite I am intimately familiar with the “crumbs” issue since it falls to me to prepare the Chalice for Holy Communion by cutting the Lamb (the consecrated leavened Prosphora – the Body of Christ). In my training of our 8 deacon candidates, I recently pointed out the spiritual dangers of familiarity with sacred things. One has to maintain a sense of the humility before the Holy, especially when faced with the condescension of God who humbles Himself to become a crumb on my finger. It is easy for one who handles God to be tempted to doubt the great Mystery entrusted to we sinful men. This is one of the reasons why only those consecrated through ordination may handle the Sacred Gifts.

    For those who are called to serve in this way, I personally think it best for us to always trust our Guardian Angel in our service of the altar, as well as the lead angel assigned to each Divine Liturgy. (Yes – I truly believe this to be the case.) When handling a “Firey Coal” one finds it best to entrust one’s ministry to those with the greatest vigilance and most experience…

    “Holy, Holy, Holy!”

    In ICXC,

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  148. Parishioner of Holy Rosary says:

    I go to Holy Rosary.

    Before I found Holy Rosary I received more than my fair share of bad catechesis, even heresy. Priests allowing women to give a homily, to being told I didn’t need to confess using birth control — the priest was only concerned that I had the ability to articulate the teaching…following it was optional.

    My first visit was out of curiosity about the extraordinary form. I immediately knew that what I was being told was wrong, and joined Holy Rosary without looking back for a second. The splash of ice-cold Catholicism was exactly what I needed, and for that matter the rest of the world needs. I don’t know where I’d be today if it weren’t for these great men and women there.

    The clear thinking demonstrated in this article is common, if not regular. The homilies are never empty ramblings full of meaningless mumbo-jumbo.

    Publicly, I want to thank God for the priests and sister at Holy Rosary.

    If you’re in Indianapolis the parish is only a few minute walk from down town, or an even quicker drive, it is definitely worth the trip.

  149. Nick says:

    Deacon Daniel,

    Presumably in the Byzantine rite Holy Communion is given with a spoon and the Communion Cloth is held under the chins of the communicants. The greatest concern there would be for the clergy to cleanse the antimension, not spill the chalice and carefully wipe the lips of the communicants. In the Latin rite today one has to be very brave to even walk in the churches given the real probability of Eucharistic particles absolutely everywhere. Just think of the days when there was the little ablutions bowl of water that used to be on every altar that had a tabernacle. Something is seriously wrong.

  150. Patricia says:

    I do not think it should be omitted, it is a sign of peace/love for our neighbors as Jesus has taught us, however the congregation should be encouraged more often to take it seriously…

    I’ve seen too many passive mass attenders… the Church is supposed to be one body, how can we be of one body if we do not know each other?

    Maybe moving it in the order of mass would be better but definitely not omitting it completely.

  151. “Presumably in the Byzantine rite Holy Communion is given with a spoon and the Communion Cloth is held under the chins of the communicants. The greatest concern there would be for the clergy to cleanse the antimension, not spill the chalice and carefully wipe the lips of the communicants. In the Latin rite today one has to be very brave to even walk in the churches given the real probability of Eucharistic particles absolutely everywhere. Just think of the days when there was the little ablutions bowl of water that used to be on every altar that had a tabernacle. Something is seriously wrong.”

    Nick,

    You are correct. The notion of distributing communion without a cloth underneath (or in some cases a paten) is simply unheard of. I was referring to the “crumbs issue” in general, but yes – to connect it to the distribution of communion, we must always take such precautions.

    Very recently I assisted at a wedding where we had some 300 communicants. Since I was the only deacon, it was up to me to prepare 5 chalices for communion! I used the sponge to clean my hands and then requested of our acolyte to bring me the ablutions bowl to cleans my hands there at the altar table. Some might consider this a “scrupulous” practice. To my mind, it is honoring and venerating this great Gift of Love with vigilance, diligence and charity. The very condescension of God is entrusted to us!

    In ICXC,

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  152. Elliot says:

    “how can we be of one body if we do not know each other?”

    Patricia, sweetie,
    that’s why we have coffee and doughnuts after mass…

  153. Linus says:

    Yes, I remember when it all started in the middle 60’s. It was all shoved down our throats. The congregations were constantly upbrated by the celebrants and the local Diocesan press for their obstinancy in resisting all the changes and of course all the Diocesan schools and instructions went to work to ” indoctrinate ” the children and ” catachumens in the new forms of celebration. The first casualty was Latin and the first change inforced universally was the ” sign of peace.” And after five decades of obstinate ” inforcement ” at all Diocesan levels Latin has been relegated to the ash heap of history and the idiotic ” sign of peace ” has achieved the status of near de fide doctrine. It was amusing to me see the clergy, many of whom I knew absolutely ridiculed the ” sign of peace ” in the seminary, now haranging their congregations week after week to stick out their mitts, to hold out their hands at communion time, and to join in on the mostly horrible English hymns. Well the big shot liturgical specialists got their wish. The old folks have mostly died off and the new folks are ignorant as to what has been lost. Good job dear Excellencies!

  154. Henrici says:

    the Church is supposed to be one body, how can we be of one body if we do not know each other?

    Wow, this depth of understanding of the Mystical Body of Christ takes my breath away!

  155. CAL says:

    Linus,

    Not all of us who were born and grew up after the Council and the introduction of all of the changes are ignorant. I grew up in one of the more liberal parishes in one of the most liberal diocese in the country, and from an early age I knew something was up. Our school, run by the Sisters of Providence, was one of those indoctrination camps you speak of. Communion in the hand, no Latin, Altar girls, bad music, hand holding, etc. were all normal in the parish before I left grade school. As I grew up and began to understand things better I have rejected the teachings of the “good sisters” and sought out tradition because it makes sense. In fact my parents had a conversation with our former pastor when I was in my twenties about how traditional I had become and he was amazed at how it could have happened since as he put it, “we got rid of all that crap”.

    Don’t give up on all of us post Vatican II kids, especially the ones going into the seminaries now, there are a lot of good guys out there with good minds.

  156. Jack says:

    My conscience got to me yesterday and I was going to apologize to those whom I’ve offended. But seeing that a lot of you guys just have an inate hatred for those who dissent from your opinions, through the fellowship of Jesus Christ, I now see that you guys need prayer more than anything else.

    You guys have some kind of knowledge (gnosis) that the rest of the Catholic population do not have. If James did not allow Gentiles to enter the Church without first being circumcised, then where do you think the Church would be today? We must change and adapt as a whole. I see a lot of “this is how the early Christians did it, so let’s go back.” By doing this, you will achieve division more than anything else. (Apparently Henrici has a better understanding about the “Mystical” Body of Christ than anyone else because God told him what this mystery is.) We come together at Mass to celebrate as a community, not as individuals with side shields just looking straight ahead.

    My prayer goes out to you all in Jesus’ Name.

  157. Henrici says:

    Jack,

    Perhaps through prayerful meditation you will come to realize that disapproval of foolish ideas does not imply “inate hatred” of those how harbor them. Nor does Christian love of the foolish require sympathy for their viewpoints.

    At any rate, we all need prayer, and appreciate yours for us, while we send up ours for you.

  158. CAL says:

    Jack,

    First and foremost, we certainly do need prayer more than anything else, everyone does. I certainly welcome any prayer for me to help me become closer to God, so thank you.

    No, we don’t have any more knowledge (gnosis)than the rest of the Church, we simply have the Magesterium. Perhaps the difference is that we don’t think all magesterial teaching came about between 1962 and 1974, or that the magesterial teaching that came about in that period superceeds the 1900 or so years of magesterial teaching that came before 1962. Or, maybe the difference is that we read the actual documents rather than rely on others interpretations of the documents.

    Remember that Our Lord took reverence for the sacredness of the Temple very seriously, please see his reaction to money lenders setting up shop. And this is what this conversation is about in reality, how we as Catholics hold and show reverence for Our Lord’s true, actual presence. If He took offence at profane activities in the Temple is this not His example to us of what is appropriate in His temple?

    Further, at no time has the Church changed or adapted liturgically as a whole. In the Latin Church alone I can name of course the Roman Rite, the Visigothic Rite, the Mozarabic Rite, the Gallacian Rite, the Benedictine Rite, the Dominican Rite, the Sarum Use, and that’s just off the top of my head and not getting into the Byzantine and Eastern Orthodox variants of their liturgical patrimony. So no, we don’t have to and should not change as a whole, this is not authentic development, and is contrary to the Catholic Idea of inculturation.

    You need to look again at the issues of gentiles entering the Church. It wasn’t James who made the decision to allow gentiles to enter without being circumcised, it was Peter, acting with the fullness of his Papal Authority who made the change.

    People who are attached to the traditional forms of liturgy are not usually interested in liturgical anthropology. This is a phenomon that is far more evident in the Novus Ordo in areas such as turning Altatrs toward the congregation simply because it is how the “early Christians” did it. Traditionalists understand that there has been a liturgical development, most notably by Gregory the Great and Pius V, and are not opposed to development that grows organically from the liturgy.

    As far as inate hatred, no we do not hate those who dissent from our opinions, we pray for them and try to persuade them, sometimes more effictively than other times. What we do hate is when people who have no authority whatsoever try to force us to participate in activities that we beleve to be wrong, disrespectful of Our Lord and His Church and of our person. We hate being relegated to the status of a pusculent boil on the body of Christ because we wish to worship God in traditional forms. We hate being lied to by clergy and religious then being villified by them when go to the documents and ask for reasonable accomodation in accord with the heart and mind of the Church.

  159. Nick says:

    Over the years I have usually watched the Papal Christmas midnight mass. I was recently surprised to read that it was Pius XII who initiated it after WWII. In any case, what has always struck me was how bishops would ape the liturgics, vestments, etc. from the previous year at the Vatican. As the rite in St. Peter’s annually became more and more minimalist the same happened in the dioceses.I expect ambition in the clergy was often the motivation. No bishop could open his mouth without saying at least once the words “solidarity” or “dialogue.” From the pontificate of Paul VI but especially during that of JPII like-minded men were naturally selected for the episcopate and they are the ones that today seem to be the major stumbling blocks to any normalization in the sanctuary. Of course there are exceptions to the rule but what is the motivation now? Is it a matter of which way the wind is blowing? I also recall reading an essay on Pope Benedict XVI at the time of his election where the author mused that Fr. Ratzinger would probably never have been chosen for the episcopate during the pontificate of Pope John Paul II. God knows. None the less, even this Holy Father was steeped in that confused atmosphere for decades and like the rest of us he had to have been affected. Hopefully he will be given the time necessary to straighten out the mess he inherited.

  160. RBrown says:

    My conscience got to me yesterday and I was going to apologize to those whom I’ve offended. But seeing that a lot of you guys just have an inate hatred for those who dissent from your opinions, through the fellowship of Jesus Christ, I now see that you guys need prayer more than anything else.

    I think your energy should be spent in trying to educate yourself about the nature of the Church rather than in racking your conscience about apologizing.

    You guys have some kind of knowledge (gnosis) that the rest of the Catholic population do not have.

    Why do you confuse your own opinions with those of the rest of the Catholic population? Don’t you think that’s a bit presumptuous?

    If James did not allow Gentiles to enter the Church without first being circumcised, then where do you think the Church would be today? We must change and adapt as a whole.

    Your conclusion doesn’t follow.

    What you don’t seem to realize is that your opinions, which are little else than re-cycled 1970ish ideology, have been out of date for many years.

    I suggest you read the book “The Spirit of the Liturgy” by Cardinal Ratzinger (now BXVI). I promise that it will help you to change and adapt.

    I see a lot of “this is how the early Christians did it, so let’s go back.” By doing this, you will achieve division more than anything else.

    Actually, your false opinions about the nature of the Church are the cause of the division.

    Actually, the basis for almost all of the controversial changes since Vat II was that “this is the way it was done in the Early Church”.

    (Apparently Henrici has a better understanding about the “Mystical” Body of Christ than anyone else because God told him what this mystery is.) We come together at Mass to celebrate as a community, not as individuals with side shields just looking straight ahead.

    He probably just read it in the new catechism. I suggest you buy a copy.

    BTW, you seem intent on doing what Cardinal Ratzinger called “Divinizing the Community”. Once again, I urge you to read his book.


    My prayer goes out to you all in Jesus’ Name.
    Comment by Jack

    And I pray you spend some time reading new catechism.

  161. Antonia says:

    I would like to say a few things in defense of germophobes. To all of you who are offended by germophobes, how charitable is it of you to inflict illness on your neighbor just so you can feel all warm and fuzzy about yourself? I hate the sign of peace, because I am asthmatic – a “simple cold” will cost me at least 10 days off work, and possibly a trip to the emergency room – neither of which I can afford. Another example of incredible selfishness: My parish has special St. Peregrine masses for people with cancer. I have been appalled to see people with colds there, breathing out germs and forcing their handshakes on people with immune systems compromised by chemotherapy! I don’t think this is “Christ’s peace” being demonstrated here, just selfishness. How hard is it to stay home when sick, or if you do go to Mass, to explain to the person holding out his hand that you don’t want to give him your germs? People will thank you for being considerate!

  162. Theresa says:

    The closest sense of communion with others I have ever experienced has been attending Byzantine liturgy. We stand together, and we are together totally focused on God, in whom we have our unity. In my own experience, I find Byzantine and Orthodox churches generally have a much greater sense of holiness and awe in the liturgy, AND a greater sense of oneness of the congregation in prayer, AND greater friendliness outside of the liturgical context. Maybe this last is due to the agape meal. It is true that most Roman Catholic parishes are not friendly (again, in my experience) – it is not unusual to attend a parish for years and know absolutely no one by name. The “sign of peace” does nothing to improve this.

  163. Dr. PaxIll says:

    Arcivescovo Pietro Sambi:
    Per favore, Monsignore Joseph Schaedel per vescobo di la diocesi di Lafayette!

  164. Tony says:

    Just a kind of poll: In your dioceses do you still kneel after the Agnus Dei or do you stand now? My diocese only kneels during the consecration. We’ve been doing this for years now and within the past two years I have returned to kneeling after the Agnus Dei even at times when I have been the only one in the Church doing so. Just wondering what’s going on in the rest of the country.

    Also, this is by order of the bishop that we may stand. Is it OK do go against the bishop by showing MORE reverence for the Eucharist than required even of no one else is?

  165. Joseph says:

    I find it amazing that when something like the sign of peace – an ancient tradition of the Church – enters into an abusive stage, rather than education on its true and beautiful meaning, all those who don’t like it want to throw it out. Yet, when people abuse the type of bread or wine used at Eucharist, the same are willing to go to bat and fight for correct education on the meaning behind unleavened bread and wine of the grape! Why are Catholics so afraid of one another? When did the practice of our faith and the expression of that faith lived out in Divine Liturgy (The Holy Mass) become a private affair? The Holy Mass, the Divine Liturgy is the COMMUNAL prayer of our faith. Sometimes I feel like people would rather hear Mass as if in a drive in theater – individualized, in their own compartments. Yet, the Sacraments are communal by nature. Maybe the sign of peace would be better situated to introduce the Liturgy of the Eucharist instead of in the middle of the Communion Rite, but to eliminate it all together would be breaking with the ancient tradition of the Church – unlike chapel veils for women and bells at the consecration. I have been to Mass many times at the Vatican through three popes and the deacon at all those Masses asked us to offer a sign of peace to one another. To turn and offer Christ’s peace, not a hello, good-day, etc., but the peace of Christ, to a perfect stranger (who often doesn’t speak English)certainly broke the bonds of separation and brought us closer together as we prepared to receive our Lord in the Eucharist.

  166. CAL says:

    Joseph,

    Public Confession and pennance are also ancient uses of that Sacrament, should we go back to that as well, simply because it was done by the early Christians? There would be an awfull number of Catholics depending on a perfect act of contrition for salvation, myself included. Or can we say that this particular practice is no longer beneficial except in certain circumstances such as a chapter of faults. And if we are doing things strictly on the basis of it being an ancient practice, then we must eliminate all vernacular and go back to the exclusive use of Latin, or maybe a bit more pure and return to ancient Greek since it was the common language of the Roman Empire. Not to mention that Baptism may be a become more than a bit uncomfortable for converts (not to mention the faithful) since they would of course be nude while being Baptized by immersion.

    The practice of our faith necessiarily comprise individual acts as well as communal acts. Again, niceness, hospitality, and glad handing are not indicative of active participation in the liturgical action as the Church understands the idea. Nor should we equate niceness, hospitality, touchy-feely warm and fuzzy feelings with sanctity; St. Bernard is proof of this. Of course we all must recognize that the Divine Liturgy is a public aaction, but it is also necessarily a private interior action which must respected.

  167. Mary says:

    I have been reading all of these posts and some of the “feelings” are indicative of what I see expressed by some people at “my” parish who think they know better than what the church teaches. The church is not a democracy. I see people who refuse to receive communion from an extraordinary misister or a deacon who is ordained clergy. I see people who kneel to isolate themselves from being “involved” in the sign of peace. I see people who genuflect rather than bow before receiving communion. These are all acts of disobedience. These are actions of pride just as is being exhbited by the hostile attitude of some here toward giving the sign of peace. If you have are afraid of germs a friendly smile to your neighbor is sufficient. So much time is wasted on complaining. The sign of peace is part of the liturgy. Use your energy where it’s needed to build up the church, not knock it down. Fight for the end to abortion, not to the end of the sign of peace.Any attitude whether to the right or to the left is harmful. Conformity to orthodoxy (what the church teaches) is what is needed and not individuals deciding what they think is right.

  168. Coletta says:

    “the Church is supposed to be one body, how can we be of one body if we do not know each other?”

    “Wow, this depth of understanding of the Mystical Body of Christ takes my breath away!”

    Thank you, Henrici.

    Also must be why we rarely pray for the Universal Church, since we can’t see them or manhandle them. More catechesis,please.

  169. Frank H. says:

    Tony, concerning kneeling, check out this recent discussion …

    http://wdtprs.com/blog/2008/12/ottawas-archbp-prendergast-lays-down-law-on-kneeling/

  170. Simon Platt says:

    No, Mary, those things you list are not acts of disobedience and it is unkind and unreasonable of you to say that they are.