From a reader…
At the conclusion of a friendly and fruitful meeting between a number of laity and the archbishop this evening, the archbishop punched me in the arm in a he man football kind of way.
My question is this, is there any particular protocol for returning the punch?
The inquirer failed to note, but I will presume that the Archbishop in question is of the Latin Rite, and a Metropolitan.
As this punching took place in a non-liturgical setting, the ceremonies for returning the punch are much simplified . Imagine the manifold complexities of the liturgical punch at a Pontifical Mass coram Sanctissimo … within the octave of St. Elphege’s Day!
If one is holding a cocktail (or beer) when one is punched by an archbishop, one hands one’s drink to the subdeacon (omitting the ceremonial kisses) with one’s right hand, makes a fist and, saying nothing, punches the prelate’s left arm, on – and this is important – the oversleeve of his simar, between the second and third buttons.*
Meanwhile, two choirs are simultaneously to sing the antiphons “Christus passus est pro vobis vobis relinquens exemplum ut sequamini vestigia eius” (1 Peter 2:21) and, if there is time, “Propitius mihi sit Dominus ne extendam manum meam in christum Domini; pulsare autem umerum eius omnino est aliud.”
The Vicar General should then ensure that this is recorded accurately in the diocesan archives, lest charges later be brought upon the archiepiscopal assailant.
*Since we are not Irishmen trained by Sulpicians, and therefore Jansenists, if the punch lands between the third and fourth, we don’t think that even a venial sin is committed. Sin or not, the punch is not to be repeated, unless… the prelate initiates another round.