Moving the sign of peace in the Novus Ordo

The intrepid Andrea Tornielli has this on his blog (my translation and emphases):

Benedict XVI want "a different placement of the sign of peace during Mass".  The Prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship, Francis Card. Arinze, announced this in an interview with L’Osservatore Romano.  The Nigerian Cardinal, on Sunday celebrates 50 years of priesthood and who is about to leave his dicastery, explained, "Often the full meaning of this gesture is not understood.  People think it is a chance to shake their friend’s hands.  Instead, it is a way of saying to someone near that the peace of Christ, truly present on the altar, is also with all men."  "To create an more recollected atmosphere to prepare for Communion, it was thought," Arinze revealed, "to transfer the exchange of peace to the offertory.  The Pope asked for a consultation with the whole episcopate.  Then he will decide."  The anticipated sign of peace is a characteristic of the Ambrosian Missal.  In the interview Arinze spoke also of small liturgical changes already decided by the Pope inasmuch as they came out of the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist celebrated in 2005.  In particular, he said, "in addition to ‘Ite, missa est’, for example, the priest today has at his disposal other formulas, to help the faithful understand better that we are called to live what we have celebrated, in a more dynamic mode, more missionary.  Benedict XVI, after a series of studies conducted by us, without abolishing ‘Ite, missa est’, approved three alternatives: Ite ad Evangelium Domini annuntiandum; Ite in pace glorificando vita vestra Dominum; Ite in pace".


With due respect, while I understand the biblical foundation for shifting the sign of peace before you bring your gifts to the altar (cf. Matthew 5:23-24), the sign of peace has been where it is in the Roman Rite for a very long time

It must also be noted that the invitation for the sign of peace in the Novus Ordo is optional.  It doesn’t have to be done most of the time.  It is not of absolute value.  This move seems to make it something it has never been.

Also, is this not merely an artificial imposition of a change on the structure of Mass?

Actually… that was a rhetorical question.

This is an artificial change, not an organic.

Sure, the sign of peace is in a different place in the Ambrosian Missal. 

So what?

This is the Roman Rite we are talking about.

The upshot of this is that the older, traditional form of the Roman Rite, the TLM, now would seem to be even more, if this goes through, the exemplar of stability.

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  1. sekman says:

    Yes the sign of peace has been where it is for a very long time however the sign of peace never was the distractive madness that it has become in the past 35 years.

  2. Andrew, UK and sometimes Canada says:

    It is true that this is not an organic development but I consider the following important:

    1. The current practice (as opposed to rubric) doesn’t seem particularly organic anyway.

    2. If it allows for more reflection before Communion it can only serve to highlight the Real Presence and re-introduce some sense of this.

    3. If it precedes the Canon, then it no longer disrupts the prayer of the whole Church, with the laity led in prayer by the priest. The current Peace always seems to be a real break out of prayer before Communion. Now, presumably, the Doxology, Amen, Pater, Agnus Dei, and Ecce Agnus Dei will flow into one another without break and allow for continuous prayer before Communion. It often happens that some priests use the break after the Peace to ad lib.

    4. This is not new for the Holy Father, who discussed it as far back as Spirit of the Liturgy. We can, at least, be confident that he has given this a great deal of thought, reflection, and prayer.

    5. As I understand it, though I may be wrong, historically the Peace did not include all the people in the older forms. Therefore, it was never an interruption. Now it is, and changing it might, perhaps, be seen as organic in recognising an established custom and altering it to a more appropriate place within the liturgy.

  3. Fr Ray Blake says:

    The gift we bring to the altar is ourselves when we come for Holy Communion, surely. To turn it into bread and wine or cash is a serious mistake.

  4. Brian Day says:

    But what is the alternative?

    Keeping it where it is and embarking on a new catechistical campaign to inform the faithful of true meaning of the sign of peace? Should we just add it to the ever growing list of other aspects of Holy Mass that the faithful needs catechisis on?

    Personally I don’t think it is going to happen. As our gracious host has said on more than one occasion that the OF and the EF will have a mutual attraction to each other. Moving the sign of peace will break that mutual attraction. I can’t see the move as advancing the Pope’s Marshall Plan.

  5. Michael Kramer says:

    Unreservedly, I am thrilled to hear of the change. I am usually very wary of it, and thought 21 I like the Old Mass just the way it is thank you, lol, I certainly welcome this change in the New Rite, which is far from organic to begin with.

    The sign of peace the way it is conducted today, belongs outside the church building entirely, and sometimes, belongs almost to married couples alone, but, given that it will remain in the Holy Mass according to the New Rite into at least near future, I am THRILLED to hear we wont have people talking, giving their back to the Blessed Sacrament, and altogother forgetting that Jesus has JUST been made present on the altar. Organic development is of course the way to go, and so, without abandoning my principles, I must say, “If we are going to have a New Mass, MOVE THE SIGN OF PEACE.” God Bless the Holy Father…

  6. sacerdosinaeternum says:

    I fully agree with you, Fr Z. I think it will be a big mistake if the exchange of peace is moved. Sure, in most cases that people experience it now in the OF, it’s distracting and downright irreverent. However, it doesn’t have to be! The people in the assembly do not have to exchange peace among themselves. It works quite well in the Extraordinary Form. Let us not abandon Organic Continuity of the Sacred Liturgy.

  7. Johnny Domer says:

    I have a crazy idea: let’s just change the practice back to what the Tridentine practice was!

    Pope Benedict confuses me quite a bit on issues like this…he talks all about how the liturgy should be “organically developed, and he has made one good change to the Missal of eliminating the Eucharistic Prayers for Children (the fewer Eucharistic Prayers we have, the better), but all of his other changes can hardly be called organic: the Good Friday prayer for the Jews in the EF, adding three new dismissal prayers, and now possibly changing the sign of peace around. Obviously I recognize the huge importance of Summorum Pontificum and the relative importance of Guido Marini’s changes (though this is somewhat exaggerated by Catholic bloggers, I’d say), as well as the huge importance of insisting on “for many” in the new translations, but these other little things are rather frustrating.

  8. Tyler says:

    This is tearing my brain in two.

    On one hand, it bothers me how the sign of peace happens now, people still hugging and talking and walking through aisles, even after the Fraction and the Agnus Dei have begun.

    On the other hand, I understand your point about it not being organic

    My solution, is to perhaps just publish a thing saying that the preferred method is to not include the sign of peace, and that including it should be the exception. Perhaps this would not do much, but I think it would slowly catch on, and as you said this isn’t a necessary part, and if Cardinal Arinze is right, it has also completely lost its meaning(at least in an parish I have ever been at).

  9. Bob Glassmeyer says:

    Hi, everybody…

    Even though I’m a Roman Catholic and not an Episcopalian, I’ve always found it interesting that the Sign of Peace in the Episcopal Church (at least according to the 1979 Prayer Book) is just before the Offertory.

    Just a little brain drool here…

    Love to you all!

  10. thomas tucker says:

    I can’t help wondering what you would consider an “organic” development at
    this point.

  11. JaneC says:

    Father, I hope this question is not too far off the topic for this thread. With all the talk of organic development, I’ve been wondering, how does organic development happen? Is it from the ground up, or from the top down in terms of the hierarchy? Say the Holy Father were to move the sign of peace. You say that the proposed method for this does not qualify as organic development. In what hypothetical circumstances could the sign of peace be moved that would qualify as organic development?

  12. Piers-the-Ploughman says:

    This is too easy; as one poster already noted–just do the sign of peace as is done in the TLM. Good grief, why re-invent the wheel? What about “gravitational pull”?

  13. Crusader says:

    This is just another rearranging of the deck chairs on the Titanic before it goes down. The Novus Ordo will whither and die due in part to the constant tinkering and experimenting that have been its hallmark since its artificial inception 40 years ago. Who among us does not know in his heart that the Traditional Latin Mass is THE Mass of the Church, and that it is so superior to the “Ordinary Form” that if the OF were to be abrogated tomorrow, we all know it would be for the absolute good of the Church? We should not waste any more time on this artificial Mass…

  14. Father Z: This is an artificial change, not an organic.

    If no one — including our Holy Father (in his writings as Cardinal Ratzinger) — regards the Novus Ordo as a product of organic development, then why would anyone insist that changes to it be made organically?

  15. Bill says:

    After following this blog for several years, I think I finally disagree with one of Fr. Z’s posts (for now at least). The most striking deficiency that I see in most celebrations in the Ordinary Form is the apparent lack of mystery in and reverence for the Eucharist. To the casual observer, it often seems to be just a sharing of a meal that could occur in any Protestant or non-denominational ecclesial community, and part of the problem is how people act during the sign of peace. The Holy Father wrote about this issue specifically in Sacramentum Caritatis, and before that, in Spirit of the Liturgy, and he convinced me. I’m not sure that changes such as these can simply be thrown into a bucket of either “artificial” or “organic”, and even if they can, perhaps an artificial change to an artificial liturgy might eventually facilitate an organic convergence of the two forms of the Roman Rite.

  16. Tyler says:

    I venture to guess that 99% if the posters here “don’t know” what you “know”

    The Traditional Latin Mass and the Novus Ordo are THE Masses of the Church(along with those of the Eastern Rite and various rites such as the Dominican, etc)

    The EF and the OF are of equal dignity.

    If the OF were abrogated tomorrow, it would decimate the church in many areas where that is all the know and where they are done reverently, and where there are both forms and perfectly faithful catholics have decided they prefer the OF

    We “waste our time” on this Mass because it came about at Vatican II, inspired by the Holy Spirit, now we are just working out exactly what he wanted.

  17. Jeff Pinyan says:

    I used to be in favor of moving it, but I have a feeling this falls into the same category as the new dismissal texts.

    This is another case where CATECHESIS is needed rather than (arbitrary) REFORM. What I mean is, unless the faithful are told what the Sign of Peace is supposed to be, all that will be accomplished is that people will hug and shake hands and walk across the church to see somebody BEFORE the Eucharistic Prayer rather than AFTER it.

    People need to be properly taught what the Sign of Peace is. What I would do if I were a pastor is this: 1) inform the parishioners that the Sign of Peace will be temporarily “suspended” for a few weeks (which is allowed by the GIRM of course), 2) spend a few weeks catechizing the faithful by means of homilies and bulletin statements, 3) re-instate the Sign of Peace (without them knowing when) and see what happens. I don’t mean to treat the Mass as a “testing ground” or house for experiments, but I think it’s the same situation with introducing ad orientem or a Latin Ordinary.

    The same goes for the new dismissal texts. The problem is not that the current dismissal text does not adequately imply its “mission” sense, it’s that the people don’t recognize it. Now I know what Sacro. Concil. said about rites and texts being within our power of comprehension, but that is being taken too far. Sacro. Concil. called for liturgical instruction and not only reform. THAT is the problem. Reform with no instruction (either before or after). Perhaps if there was more instruction BEFORE, there wouldn’t need to be as much reform!

  18. dymphna says:

    How about just doing away with the sign altogether?

  19. Tomás López says:

    Latin grammatical question for Fr Z or a kind reader:

    In the alternative dismissal cited above “Ite in pace glorificando vita vestra Dominum,” why is the word “vita” in the singular? I am taking the phrase “vita vestra” to be ablative, so why isn’t it “vitis vestris”?

    Help, I am confused!

  20. canon1753 says:

    I remember going to Mass on Cape Cod, oh about 1981-3 or so and the sign of peace at that Mass was where the potential change would be. I thought that was odd, but, only being there once, I don’t know if it was a good thing or a bad thing (setting aside the pastor or bishop monkeying around with the order of the Mass….)

    I wish that with the OF once the new translation is in place, I don’t have to worry about any more Liturgical changes EVER AGAIN! (I’m 37 and a Pastor of a small wonderful orthodox Catholic Parish).

  21. Bill: Keep in mind that there is a Roman style for the sign of peace. I think that the Roman style should be the paradigm, if there is going to be a sign of peace at all.

  22. dymphna: How about just doing away with the sign altogether?

    It’s part of the Roman Rite! However, the way we see it in most places does not reflect the Roman Rite. Remember also that the invitation to the congregation to exchange a sign of peace is itself a novelty in the Roman Rite. There is always, in both Uses, a “sign of peace” from the priest to the congregation. In the older form, there was in solemn Masses a sign of peace among the sacred ministers which then was carried to others. But the invitation as it is in the Novus Ordo remains an OPTION. That wasn’t part of the Roman Rite.

  23. Fr. BJ says:

    Let’s just hope that the Holy Father is trying to appear collaborative and consultative, but ultimately will decide in favor of keeping the Sign of Peace where it presently is, in continuity with tradition. In fact, it would be nice if he taught on this part of the liturgy more specifically, and emphasized that it is optional and should in fact be left out if it is felt that the proper sense of it cannot be maintained.

    For my part, I intend some day (when I have my own parish) to use the first flu season that comes along as a pretext for dropping the sign of peace (and communion from the chalice) and never pick it up again… that is, until the faithful have been more fully catechized on the liturgy and have a more proper sense of what it is.

  24. Nic says:

    What I never understood is that the Holy Father wants to relocate the Sign of Peace b/c it tends to clash w/the spirit of prayer during the Eucharistic Prayer. Rather than relocate it, why not clean up the way it is done? Perhaps a modified method of the ‘roman embrace’ that we find in the 1962 missal to be done to those immediately to the left or right of those in the pew? Anything but a handshake.

  25. Hugo says:

    Our earliest sources on Roman liturgy place the kiss of peace before the anaphora/canon as a rule:

    Justin Martyr, First Apology, LXV
    Hippolytus[?], Apostolic Tradition, 4:1

    The restoration of the kiss and peace to a moment before the anaphora would also:

    1. Realign the Roman Rite to the Ambrosian and Byzantine rites.
    2. Maintain an atmosphere of reverence between the anaphora and the distribution of communion.
    3. The Biblical inspiration of Matt. 5:23-24.

    It’s a sound decision.

  26. Nic says:

    What I never understood is that the Holy Father wants to relocate the Sign of Peace b/c it tends to clash w/the spirit of prayer during the Eucharistic Prayer. Rather than relocate it, why not clean up the way it is done? Perhaps a modified method of the \’roman embrace\’ that we find in the 1962 missal to be done to those immediately to the left or right of those in the pew? Anything but a handshake.

  27. Fr. A says:

    Fr. Z:

    I agree with you 100%. This is not organic growth but artificial. As you say, the sign of peace in the ordinary form is optional. We haven’t used it at my parish for years and years.

  28. Nic: Rather than relocate it, why not clean up the way it is done?


  29. Sieber says:

    At our parish the ushers hug, wave, grin & shake hands through the Lamb of God, then they grab your hand and say, “Peace” while you process to Communion.
    The best solution I’ve seen, other than the Osculum Pacis in choir, is the Maronite manner. Here the Celebrant cups the hands of the servers who then do the same for the 1st persons in the front pew. Those persons do the same for the one person immediately next to them and so on.
    This action begins with the sacred hands of the offering priest to each person at Mass in a quiet and dignifies manner. As G&S might have the Chorus of Peers say, “Dignified and Stately.”

  30. Mitch says:

    With all due respect for the NO and the attempt to make it more similiar to the EF and tradition, I can not agree that this was “came out” of Vatican II…It “came out” of the Consilium headed by Bugnini…In fact most Bishops from that time have stated and agreed this is not what the Council Fathers had in mind…I would think that the hybrid Mass of 65 or even 67 was closer, but still fell short as by 67 Latin was no longer used and Gregorian Chant went out the window. But at least the translations were more in line with the Latin. Now that is lost, or misplaced too. That being said I do agree that abrogating the OF tomorrow will cause major losses in some areas but I think this should be made the goal in the long run, seeing all that has gone wrong…………For example it will be abrogated as of Advent 2020 being replaced by the TLM with an option for vernacular until 2030 at which time there will have been sufficient time for Catholics to brush up on their Latin for a proper understanding of the Mass, not to learn an entire language…This can be done and is done in many other religions who use a sacred language for their services.. I know many a people who attend temple in Hebrew and know their prayers but do not speak the language…Their is no reason we could not recover our history and learn a little…I think this IS active participation and more in line with what Vatican II wanted, retention of Latin and for the laity to become more familiar with it in the parts pertaining to them…And for all those who say the language is not important, it is…….It is a part of the sum that equals the whole…We are Catholic, not Protestant….It is a part of our identity whether we employ it or not..I can see moving the Sign of Peace and toning it done in the short term can have its’ benefits but again where are we headed with that? Eventually to get to the TLM? By that time it will become clear that we might as well go with the TLM with some of the transitional options to make adjutment easier. That is a inherent problem with the OF, there is the need to reform and tinker and go back, and get closer,,,,where does it stop? In 1962 in 2030? The constant change and improvements will render it forever unstable..A clear plan with some distant goals sounds doable and solid. It also returns the respect and obedience to the Papacy….It will be done even if not during the Benedict Pontificate….It will surpass the reign of one Pope and become a plan for our Church of the future as Catholics…All owed to our Holy Father…

  31. Dave in MN says:

    Jane C,
    you should read “The Organic Development of the Liturgy” by Alcuin Reid.

  32. Alessandro says:

    Fr. I agree with you: the sign of peace in the roman rite is not a sign of reconciliation before offering the gift at the altar, but a way of signifing full communion in the mystical body of Christ which is going to receive the sacramental Body of Christ.
    Let us pray that the pope won’t change the place of the optional sign. It would be sad that, instead of changing the attitude of the congregations, we should change always the rite.

  33. Instead of constantly seeking to introduce new ideas and new options into the novus ordo Mass, they should be introducing old ideas, prayers, actions, postures, anything which will emphasise the Catholic nature of the liturgy.

    Yet more novelty is not a good idea. New forms of greeting, new options for dismissal, whatever. Always something new. It’s the wrong way to go. It will indeed, as other commenters have already suggested, only perpetuate the notion that novelty is intrinsic to the novus ordo. Perhaps it is. I don’t know. Time will tell.

  34. Alessandro says:

    I notice that some commentators tend to think oddly that the sign of peace (Pace) is a novus ordo novelty. But it isn’t at all, and it should stay where it is.

  35. Tina in Ashburn says:

    I’m not sure why one is expected to exchange the Sign of Peace with strangers.

    I thought the Sign of Peace was an amplification of making peace with our brother before we offer our prayers to God, or in this case, before we appraoch the Sacraments. The sentiment being that if we havent forgiven or asked forgiveness of our brother, we get much less grace, if any, from the Sacrament. Make peace with your brother before you approach God.

    Historically, when the exchange of Christ’s peace occured, wasn’t it restricted to those up on the altar or in monastic choirs and religious communities?

    So I sorta gathered that the purpose of this all was the practice of fraternal charity amongst those who knew each other.

    In the spirit of cleaning it up, I wonder what would happen if people were educated in the real purpose of this practice [including me] and the exchanges were only to be for those acquainted with each other: families, co-workers, choir members, etc who are standing in proximity?

  36. PMcGrath says:

    The “sign of peace” needs to be suppressed, not moved.

    As you noted, the happy-clappy types don’t like being “way too focused on the Lord in the sacrament.” People, you can NEVER be “too focused on the Lord in the sacrament.”

    I’m starting to not participate in it at my parish. I simply fold my hands in prayer, concentrate on Him, and wait it out. No one has questioned me on this yet. If someone does, I’ll tell them.

    At that point of the Mass, when we’re SECONDS away from uniting with our Eucharistic Lord, we need NO DISTRACTIONS to our Union with Him.

    And wherever it might be in the Mass, the Hey! Howareya! style of the S.o.P. reinforces the idea that The Mass Is All About Us. That’s why it needs to be suppressed, not moved.

  37. Alessandro: I notice that some commentators tend to think oddly that the sign of peace (Pace) is a novus ordo novelty.

    The sign of peace in the sense of passing on the Pax, the peace of Christ — from the celebrant to the deacon, from the deacon to the subdeacon, perhaps from the subdeacon to other ministers — is traditional and long-standing.

    It’s my impression that what’s a Novus Ordo novelty is the two-way exchange of human good will between persons, rather than the one-way imparting of the Pax from one to another.

    It’s the novelty (if my impression is correct) of an exchange of good will between humans — instead of imparting the peace of Christ — that so often degenerates into something unseemly, especially when between strangers it seems so artificial.

  38. The sign of peace IS a novelty of the NO.In the initial changes of the Mass in 65 and 67 it was given as it was in a solemn mass i.e.from the celebrant to the servers to the congrgants one by one.The kiss of peace by every one at the same time destroys the notion that the Peace originates with Christ (hence the celebrant kisses the altar at solemn mass and the confers is on the deacon,etc) .This was the tradtion of the church.At the Missa Cantata at my parish the pax brede is used.Jungman mentions that in Europe as late s the 50s,the pax was extended to the assembly one by one by the pax brede.Several at times were used-all kissed by the celebrant.In the 70s I had to endure the horror of a 30 minute sign of peace.One when I was spiritual director of t catholic high school I asked a senior who was “planning”the school mass,what was themost important part of the mass.Her reply-the sign of peace!

  39. Fr. Gary says:

    As a Novus Ordo Catholic, I have experienced the sign of peace at every Mass I have ever attended. I have experienced it as a brief, solemn and prayerful ritual in my home parish growing up and as a “hug-a-thon” in college. As a priest, I have been a part of a community that has successively “roped it in” again and have to say that the process is not that difficult. Decent catechesis is the key. After that, occasional restatements of the purpose of the ritual, good modeling on the part of the ministers (and the choir), and coordinated efforts to have the Lamb of God begin in a timely fashion just bring it all together. It seems to me that the most important aspect of the effort is to have celebrants who attempt to bring a prayerful and reverent sensibility to the entire Mass. There will always be those on the fringe who fight the change, but that is just an aspect of being Church. Personally, though I know the Mass will always be in some organic development, I’d prefer the tinkering to stop now. Just do it well.

    As my old liturgy professor used to say, “You want to be innovative with the liturgy? Try the rite; they haven’t seen that in a while.”

  40. Jim says:

    If we can’t eliminate the sign of peace, I’d be happy if it were moved out of the canon. Why can’t we also eliminate the mysterium fidei which interupts the Eucharistic prayer?

  41. My solution:

    Verbal Sign of peace for any non solemn Mass (Mass without deacon)
    Sign of Peace exchanged servers only for Solemn Masses.

    Works great for the TLM, would work wonders for the OF.

    I also agree that catechesis should be done with the sign of peace. and what it means in the Roman Rite.

  42. Fr. McAfee: At the Missa Cantata at my parish the pax brede is used.Jungman mentions that in Europe as late s the 50s,the pax was extended to the assembly one by one by the pax brede.

    The \”pax brede\” may be new to some readers. From an encyclopedia description:

    [The celebrant] would then kiss the Pax-Brede (small tablet of wood or ivory or precious metal with a handle on the back and usually with the image of the Lord on the front, or sometimes an elaborate Gospel-book), which was then kissed by the deacon and carried by him to the subdeacon and choir in order of rank, and then by the clerk to the people.

    Here again, we see the traditional concept of the Pax Christi — the blessing of Christ and protection from spiritual evil — originating at the altar and then passed down or imparted and transmitted from celebrant to deacon to people, each to the next in line, but nothing \”returned\”.

    So far as I can see, the idea of the kiss of peace as a sign of good will or harmony between men, exchanged both ways as with a handshake, is an utter novelty with the Novus Ordo.

    I do not see how continuity of liturgy with tradition can be restored without distinguishing between historical developments and novel inventions.

  43. Noel says:

    How come Pope Benedict is now in the wrong ‘because we don’t like’ something he proposes to enhance our prayerfulness before receiving Holy Communion?
    I have to agree that the memorial acclamation does appear to interupt the continuity and unity of the priest’s Eucharistic Prayer.

  44. Noel: How come Pope Benedict is now in the wrong ‘because we don’t like’ something he proposes to enhance our prayerfulness before receiving Holy Communion?

    It’s not a matter of right or wrong, but of pastoral judgment.

    Without, any doubt, Pope Benedict knows the history of liturgy as well or better than any of us here. But, apparently, he believes that in general practice the sign of peace has degenerated too far to be fixed, so instead it should be moved.

    However, I personally have seen it fixed at the individual parish level by pastoral leadership, which is all I think it takes. Most people act like they do at Mass because they think it’s what’s expected of them. Tell them better, and they’ll act better.

  45. Jason Keener says:

    I think it would be a bad idea to move the Sign of Peace thereby introducing yet another innovation into the Roman Rite. (Will it ever end?) Catechize Catholics about the true meaning of the gesture, or better yet, just do what is already done in the Extraordinary Form.

    In the end, I think our efforts at liturgical renewal are much better spent through heavy and exclusive promotion of the Extraordinary Form. (Will our Holy Father ever celebrate the Ancient Mass and vigorously promote it?) The Ordinary Form and its ethos are so far from Catholic liturgical tradition in so many places that one wonders if the Ordinary Form can ever be truly reformed. The Cardinal-Archbishop of Vienna’s rock band and balloon Mass, brought to our attention by Father Z., was just another piece of evidence pointing to the conclusion that the Ordinary Form and its surrounding ethos might already be way beyond reform.

    Also, do we really believe that any of these small band-aid changes to the Ordinary Form would be enough to reverse the deeply-entrenched liturgical craziness present in so many places? Will any of these small changes ever result in the Ordinary Form becoming the reverent and beautiful Liturgy that is already found in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite? If so, what is the point of going through the trouble, if all we want is a Mass that looks like the Extraordinary Form in the end anyways?

  46. Joy says:

    “The invitation for the sign of peace in the Novus Ordo is optional”? I thought it was, until I once thanked my parish priest for skipping it & he told me it is no longer optional after the last publication of G.I.R.M.. Now, I would love to be able to show him it is still optional. Where do I find documentation for that?

    [In the rubrics of the 2002 typical edition of the Missale Romanum, in rubric number 128 we read (my emphasis): “Deinde, pro opportunitate, diaconus, ver sacerdos, subiungit: Offerte vobis pacem.”  This means: “Then, according as it is opportune,  the deacon, or priest,  adds: “Proffer peace to each other.”  Thus, the sign of peace is an option.  The priest determines whether it is opportune that the invitation to the congregation to offer signs of peace should be pronounced.  However, what is not optional is that the priest himself say “The peace of the Lord be with you always”.  What is optional is the next part, that the priest (or deacon) should invite people to make a gesture of peace.]

  47. Sid says:

    Myself having witnessed so many abuses of the sign of peace, ranging from the maudlin to the absurd, I’d welcome the end of it altogether. But that’s not going to happen.

    Try out this argument:

    1. The justice won on the Cross makes it possible to love my neighbor.

    2. In the sacrifice of the Mass, I witness the re-presentation of that justice won on the cross.

    3. Therefore, it is appropriate that after witnessing that re-presentation I give the sign of peace.

    4. It’s the Eucharist that builds community, not coffee, donuts, and dialogue.

  48. Hugh says:

    As I understand it is up to the various episcopal conferences and based on their recomandations the Holy father will change it or leave itas is. so we have to lobby the episcopal conference to leave it where it is! NLM blog some time ago had posted that the german conference had reject the change. Saying it would dramaticly change the Roman rite and not be be pastorally effective. Rather suggesting like Fr.Z and others that it be excluded or reform the way its done. Let pray that other conferences follow their call!

  49. Berthold says:

    I saw the pax-bredes used at a weekday mass in a large parish church in Prague in the Mid-1990s, between the celebrant and some lay-people (lectors?); they then passed it on with handshake to the first pews. (I merely happened to be inside the church during that part of the Mass, so I don’t know anything about the background).

    Generally, I find it odd to move the OF further away from the EF rather than then making it more similar. I know that the German bishops have submitted an opinion against that change, I have no idea what other bishops’ conferences have replied.

  50. Lauren says:

    Ditto to JaneC. I also am wondering when/how does organic development happen?

  51. dcs says:

    It was St. Innocent I who put the Kiss of Peace where it is in the Mass now. So it has been in the same place for 1,600 years.

  52. Jeff Pinyan says:

    Joy – GIRM 154 says:

    Then the priest, with hands extended, says aloud the prayer, Domine Iesu Christe, qui dixisti (Lord Jesus Christ, you said). After this prayer is concluded, extending and then joining his hands, he gives the greeting of peace while facing the people and saying, Pax Domini sit simper vobiscum (The peace of the Lord be with you always). The people answer, Et cum spiritu tuo (And also with you). Afterwards, when appropriate, the priest adds, Offerte vobis pacem (Let us offer each other the sign of peace).

  53. Baron Korf says:

    The problem with moving it and not fixing the execution of it is that we are basically rewarding bad behavior. I shake hands with the two on the sides of me, and then stare intently at the altar and pray that those around me get the clue.

  54. FatherAJ says:

    No one has mentioned yet that moving the sign of peace would have us go from the Our Father and doxology directly to the Lamb of God. I’m totally against this, it moves the OF further from the EF when it should be moving closer!

  55. Fr. Steve says:

    Someone please correct me if I’m wrong, but hasen’t the Ambrosian rite influenced the Roman right in some way before? And if it has then couldn’t this be viewed as another instance? What is inorganic or untraditional about that? This discussion begs the question about what can be considered an organic change in the liturgy today. If rubrics are to be followed, and I believe they must be, then how can the liturgy organically develop on its own without it comming from the top? It would have to come from the top wouldn’t it? I just think that in a time of frequent unnessesary changes we’ve become reactionary to any change whatsoever, even if it’s organic and possibily more advantegous for the sacred liturgy. I support our Holy Father in whatever decision he makes.

  56. Hugh says:

    From the NLM Blog sept.26,2008:

    “President of the German Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, gave today after the conclusion of the Conference’s Autumn plenary assembly (thanks to a reader for the tip). Here is my translation of the relevant passage (original here):

    Question of the Moving of the Sign of Peace within Holy Mass

    The Roman Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has asked all national Bishops’ Conferences to give their view on a possible moving of the sign of peace within Holy Mass. At present the faithful exchange the sign of peace before Communion. A move to the place between the prayer of the faithful and the preparation of the gifts has been put forward for discussion. The plenary assembly deems a shifting not useful for theological, liturgical and pastoral reasons and recommends therefore to refrain from a shifting. Instead, efforts should be continued to safeguard a dignified form of the sign of peace in litrugical practice.”

  57. Hans Boyer says:

    Fr. Z,

    Is not the Holy Father’s desire to move the Peace yet another brick in the “brick-by-brick” approach you have so highly praised? Your hesitation about the Holy Father’s intent is surprising. To support his leadership in Summorum Pontificum and then cast doubt on this next move gives credence to those who want to view your ministry as a mere guise for wanting to turn back a clock, rather than to restore the rich mystery of the Mass to a Catholic world that has forgotten it.

    His Holiness demonstrates the way forward in dealing with continuity and change in the Mass. We all would do well to follow and learn. By not supporting him in this, Father Z, you undermine his work.

  58. Philip-Michael says:

    It seems to me that if they do make changes to the ordo than all of this translation work and such is just going to be set back further. I really couldn’t care less about the placement of the “kiss of Peace”. Moving it to the offertory, while I am not completely opposed to such, just seems to perpetuate an archeological view of the liturgy and a false sense of the primacy of the Patristic Church (that denies the developments of the Medieval, Renaissance & Baroque Church). I agree with those who have said that it could be clarified, rubrics tightened, and illuminated by the practice in the EF.

    Meanwhile, why can’t the Vatican, if they are going to make changes to the Ordo, bring back the “Indulgentiam” that we may actually have a full Penitential Rite in the OF. Or how about re-instating some of the offertory prayers e.g. the EF’s “Suscipe, Sancte Pater”. Or the “Aufer a nobis” and “Oramus te” as the priest makes his way to the Altar to reverence it. Or how about refining some of the Rubrics in regards the Canon, such as at the final elevation and Doxology that the Chalice should not be in the Right hand (that drives me crazy), or the keeping of the Canonical digits or that the chalice & host are not to be gestured to the people during the Institution Narrative. “Take this all of you” like its a theatrical performance. Or what about the fact that most people come to Mass late or fail to be properly at prayer during Mass; therefore maybe the second Confiteor could be a valid, helpful, fruitful, re-orienting and in many cases necessary ritual before reception of Holy Communion. After all, one could never presume to tell people that they shouldn’t receive Holy Communion if they lack the proper disposition to do so.That’s sass by the way. How about the re-instating of the Leonine prayers after every Mass in the OF that is in its lower form? (without music, without a deacon)Or how about a definitive arrangement of the Altar both Ad Orientem and free standing for the OF that makes usage of the current Benedictine Arrangement. Or how about a statement on celebrating the OF ad Orientem in order to increase its usage and a pastoral plan for its more wider implementation in parishes. Here’s another biggy, the proper implementation of the Apostolic Constitution “Veterum Sapientia”. There just seems to be so many other things that really could be adopted, changed or refined. This just doesn’t seem to me to be such an important change.

  59. Mitch says:

    Veterum Sapientia is widely forgotton and unknown…That would be Active Participation of lay people in order to implement it…..We would have to attend instructional class and study our Mass in Latin. Not learn the whole language, but the Mass. If that were to start at an early age in Cathecism class every student by 15 would know the whole Mass in Latin. It is an Apostolic Constitution. Does it not deserve mention and implementation? How is this reconciled with Vat II implementation? This could be a post topic all of its’ own.. I guess this is in the file cabinet filed “IGNORED”………

  60. Mike says:

    Some here may be missing the fact that there will always be a “Sign/Kiss of Peace” within the Mass. That is not an issue. The trouble that has been seen for the last 40 years results from extending participation to the congregation. Very closely associated with this unnecessary, awkward, un-natural distraction is the communal hands-clasped-across-the-aisle “Our Father” free-for-all just before the So’P.

    When disruptions to the liturgy were introduced after Vatican II, this communal “sign of peace” abomination (and at first, it was communal kiss-your-neighbor, not just a handshake!) illustrates the 1960s-era hippy new-age “it’s all about me” mindset that distorted the new liturgy. I was appalled and repulsed by this bizarre affectation then, and I remain so today. Whenever I am unfortunate enough to have to attend a Novus Ordo “service” the hands-linked “Our Father” followed by this communal “Sign O’Peace” is an absolute low-point at what should be the high point of the mass.

    All of these are optional. The Novus Ordo Masses at EWTN in Alabama have always avoided hand-holding “Our Fathers” and So’Ps to present a service with some remnant of dignity remaining.

    So the question is: Why have almost all Novus Ordo pastors and other clergy inflicted these indignities on the Mass? If the option of Novus Ordo celebrants to turn the mass into a circus were forbidden, then there would be no need or point to relocating the real sign/kiss of peace.


  61. Mark S. says:

    If the Sign of Peace is to be moved at all…..why not move it to the Penitential Rite, in which we “make our peace” with God and each other? We ask God to forgive our sins then make peace with the neighbour we have offended by our sins.

    This may be completely non-organic and non-historical, but if you’re going to move the Sign of Peace anyway, why not move it to the point mentioned, for the reasons stated?

  62. Mike says:

    I wrote: […there will always be a “Sign/Kiss of Peace” within the Mass.] Of course, I did not intend that statement to apply to Masses in which the So’P is not utilized, such as Masses for the Dead.

    I re-phrase the question I was asking: If the object of the proposed relocation of the So’P is to place it in the Novus Ordo Mass where the communal So’P would not be so distracting, then how would that remedy the equal distraction of the everybody-hands-clasped-and-upraised “Our Father” which would remain in most N.O. masses?

  63. Hank says:

    Not so much now, but still sometimes the way it seems is

    “Hey You! Third pew forth seat! Stop praying and visit your neghbor,”

    Even when Mass is celibrated in a setting where a deliberate effort is made toward reverence the current pratice is disruptive. The pratice should either be restricted except in special circumstanes or moved.

  64. Charivari Rob says:

    Tina in Ashburn – “I’m not sure why one is expected to exchange the Sign of Peace with strangers.”

    As opposed to what? Only exchange the Sign of Peace with those people with whom you came in that day?

    If it’s such a leap to exchange a sign of peace with the stranger in the next pew (during Mass, no less, when we’re (perhaps) most mindful of God’s commandments and Christ’s example and we presumably have common cause with that ‘stranger’), how then do you expect to be able to act as a Christian to the stranger in the street?

  65. Tom says:

    Father Z –
    I raised this issue myself in our Liturgy class last semester! I have always believed that the Sign of Peace is contrary to the “movement” at that point in the Holy Mass. To me, “cleaning up” the current practice will not change this. We have just completed the most reverent and holy part of the Mass, and we will next experience the elevation of our Lord and Savior before our very eyes. It is confusing and negatively mood altering to separate those two solemn moments in the Mass by shaking hands and moving our focus away from the altar. As you know, the rite of peace is to evidence our unity and “communion” with one another as we experience the Mass. Emphasizing that point at the outset of the Mass would seem to make much more sense to me.

    A lone voice in the wilderness –

  66. michigancatholic says:

    They need to move the sign of peace out of the building and down the road where it belongs. It’s an aberration that interrupts the mass and precipitates visiting with everyone that can possibly be reached in about three minutes without roller skates.

  67. michigancatholic says:

    The handshake of peace is one of the best reasons to attend the TLM, in my view.

  68. Craigmaddie says:

    Fr Steve:

    I support our Holy Father in whatever decision he makes.

    A pope is infallible when declaring ex cathedra on matters of faith and morals but he is also capable of making unwise decisions, just like any other human being. I do not understand being Catholic as involving a continual yea-saying to every statement or change that a pope makes. We have been given minds and judgement of our own and we do the Church a great disservice if we abdicate from the reponsibility which that lays upon us.

  69. Martin_B says:

    The german bishops, otherwise not always known for liturgical orthodoxy, have discussed the papal proposal like the pope want it to be an came up with this:

    “The Assembly considers a transferal not sensible by theological, liturgical and pastoral reasons and therefore makes the recommendation to refrain from such a move. Instead, efforts should be continued, to ensure a worthy form of the sign of peace in liturgical practice.”
    (Translation by me)

  70. Mitch says:

    And what will these German Bishops do if the Pope overides their Advice? Humbly submit, or openly defy? We will see., and while they are deciding let them think about how their example of obedience sets a precedent for the rest of the Catholic faithful. You do not want to obey the Holy Father?, then why should we obey you? I think they do not think about this..

  71. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Charivari Rob:
    “Tina in Ashburn – “I’m not sure why one is expected to exchange the Sign of Peace with strangers.”
    As opposed to what? Only exchange the Sign of Peace with those people with whom you came in that day?
    If it’s such a leap to exchange a sign of peace with the stranger in the next pew (during Mass, no less, when we’re (perhaps) most mindful of God’s commandments and Christ’s example and we presumably have common cause with that ‘stranger’), how then do you expect to be able to act as a Christian to the stranger in the street?”

    CR: If the purpose is to pass the “pax” from the priest to anyone nearby, then I will do so [thank you Fr McAfee and Henry Edwards for the clarifications]. I admit I am flummoxed by the typical kerfuffle of the Sign of Peace at the OF Mass.

    My question was, if the practice is about forgiveness before approaching God, why would I be expected to forgive/ask forgiveness of people I don’t know? My question has nothing to do with friendliness, and in practice, I don’t ignore those nearby during the SoP.

    Opinions don’t count for much unless its to discuss and discover the authoritative truth. I really want to understand this as the Church intends! I wonder too if receiving this Peace of Christ from the priest and passing it on relates in any way with making peace with my ‘brother’. Can I really pass on “peace” [the fruit of justice] if I’m in an unforgiving fury with the recipient, for instance?

    The objective of the practice is not to meet-and-greet strangers, or disruptive chatting, but to focus on Christ, and receive His peace. I’m happy to talk to you at bingo or donuts OUTSIDE of Mass.

    I think many here have suffered the intrusion, chaos, misunderstanding and misuse of the Sign of Peace as some sort of coerced and false friendliness. I think I have company here with those whose intentions are not unfriendly, but want the focus to be on Jesus Christ, not the people around us AT THAT MOMENT. I struggle to extricate my weak mind from distraction to focus on reception of Communion. And from a practical standpoint, where does this stop and start? Do I acknowledge every one in my long pew, and everyone in front of me, and then turn around and greet everyone in the pew behind me?

    I guess I demonstrate the common confusion about this Sign of Peace.

    In regard to Fr Z’s comment, I see in this discussion reasonable arguments for moving/not moving the Sign of Peace. But frankly, moving it just moves the chaos. I’m in favor of fixing that. Perhaps we can eliminate the practice and re-institute it at solemn Masses and in a very limited form for those on the altar.

  72. nathan says:

    For those who have a problem exchanging “the Sign of Peace with strangers,” I thought we are brothers and sisters in the Lord. I thought there were no strangers in Christ. Nodding and smiling are perfectly acceptable forms of “sharing peace.” I do believe that the running all over the church hugfests that happen at some parishes is wrong.

    BTW – We changed the sign of peace a long time ago. Our parish does the sign of peace at the beginning of Mass during the Penitential Rite, as we make our peace with our God and
    fellowman before we bring our gift to the altar. It makes more sense this way.

    Finally, According to CNS, Pope Benedict has asked, “the competent curial offices to study the possibility of moving the sign of peace to another place (in the Mass), such as before the presentation of the gifts at the altar. To do so would also serve as a significant reminder of the Lord’s insistence that we be reconciled with others before presenting our gifts to God.”

  73. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Is there a proscribed manner for exchanging the Peace? And I’m not saying nodding and smiling isn’t acceptable.
    Gee, I wonder about the move of the Sign of Peace to another part of the Mass at your parish. If a priest can move this around, why are we waiting for direction from the Pope?

    I remember as a child visiting the Trappist Monastery where monks solemnly and deliberately, with little expression, put their hands or arms on each other’s shoulders in a ritual embrace at the Kiss of Peace at the altar. I don’t recall the congregation ever participating.

    So the model with which I was familiar in my youth is that this pax is exchanged solemnly amongst those who live together. …and at the altar, not in the congregation. I understand that those who live in communities suffer great temptations for bitter disagreements, much like family life. So this exchange might be a grace for keeping the peace with those we know. This exchange doesn’t have to exclude strangers, but I can see how the emphasis might be on those we know.

    Thanks for the quote “that we be reconciled with others before presenting our gifts to God”. Supports the idea that the exchange has something to do with ‘making peace’ and forgiveness.

  74. Charivari Rob says:

    “…if the practice is about forgiveness before approaching God, why would I be expected to forgive/ask forgiveness of people I don’t know?”

    Well, we just finished “…forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who…” and we’re about to ask God for mercy and peace. Seems like a good time to me.

    I think receiving the peace from the priest and passing it along most definitely relates to making peace with our brethren. As to being in a fury, isn’t that when we most need the peace?

    As to the practical standpoint… I generally exchange the sign of peace with the person on each side of me, possibly the person past them (if I can reach out to them without knocking someone over), then the two or three immediately in front and behind. I shake hands if they’re within reach, a nod or wave if they’re not.

    I adjust based on where the Mass is. My usual Mass at my parish is a little sparsely populated – each person gets their own pew, so you have to go out looking for someone. A neighboring parish is more towards the social milling about end of the spectrum – sometimes I stay in my spot, sometimes I’m out there in the scrum. Then there’s my old home parish, which is usually fairly conventional (greet those within reach) but can sometimes come across as straying to the ‘dead fish’ end of the spectrum – at least as regards welcoming someone who is noticeably ‘the stranger’.

    Bingo is certainly a social setting, of course. It is also a cutthroat endeavor to some devotees, who are probably more concerned about the prospect of friends greeting each other interrupting the bingo caller than interrupting the Mass. ;^)

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