From a reader…
My husband and I were at a local novus ordo this past Sunday because of weather and illness we were not able to travel to our regular EF Mass.
During the sign of peace we keep our hands folded and heads down in contemplation/prayer not wishing to participate in the circus atmosphere during the sign of peace. The woman in front of us was making the rounds…the isle in front, the people in her isle etc.
When she got to us, instead of leaving us alone she had to lean towards us and say “peace of the Lord be with you” . I nodded my head in acknowledgement..never looking up. I guess this offended her because after Mass, when we were offering our thanksgiving…she came up to us again and made a comment about how she commended our reverence during Mass. I know the sign of peace is an option at the discretion of the Priest. Is it required that one participate in the sign of peace at a novus ordo?
In the General Institution of the Roman Missal [GIRM], and the rubrics of the Mass itself, it is clear that the exchange of the sign of peace is an option.
The rubrics state that, after the priest turns to the people and extends the greeting of peace, “Then, if appropriate, the deacon or the priest adds: ‘Let us offer each other the sign of peace.'” So this ritual is only to be done “if appropriate.”
When it is deemed appropriate, the rubrics go on to say, “All offer one another a sign, in keeping with local custom, that expresses peace, communion, and charity.”
That sign is not defined, though the American custom seems to be settling in as a handshake and a brief statement “peace be with you”. In Hong Kong, people bow.
If the rite itself is optional, participation in that rite is optional as well.
It may certainly lead to some awkward moments, but we all have awkward moments.
In those cases when an unwanted sign of peace is being thrust upon one, Miss Manners might suggest to keep one’s hands tightly folded and nod in the direction of the “paxifer”.
That should be sufficient participation.
Meanwhile, let’s see that old POLL!