I had this question in the ASK FATHER Question Box recently. Here it is with my response.
Classical Latin Mass: Follow-up to Kissing Hands/Objects
In a previous thread about the "Tridentine" Mass, you said that servers should not kiss objects or the hands of priests during Mass because the practice was ended before the 1962 missal was promulgated. I’m wondering, specifically, what documents (if any) ended this practice.
Thank you for your response and all of your good work.
(I have been told to perform this rubric, and, to be honest, think it is a nice one, but need some clarification as to its legitimacy.)
The 1962 edition of Fortesque’s book (p. 88) says this about a server at Low Mass:
Whenever he hands anything to the celebrant, may kiss first the hand, then the thing. These are the so-called "solita oscula". They are omitted in Masses for the dead and when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed.
By custom these oscula are frequently omitted altogether by laymen and should be nowadays."
Nota bene: "may kiss".
Frankly, in many respects it makes no difference what the servers do, provided they get the wine and water to the priest when he needs them and move the book around, and so forth. If they want to kiss things, who cares? For Low Mass I think it is a little precious, but that’s just my point of view.
This is a different matter with the deacon and subdeacon at a High Mass. According to the rubrics for them in the 1962 edition, they do indeed continue to perform the solita oscula when handing things to the priest or taking things. If non-clerical servers at High Mass (or Low Mass) do this in imitation of the deacon or subdeacon, I guess that makes no difference whatsoever. The rubrics are silent about that.
Servers at Low Mass and High Mass are wonderful and helpful. However, the rubrics about what they do or why they are there are less clear than those laid out more carefully for the deacon and subdeacon. Variations are more possible with them than for those more central of the sacred ministers. Back in the day, there are an awful lot of things that the rubrics are silent about and the Sacred Congregation for Rites did not clarify.
I think Fortesque’s comments (above) are sound and ought to be followed. If a server is not a cleric, he should leave out all the kissing. Servers are not little clerics, or, in the case of older men, "hobby clerics". It is not obligatory for them to do what the clerics are obliged to do.