An anecdote from a reader

From a reader:

Hey Father, I wanted to share with you an anecdote from my day at work.  I’m a consultant manager at a department store and my job consists of walking around and assisting customers and getting feedback about our store.  I noticed an older gentleman in a plaid oxford and slacks sitting in my favorite patio-furniture chair, so I went over to ask him if he loved it as much as I did.  Over the course of the conversation it came out that he was an Irish priest visiting, and I had been a seminarian for four years. 

We discussed a few things but as soon as I found out that he was a priest, my attitude changed noticeably, so sayeth a co-worker.  When Father rose to leave, he shook my hand, and out of habit, I kissed it, and Father began to weep.  He told me that no one had kissed his hand in thirty years, and it suddenly "brought forth what a priest, in his dignity, really is."  Father then embraced me on the sales floor and told me, still crying, that he was going to go back to the house where he was staying and put clericals on and continue wearing them in public from now on, even when on vacation.

In short, even though this Priest of God was not in clericals, a fairly simple, and rote act informed the coworkers, and even Father, I think, that he was a VIP.  Incidentally, it gave me a window to explain to some coworkers about the nature of the priesthood. So it really made my day!

UPDATE 2228 GMT:

A priest reader sends this from the UK:

Two and a half decades ago, as a newly ordained priest I was venturing out on to the street, when an elderly lady came up to me grasped my hand and kissed it. “Oh get up get up” I said, with all the arrogance of the young, “I am only an ordinary man you know”. The woman looked at me with gentle humour and perhaps pity in her eyes “Father” she said “I am a wife and a mother, I have a husband, I have three sons, I know how ordinary a man can be. It is the Priesthood of Christ I reverence; a priesthood you are privileged to share. Never forget that Father”. I haven’t or the Lady for whom I frequently pray with gratitude.

With thanks for the work you do and the assurrance of my prayers.

 

I have my own stories about the custom of the kissing of the hand of the priest in Rome, including being alternately spat up in my cassock and then having my hand kissed in the next block. 

The spitting was not unusual in Rome, actually.  I was once spat upon by a bystander when I was giving last rites to sometime in the street who was hit by a motorcyclist directly in front of the Chiesa Nuova.  Blood everywhere… and spit too, as it turned out. St. Philip would not have been amused. 

But there was fellow who would stand outside a bar in the mornings, watching and commenting on people going by.  I passed that place everyday as a matter of routine for sometime on my way to the Vatican for work or school.  Sometimes this fellow would resort more to verbal abuse of the most colorful sort only Romans do well.  Sometimes he spat. 

One day I gave back a comment about his needing medication.  He went bananas with inventive invective course.

The next time I passed by he hailed me and invited me for a coffee.  I accepted.  And we were cordial thereafter… though I always kept some paper towels in my satchel on that route.

If priests declare themselves in public, dress as priests, people are generally not indifferent…. even if they are pointedly trying to be.  You can see it in their eyes and body language.

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68 Responses to An anecdote from a reader

  1. basilorat says:

    This is an incredibly beautiful story.

    I ALWAYS make it a point to thank a religious or priest properly clad, for their witness and how powerful it is.

    As a former religious who wore his habit everywhere, ANY priest or religious who says the negative experiences of wearing a collar or habit outweight the positive experiences IS LYING THROUGH THEIR TEETH! (Not that it matters!)

  2. ray from mn says:

    Jesus is always speaking to us or placing us in situations to help us grow. Sadly, few of us are paying attention.

  3. Lucas says:

    I can honestly say I didn’t know it was a appropriate to kiss the hands of a priest.

    I knew you did that to newly ordained priests, but I did not know that it could be applied to all priests.

  4. basilorat says:

    Lucas:
    Please know this is a cultural thing. It varies from country to country.
    There is/was a custom of kissing the open palms of a newly ordained priest where he was anointed with chrism.

    I think those of us who hope to rebuild an authentic Catholic culture like most of us here have to remember that certain customs weren’t inherently Catholic custom inasmuch as they were customs from Catholic countries.

    It was a custom in Italy to never walk between two priests for fear one might be rendered impotent. So….’ya know…I’m just sayin’.

  5. RichR says:

    Priests have lost their identity. With so many of their functions being co-opted by laymen (and, esp. women), there is really not that much they do that is different except consecrate and absolve.

    I think, as a favor to our priests, we should do the following:
    1) stop requiring Father to be at ever little subcommittee gathering
    2) ask him to make the sacraments more available
    3) quit, if you’re an EMHC, thereby forcing only one species on Sunday and fewer unnecessary EMHC’s
    4) buy nice vestments for Father
    5) stand when father enters the room
    6) teach your children to respect priests
    7) not speak ill of priests behind their back, but rather, pray for them if they do wrong
    8) lift up a rosary once a week for your parish priest
    9) ask father for a blessing every so often, especially for your kids, an expecting mother, a sick family member, etc….., or to bless a holy object (rosary, medal, etc..)
    10) have father over for a home blessing
    11) consider calling Father by his last name (Father Jones) instead of by his first (Father Bill). We use this method in addressing Dr.’s or adults (Mr.), but only use the first name when we are implying a certain informality. I think a formal respect for the priesthood is healthy, and it’s the traditional way, is it not?
    12) if you give a priest a gift, lean towards giving him money. they have tons of food and religious gifts.
    13) if the priest attempts anything traditional in worship (ad orientem, latin, silent canon, more illustrious vestments, fewer EMHC’s, etc….) that magnifies his priesthood, give encouragement
    14) if Father seems on edge about something or says something to you with a tone, dismiss it as him having a bad day, and try not to take it personally. Pray for him and do something nice. He’s a father figure, and it’s easy to get your feelings hurt, but he’s under a lot of stress. Shepherding souls can be tough.
    15) Kiss his hands, as mentioned.

    Those are all things that I’ve found work real well to affirm priests in their vocation. They need to be set apart because they have been ontologically configured to Christ. The physical reality should reflect the spiritual reality. So I don’t look at any formal distinctions as some sort of snobbery, it’s simply a affirmation that the Holy Priesthood is the highest calling a man can answer. Let our world show it.

  6. mpm says:

    basilorat,

    ROFLOL!

    Catholic customs versus customs of Catholics! The latter can be pretty funny.

  7. Scott W. says:

    9) ask father for a blessing every so often, especially for your kids, an expecting mother, a sick family member, etc….., or to bless a holy object (rosary, medal, etc..)

    I had a priest from Ghana bless my electric bass. I thought he was going to just make the sign of the cross with a short blessing. Instead he broke out the holy water and did a rather elaborate blessing that held him up for starting a weekday mass (if I knew he was going to do that, I’d have asked another time :))

    Now if I try to play heavy metal on it, it burns my fingers……. No, not really. :D

  8. “11) consider calling Father by his last name (Father Jones) instead of by his first (Father Bill). We use this method in addressing Dr.’s or adults (Mr.), but only use the first name when we are implying a certain informality. I think a formal respect for the priesthood is healthy, and it’s the traditional way, is it not?”

    Assuming Father is a diocesan priest, good idea. If Father is a religious from an applicable order, you do call him by his first name, though.

    If Brother Cadfael gets ordained, you call him Father Cadfael, not Father Jones. This is why Cardinal Sean from Boston makes a point of trying to get people to call him that, because he’s from an order.

  9. Scott W — I think Father had just seen Spinal Tap, and was trying to protect you from death. :)

    Father Z — That was a beautiful story. Thanks for posting it, and thanks to your correspondent for telling it and living it. Goes to show how little we know what’s going on in other people, and how wonderful things can result when we cooperate with the Holy Spirit even in little things.

  10. LoyalViews says:

    What a wonderful story!
    God Bless!

  11. Thank you for posting this beautiful story. I had not heard of that custom either, so must not be have been culturally a part of my upbringing.
    How beautiful that the Lord brought the two of them together in this truly edifying way for so many!

  12. Rachel Pineda says:

    Thank you for sharing this story. My husband runs into priests a lot at the airport. He always says hello and lets them know their presence is enjoyed and loved. Especially when so obviously in clerics.

  13. Andrew_81 says:

    basilorat,

    Good points regarding local customs. Universal Catholic customs and customs from Catholic countries are not the same thing.

    One point of correction. The priest’s hands are anointed with the Oil of Catechumens, not Chrism. Chrism is only used for Baptism, Conformation, the consecration of certain objects (e.g. a chalice) and in the consecration of bishops.

  14. Geoffrey says:

    “7) not speak ill of priests behind their back, but rather, pray for them if they do wrong”

    I couldn’t agree with this one more, and it is worth mentioning bishops and popes, too!

  15. I always wear my habit but rarely have I had my hand kissed. Some Phillipino students (kids – about 13 years old) did so a few years ago to my great surprise. It just isn’t done here and I’d never heard of it (bishops yes, priests no). I didn’t want to offend them by objecting, but they stopped anyway, perhaps they noticed my discomfort or perhaps other students explained it isn’t done, I don’t know. This is a beautiful story and shows that there are priests who quietly endure the modern obsession with anonymity and equality. God forgive Rahner for his ‘anonymous Christian’.

  16. Servant of the Liturgy says:

    WOW. How great in this Year of the Priest.

    PS. How about we start kissing the rings of bishops again?

  17. gmaskell says:

    This is a Spirit moving story. Thank you for sharing. We need more of this!

  18. therecusant says:

    Fantastic story. Definitely encouragement that small gestures by the laity can be meaningful.

    I ran into Bishop Fellay in the Kansas City airport three weeks ago and thanked him for his (recent) remarks about the Holy Father. He was very gracious, but seemed stunned. ;-)

  19. Fr. Kelly says:

    Thank you for this. We priests need the support of the faithful. I think at this point those priests in Ireland are under special stress in trying to live their vocation.

    For Andrew_81 and basilorat: You are both correct about the oil on a priest’s hands, depending on which form was followed for his ordination. In the extraordinary form, oil of catechumens is used and his hands are bound before receiving the sacred vessels. In the ordinary form it is oil of chrism that is used and his hands are left unbound.

    In the extraordinary form the sequence of steps in the giving of priestly power is emphasized more than in the newer ordinary form.

  20. lux_perpetua says:

    i thought kissing the hands of a priest was only an Eastern custom. I’m not sure, as a woman, i would feel comfortable kissing the palm of a priest’s hand, but the times that I have asked a priest for a blessing have always been incredibly humbling for both parties. thanks for sharing the story!

  21. Jacob says:

    I kissed my bishop’s ring last time he came to my parish for confirmation. No going down on one knee though, I have terrible balance issues. ;)

  22. Mariana says:

    Please inform me of in which countries you may kiss priests’ hands!

  23. wanda says:

    This is such a beautiful story. Thank you to the person who sent it and to Father Z. for posting it. I have noticed a trend (a very good one) among a couple of recent younger priests who have come and gone at our parish. The trend I mean of calling the priest “Father Jones” instead of “Father Bill.” The priests let it be understood that this was the preferred form of address. Sometimes we get so casual about things, that we forget how very special the priest’s nature and character is.

    Isn’t there a story about St. Francis of Assisi, that the townsfolk wanted him to come and straighten out a priest who was living in sin with a woman? When St. Francis arrived at the priest’s door, instead of berating the priest, St. Francis knelt and kissed his hands. The priest was immediatley convicted of his sin and ammended his life.

  24. YoungCatholic says:

    Among Hispanic Catholics it is very common for the laity to kiss the priests hands.

  25. amsjj1002 says:

    I’m also familiar with kissing the hands of the priest, yes by Hispanics, a wonderful sign of respect. I always kiss Father’s hand when we finish speaking to each other.

  26. Ralph says:

    The hands of the priest are the hands that bring us Christ on the Alter. How appropriate it is to kiss them in gratatude and respect!! I have kissed the hands of many priests and, as far as I know, am not that unusual in my area for doing so. I try to make it a practice to kiss the hands of any visiting priest and tell him specifically that he is most welcome at our parish and, of cource, in our homes.

    As a convert, I am kennly aware of the service the priest provided both me and the Church.

    Fathers, although the practice may, at times, make you uncomfortable, please remember it’s a sign of repect for the Holy Order collectively and you personally.

    Like I tell my pastor, my hands can do everything your hands can do with the important exception of the sacraments. Shouldn’t my hands do the “dirty work” so that yours can do the “heavy lifting”? Let the laity help you Fathers so that you can do the essential and particular work that is the Priesthood.

    God Bless all of our Priests!

  27. JosephMary says:

    I have indeed kissed the hands of priests…particularly my confessor and director. Not often, not all the time! One can sense when it may be appropriate. There are some priests that you just would not feel comfortable doing that with. I only see my spiritual director once a year and I always kiss his hands upon leaving.

    I do not think I have ever kissed the ring of a bishop. Not a lot of opportunity for doing that.

  28. Sandy says:

    Thank you, Father, that story brought tears to my eyes. (I have seen people kiss the hand of the priest, but only at the EF Mass. It is an old custom and I used to see it long ago. No other hands on earth can bring us the real Body of Jesus!)

  29. vincent apisa says:

    In the East, women courtsey before a bishop. My daughters received their First Communion in the Maronite Rite in Lebanon and were taught the proper way to courtsey as part of their First Communion rehearsal…

  30. doanli says:

    Of course growing up post V2, I never knew it was appropriate to kiss the right hand of a priest either, I had only heard to do that with the Pope!

    I could have done that with the priest today— the Latin Mass I attended today was wonderful. :)

  31. Agnes says:

    “Let the laity help you Fathers so that you can do the essential and particular work that is the Priesthood.” Amen to that.

    However, I think if I kissed Father’s hands I would probably be cast out and stoned. It just ain’t part of the landscape around here!

  32. Thomas S says:

    I’ve been to Mass in the Extraordinary Form a handful of times, the last being Palm Sunday. When I received my palm kneeling at the altar rail, the priest first offered the back of his hand for me to kiss before taking the palm. It’s a good thing I noticed the guy next to me do so, because I’d never seen it done before. I know that’s not quite the same as doing so in a non-liturgical setting, but I’m assuming it shows that kissing the priests hand isn’t something peculiar to the East or certain other countries.

  33. FrCharles says:

    In the days following my ordination, I had to go to one of those diocesan clergy meetings for continuing education for safe environment. In the hallway after the meeting I ran into a bunch of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (an offshot of our province of the Capuchins). One of them recognized me as the new Capuchin priest in the neighborhood, and they all immediately knelt on the floor for a blessing, blocking the path of a horde of annoyed clergy. It was so very humbling, and I shall never forget it.

  34. Supertradmum says:

    Yes, I have kissed the hands of some priests and bishops’ rings. Most of the priests in my deanery do not wear clerical garb when out, but “Friday dress casual”,which I think is awful. To make matters worse, these priests are all monks as well. One Franciscan I know, like Father McBrien, only wears a suit,never clericals. Are they ashamed of looking different, as they are different-the priest having the eternal mark of God?

  35. Father S. says:

    As for the kissing of hands, I serve a large Hispanic community. At first, it was awkward for me. Now it is a humbling experience. I never look for it or ask for it, but it happens a great deal.

  36. Jack Hughes says:

    When I was in Fatima I bumped into the Bishop of Munich leading a tour of german pilgrims (an excellent retired priest was giving me a tour of fatima proper) and asked to kiss his episcopal ring and his blessing, his delightment was visible.

  37. B.C.M. says:

    I’m not a member of an Hispanic community but I still make a point to kiss the hands of any priest who will actively let me. Some times they will be uncomfortable with it, but over time they usually grow to it.

    A distinction seems to have been made between Catholic customs and the customs of Catholics. I would argue that this kind of thing is part of an outwardly, and explicitly Catholic culture; hand in hand with standing when a priest enters a room or comes to the table, etc. I find often priests need to be reminded too just how devoted we are to their ministry.

  38. Peggy R says:

    Just Beautiful!

  39. I’ve had the experience of Filipinos greetings me after mass, shaking my hand, then taking it and touching it to their forehead. I find it alternately endearing — what faith! — and humbling. But it’s also a little off-putting.

    I’ve never seen someone kiss the hand of a priest — only the hand of a bishop.

  40. Norah says:

    Here in Australia bishops would be very uncomfortable if you kissed their ring. I have heard that some priests in Australia wear their clericals but I have never seen one.

  41. Lucas says:

    Deacon Greg, If you don’t know that is actually a custom amongst Filipinos. Basically they are asking you for your blessing. They do it to religious as well as their elders.

  42. juxta crucem says:

    What a beautiful custom! I often ask priests for a blessing and sometimes kneel to receive it. Would it be appropriate for a woman to kiss the hands of a priest?

  43. Jacob says:

    How do you kiss the hands of a priest? Forehand or underhand?

    I’d be kind of embarrassed about taking an unsuspecting priest’s hand and turned it to kiss the palm, especially if that priest was totally unfamiliar with the practice.

    I’m from Iowa and I’ve never heard of this practice for priests, just kneeling and kissing the ring of a bishop.

  44. B.C.M. says:

    Why would it not be appropriate for a woman to kiss the hands of a priest, or to kneel? Is a woman any less the priest’s daughter? Is it any less worthy for her to show her reverence and love?
    :)

  45. Jack Hughes says:

    I have heard that some priests in Australia wear their clericals but I have never seen one.

    Sadly Norah its pretty much the same in Europe as a whole I believe, still on the ride from Fatima to Lisbon Airport I saw a youngish priest wearing clericals and praying the Rosary in public !! I take heart from that.

  46. Agnes of Prague says:

    B.C.M./ Juxta Crucem: I’ve heard of this custom and I think it’s beautiful too but I’ve never had the courage to do it, because no one does here and then besides that I do feel shy, as a woman in a country where it’s not done. If I had been at my cousin’s ordination I might have kissed his hands that day… but I only saw him a year later and everything was very casual so I didn’t in the event.

  47. Jack Hughes says:

    Additional suggestions to RichR’s 15 points

    16) if you know that your priest’s parish is far away from the homes of his siblings/parents (or his parents are dead and he has no siblings) and he won’t be able to spend Christmas/Easter with family then invite him round after he has finished celebrating the last Mass of the day, we shouldn’t leave our Priests alone eating cold turkey with lumpy peas when we our celebrating with our own families, at such times we should acknowledge the sacrifices they have made.

    17) make their lives as easy as possiable so that they focus on thier ministry I know a wonderful woman who in addition to homeschooling 6 children does little things for the two FSSP priests in her parish that really make a difference.

  48. mibethda says:

    Some years ago, the late Jennifer Patterson — one of the two stars in the then popular British cooking show, Two Fat Ladies — discussed on one of the shows her custom of kissing the hand of priests (a custom not exactly welcome to a certain abbott). Patterson, who preferred the Latin Mass, usually attended the Oratory rather than Westminster, though I believe she lived in the shadow of the latter.

  49. lux_perpetua says:

    agnes of prague, b.c.m. and juxta,

    like i said above i, too, feel strange about kissing the priest’s hands. kneeling for a blessing or having the priest place his hands on my forehead are beautiful and humbling and very much make me realize how much i am a daughter of Christ, but perhaps there’s too much symbolism associated with kissing the hand and courtship for my comfort.

  50. Agnes says:

    I can best be the priests’ daughter by planting flowers around the church, teaching little kids to love Jesus and the Mass, and joining them in offering the Holy Sacrifice from my beautiful vantage point in the pew. And if they bothered to come down for coffee, I might buy them a powdered donut just for fun. :-) Which is probably why they don’t often come down for coffee…

    Interesting this all came up – I’m writing a term paper on the complementarity of the baptismal and ordained priesthood. Each flows from, perpetuates, and upholds the other. BTW, I think the proper way is to kiss the palms – so think of it as the opposite end of the spectrum from courtship, lux!

  51. spock says:

    Never seen anyone kiss the hand of a priest except at Mass. Been to a few ordinations. Didn’t see it there either. I think I saw it on TV once and it was a priest kissing a Bishop’s hand. Not sure how the ones I know would take it. Simply not a common enough practice.

    As far as the EMHC goes, I used to do that. I would have preferred the priest does it. In the case of this particular Parish he’s pretty much a one-man gang at a big Church so I wouldn’t want anyone giving him too much grief over it. I was as reverent as I could be. Once in blue-moon someone would be careless and a piece would fall on the floor and I would consume it. An issue with EMHC is often times there aren’t enough faithful to justify EMHC but habit forces the issue. Would be difficult logistically for the priest to say “I need someone today” or “I don’t need someone today.” Just want one way to operate. That being said, I now go to an EF mass as often as I can which renders a lot of this moot.

    An issue with the OF as well is that more and more people are taking communion on the tongue but there are no corresponding alter servers with plates (I know there is a better name, I just don’t know what it is :) )
    underneath the person’s mouth to handle a mishap.

    Pax

  52. luiz says:

    I use to kiss the priests’ hands! Some of them don’t like it very much, but I insist!

  53. Liz F says:

    I just went back and looked for an email that I sent to a friend about my four-year son and kissing of bishop’s hand etc. Here is part of it:

    Did you hear about the bishop and our J.? It was cute. Well, the bishop came into the refectory. The seminarian next to me didn’t kiss his ring. That threw me off and filled me with self doubt (and pride, no doubt) so I didn’t kiss his ring. I immediately regretted it and bent and told J. that we should have kissed the bishop’s ring.

    About five minutes later J. said, “I want to kiss the bishop’s ring.” Okay. I looked and he was still close by. I said that he could go ask him. So he marched over to him. I noticed that he waited for a pause in the conversation. Then the bishop bent to hear his request. “May I pwease kiss your rink?” Then the bishop put his hand out and J. kissed it. Then he trotted back to me all happy.

    It was really neat in the end. I should just go ahead and kiss their rings. If it’s embarrassing for me I suppose that’s all the better.

    Did you see me flee when you kissed Fr. Abbot’s hand? I didn’t know what I should do so I ran away. Should I kiss his hand or should I introduce myself and shake it? I just left. Very mature, Liz.

  54. Rose in NE says:

    Just kissed the hands of a newly ordained priest yesterday. When I think of all the things those priestly hands will do in ministering to God’s people…WOW.

  55. irishgirl says:

    I’ve kissed the hands of priests several times. In 1983, I attended an ordination in Rome of a seminarian I was corresponding with. The day after the Mass in St. Peter’s-said by none other than John Paul II himself-there was a Mass of Thanksgiving for my friend and his fellow religious congregation priests at a retreat house in Castelgandolfo. After the Mass, all the family members/guests went up to kiss the new priests’ hands. I remember my glasses became smeared from my face touching their palms!

    I’ve also kissed hands of a couple of FSSP priests who were newly ordained-that was cool, too! And when I had a visit from a Legionary of Christ priest in 2006 [a seminary Brother also came with him], I kissed his hand, too!

    The emails that Father Z posted were very beautiful to read, too! It’s good to kick human respect to the curb and show our priests how much we appreciate and support them!

  56. Melania says:

    What a witness priests give when they wear their clerical garb publicly! It’s not easy being the focus of so much reaction from people, good and bad. It takes courage and a strong sense of oneself. Bravo to all priests and religious who give this witness. Thank you.

  57. Father S. says:

    RE Jack Hughes #16

    Just don’t be offended if we say that after the Triduum or after Christmas Eve and Christmas Day we just want to go home and go to bed! I always appreciate the invitations, but sometimes it is nice, after having been with hundreds of people all day, to go pray and rest on Christmas night.

  58. Mgoog says:

    My wife’s cousin is an Orthodox priest whose everyday tradition involves kissing of the priest’s hand. He explains that the right hand is kissed as that is the “hand of blessing”. It is like kissing Christ’s hand in blessing. It’s not an authority thing.

  59. AnAmericanMother says:

    OK, you cradle Catholics (or more experienced converts) help out us former Anglicans here.

    The English of course would say that kissing a priest’s hand is Not Done. But that’s a cultural thing, like that old joke about if you’re an Episcopalian you will go to hell for using the wrong dinner fork . . . .

    What’s the read on this custom in the American South? It sounds like a respectful way of recognizing the priest’s special office. On the other hand, I don’t care what folks think about me (if I did I would have been curled up in a ball under the bed years ago) but I don’t want to make our nice young priests uncomfortable (or our crusty old priests for that matter).

  60. lacrossecath says:

    Thank you for these three beautiful stories

  61. jmgarciajr says:

    If one ever encounters one of those “Oh, PLEASE…I’m just a regular guy!” priests, it may be useful to reply: “Yes, but these hands give me Christ.”

  62. Bornacatholic says:

    Wow. I knew that Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem spit on Priests but I didn’t realise that was happening in Rome. Better wear your Civvies if you go to Da Giggetto :)

  63. I have never seen or heard of Orthodox Jews spitting on priests in Jerusalem. And in my five years in Rome I only saw it happen once with my own eyes, but several priests I know in Rome reported it happening to them and to other priest of their acquaintance — it happens to religious in habits as well (both men and women). I don’t think the solution is to wear civilian clothes — and clearly this would be even less possible for religious. I never heard of it happening in other places in Italy, just Rome, and always from a “local” or a Roman.

    For the priests I know well, the ones who have accorded me the immense honor of their friendship, especially if they are young enough to be my sons or old enough to be my father, I will often greet them as many Europeans greet each other, with a kiss on both cheeks (more “air-kiss” to American eyes) and then kiss their hand (usually the back of the right hand). But again, it depends on the situation, and the priest concerned.

    Magdalen Ross, J.C.L. (daughter of an Orthodox Jew)

  64. Martial Artist says:

    spock,

    If I recall correctly, the plate that is held under the communicant’s chin is called by the same name as the plate on which the bread resides during the consecration of the Eucharist. If that is correct, it is called a paten.

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  65. Agnes says:

    I still think I would be tossed out and stoned. Or I would faint dead away. I mean, he holds the transcendent GOD. We think we can kiss those hands?! Not me. Nope. Pass.

    But God is also very intimately among us and within us. Something to reflect on. Some priests are being ordained this weekend and two are offering their Masses of Thanksgiving at our parish. Do I dare…? Great, now I have anxiety. Typical Western anxiety!

  66. wanda says:

    Go for it, Agnes!

  67. wanda says:

    I’m sorry, Agnes. That sounded very flip. Don’t feel anxious. If the spirit moves you and the opportunity is there, I think it would be a beautiful moment for these young priests as they begin their priestly ministries. I don’t think they would soon forget it. But, if the moment isn’t right, don’t worry. Just say a prayer for them.

    Blessings!

  68. Jayna says:

    As many people have noted, it is those in the hispanic community in my parish who tend to kiss the hands of priests (though that is not very common itself). I have thought about doing it from time to time. Despite my priest never wearing his clerics when he’s “off campus,” as he likes to put it, I’m not entirely sure he’d be terribly uncomfortable with it. He has his moments of clerical grandeur.

    I was at this year’s confirmation and noticed that all of the families of the hispanic children being confirmed kissed the bishop’s ring and none of the others did. And as far as I heard, no one, in English (our auxiliary bishop is from Colombia, so he was conversing in both English and Spanish), addressed him as Your Excellency. It was more a handshake and “hey bishop, how ya doin’?” Of course, then, I heard a collective gasp from those around me when I greeted him with “Your Excellency” and knelt to kiss his ring. Well, tried to anyhow. He wasn’t prepared for it and was ready to shake my hand, so really, I kissed his knuckle, but it’s the thought that counts!