QUAERITUR: Sign of peace is an “undignified and self-serving sacrilege”? WDTPRS POLL

From a reader:

I recently read an opinion that giving the sign of peace at mass is irreverent.

To quote her, ” Hand-holding is not only not in the rubrics of the Mass, it is a horrifically distracting, undignified and self-serving sacrilege that is actually PROHIBITED.”

I do remember a time at mass when we did not offer the sign of peace and more recently holding hands during Our Father.

Could you please clear this up for me?

I note that “hand holding” is mentioned, above, rather than “hand shaking”.  Hand holding is typically done where it is done at the time of the Our Father.  But the question is about the “sign of peace”, the pax.  Shaking hands in a brief and sober fashion is not hand holding.

In Redemptionis Sacramentum we read:

[72.] It is appropriate “that each one give the sign of peace only to those who are nearest and in a sober manner”. “The Priest may give the sign of peace to the ministers but always remains within the sanctuary, so as not to disturb the celebration. He does likewise if for a just reason he wishes to extend the sign of peace to some few of the faithful”. “As regards the sign to be exchanged, the manner is to be established by the Conference of Bishops in accordance with the dispositions and customs of the people”, and their acts are subject to the recognitio of the Apostolic See.

Thus, I suppose it depends on what people do during the sign of peace, or more technically, the “pax… peace”.  When I was in Hong Kong years ago I saw people bow to each other.  In the USA and Italy have have seen all dignity and reverence thrown to the winds.

Since in the Ordinary Form the congregational sign of peace is an option left entirely to the discretion of the priest celebrant, until we accomplish a restoration of liturgical decorum my preference would be to opt out of the congregational sign of peace.

That said, the congregational sign of peace is permitted.  As a matter of fact, it is an ancient Christian gesture, rooted in Scripture and the earliest liturgical practice.  It is well attested and its meaning is explained by Fathers of the Church such as St. Augustine.

The manner of giving the sign of peace is usually culturally conditioned.   However, there is a traditional sign of peace, or kiss of peace, the pax, in the Roman Church.  It would be nice for Catholics to use it, instead of the foolishness that is often exemplified.

But to claim that a simple hand-shake “is a horrifically distracting, undignified and self-serving sacrilege that is actually prohibited” may be an over-statement.

Meanwhile, let’s have a poll.

Choose your best answer and then – if you are registered here – leave a comment in the combox.

The "sign of peace" during Mass in the Ordinary Form...

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  1. Jane says:

    I would love to see the sign of peace thrown out.

  2. Horatius says:

    Our former parish usually omitted it. Now I stay kneeling throughout the Pater noster to avoid the peace, which distracts me. It is a perfectly reverent Mass, but I just cannot bring myself to disturb that, for myself, with the peace. Am I being norty?

  3. anilwang says:

    Jane, the key problem with the sign of peace is not the sign since Jesus himself stated that it is needed, at least interiorly (see Matthew 5:24). The problem is, people misunderstand what it is. They see the sign of peace is a secular “Hey, how are you?” greeting rather than preparation so that our sacrifice will be acceptable. The first is irreverent though friendly. The second is reverent, though formal.

  4. I would love to see the sign of peace removed as well, along with that silly hand holding during the Our Father. It distracts from the great and holy Sacrifice that is being accomplished for the well-being and redemption of all souls, living and dead, and from the marital union of Christ and man in the Sacrament of the Altar.

  5. sarahlcc says:

    Ewwwwwww. No kisses of peace! I just got to being able to shake a hand without cringing. In our congregation we don’t hold hands across the aisles, we hold the hands of our family members. Singles fly solo, hands up or folded in front.

  6. EXCHIEF says:

    Get rid of it. It is a meaningless, distracting intrustion.

  7. gracie says:

    Congregants also bow to each other in Japan. They don’t say any words and only bow to the persons on either side of them. It’s beautiful to watch because it’s so classy and dignified. Compare that to the churches here where we shake the hands of everyone within a 360 radius and then move on to wave to those we can’t reach because we can’t let the person one pew up and 5 people over think we’re ignoring him, now can we?

    This past Spring I attended Mass in Los Angeles while visiting there and from the Sign of Peace to the Dismissal no one shut up. I truly mean that. They said hello to their neighbors and then just kept talking up to, through, and after Communion to the end of the Mass. It was like being at a barbecue.

  8. jessicahoff says:

    It depends how it is done. If you turn to those either side of you and shake their hand to say ‘peace be with you’ it adds to the sense of real community. We are gathered there to worship God as the Church, not as atomised individuals, surely?

  9. acardnal says:

    It serves no purpose. It is a meaningless and superficial representation of “peace”.

  10. jlduskey says:

    At places where I attend Mass in the Ordinary Form, people look at each other and nod at the sign of peace; they often wave to each other. Generally, they do not shake hands. I would prefer that they simply eliminate the sign of peace. Fortunately, I have not seen very much hand-holding during the PaterNoster. I wouldn’t participate if it were done. If I were told to shake hands or hold hands, I would simply not return to that church.

  11. JKnott says:

    I agree with all of the above – it is a meaningless distraction and people have indeed secularized it. It has lost whatever meaning it may have had and it just keeps going downhill.

    Options have become rubrics , not to transgress
    The sacred moment – you guess
    THE Sign of peace and nothing less
    A shaking, smiling, hugging, kissing, waving ….. mess
    The Real – Present Lord is ignored to excess.
    Gaily presuming Jesus will …..bless.

  12. acardnal says:

    Oh, and the hand holding during the Pater Noster (Our Father) is NOT a rubric, and I dislike it! I think it was infiltrated into the Mass by Protestant spouses of Catholics or former Protestants. It needs to be prohibited. I refuse to participate in it period! And also the raising up of the hands. That is the rubric for the priest, not the congregation. This is ONE of the reasons why I migrated to the TLM/EF. I want to worship God on Sundays not mankind . . . or should I say “humankind.” There are six other days of the week and the rest of Sunday to assist the downtrodden.

  13. bookworm says:

    I’m in the “I don’t care” category, although I should qualify my vote with “I don’t care as long as it’s not excessively noisy or disruptive.”
    I suppose this next comment would probably make we worthy of excommunication in some people’s opinion, but I sometimes raise my hands at the Our Father and I allow my daughter to do so as well. The reason being that, as I’ve mentioned before, my daughter is autistic and tends to fixate on certain things and mimic the actions of others. A year or two ago she suddenly started raising her hands at the Preface, apparently in imitation of the priest. She would not stop unless I physically held her hand down. So as a compromise, I told her she can do that during the Our Father, to get it out of her system so to speak. It seems to have worked; she no longer raises her hands during the Preface, and of late she seems to be getting less interested in doing it during the Our Father. While I do want to instill in her proper and reverent behavior and would never allow her to do something clearly forbidden or disruptive, I don’t want to nag her about every little quirk or misstep to the point where it makes her miserable to attend Mass.

  14. St. Epaphras says:

    When someone offers it to me I am charitable and return it but really it does seem very superficial (thanks, acardnal, for the right word) and man-made. Same with folks “bringing up the gifts”. I get a gut feeling these things were just imposed on us but that they were supposed to be meaningful or something. The word “community”, meant in a Spirit of VII way, comes to mind. It reminds me of preschool or kindergarten where you act out things as a group or make motions when you sing. That is what small children do. As for hand-holding during Our Father, nope. That is going too far. Such artificial symbolism seems to me to bring back the focus to us people in the pews. You know — the Mass is all about us type of thinking. With the TLM we are not constantly being brought back down to earth by stuff like this. In that form of our rite you aren’t distracted from the fact that Mass is about God and Jesus’ sacrifice and true worship.

  15. Charles E Flynn says:

    The sign of peace as practiced in the USA, combined with Communion in the hand, turns the Eucharist into a disease vector.

  16. heway says:

    Having lived in multicultural settings, I have no objection, unless unruly,etc.
    Some people seem to want to have the SS at the door to protect us from one another.
    I like to think that Jesus and His Spirit are present in all the members gathered as one…and that He would take my hand in peace.

  17. robtbrown says:

    Sunday mass: Because I attend daily mass, I’m usually recollected enough that I’m not offended by the Sign of Chaos. It always seems it should be accompanied by a referee flipping a coin, so I want to say “We will receive”. And that in turn reminds of some very funny incidents at the coin flip.

    Daily Mass: Most of the people are scattered, so I use one of these techniques:

    a. A short quick Presidential type wave.

    b. The James Dean hand move used in Giant as he leaves a room.

    c. The hand signal of WC Fields in “The Bank Dick” that he wants his future son in law, Og Ogleby, to use to indicate if he recognizes him through his disguise. This is done by positioning the hand waist high, then wiggling it.

  18. jhayes says:

    The USCCCB says:

    The Communion Rite follows the Eucharistic Prayer, leading the faithful to the Eucharistic table.

    The rite begins with the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus taught this prayer to his disciples when they asked how to pray (cf. Mt 6:9-13, Lk 11:2-4). In this prayer, the people join their voices to pray for the coming of God’s kingdom and to ask God to provide for our needs, forgive our sins, and bring us to the joy of heaven.

    The Rite of Peace follows. The celebrant prays that the peace of Christ will fill our hearts, our families, our Church, our communities, and our world. As a sign of hope, the people extend to those around them a sign of peace, typically by shaking hands.


  19. robtbrown says:

    acardnal says:

    Oh, and the hand holding during the Pater Noster (Our Father) is NOT a rubric, and I dislike it!

    I have never had any use for it during a football huddle. When I coached, I told the players that if they wanted to hold hands, go to the dance after the game.

  20. acardnal says:

    @jhayes: we all know what the NO/OF liturgical norm is as delineated in the NO Missal. We are debating its purpose and usefulness and meaningfulness and reverence and solemnity.

  21. Jenice says:

    I LOATHE hand-holding during the Our Father, and I think I remember that Redemptionis sac. states that it should not be done, but I’m not sure I remember that correctly.

    I tolerate the sign of peace. Once at Mass a person raced in at the last moment, dropped onto the kneeler and starting exhaling cigarette breath in my direction, which was really annoying. Later I had to extend the pax to him, and it seemed like a moment of reconciliation. I agree with Our Beloved Holy Father who says it makes scriptural sense to him to have the pax before the gifts are brought to the altar. And, I am friends with a number of music directors who minimize the distraction by starting the Agnus Dei pretty quickly, leaving little time for foolishness. That said, I wouldn’t miss it if it went away.

  22. tioedong says:

    Ah yes: Touchy feely hugs, just when you are deep in contemplation in preparation for communion.

    And for the lonely, another fake friendly pawing by those who wouldn’t bother to pass the time of day with you the other days of the week.

  23. RosaryMan says:

    I have never been to an ordinary form mass that didn’t have the sign of peace, no matter where I went. What did Jesus say when He appeared to His apostles after His resurrection? I like saying, “Peace be with you.” It’s not a circus as some suggest. All we do is turn to those around us, shake hands, and say, “peace be with you.” I see nothing wrong with it. I do see something wrong with people being utterly disgusted at having to, eww, touch another person.

  24. disco says:

    I chose I tolerate it. I say that because if I find myself at a church where it is to be offered I just grin and bear it. That said I most often attend the extraordinary form and even at the ordinary form at my parish it is thankfully not done (or at least it wasn’t the one time I’ve been to OF). I was at mass somewhere recently where it was offered and most of the congregation defiantly continued to answer “and also with you” for the entire mass, so I was only too happy to answer all the peace be with yous tossed my way with “and with your spirit”.

  25. charismatictrad says:

    I’m in the “tolerate it” category, not so much because I dislike it, but because the way it is abused bothers me. I legitimately think some people think it’s a competition, or that if you don’t shake 25 people’s hands, you’re a meanie. I disagree, however, with those who say it is “meaningless” or “worthless.” The fact of the matter is that the early Christians did it and recognized the significance of it. We must make peace with our brother before we can approach the Altar.

    As far as Our Father hand-holding…I refuse. Nowhere in the rubrics does it say to do this or that it is even an option. That, to me, is an attempt to create a sense of “peace” and “community,” ignoring the fact that the Eucharist is where we truly become a community. Additionally, the lifting of the hands or holding out the hands is imitating the priest during the Our Father. I’m not sure where that one started. Maybe people were just so confused by the N.O. that they just started doing whatever the priest does.

    All in all, I think because the hand-holding during the Our Father is creating a false sense of…whatever it’s creating (mostly just sweaty palms)…those of us in the traditional crowd naturally assume that the Pax is attempting to do the same. And just because some people (and priests) abuse it, does not mean it should be thrown out.

  26. Indulgentiam says:

    I voted; I dread it as it approaches and think of ways to avoid it. Not that it helps b/c it doesn’t seem to matter to some people that a person is on their knees, head bowed and hands folded in prayer. Nope, some folks are going to get a handshake out of you no matter what. I travel out of state for the TLM but when i’ve had no other choice i’ve assisted at the NO. you know, i’m not a theologian. try as i might i don’t understand some of their arguments for the NO but then i’m no theologian. Did i mention i’m not a theologian? But even with my low grade IQ i can see that what they intended and drew up on paper is MOST DEFINITELY NOT working in practice. No matter how pretty something looks on paper if it does not work in practice then you admit error, scrap it and move on. But, but, they haven’t done it the way it’s meant to be done! the way it was INTENDED! yeah, yeah , i get it. Some very deep thinkers got in a room and wrote out this great plan BUT IT DID NOT WORK as well OFF the paper. It hasn’t worked for 50 YEARS! how much longer does this failed experiment need to be repeated before somebody says, ” Hey! looky there IT ‘S NOT WORKING!!!

  27. Sissy says:

    I tolerate the peace, but I always feel it is an abrupt, distracting interruption of what is otherwise a time of reverence and awe. I wouldn’t mind it as much if it came right at the beginning of Mass. Instead, we always have a “greet your neighbor” to start which makes the peace even less necessary. I always hold on to my missal with both hands so as to indicate I won’t be pressing the flesh during both the Our Father and the peace.

  28. OrthodoxChick says:

    I chose “tolerate”. Now that I’ve been to a TLM and live too far away to attend it regularly, I find myself tolerating many parts of the OF these days. When will seminarians be instructed in both rites (EF & OF) so more of us can attend EF Masses? Is the USCCB working on adding Latin back into regular seminary curriculum? If not, can we all sign a drafted letter to them and beg for it?!

  29. Novum Eboracense says:

    Such a relic of the “Me Generation”! It symbolizes all the of the meaningless and shallow emoting of that sorry time.

    If we must have the “Pax Domini”, let it be placed at the completion of the Universal Intercessions. St. Justin Martyr speaks of it in his First Apology as occupying this place in the Roman eucharistic rite of the mid 2nd century. Its present location and the manner of its execution are a great distraction, coming as they do after the consecration.

    Hand-holding during the Pater Noster? An emphatic no!

  30. Gratias says:

    We attend the OF twice a month and the EF the other two Sundays. The sign of peace can be made a bit more dignified by saying (“Peace of Christ”).

    Visited NYC recently and at St. Partick’s businessmen at early weekday mass found a good solution. No one leaves their place. With hands joined as in prayer they simply gesture to their nearest neighbor, no touching.

    The real problem for us is the formation of human chains during the Paternoster. (It used to be a distinction with the Protestants). If the Church is crowded, the best solution is to stay kneeling.

  31. rcg says:

    I recently attended a service where no priest was present. The local jeffe and his family conducted the readings and general order of Mass without the consecration, etc. During the pax, the leader shock the hand of everyone in the small church, it was friendly, but felt very TV evangelical. And the tunes were accompanied by guitar and accordion. This was a remote location, but it shows how easily a congregation can drift into a DIY liturgy without the guidance of a sound priest. Today, back in USA, I attended Mass in an arena. The priest is known to me and sang the NO and does a respectable and respectful job. I noticed how everyone responded with the proper changes clearly and in unison, so the ‘new translation’ has taken root. However, during the Pater Noster I noticed everyone expected to hold hands. It occurred to me that no matter what reforms of the reform we do, that one will be among the last, if ever, to go away from American practice.

  32. Matt R says:

    There needs to be a more traditional method to the sign of peace; perhaps it should be moved, dropped entirely, or conducted more like the blessings with a simple exchange of word. It takes away from the reverence and dignity of the Liturgy. The handshaking is often over-the-top, and I get distracted. Also, I’m scrupulous about the Blessed Sacrament, and the priest shouldn’t shake hands b/c he has just consecrated the Blessed Sacrament in my view. (I also think that people forget Christ is present on the altar after the sign of peace…noticeably, the abuse involving EMHCs coming up during or right after the ‘Agnus Dei’ is right after the sign of peace?
    How is it done in the Extraordinary Form, and pre-Tridentine Masses?

  33. poohbear says:

    It’s not a circus as some suggest. All we do is turn to those around us, shake hands, and say, “peace be with you.” I see nothing wrong with it. I do see something wrong with people being utterly disgusted at having to, eww, touch another person.

    You are lucky it is not a circus at your parish. Some parishes have people, including the Priest, walking all over the church shaking hands and waving the ‘peace sign’ at everyone like we were at Woodstock. Or even worse, the Priest waving the peace sign from the altar. This is indeed a circus. A refined greeting is one thing, glad-handing the entire church is another.

    As for not wanting to touch people, many people have serious illnesses which make them prone to infection where most people have no problem. You don’t know who has cancer or who is on a medication that lowers their immune system. Shaking the hand of someone who just sneezed in their hand or didn’t wash up when they should have can send some people to the hospital.

    People may also have physical difficulties with their hands that makes shaking hands difficult or painful. I, for one, have severe arthritis in my fingers. Shaking hands sends shooting pains up my arms. I endure enough pain daily in necessary activities, I don’t want to be subjected to more. I nod my head, with my deformed hands visibly folded in front of me, but still I get dirty looks for not shaking hands.

    Dirty looks during the sign of peace— nice, isn’t it? This is why some of us dislike this so much.

    BTW, I voted ‘dread it’ in case anyone was wondering :)

  34. Mike Morrow says:

    This is culturally very alien to most of northern European background, and doubtless many others as well. The congregational hand holding at the Our Father and the group-grope/fondle/chat sessions during the sign of peace are nothing but vile acts of self-indulgent exhibition and foppish theatrics. I’ve hated it profoundly since it first showed up some 45 years ago.

    This forced and unnatural modern custom may be eliminated by *any* priest celebrant…there is no requirement for it at any NO mass. What perversion or defect in priestly formation has led to almost all NO priests maintaining this corruption? But at least not all do…one will never see this gross disruption, distraction, and loss of decorum at NO masses from Irondale and Hanceville, Alabama, shown on EWTN.

    It’s not hard to stop this…it’s only a simple on-the-spot decision that requires no writs, edicts, or indults from a local ordinary. It takes only a faithful priest celebrant who has the courage to stop the circus, or congregants who are willing to walk out and stay away.

    You may wonder how I voted.

  35. MKR says:

    I “tolerate” it. I’d prefer not to have to.

  36. adamFERG says:

    The hand holding during the sign of peace is the worst! In my parish the people of the congregation “bless” along with the priest but we put up one hand and are pretty much doing the Nazi salute. I always think what a non-catholic would think if they just walked in at that part.

  37. TNCath says:

    I tolerate it. I am not opposed to shaking someone’s hand at Mass; I am opposed to what the Sign of Peace has evolved into being, especially when it has somehow become anticipated by the hand holding at the Our Father.

    In my parish, our choir has this bizarre practice of forming a circle in the choir loft and holding hands during the praying of the Our Father, as if to say, “Now we are REALLY praying.” They continue the hand holding until after the “For the kingdom…” After that, they start shaking hands before the invitation to the Sign of Peace. This goes on until the Agnus Dei. Is this worth a battle? Unfortunately, no. They are in their 70’s and 80’s, and whatever you might say to correct them would fall on deaf ears. The pastor doesn’t care a whit what they do, so I have to frown and bear it.

  38. MKR says:

    This is funny, in a horrifying, blasphemous, and demonic sort of way:


  39. adamFERG says:

    The hand holding during the sign of peace is the worst! In my parish the people of the congregation “bless” along with the priest but we put up one hand and are pretty much doing the Nazi salute. I always think what a non-catholic would think if they just walked in at that part. A blessing should be a Bishop/priest or a father blessing his child or something like that not a Nationalist socialist rally. It’s so silly it’s kinda delightful.

  40. jdscotus says:

    Keep your hands to yourself. I attend SSPX chapels and go only to the NO for some event like First Communion (though I am now done with that, even–it’s just too annoying to sit through such sacrilege). I used to walk out at the Our Father and return after the shakefest was over. At my mother-in-law’s funeral at a NO church, there I was, minding my own business, when one of the helpers or whatever they call these people burst into my personal space and demanded a hand shake at the Sign of Peace. I politely–but in no uncertain terms–told her to move on down the line. It’s like these people enjoy annoying others. Plus it’s disgusting and spreads germs.

  41. PomeroyonthePalouse says:

    I tolerate it because I don’t want the people around me to h8 me because I DIDN’T HOLD THEIR HAND during the Our Father. I’ll shake with my wife and daughter and mother-in-law if she isn’t too far down the pew and I’ll turn and do it with the people behind me.
    But a question or two….
    You are suppposed to “beat your breast” during the Confiteor — it says so in the missalette — No one near me does.
    You are supposed to bow when we talk about believing in the Incarnation during the Creed. — It says so in the missalette — No one near me (including our pastor the once or twice I’ve looked) does.
    Where does it say to hold hands during the Our Father? That “rubric” everyone follows.

  42. Mrs. O says:

    I would prefer not to, but it is allowed. It is over done by some and can be distracting but that is the general feeling anyway. I have seen in places where it is done reverently, the priest(s) have made a conscious effort to teach the people not excluding manners at Mass. If it were to suddenly be dropped because of that, done badly, then we should just load up and go home. For the most part, people are ignorant and these times are a test. As to holding hands during the Our Father, I just close my eyes when I can and not participate.

  43. capchoirgirl says:

    I tolerate it…I generally don’t mind it because I get the theological reasoning behind it. But I have a suppressed immune system, so if there are people coughing around me, I will NOT shake hands. Sorry. I love you in Christ, but I do not love your germs!
    (Actually, if you’re sick at Mass, just don’t offer to shake. Nod or something, please? )
    My parish does it in a very restrained fashion, so it’s much better than at some places where it becomes a free-for-all love fest.

  44. contrarian says:

    I’m very much against it. Even when done ‘reverently’, it distracts, me thinks. Consider that it’s done right after the consecration at that. Even in reverent parishes (my ‘conservative’ parish is probably much more tame than most…all I know is that whenever I travel, I attend some parish that makes me die a little inside), people are all hand-shakey and meety-greety right up until the end of the Agnus Dei (which is usually set to the worst music imaginable). That moment after the consecration when the Agnus Dei is sung…that is really a profound part of the Mass. Unfortunately, it is usually marred by even the most toned down hand shake party. Though I think the terrible musical settings for the Agnus Dei add to the meety-greety inertia. Music sets the mood. (These Gather hymnal composers know what they’re doing.)

    So, as to the original quote. Distracting? Check. Undignified? Check. Self-serving? Check. Sacrilegious? I’d say, tentatively, yes. So I guess I agree with your reader on all counts.

    Oh, and MKR, I just watched some of that. Had to stop after about 30 seconds though. Now I wish I had a hot poker handy to jab into my eye, thank you very much. :)

  45. AnnAsher says:

    “I dread it as it approaches and think of ways to avoid it.” I do find it distracting personally and that it distracts generally as well, taking the focus from sacrifice of our redemption to “hi how are you, peace, you’re kids are getting big” etc. My method is this: I bow my head. I wait a second – not peacing my family. If someone in front of me thrusts their hand at mr, I receive it warmly and quietly. I never say more than “peace” and a smile. As soon as that one or two persons are done, I go to my knees and return to prayer. I never turn around. I don’t reach down the pew. Thank fully where I occasionally attend OF, the celebrant doesn’t linger long. He used to omit it! But people got their knuckles in a bunch.

  46. Nicole says:

    Our Pastor read a command from our Bishop a couple years ago which got rid of the “hand-shake” replacing it with a bow and statement “peace be with you.” His command bound most people all of one Sunday. Now it’s a free-for-all, pew-diving experience mostly…again…

  47. APX says:

    I dread it, but tolerate it. It’s not something I have an attachment to that would put me in disarray if it were to go away.

    It didn’t use to be a big deal when I was a kid because it was dignified. When I was a kid (which wasn’t too long ago) it was a simple handshake, while say “Peace of Christ”. We only did it with the people right around us. There was no walking up and down the pews looking for people you know, or loud chatters of “Hey Suzie! Good to see you!” Now it’s a gong show. I have been tempted to tell some lovebirds to get a room.

    I noticed something interesting when I was flipping through my old Saint Joseph Children’s Missal I got for my First Communion in 1992. It was copyrighted 1977 and the picture of the “Sign of peace and love” (it says a sign of peace and love) is the priest and the acolyte holding hands while lovingly gazing into each others eyes, as is shown here:

    Interestingly enough a few pages later, it would appear that communion in the hand hadn’t been established yet.

  48. Joseph-Mary says:

    When they had that flu scare, it was a good reason to drop the glad handing. Ahh.
    But that is past.
    During the week we are spaced out and so it is not an issue but still…Our Lord is present on the altar and here we are meeting and greeting and nodding and waving and it all breaks the solemnity of the moment and the reverence as well. I wish–if it had to remain–it could be somewhere else in the Mass. Of course it is optional and not needed at all!
    Worse is the parish that has meet, greet, and glad hand at the beginning of Mass and then redundant at the sign of peace–which usually is not peaceful. Just let the priest extend the peace of Christ to us: that is enough!

  49. nykash says:

    My preferred course of action is to nod to whomever turns towards me. I get upset when it continues into the Agnus Dei. If only we could fall on our knee’s like at the EF Mass.

  50. jkm210 says:

    I have been in my current parish about a year, and I am relieved that no one holds hands during the Our Father, but the Sign of Peace is still confusing the heck out of me. About half of the people shake hands, and the other half nod or wave. I seem never to have the same group sitting around me, and am always making these jerking “wave-or-shake?” gestures, or I end up holding back for a few moments to see if my neighbors are waving or shaking and then try to do the same. It’s way more complicated than it should be!

  51. jfk03 says:

    I am a Byzantine Catholic. I attend a parish of the Ukranian Greek Catholic Church, which is in communion with Rome.

    We follow the custom in most Orthodox (Greek, Russian, Romanian, etc.) churches of exchanging the kiss of peace right after the Great Entrance and before singing the Nicene Creed. It is really an embrace, with a kissing of the cheek or shoulder on both sides. At the same time we exchange the words “Christ is in our midst” and the response, “He is and always will be.” At Pascha the greeting is “Christ is Risen (Christos Anesti)” and the response, “He is truly risen (Alithos anesti).” This is very traditional and dignified. It does not disrupt the service. Rather, it is a prelude to the anaphora and our encounter with the Risen Christ in the Holy Mysteries. There is no banality.

  52. AnnAsher says:

    Jfk03- that practice I would embrace

  53. jk03: That sounds like Heaven compared to what goes on in the Ordinary Form of the Sacred Liturgy in the Latin Church. It’s for that very reason, the faithfulness to the ancient Tradition and the dignified and very Catholic liturgy that I have sometimes considered becoming Byzantine or at least worshiping Christ our God at a Byzantine parish.

  54. Allan S. says:

    I’m afraid I fail to understand the issue so many seem to have here. Is there someone holding a gun on you at Mass? Just do what I do when I find myself at the OF: keep your hands to yourself , lower your head and pray silently for the celebrant. Do not engage or acknowledge in any way what is going on around you.

  55. In my prior parish, I picked up the practice–from the retired pastor there–of not inviting the sign of peace at all: i.e., the priest simply says, “the peace of the Lord be with you always” and the people respond–then he would give the sign of peace to the servers, but not say, “let us offer…”

    That helped, I think, to tone it down.

    In my current parish, the servers don’t seem too upset if I don’t shake their hands at all. Folks in the nave still do–but again, it tones it down.

    My explanation is that when the priest says what I quoted above, and the people respond, that is the exchange of peace. The gesture that follows is gravy. Gravy is nice; but it’s not essential (well, sometimes it’s not–but that’s another subject).

  56. Gus Barbarigo says:

    One reckless comment in church could cost a soul 1,000 days in Purgatory, Jesus told St. Gertrude in a locution (sorry, I don’t have the link handy); whether the comment is apocryphal or true, it points out that if we really believe Christ is in the tabernacle, much of the shenanigans made possible by the “Sign of Peace” would never happen.

  57. Charles Flynn said this: “The sign of peace as practiced in the USA, combined with Communion in the hand, turns the Eucharist into a disease vector.” Being in a health care facility, I whole=heartedly agree. That’s why I alcohol my hands in the Our Father for Novus Ordoes before shaking and usually before receiving Eucharist.

    My 2 cents” Screw the Novus Ordo way and lets do it the way clergy and inferior ministers (servers) do it: MANLY!!! Give your bro (or sis) a bear hug with your hands, and put your head over the other’s left shoulder. Huzzah! The EF – A Manly Mass, for Real Men (full permission to use that in some pamphlet or other media material as long as YCRCM is credited!)

  58. frjim4321 says:

    I am not a big fan of how the sign of peace often carries over into the fraction rite, particularly among Eucharistic Ministers gathering near the altar. It’s tacky.

    Also since I am somewhat (friends would say a lot) OCD, the germ aspect is an issue for me.

    I don’t even like the ushers (who have shaken 5o hands before mass) handing me a missallette. Will pick up my own, thank you very much, that does not have the germs of 51 people on it.

  59. It isn’t the sign of peace but the handshaking that’s so bad. (Consider: Solemn High Masses in the 1962 Missal do the sign of peace just fine. It works because it’s a sign of peace and not handshaking.)

  60. Bea says:

    I see it as an intolerable gesture, maybe even bordering on blasphemous.

    I have been at Masses when it becomes a veritable circus.
    I was on the verge of tears at this Mass, where even the priest came down the aisle (which he is not supposed to do) and everyone was greeting everyone across the aisle and across the room. I was trying to quietly pray in reparation for this lack of adoration for Our Lord. There He was, recently consecrated on the altar, and He was completely ignored. HE, who had been just sacrificed on the altar in reparation for our sins, sits alone on the altar while everyone is having a party in the pews. Do these people know what just happened on the altar? Are they so full of themselves that there is no room for God, Himself? Are they so clueless to the presence of God, Himself? It was to cry for. As we were leaving a lady said to me “Wasn’t that a beautiful Mass?” A nun was leaving at the same time and must have seen the expression on my face and that I was stunned into speechlessness that, bless her soul, she answered to the woman “Every Mass is beautiful” The lady backtracked “well, yes” she stammered and that was the end of the conversation.

    Another time I witnessed a “hoity-toity” lady ignore the proffered hand of a humble man in the pew. I felt so bad for him. It’s not that she didn’t see him. It was obvious that she did, but did not want to get “contaminated” I made it a point to reach over to shake this man’s hand before shaking hers.

    Last week at a funeral Mass, the celebrant was kept waiting at the altar to continue the Mass while all the relatives and friends approached each other to greet the family at this part of the Mass.

    No, this should not be a part of the Mass. We need to bring our focus back on God. Handshaking takes the focus away from HIM and we celebrate “Us”. It is not a True Peace. That peace comes from God and not from each other.

  61. Cathy says:

    I do like the sign of peace but agree that there are parishes that have gotten carried away with the practice, this should not be an occasion for musical chairs and conversation. I am also not thrilled with the stand and greet your neighbor announcement before the processional. I guess I do not have a problem with the sign of peace because it has always been a part of the Mass as I know it. The problem with adding something for the sake of community identity in a particular parish, is that it seems to break with the universal identity of the Church. In my opinion, if it is an innovation, don’t add it. If something is to be extraordinary use, keep it as such, for if abused, people have a tendency to see it as a right and are often too unaware to not feel offended when a bishop or a priest decides it is not necessary.

  62. JKnott says:

    @jfk03 Now that is beautiful. There is a higher spirituality in that form of the gesture, as it should be.

  63. anilwang says:

    I voted “I don’t care one way or another”, however I’ve never seen either hand shaking or holding hands during the Our Father. In Toronto, people typically bow during the sign of peace and keep their hands to themselves during the Our Father (although there are many who use the orans posture).

    As I mentioned above, the “sign of peace” does have a purpose (Matthew 5:24) which is often misunderstood due to poor catechesis. I know it has helped me, when I get hypercritical about the person just in front of me who consistently says “and also with you” and omits all the rubric, or the guy four pews forward and three positions to the right starts answering his cell just before the consecration, or one occasional priest that (I think but haven’t confirmed in the GIRM) ad libs the preface to the Our Father and occasionally (I think) includes a few other ad libs.

    The “sign of peace” reminds me that I need to get my house in order before I go up for the Eucharist. The fourth petition of the Our Father should do this, however, I admit that because the Our Father is said so often, I sometimes go on auto pilot and just say the words without truly contemplating the meaning. That being said, if I did have to deal with the social “sign of peace” and hippy Our Father I’d be a lot more critical of it and the people around me and “sign of peace” would have precisely the opposite effect on me.

  64. majuscule says:

    The Sign of Peace kept me away from the church for many years.

    Through my fault, though my fault, through my most grievous fault I will admit.

    I had stopped attending Mass for whatever reason when it was still in Latin. After my father-in-law died someone had a Mass said in his honor and some of the close family attended. I was shocked! embarrassed! bewildered! when the lady next to me turned to me and wanted to…to…I knew not what…and then realized everyone was shaking hands ! What had they done to the Mass! I really was stupidly fearful because I didn’t know what was going on.

    Besides this hand shaking business I didn’t like the holding out your hand for communion either. Why had they changed everything!

    I really feel I might have returned to thr church sooner if I’d not had that disconcerting experience. (Yes it was stupidly self centered to feel thst way.) I have gotten used to it, mainly because our church is small and we are like a family. (So small there are those who make a point of shaking everyone’s hand and they can do it before the end of the Lamb of God, too!)

    Don’t get me started on the Our Father hand holding…

  65. Xmenno says:

    I agree with those who do not like what the Sign of Peace degenerates into at some parishes.
    However, I have two memories that may suggest a real purpose for it. Some years ago, my husband and I had a very big disagreement (which is a mild word for it) on the way to Church. We participated in the Mass while remaining very angry with each other. I remember dreading the Sign of Peace, because I certainly didn’t feel any of Christ’s peace toward my spouse. However, somehow, in the act of touching hands and looking into each other’s eyes, our anger melted away, and we were able to receive the Eucharist, having reconciled with each other. The other memory involves something that happens often in Mass – I get very annoyed with people around me who don’t sing, or who say the responses ahead of and faster than everyone else, or people who come in late, or the CONSTANT line of people to and from the bathroom. The Sign of Peace restores my humility in having to extend a sign of Christ’s love to all of the above, and give up my self-righteous annoyance. Also, sometimes I am very lonely in my parish, and the barest contact with other members of the Body of Christ in the Sign of Peace lifts my heart out of my isolation. The Agnus Dei sung immediately after draws me right back to the Sacrament, in greater love and unity with the other members around me.

  66. jhayes says:

    Anilwang, that may be a difference between what the Canadian and U.S. Bishops conferences have decided.

    The Missal (GIRM 154) says only that ” According to what is decided by the Conference of Bishops, all express to one another peace, communion, and charity. While the Sign of Peace is being given, it is permissible to say, The peace of the Lord be with you always, to which the reply is Amen.”

    So, how they express that to one another is up to each country’s bishops to decide . The USCCB has decided that people should do it “typically, by shaking hands” (see my earlier post for a more complete quote)

    Bea, again it my differ between countries, but in the U.S. the celebrant can leave the sanctuary at the Sign of Peace in some situations:

    ” In the Dioceses of the United States of America, for a good reason, on special occasions (for example, in the case of a funeral, a wedding, or when civic leaders are present), the Priest may offer the Sign of Peace to a small number of the faithful near the sanctuary.” (GIRM 154)

  67. bwfackler says:

    if the sign of peace was to be brought back in the new roman mass, it should have at least been the more traditional hierarchical sign of peace that shows the peace of Christ flowing from the altar to the people. in the syriac and coptic churches the priest receives the peace from the altar and passes it down to the clerics who pass it to the acolytes who bring it to the people on the ends of the rows who pass it down the rows. receive from person on left pass to person on right. very orderly and dignified and very symbolic of receiving Christs peace.

  68. Pax--tecum says:

    I try to avoid it; I don’t want to shake hands and socialize while Jesus is there on the altar! I kneel down, praying the preparatory prayers for Holy Communion from the missal, but yet there are those people who don’t understand that I’m preparing for Holy Communion. Recently some kid started to hit me at the back to get my attention because he apparently thought the sign of peace was of utmost importance. When I looked back – the priest was already distributing Holy Communion – that child’s father looked very angry at me. Why? Just leave me in peace as I want to prepare myself to receive my Lord and God!

  69. RuralVirologist says:

    I dislike it for reasons other than liturgical dislike. I usually blow my nose at that time.

  70. cor ad cor loquitur says:

    CS Lewis put it well, in “The Weight of Glory”:


    It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.

    There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. …

    Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat—the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.


    The restoration of the congregational exchange of the peace in the Mass of Paul VI was a very positive development.

  71. crjs1 says:

    I am in favour of it, of done soberly for theological reasons and that it acknowledges Christ within and amongst us.
    Maybe it’s cultural but in Scotland I have never witnessed hand holding during Our Father (thank god)!

  72. (X)MCCLXIII says:

    I detest the sign of peace as I have seen it practised on the OF. I’m fortunate that I can usually assist at mass in the EF, but on a recent trip to New Mexico I assisted at Sunday Mass at Las Cruces Cathedral. Many of the features that are complained of in the comments above were present: faithful using the orans posture, holding hands at the Our Father, and an intrusive Pax. I suppose that the people concerned think they’re being friendly, and it’s true that many Americans are more used to that kind of “friendliness” than many of my fellow Englishmen, but I do wish people would think how personally intrusive such behaviour is to others, and how ironically excluding and unfriendly it is – quite apart from its distracting from the focus and meaning of the celebration.

  73. kallman says:

    The Pax as given in the Missa Solemnis between the ministers is beautiful. The “sign of peace” as “executed” in the Novus Ordo is not, a cause of indescribable distress and anguish which led to me not attending the Mass for years, thankfully now fixed by SP.

    Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum,
    et cum spiritu tuo.


  74. Ben Trovato says:

    For what it’s worth, the only sign of peace I can offer with sincerity at that point in the Mass is to kneel and adore, praying that the adoration of Christ, truly present on the altar, may be a sign of peace to the whole world.

    And yes, occasionally there are those who grab my hand to shake it or tap me on the shoulders. That vastly entertains my children, and I have learned not to allow it to distract me.

    I agree with the Holy Father: it has a place in the Mass, but it is not at that point, nor in the way it is normally conducted.

    I am happy to shake peoples’ hands all they want after Mass, of course – but most rush off…

    As for hand-holding in the Our Father, we are lucky that in the UK that is still done only in a minority of Churches.

  75. Maria says:

    Personally, I really like to share the Sign of Peace, especially with those who look in need of it and little children.
    It is a small way to make people feel welcomed in the Church.
    Little children who have become fidgety and don’t know how to participate mostly look very pleased with this little interaction and involvement with those around them.
    Lonely people feel part of The Mass especially when they are struggling with their Faith – I have been in that situation myself and that Touch, and Greeting, meant a lot to me when I needed it, and now, hopefully, I can do the same for others.

  76. Maria says:


    Just to add something after reading your post.
    During Mass a couple of weeks ago, there was an Irish lady next to me who kept muttering and whispering her prayers and the constant whistling sounds and mutterings really annoyed me. By the time the Sign of Peace arrived, I had to mentally say a quick prayer to help me. Her warmth and gentleness was so evident as we exchanged handshakes and her (whom I presume was her grandson of about 8/9) was really pleased that I greeted him too. My anger/annoyance had been transformed to a more charitable attitude thanks to that answered little prayer.

  77. robtbrown says:

    I usually am reading from my Kindle at mass, either from the 1962 Missal or the old Divine Office. Anyone then wanting me to hold hands will see I’m occupied. The only exception is that a good deal of my time will be devoted (as yesterday) to any 6 mo to one year child nearby.

    At the sign of peace on Sunday, I don’t say a word but genially shake hands with anyone in the immediate sphere. Outside of mass, however, if the subject of the liturgy comes up, I will also genially tell anyone that mass in the vernacular versus populum is McLiturgy or a bad Protestant joke. It also can be an occasion to make fun of same.

  78. Kerry says:

    My wife and I generally keep palms pressed together and eyes closed during the glad handing, and are left alone by hand shakers. Once or twice I shook hands and said, “Not peace but a sword”, but have since restrained myself from this. Too snarky and self-referential.

  79. Titus says:

    The whole affair would be vastly improved if they would actually write rubrics for it. Perhaps they could re-institute pax boards: that should tone down the frivolity.

  80. Suburbanbanshee says:

    I’m one of those intrinsically mean, nasty people who finds the Sign of Peace really useful in obtaining a proper disposition for Communion, or preventing myself from going if not properly disposed in mind. Particularly when I was a little kid, and disposed to murdering (and being murdered by) my brothers and sulking at my parents. Now that I’m an adult and have the pleasant company of my fellow choirmembers, this isn’t such a factor; but it’s still important to have.

    Of course, it could be argued that moving the Sign of Peace back to the Offertory would allow this proper disposition to take place before “approaching the altar” mentally for the Eucharistic Prayer. And I’d be okay with that.

  81. Mary Jane says:

    On the occasion when my husband and I attend the OF, I ask my husband about the sign of peace. He simply replies that, at the sign of peace, I should turn to my neighbor, place my hands on his shoulders and, bowing slightly, say, “Pax tecum”. After that, he says I shouldn’t have to worry about the sign of peace anymore. I have to say, I haven’t gotten up the courage to try it yet.

  82. Elizium23 says:

    “I like it and am happy to do it”. In my home parish, I am a member of the very small English-language choir, and therefore I exchange a sober handshake with two or three other members on Sundays. On Tuesday nights, I serve at Mass and I exchange a sober handshake with the priest alone.

    The other people in my parish are generally elderly, faithful and orthodox, and exchange peace soberly and quickly. There is not much time given by the presider/music director before we begin the Agnus Dei chant.

    Our pastor recently issued a directive to the choir to stop flashing “Peace Signs”, which one member was known for. I guess that wasn’t sober enough for him, and you can see how particular Father is about his liturgies.

    In my parents’ parish and diocese where I visit regularly, there is a different story. The pastor there cut out the Sign of Peace and offering the Chalice during the swine flu panic. The Chalice was reinstated (and used quite liberally) but the Sign of Peace was abolished for good, possibly against the spirit of liturgical law. While I like the Sign of Peace, I also don’t mind going without it. However, the assembly here likes it so much that they glad-hand and hug each other silly throughout the Agnus Dei, which in my humble opinion is a stubborn show of disobedience to our Pastor’s wishes!

    It seems a widespread problem, at least in America, and surely elsewhere, that when a pastor or bishop duly legislates something for the liturgy, there is widespread ignorance and disobedience. For instance, a bow of the head is made at reception of Holy Communion, and prescribed at the mentions of four names (Trinity, Jesus, Mary, saint of the day). Yet people in my diocese make all kinds of reverences or none at all during Communion, and no bow of the head is observed, even though our diocese issued a “training video” with the new GIRM, and our pastor took pains to reprint this instruction in the bulletin a few months ago. Several times over the course of his assignment, our pastor has made it known that he is dismayed by people who leave during the recessional hymn. He feels it is rude for them to turn their backs on us in the choir. While clearly a mere preference and everyone has the right to come and go when they please, vast swaths of the faithful take cover under the noise of the recessional to gather their belongings and split. It’s just disobedience, pure and simple, and for what reason? To what end?

  83. irishgirl says:

    Since I go to the TLM exclusively, I don’t have to put up with it, thank God.
    Otherwise, as I indicated here, I’ll tolerate it if I find myself at an OF Mass.
    Usually, if I’m at an OF Mass (such as a funeral Mass for a dear friend this past April) I’ll sit apart from everyone else and either fold my hands and lower my head, or else merely smile a small smile and nod briefly. I kind of like the Japanese style of doing it, as someone here stated-more dignity and class, indeed.
    A couple of weeks ago, I went to a ‘Day With Mary’ at a parish in a nearby town. The Franciscans of the Immaculate do NOT have the Sign of Peace in their Masses (an ‘ad orientum’ OF Mass). I was glad for that, although I did catch a glimpse of some women in the congregation doing the extension of their arms at the ‘and with your spirit’ and the Our Father (which I totally loathe). When that happened, I just put my head down and lowered my eyes. That whole thing is a big distraction.

  84. Indulgentiam says:

    frjim4321– I don’t think your OCD I think your SMART. In nursing school we had to take microbiogy. One Lab class our professor had us take a sterile swab and swab our lab partners hand. We then swabbed petri dishes. Every single one came back with fecal matter. Remember that not everyone washes their hands after going to the bathroom and even if you do somewhere along your day you will be touching a surface; doorknob, desk drawer that has been touched by someone who does not appreciate soap and water as much as you.

  85. Darren says:

    I remember when I was in grammar school the sisters (Sisters of Christian Charity) taught us to turn to the person on your right and the person on your left and make a simple handshake (no big up and down motion) or a bow, and simply say “Peace be with you”. That’s it.

    I can’t remember the last time I saw idea in practice. I like the Japanese or Hong Kong idea of bowing. However, one of my favorite things about the TLM (besides all the beauty, greater reverence, etc) is the lack of the sign of peace.

    I recall a woman once telling me how she really liked this one parish where they stopped mass for 5-10 minutes at this point so people could walk all over and offer peace to everyone they wanted! I can imagine the chaotic scene! When I and another (Catholic Apologist) tried to explain to her why this was wrong, she just smiled and couldn’t understand why we objected. (This is also a woman who believes the church removed parts of the bible that would justify women as priests… so… )

  86. Blue Henn says:

    I answered “don’t much care either way”, but the greeting everyone was what I grew up with and didn’t know any different until we started homeschooling and hanging out with people who did. My parents were (not) catechized during the ’60s and ’70s, and even stopped attending Mass for a little while, so the knowledge of the Faith in our family was rather uninformed. (Still working on fixing that.) That being said, a toned down sign of peace for the faithful is preferential, but I don’t mind it when the presiding priest leaves it out as well.

    In my opinion, doing a way with it entirely is just another way to rob us of the traditions of our Faith, and would be a disservice to the Church as a whole. (Believe me, I feel robbed enough as it is.) Moving the sign of peace to a more appropriate time in the Holy Sacrifice would be quite acceptable, though. Perhaps the real fix, though, would be for those of you who know more to teach those who do not. Perhaps by bringing it up in conversation with your fellow parishioners and rather than spitting fire and condemning the subject you could calmly express your opinion and explain the reasoning behind it. Remember that the majority of the Church today has not been properly taught and therefore have no understanding and appreciation for the Truths and Realities of the Faith.

    Oh, and for those who quote about “being/not being in the rubrics”, where do you know this from? What books do you have/have you read that inform of such things? I’m not being insolent and asking for proof; I want to know where you all go to learn more about the Faith. :)

  87. Joanne says:

    “I’m very much against it. Even when done ‘reverently’, it distracts, me thinks. Consider that it’s done right after the consecration at that. Even in reverent parishes (my ‘conservative’ parish is probably much more tame than most…all I know is that whenever I travel, I attend some parish that makes me die a little inside”

    lol and ditto this. “makes me die inside” is a little stronger than what I feel, but I can relate. I cringe looking at photos like the above.

    I don’t really participate in the sop. I might smile and nod or give a brief wave to people immediately around me (without turning around), but otherwise just keep my keep my head down and then usually kneel. I guess I’m not in “uniformity of posture” with most other people during the Sanctus; I didn’t realize this was emphasized. But given that I’m one of the few women at Mass wearing a chapel veil, most parishioners probably aren’t too surprised at other “weird” behavior on my part.

    A little boy in back of me one day did start hitting me for a handshake at the sign of peace. I turned around as his father grabbed his arm to make him stop. His father apologized, but I laughed and shook the boy’s hand.

    It was actually a priest who has been mentioned elsewhere on this blog that made me rethink the sop and the presentation of the gifts and alot else about the OF Mass (which I still usually assist in) when this priest was assigned to one of my local parishes. He simply omits these when he offers the OF. Wish others would do the same.

  88. wmeyer says:

    I spent several years in a parish where the hand-holding for the Our Father is excessive and distracting, and the sign of peace is often worse. When the entire congregation re-arranges itself to hold hands across the aisles, it’s gone too far. When people leave their pews to give the sign of peace, it has also gone too far.

    It’s not a community meeting, it’s worship. Reverence preferred, but if you can’t manage that, I’d settle for decorum.

  89. Johnno says:

    Others take it to far by kissing hugging , and another thing that irks me is throwing up the hippie peace sign etc.

    In India we bow reverently to the priest first, then left and right and done. Take’s seconds and is quiet and hardly any unnecessary over friendly disruption.

    I tolerate it, but wish the Mass was revised such that they just moved this to the beginning of the Mass so we could get it out of the way and then just focus on the Eucharist.

  90. (X)MCCLXIII says:

    I’d love to do what Mary Jane’s husband recommends. But it would really be a parody* of the Pax, not having proceeded from the celebrant. So, reluctantly, I’ll pass :(

    Blue Henn thinks that omitting the Pax would rob the faithful of tradition, but that moving it to some other point would be “acceptable”. But, surely, that would also not be traditional? The Pax has been in its current position for centuries (if not longer).

    * Perhaps I should have said “no less of a parody than the current common practice in the OF”.

  91. The Sicilian Woman says:

    It figures – I’m offline for a couple days and the topic of one of my pet peeves comes up!

    Look, being affectionate comes in my heritage. After I’ve been introduced to you once (and generally like you), the next time we meet, I’ll invade your personal space to greet you with a hug, if not a kiss on the cheek as well, unless I pick up on the fact that you’re not a huggy/kissy type, after which I’ll back off.

    Yet, I have always despised that handshake, and my avoidance of it has been a source of amusement among those who know me. When I was a teen and attended Mass with my mother, she’d sit, while I stood near the door. When it was handshake time, I’d walk out into the entryway for a couple of minutes, returning when it was done. Nowadays, I’ve claimed as my regular spot one among the pews that are usually the most sparsely populated. If I have to shake hands with anyone at all, it’s usually the sweet mom of a couple of altar boys who sometimes sits in my pew, and perhaps one of the altar girls who ventures over to me. Other than that, I’m often handshake-free.

    As for holding hands during the Our Father…you can figure out my feelings on that one. If anyone is sitting nearby, I will close my eyes, bow my head and clasp my hands together, though a couple times, including once with a man sitting behind me, folks were clueless enough to tap me to get my attention to hold my hand.

    Part of my dislike of all of the touchy-feely stuff is from being germ-conscious. Too many times, I’ve had people directly behind me who’ve sneezed and/or have been noticeably ill. Ugh.

    You can imagine my joy the first time I attended a TLM and saw there was no handshake.

  92. mamosco says:

    Just like all things post VII it’s abused to the point of intolerance.

  93. Imrahil says:

    I’m in the “like it”-category. The (imo) fact that the TLM is on the whole liturgically better does not mean that there cannot have been good innovations. (Or well, semi-innovations, thinking about the ancient Pax.)

    Dear @anilwang is, I think, not totally right: The sign of peace is not so much about reconciliation (though it includes the meaning), because if it were, its place would be around the Confiteor*. [*Or, as contemporary liturgists suggest, before the Offertory. They suggest so because the have somewhat ceased to realize that the Liturgy of the Word as well belongs to the Holy Sacrifice.] Now that’s where its place isn’t, and – however less the Pax was in the TLM – the place it actually has is, as the Pax proves, not untraditional.

    Thus the sign of peace is about socializing, if by socializing we mean enjoying the existence of our brother with whom we are in the peace of Christ. [The plausible argument that then this should be after Communion is somewhat stroken by the fact that the Pax is not untraditional and is traditionally at this place. And hence we might perhaps say that, after all, the recipients of Holy Communion have already spiritually communicated, which is true.] However, I must say that I have never seen a real going from one end of the Church to another, or a beginning of a chatter that did not end. Also, outside children-Masses I have not seen hand-holding during the Our Father (and that includes Masses of little private groups where the faithful are called to come before the altar for Holy Communion under both kind [the latter also highly exceptionary around here]).

    Also – I can’t look up at the moment who said that, sorry – I never had reason to consider any of the pawing fake-friendly. And the others may very well don’t bother to pass their time with those they shake hands with, but it’s good for starters if they don’t bother not to pass their time with them, either; and in this at least, the sign of peace normally is not a lie, nor either a big act of willpower (and the latter is also a good thing for starters).

  94. Vecchio di Londra says:

    To me it the gesture has always seemed trite, insincere and empty, a disruptive social pretence of pseudo-matiness where there should be only an assent to the priest’s prayer that the peace of Christ may visit His Church and ‘vouchsafe to her that peace and unity that is according to Thy will’.
    If the faithful restricted themselves to a brief, genuine, dignified, Roman ‘sign of peace’ with their immediate pew-neighbour(s) that would not be so bad – but all the turning and roaming around and handshaking and phoney grimacing is uncalled for even in the NO rubric, and has no justification in tradition. It is a secular interruption of the liturgy.
    Worst of all is when the celebrant starts a long, leisurely stroll up the church, shaking hands with all the people standing next to the aisle. (But not with all the others.)
    That always reminds me of a story I heard from a woman whose husband had only been reluctantly persuaded by her to attend Mass for the first time since he had abandoned the Church in the early 1960s. She could see that some of the interpolated innovations were clearly disturbing him, as he was shaking his head in puzzlement. When the handshaking celebrant had eventually reached his seat, it was too much for him. He reached over his wife, grabbed the priest’s arm with both hands and hissed ‘For God’s sake Father, get a b…..y move on!’

  95. asophist says:

    The “sign of peace”, or “agape” (pronounced “aga-pay”), although a practise of early Christians was eventually dropped from the Mass because it so often degenerated into an orgy or near-orgy. This seems to me to be where our parishes in the USA are tending and it needs to be stopped. I said in my response to the questionnaire that I hate it so much I won’t attend Mass where it is done. If you think my position is extreme, you wouldn’t believe what I’ve been through with this. Let’s discontinue the practise again, as the Church in Her wisdom once did.

  96. Sissy says:

    I think the examples noted above just illustrate the problem with the NO in general: give them an inch, and they’ll take a mile. There is just too much leeway, and it’s human nature to push the limits. The next thing you know, the priest is running up and down the center aisle high-fiving people (I’ve actually seen this).

  97. lucy says:

    I voted that I tolerate it. We usually attend the EF of Mass, but for daily Mass we have to attend NO. I’ve taught my children to be polite without overdoing it. Those in front and behind and nothing more. Often, by the time we’ve greeted each other, it’s almost over. I also think the germ issue plays a role here. There are so many among us who have cancer. There’s also the issue of so many above me here – you open the church doors, you greet whomever you see on the way in, you touch the pew, you touch the book. Frankly, that’s too much. And then all those same people receive Holy Communion on their hands! Mercy! I’m thankful that we have the EF for Sunday.

    As for the Our Father hand holding nonsense….when I was working as a nurse, I’d often have no choice but to attend the 8pm Mass at the Newman Center. Those folks went across the aisles to hold hands. I often found it fun to sit on the aisle and ignore these attempts. I was also one of the only people to kneel (there were no kneelers) during the consecration. Thank goodness those days are over.

  98. Springkeeper says:

    As far as annoying things during Mass go, the hand holding or outstretched arm position during the Our Father is way up there. I really don’t like the sign of peace most especially because of it’s timing; every single time I have to try and get my focus back afterwards. I would tolerate it better at another point during the Mass.

  99. Michelle F says:

    My real feelings are best expressed by “I hate it so much I won’t go to Mass where it is done,” but I don’t know of any Novus Ordo Mass in which this is not done, so I had to select “I dread it as it approaches and think of ways to avoid it,” which is 100% true.

    It is inappropriate because it draws the congregation’s attention away from God, who has just made Himself present on the altar, and it is detrimental because it difficult if not impossible to maintain a prayerful and recollected state for receiving Holy Communion no matter how “sober” the handshake. It is one of several innovations which prevent the Novus Ordo Mass from being a vertical form of worship because the action is designed to focus the layman’s attention on his neighbor, not his God. It has no place in Catholic worship (aside from the traditional exchange of peace among the priest and other men serving at the altar).

  100. AnAmericanMother says:

    A local priest, who is otherwise a pretty heterodox fellow and to all outward appearances really an Episcopalian, had a good idea.
    The priest announces ‘the Peace’ and the congregation responds, but there’s no “offer each other the sign of peace” and he continues right on without pausing for same. After Mass is over, he asks everyone to ‘greet your neighbor’. Of course, that interferes to some degree with those who want to pray after Mass (although not really – most who want to ‘chat’ move out to the narthex or at least to the rear of the church), but it’s better than the distraction and change of focus in the middle of Mass.

  101. pinoytraddie says:

    I Tolerate It,but would Rather want it Limited to Appropriate Liturgical Seasons like Christmas,Lent/Easter Triduum and It’s Octave and Season.

  102. JacobWall says:

    I said I like it, but I wish the poll had the option to qualify that like; I like it provided that it is done reverently, which it often isn’t. Where live, people generally say “Peace be with you” or simply “peace” and offer a handshake. Something I hate is that many people do the “hippy” two-finger peace sign; I think this is completely inappropriate – the peace we’re offering each other has nothing to do with the “peace and love” movement of the 60’s (everything to do with peace and love, but of a very different kind.)

    I’m also bothered by the fact that people ignore the bishop’s instructions. I was away from Canada last fall/winter, but I happened to be back home just on the Sunday the new translation was implemented. Upon the implementation of the new translation, the bishop took advantage of the change already taking place and passed some instructions on to priests to “clean up” some other items; one of these items was that the sign of peace was to be given with more reverence and in COMPLETE SILENCE – the priest specifically mentioned a handshake or a simple nod. For the two Sundays I was in town, the parishioners followed these instructions. Personally, I liked them because they do imply an atmosphere of more reverence. However, after leaving Canada again and coming back in the spring, I noticed quickly that the sign of peace had gone back to the “happy hippy” thing. Disappointing. I still follow the bishop’s instructions, and I wish the others would. As Father Z mentioned, it’s a well-attested to and meaningful ancient tradition, but it needs to be understood better.

  103. poohbear says:

    Some of you mention hugging and cheek kissing. There is no way I would ever participate in that. If families want to hug and kiss go for it (which so many do anyway, its a smooch fest sometimes).

    This would make me stop attending Mass.

  104. wmeyer says:

    AAM said: A local priest, who is otherwise a pretty heterodox fellow and to all outward appearances really an Episcopalian, had a good idea.

    Good idea though it seems, I had to check my Missal. The instruction there says “…then, if appropriate…” with respect to the priest’s words about the SoP. There is also an instruction there that “local customs” are to be followed, which would now, I suppose, mean the 40 years of Spirit of Vatican II nonsense. I have not yet looked in the current G.I.R.M.

  105. acardnal says:

    There are times when the priest gets carried away with the SofP, too, leaving the sanctuary – and our Lord on the altar – and going out into the congregation to shake hands. (Remember, he is the center of attention not HE who is present on the altar of sacrifice. Wrong.) This is not allowed by the GIRM, #154 except for exceptional occasions such as weddings, funerals and the presence of civic leaders.

  106. wmeyer says:

    RToo many times, acradnal, too many!

  107. wmeyer says:

    OK, my bad. Too, not RToo. ;)

    Posting too quickly….

  108. lelnet says:

    There have been times when the Sign of Peace at Mass on Sunday was my only direct interaction with another human being all week. The Mass that saved my soul (and also incidentally my life) was one of them. The first, in fact (because it was the first Mass I’d been to since early childhood), but not by any means the last.

    By all means, let’s stop the abuses of liturgical norms. But do we as a society, and especially as a Church, really need _another_ opportunity to pretend there are no other real people except ourselves and our families and close friends?

  109. suedusek says:

    The sign of peace is a SIGN of our positive regard, respect, and extension of good will toward one another in promoting peace in an otherwise chaotic and, sometimes, violent world. It is also a reminder of our recognition of Christ in the person standing next to us.

    We as Catholics experience the person of Christ in the priest at the altar, the Word spoken, the Holy Eucharist, and in the very lives of the people with whom we rub elbows each Sunday. If we do not experience Christ this fully, there is a disconnect. That said, I would never abstain from attending Mass and receiving Christ in the Eucharist merely to avoid touching another human being.

    In our fast-paced, germophobic, and technology-saturated society, where people are beginning to prefer electronic modes of communication over face-to-face exchanges, we are becoming increasingly more cold and distant. We need to remember that we are physical, as well as spiritual, beings. We must celebrate every facet of who we are and be willing to extend the human touch to one another. Christ TOUCHED the blind and lame, LEPERS (ritually unclean), the poor, the sick, the tax collectors and prostitutes, etc. If we are to be Christ to one another, how can we do otherwise?

    As a social worker, I understand the significance of human relationships and the reciprocity that flows from our daily interchanges. A physical disconnect (not exchanging a sign of peace) creates a negative trickle-down effect on all other components of our being–mentally, emotionally, spiritually, socially, intellectually, sexually, etc. This serves to further fragment and separate us from our common calling as Baptized and Confirmed Catholics.

    As part and parcel of the Body of Christ we are called to wholeness within community life. This wholeness is made possible through full participation in the Liturgy. In regard to the sign of peace as part of the Mass, I understand the need to express oneself in keeping with one’s comfort level while being respectful of others’ comfort levels. A kiss of peace between a husband and wife or one’s children is acceptable, I think. Otherwise, a handshake is plausible. It is the minimum courtesy we extend to one another when meeting in society or closing a deal. It is appropriate in church and should not seriously challenge anyone’s sensibilities beyond endurance.

    Of course, there are always those who suffer serious anxiety in regard to social touching. Due to the extreme burden it would cause for such people to engage in a physical sign of peace, we must be sensitive and respectful of their need for personal boundaries. But their needs should be the exception, NOT THE NORM.

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