From a reader…
Father, I notice that at daily mass or where the mass is sparsely attended parishioners will wave to each other from across the church.
Is there a better way to handle this situation?
Sure there is! How about not do it at all?
If that is what people are doing – sitting scattered and apart like that – they probably are okay with being left alone. The little wave is probably an uncomfortable side-effect of being required by the priest to do something when they would rather just get on with Mass without being hassled.
I think it was GK Chesterton who recounted that something which made his conversion to Catholicism more appealing was that, when he went to a Catholic church, people left him in peace to pray as he pleased. They weren’t forcing welcome on him all the time.
So, how about asking a few people after Mass if they really want or need that Sign of Peace wave. Then, as a group, invite Father to breakfast and, over flapjacks and syrup, ask him, please, to stop with the congregational Sign of Peace already, at least for the weekdays.
The congregational exchange of a Sign of Peace is an option in the Novus Ordo. It is done at the discretion of the priest celebrant. It is NOT – and this is for the young deacon who recently decided to do this on his own during a Mass I said – NOT up to the deacon or anyone else but the priest celebrant to have that invitation.
Some people are under the impression that the invitation to exchange the Sign of Peace is an obligatory part of the Mass. It isn’t. The priest’s expression of peace to you is obligatory. The exchange between everyone is an option.
So, ask the priest, nicely, with smiles, not to do it. And then thank him when he stops. And keep thanking him. And take him to breakfast and thank him some more.
That said, let’s have a poll on this issue! It has been a while since the last time I presented the question. This time I added an extra choice/option.
Choose your best response and then give your reasons in the combox, below.