From a reader:

I went to Mass yesterday at the hospital chapel for the Assumption. I was announced that the celebrating priest would be late as he had morning mass in a town about 20 miles to the south. “No biggie” I thought.” The Hospital chapel is always quiet with hardly any chit chat before Mass. I appreciated the extra minutes of sacred silence to pray or silently sign a hymn.

Father arrived an apologized. Knowing people had only half an hour lunch and that the chapel was full for the Holy Day, he said quick Homily (less than two minutes) on The Blessed Virgin. Then during the Communion Rite, he wished us Peace and went right to the Agnus Dei. To save time he skipped the sign of peace!

Here is what struck me: I immediately noticed how seamless the Communion Rite felt without the interruption of glad-handing among the congregation. The noise and movement didn’t break up the Mass like a rain delay at a ball game.

The sign of peace is one of the things about the Novus Ordo that annoys me the most.

Do you remember that poll I posted some time ago?  I’ll re-post it: new poll, but with same questions.

2nd ROUND: The "sign of peace" during Mass in the Ordinary Form...

View Results

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. johnmann says:

    Assuming we keep the ordinary form largely as is, the three biggest changes I’d like to see are:
    1. Communion at the rail.
    2. A prayer of thanksgiving after Communion said by all.
    3. The Sign of Peace moved to before the Eucharistic Prayer.

  2. tjtenor2 says:

    I am blessed to live in an area where the “good” churches (which constitute a large percentage of the overall number of churches) omit the Sign of Peace for daily Mass. Some are even starting to discontinue its use on Sundays.

  3. VexillaRegis says:

    I voted that I’m indifferent. People here (Scandinavia) tend to follow the instructions from the Church, ie no walking around, no loud talking and the Agnus Dei-singing usually starts quickly. Of course there isn’t any handholding during the Our Father either! (Just to make you envious ;-))

  4. Darren says:

    Three things I hate:

    1. Sign of peace
    2. Communion standing (at least it is easy to stick out one’s tongue while standing) *
    3. The words, “For thine is the kingdom… ” etc (a protestant addition… never bothered me until a Presbyterian friend who came to mass once thought we had cut off part of the Lord’s Prayer, but then added that we just add something in between. Ignorant I was as I did not realize at the time that protestants consider that line a part of the prayer as it is one of the additions to their bible translation).

    * yes, I CAN kneel, but that’s not the point ;)

  5. mamajen says:

    I chose option 2. As an introvert, I have always loathed the sign of peace. Even worse are the places where people try to hold your hand for the Our Father, but I digress. When I was little our church had the sign of peace, but it was strictly verbal–no hand shaking. That was alright, but where I am now we don’t do it at all, and I don’t miss it one bit!

  6. cblanch says:

    I like the sign of peace, but there HAS to be a better place to do it in the Mass. Maybe just after the general intercessions? I think as we are increasingly plugged into our technology, it’s good to actually shake the hand of a real person! For some, like the elderly or lonely, it might be the only physical contact they have each week.

  7. Legisperitus says:

    I knew a chaplain at a Catholic nursing home (now deceased, but a no-nonsense fellow) who routinely omitted everything from the “Libera nos, Domine” through the sign of peace, so he went straight from “deliver us from evil” to “Lamb of God.”

    Don’t know if that was a legitimate “option” in the GIRM, but it was certainly appreciated.

  8. sejoga says:

    I can’t stand the sign of peace, but I always go through with it smilingly and without a chip on my shoulder, because I think it’s only fair to be pleasant to the people around me as it’s not their fault that it’s there. I find it annoying when you can tell someone is trying to avoid the sign of peace or they act like it’s a huge inconvenience. I think liturgically it’s a nightmare, but on a personal level there’s no reason to make it unpleasant. Most people I’ve known who complain about it don’t mention the fact that it disrupts the liturgy, but they complain like Grumpy Guses about having to, *gasp*, be nice to the strangers around them! I don’t like that attitude.

    Of course, I usually attend mass at an Anglican Use church where there is no sign of peace.

    Also, before that, my hometown parish pastor just randomly stopped doing the sign of peace one Sunday and only includes it on major feast days, like Easter and Christmas and a few others. He never took everyone aside and said, “Okay, now, flock, we’re going to stop shaking hands and gabbing in the middle of mass, okay boys and girls?” He just stopped doing it and I think everyone was grateful for it. I wish more priests would just skip right over that part.

  9. Ben Trovato says:

    A reverent, ritualistic sign of peace (as done by monks in choir for example) seems OK to me. But shaking hands with all and sundry between the consecration and communion does not, and I won’t do it.

    However, I appreciate the point about it possibly being the only human contact for some elderly or lonely people, so here’s an idea: why not shake their hand, have a chat, listen to them and smile a bit… after Mass! Outside the Church (in the porch if wet).

    (I know, I know, it takes a rare genius to have such great ideas!)

  10. I would assume the reader means only that after the required “The peace of the Lord be with you always. And with your spirit.” the priest merely (and mercifully) skipped the entirely optional invitation for the folks in the pews to grip ‘n grin for awhile. As it is skipped in the EWTN Masses, for instance (and sometimes in local OF Masses that many attend).

  11. sejoga says:

    To continue my thoughts, however, on a related subject… I *am* a Grumpy Gus about holding hands at the Lord’s Prayer and I absolutely refuse to do it. Once I had someone pry my hands apart and force me to hold his hand, which was incredibly annoying. And once I went to mass at a church where the congregation not only held hands with their immediate neighbors, but they actually spread out into the aisles and shifted around so that *everyone* was holding hands all the way across the width of the church… and I just stood feet planted in my place staring straight ahead with my hands folded like a stick in the mud.

    Again, in my hometown parish, the former pastor (not the one who ended the sign of peace) told everyone they had to stop holding hands at the Our Father. And almost everyone dutifully obliged. You still see the occasional family or married couple who with hold hands with each other, but, as with the sign of peace, most in the parish were grateful to see the hand-holding go.

    I miss my home parish. I firmly believe that if the pastor walked in one day and did the TLM unannounced everyone would just go with it and secretly breathe a sigh of relief that the whole mess of the past 40 years was over.

  12. sejoga says:

    Third comment (then I’ll stop hijacking the thread):

    Yes, Henry Edwards, the priest just never says “Let us give one another the sign of peace”. That’s all he leaves out, and everyone goes straight to the Agnus Dei.

  13. ClavesCoelorum says:

    I voted “I tolerate it”. While I do think it’s a nice thing to have — if practiced properly, without everybody running through the aisle to hug and throw themselves at everyone — I wouldn’t object to it being removed entirely in order to not break attention and sacred silence.

  14. majuscule says:

    All that shaking hands business was one of the roadblocks to my returning to Mass for many years. I hate to admit that. (Then again, people who stop going to church need to find some sort of justification…) I voted that I tolerate it. I try to be obedient. Sigh.

    I really dislike holding hands during the Our Father and have stopped doing it. I used to if my neighbor grabbed my hand but never wanted to do it.

    Except for the readings and homily, when we are sitting, I spend Mass time with my hands in praying position.

  15. sw85 says:

    I like sejoga’s point that our personal disapproval of the sign of peace in abstract shouldn’t make us jerks about it. The people around us are real people, not just empty vessels into which we can project our contempt for liturgical innovations.

    That said, I voted “I dread it.” Not in principle, mind you. I think the sign of peace could conceivably be well done (probably in a much different part of the liturgy). I dread it just because of the way it’s handled almost always and almost everywhere. What amazes me about it is that people seem to think they have to go out of their way to shake hands and smile with as many people as possible. It’s like people are diving across pews, walking through glass, or running across a freeway to give me the sign of peace. One guy actually shook my head AFTER squirting a giant glob of sanitizer into it, without even bothering to rub them together or smear them against his jeans first!

  16. majuscule says:

    Oh, let me add–we had a parochial vicar who looked up and told us just before the Our Father–“Come on, you can hold hands with your neighbor”.

    Fortunately I’m at a mission church where he rarely celebrated Mass.

    He’s gone now. But many people from the main parish church miss him.

  17. Lepidus says:

    I voted “I tolerate it”, since it is a legitimate option. I don’t go out of my way to do it though and am just as happy if the people in front don’t turn around or simply nod instead of shaking hands. One older gentleman let somebody have it when they were coughing during Mass and then tried to shake his hand. Instead of “Peace”, said something along the lines of “Good job passing all your germs around”. I am especially not a fan of the priest leaving the sanctuary during the daily Mass. (Didn’t he just offer everybody the sign of peace anyway?). Additionally, I know of some widow ladies who feel bad when they see the older married people kissing at this time. (Get a room! It “ain’t” the kiss of peace if you aren’t doing to everybody else).

    Mamajen – absolutely right about the Our Father. That one I will pointedly refuse to do even when they are sticking their hands in my face. That, and clapping at any point during the Mass for any reason whatsoever. (I haven’t been to an priestly ordination, which would be the one exception). Maybe another poll on those two, Father?

  18. Jack says:

    I think the “Sign of Peace” would be a great idea if moved to another part of the Mass (?Beginning) and conducted with dignity and reverence AS WAS ORIGINALLY INTENDED. What we have had, for the past 40 years, is the “Seventh Inning Stretch” at what should be the most reverent part of the Mass.

  19. Jim Dorchak says:

    Here in South America they love their sign of peace (even though it interrupts holding their hands in the “Orens” position) . With ladies flitting about the church from pew to pew kissing each others in the typical style (that i actually find endearing), but it always strikes me that the Mass attendees are more excited or happy to shake a hand then they are to observe our Lord on the altar, born out in his love and mercy for our sins! It is kind of like going to a funeral and seeing some one who is just too happy the person is dead. You get the idea that they have not really thought to hard about what is happening right before them. It is some how very fake…… Here i am with my family hoping to get down on our knees and “domine non sum dignus”, and thank and begg Jesus for his gift of forgivness and his life, and everyone else is at a meet and greet session of the local garden club.
    Also it strikes me as even more fake when after Mass (after we have made our prayer of thanks giving) these same people (in the USA too) do not want to say hello to us as we work our way to the parking lot. I make a concious effort to always smile and return the sign of peace in and out of church.

  20. HeatherPA says:

    At our parish, our priest moved it to right before the Mass began, before the procession to the altar. It was awesome. We all greets each other and then the Mass began.
    Then a parishioner whined and cried in a letter to the Bishop. He ordered our priest to return to the old way, even though it is optional and up to the priest.
    It now is the former crappy, everyone running around, goofing and spoofing right before the Agnes Dei. It really grates.

  21. Bosco says:

    We have not ‘exchanged’ the Sign of Peace here in Bantry Ireland for well over a year, if not longer. It quietly went away without a whimper.

  22. Lepidus says:

    Jack – I don’t know how it is at your parish, but for all intents and purposes my parish already has that (and then a repeat later). The priest comes out before Mass starts, reads any announcements and then says “rise and greet each other”. So basically we are all saying good morning and shaking hands while he walks from the front to the back of church.

  23. SteelBiretta says:

    I’ve always thought the Sign of Peace, if it must be done, would be better suited near the Confiteor. I think there are at least a parallel between confessing your faults and offering peace to your neighbor.

  24. SanAntonioQueen says:

    I answered “tolerate” as well. I intensely dislike the Kiss of Peace as done in most parishes. I occasionally attend Mass in one of the Eastern rite churches in San Antonio or when I am traveling. The manner in which the peace is given (and most do not call it the Kiss of Peace but rather giving the peace) is done reverently and in a way that actually conveys the real meaning behind the action. Usually the priest gives the peace to the deacon who in turn gives the peace to the altar servers who in turn proceed down the aisle and give the peace to the person at the end of the pew. Nothing is said vebally but the person giving the peace clasps the folded hands of the person who is receiving the peace. Then the person turns to the person next to him or her, and does the same. To give an example of the Rite of Peace from the Divine Liturgy of the Chaldean Rite, the deacon says: ” Since we have now been called to participate in the Offering, let us give peace to one another, in accord with the command of Christ: peace that is pure and without deceit, the peace that our Savior gave to the blessed group of disciples. The priest says: That we may perform the service of your Gift to us in perfect love and true faith. The deacon answers: Amen, Bless us, sir. Then the priest blesses the people saying: Peace be with you. The people respond: With you and your spirit. Then the deacon goes to the priest who places his right hand on the Mysteries. The priest and the deacon then share in the peace of the Lord while embracing hands and each man kisses the tops of his thumbs. Then the deacon says to the people: Brethren , give peace to each other in the love of Christ.” (from the Rite of the Divine Mysteries, According to the Practice of the Church of the East of the Chaldeans and Assyrians). I find this manner of giving the peace to be very meaningful.

  25. Cathy says:

    I voted “tolerate it”. What is amazing to me, is the thinking that the NO Mass was about striking repetitive elements from the Mass. To be honest, I think the sign of peace should be limited, right and left, as opposed to every one within, and many times everybody beyond reaching distance. Honestly, I would not be bothered if this part of the Mass, as well as the greet your neighbor before Mass were eliminated. There are parishes where the sign of peace has become an occasion of musical chairs, and the “sign” is not so much peaceful as it is chaotic.

  26. mamajen says:

    Some commenters have mentioned the elderly as a reason to do it. Interestingly, in the places I’ve seen the sign of peace either “toned down” (no hand shaking) or eliminated, the elderly were cited as the reason 1) due to concerns about the spread of germs during cold and flu season and 2) for people with arthritis it can be very painful to have your hand clenched by an over-zealous hand shaker. And for people with social anxiety (not limited to the elderly, of course), it can be very painful in a different way.

    I participate if it’s done where I happen to be attending mass, but I much prefer mass without it.

  27. capchoirgirl says:

    I tolerate it. I wouldn’t mind if it was gone completely, though, especially during cold and flu season! I agree that it makes the Mass “flow” much better without it.

  28. majuscule says:

    Oh yes, the two greetings per Mass. I’m not sure if my parish church still does it (I’m at a mission) but they would have the announcements, the “turn and greet your neighbor” and “cell phones off please” before Mass and the Sign of Peace at its regular place.

    At our church, Deacon would read the same parish provided “announcements” word for word at the end of Mass. Now Father reads the announcements, omitting the “greet” and “cell phone” references.

  29. Priam1184 says:

    It would be nice if the sign of peace would disappear, but I will not hold my breath on that. It would also be nice if the parish announcements at the end of Mass would disappear, or at least be moved until after the priest closes Mass and says the dismissal. When the priest says the Prayer after Communion, then starts randomly talking about the parish bake sale, and then offers thanks to God and dismisses those (who are still there) attending the Mass it ruins the flow and makes the end of the Mass seem almost trivial, which it most definitely is not. And it contributes mightily to the problem of people who like to bolt after receiving Holy Communion.

  30. capchoirgirl says:

    Oh the two greeting thing! I hate that!
    A church near me has–or used to have–“fellowship Sunday”, which included this ridiculous “Greet your neighbor” before Mass began. I hate that even more than the sign of peace within the Mass. Before Mass, one should be recollecting and praying about what we about to do, not chitterchatting.

  31. Angie Mcs says:

    I am grateful that I attend a church where the sign of peace is not part of any of the masses, nor does anyone reach out to hold hands for the Our Father. When we rarely attend mass at other parishes, my husband and I do not hold hands with each other or anyone else. I can’t understand why someone would forcefully grab their neighbors hands, as some have mentioned here. How disrespectful. At the sign of peace, I will smile at my neighbors but don’t reach out or touch anyone, although we certainly wish everyone well. I would avoid, if at all possible, attending any church where some of this overdone “Peace Production” takes place. How ironic it is to me when we drive out of the parking lot and people cut each other off, after all this coziness in church. The challenge ( certainly for me) comes in how we behave after we leave, when there’s no one to direct us -except the words of Our Lord.

  32. Bea says:

    I voted “I tolerate it”
    If my husband could also have voted he would have voted “I dread it”
    For this reason, he likes to sit as far away from other people as possible.

    I try to make a point of saying; “May the peace of Our Lord be with you” as wishing God’s peace on them.
    Most (almost all) people say “peace be with you”
    They (we) have no power to give peace to others. We may wish them peace but the peace that comes to us from Our Lord, comes from the power of the priesthood, through the priesthood when the priest calls down God’s Blessing and Peace to us during the Mass.

    This is another instance of misleading the laity into the fallacy of believing we are the same as the priesthood and the downplaying of the priestly function.


  33. Jeannie_C says:

    I HATE the sign of peace. It is disruptive to my concentration, and a needless interruption of Mass. During the H1N1 pandemic it was halted, but only temporarily, sadly. There are those who sit in church picking their ears, rubbing their faces, biting nails, sneezing into hands, and then turn around to offer their hand. Some people pull out hand sanitizer immediately after the sign others (myself included) attempt to rub off germs onto clothes. Another thing – there are a few bone crunchers who can’t shake hands without causing pain, and I’ve actually come home with bruises due to their vice grip, so we try to position ourselves away from them if they’ve arrived first but they seem to be amongst the most enthusiastic hand shakers, reaching, leaving their pews. When people begin arriving for Mass, taking their places in the pew in front/next to me I always say hello, at the conclusion of Mass wish them a good week – that should be good enough. Mass shouldn’t have to be a contact sport.

  34. Evelyn Stell says:

    I’m an organist and have to be on the watch for the Agnus Dei. Peace-wise, I’ve managed to satisfy my choir with a single friendly wave encompassing them all, and they have learned not to try to remove my hand from the organ manuals in order to shake it.

  35. Random Friar says:

    I’ve noticed that when I have omitted the Sign of Peace, people often went ahead and exchanged it during the Agnus Dei, anyway. To be fair, I don’t normally do so, so perhaps people assume I “forgot” and go ahead with it.

    Even when announced beforehand that we would be omitting it due to health reasons (Swine Flu scare, etc), a fair number went ahead and did it. Some people do love their Sign of Peace.

  36. Bea says:

    as to your 1-2-3 changes
    1 Wholeheartedly approve
    2 This I would not like. I believe this is my personal time with Our Lord to speak to Him one-on-one. Communal thanksgiving is too distracting.
    3 If we must have the handshake, I concur, a handshake to the time before the gift offering would be appropriate. I believe Cardinal O’Connor of NY (RIP) had suggested (to no avail) that it be moved to that time slot recalling the Words “Before you bring your gifts to the altar make peace with your neighbor” (or words to that effect). Of course, this has nothing to do with The Peace that God brings, only the peace among men, themselves.

    Anyway, that’s my take on it.

  37. jhayes says:

    I was in Italy for most of the month of May. One Sunday in Florence, at the Sign of Peace, the priest stood in the opening of the altar rail and all of the congregation (all 20 of us) came forward as if going to Communion and shook his hand before returning to our seats and greeting each other.

    At Communion time, we came forward, walked through the opening and up to the altar. He dipped a host in the Chalice and reached across the altar to place it on your tongue (intincted hosts can only be placed on the tongue, so there was no question of Communion in the hand).

    I had never seen either of either of these before.

  38. Kensington says:

    I was going to vote “I tolerate it,” but I realized the truth is that I dread it and, as it approaches, do find myself thinking of ways to minimize it, if not avoid it all together. I’m not proud of that, but it’s true.

    I just hate the circus quality it so often brings to what should be a more somber event.

    At my father’s church, a parish heavy with chronic liturgical abuses (ranging from priests more interested in doing standup on the altar than saying the Mass to priests wearing Halloween masks at the altar during the last weekend of October), there are people who routinely continue the sign of peace all the way through the Agnus Dei.

    There are a few people in particular who see the sign of peace as their opportunity to minister to the elderly. That’s lovely, but they criss-cross up and down the rows shaking hands with everyone in the handicapped section until they hit everyone, and that routinely requires them to continue through the entire Agnus Dei!

    It’s lovely, but it’s not Mass at that point. It’s something else.

  39. VexillaRegis says:

    Evelyn Stell: You have my sympathies. The same thing has happened to me – a parishoner started to grab my right upper arm and shout “Peace of Christ!” while I was playing the Agnus Dei. After the fifth Mass, when I politely begged him not to do that again because I couldn’t move my hand and play the correct tune, he was offended!

  40. carolg says:

    I will not tolerate it. I cannot go to Mass and then immediately need Confession. So sadly that’s my answer.
    My convert spouse dos not mind all the social stuff. We are still a ‘mixed’ marriage.

  41. rbbadger says:

    I tolerate it, as long as it is just a handshake. Where I live (South Korea), I don’t even have to shake hands in order to give the sign of peace. We just bow to each other. When I attend Mass in the forma extraordinaria, I don’t miss the sign of peace at all.

    Actually, the sign of peace does not bother me nearly as much as an illicit practice particularly widespread in some places. I absolutely loathe the hand holding at the Our Father. I will purposely sit in places in the church where I can avoid it. I don’t want to offend or hurt other people’s feelings. But I see no reason why I ought to be forced to do something which I don’t like and which, moreover, the CDWDS has stated “is not in the rubrics”.

  42. Moro says:

    I’m not a big fan of the sign of peace at all, but if the church has it in her liturgy, it should be before the offertory like they do in the East (although that may just be for clergy – I’ve seen clergy and non-clergy do but the latter may be a latinization). Having it right before communion is a huge distraction as I prepare for communion

  43. Michael_Thoma says:

    “I like it”.. with a caveat, not as done in the Novus Ordo Latin Rite. Here’s how we do it in the Syriac Tradition:

  44. Fr. Z, the reported data for this poll are out of whack. The length of the bar for the 2nd option and its reported number of votes are inconsistent, and the numbers of votes recorded for the 5 options do not come close to adding up to the listed total number of votes.

  45. Pumpkin Eater says:

    Tolerate. Please permit me take this a little further to the raising of hands starting toward the end of the Our Father. I don’t ever initiate hand holding during the Our Father, but can easily tolerate it. Many people seem to like it and it may be a good thing to overcome our hesitancy to physically touch others. What I really dread is when we go from simple hand holding into flight mode. That’s when it becomes uncomfortable and, frankly, quite a sacrifice to tolerate. At daily Mass, folks don’t usually hold hands during the Our Father, but many still raise their hands at the end. Where did this practice come from?

  46. St. Epaphras says:

    It’s optional, so I opt to not do it.
    Deacon or priest: “Let us now offer one another that same sign of peace!”
    Me (thoughts only): “LET’S NOT!!!” Greatly fear that some day I may mutter it aloud.

  47. ncstevem says:

    For all of you looking for a way out of doing the hand shaky thing, here’s what I do on the rare occasions I assist at the NO.

    I kneel at the Our Father and remain kneeling through to the Angus Dei. As the priest gets ready for the big hand shake intro I bow my head and close my eyes. Even with that some of the busy-bodies still don’t get the hint and still try to shake my hand or grab my shoulder and give their ‘greetings’. In each case I ignore them.

  48. Palladio says:

    Habitually, my wife and I sit far enough apart from others not to have to grab hands. We smile and say “peace” in a little orbit around us. Sometimes, I stay kneeling until Holy Eucharist. My wife never does that, but says I get looks from parishioners. I find it distracting in the extreme, especially on top of bad music, sloppy dress, and casual attitudes.

  49. tioedong says:

    When I was single, the sign of peace was agony…I am shy, but have to face the public in my job. But before I married, I’d be alone in church, and I would have to turn and play sweety nicey and shake hands (and sometimes be forced to hug) the person next to me, a person who didn’t know or care about me outside of church (and yes, we had coffee after church, but after a few times standing alone I skipped that part too).
    When Catholic churches start being fellowships of believers who care about each other, maybe I’d feel different…
    and yes, the timing is terrible: Just as one is deep into prayer before communion, one is interrupted.

    Luckily, here in the Philippines, it’s no big deal: Five seconds shaking hands and then back to the mass. And now, of course, I have family members to attend church with.

  50. Ben Kenobi says:

    Couple things here.

    1. I’m an introvert.
    2. The last time I had someone go to mass with me in 4 years is my aunt. It was nice to have someone who I care for in my family care enough for me to go with me.
    3. Listening to all this here, “oh no, I have to actually touch someone that I don’t know! Horrors. They might be icky and have germs!” I suspect that most here would be happier having a mass, where they simply walked into their ‘assigned pew’ that had their name on it. Walls around the little pew but they could see father. That way they never even have to look at another person.
    4. “We’ll wait until after mass.” Yeah, right. You’ll get into your car and head out.
    5. Mass isn’t about us. It’s about God. It’s about paying worship to God and sacrificing to him, not to ourselves. If we find human contact ‘icky’, ‘offensive’, ‘burdensome’, what does that say about us?
    6. We are called to carry one another’s burdens. There are a great many lonely and difficult folks in the community. We don’t get the option to shun them and avoid them simply because they are lonely and difficult folks. You might think that you’re being neighbourly and accommodating and how it’s such a sacrifice for you to deign to tolerate their ‘ridiculous demands’ really, it’s just once and it’s once a week.

    Full disclosure. I used to belong to a small Mennonite parish that was full of Russians. Russians that were only too happy to see you, and shake your hand when they saw you and we had a time both during their service and afterwards we had tea. We had a real community of folks that understood this was important. Let’s be honest here, how many of us would stay and hang around on Sunday morning just to spend time with our brothers and sisters? We don’t do it.

  51. Jeannie_C says:

    Ben Kenobi:

    Out of 51 comments, you are the only one who seems to enjoy the handshaking. Good for you. I, and many others, do not view shaking hands with the guy in front of me who has been picking his teeth as a necessary part of Mass. I don’t see how the interruption, nor the vice-grip squeeze serves as worship, or how it fits in with your view of sacrifice? I’m sorry nobody wants to associate with you after Mass. Perhaps your self professed introversion is misinterpreted as disdain? Disinterest? Perhaps you need to do more to try to get to know your fellow parishoners. People who I worship with do remain after Mass, coffee hour, chatting in the foyer and parking lot. Don’t assume that because you aren’t included in conversation at your church that this is the case everywhere.

  52. OrthodoxChick says:

    I was always more of a sporty tomboy than a girlie-girl growing up. But I have learned how to do a very brief pageant wave quite nicely in order to duck ‘n dodge the dreaded sign of peace without seeming wholly uncharitable.

  53. Katylamb says:

    I like it and that’s how I voted. But then I like all parts of the Mass.

  54. johnmann says:

    Bea, the Anglicans have the Sign of Peace there, before the Offertory. They also have a prayer of thanksgiving after Communion. It needn’t be distracting. It would be said where the priest’s prayer after Communion is currently said. Also, I forgot to add the 4th change I’d make to the ordinary form: Kneeling for the Confiteor.

  55. robtbrown says:

    Ben Kenobi,
    Let’s be honest here, how many of us would stay and hang around on Sunday morning just to spend time with our brothers and sisters? We don’t do it.

    Once in a while I go to the FSSP parish, and they all hang around after mass to socialize. Even in the garden variety Novus Ordo parishes there is lots of talk after mass–also after daily mass.

  56. RafkasRoad says:

    Ben Kenobi at #51,

    AMEN BROTHER!!!!!!!!! This is my experience in both Eastern and Roman Rite Catholic Christianity with few exceptions. Like you, I am a former protestant of serious bent 21 years as a Seventh Day Adventist from ages 13-34 and five followed by five and a half years as an Evangelical Anglican prior to becoming Catholic back in 2011.

    Catholic Brethren, you could indeed stand to learn a thing or two about genuine community and fraternal caritas from your Anabaptist fellows, be they Menonite or (and some SDA associate very strongly with this tradition) Adventist. The one thing that was a blessing for the single, lonely, widowed and otherwise marginal in my SDA time was fellowship (yes, various congregations had their problems, but said issues are common to groups of humans whether church congregation or photography club); all this to say, there were those who actually made the effort both re pot luck (after Church) lunches, and the strong tradition of afternoons with parishioners in their homes after Church (very big in SDA circles) where there would be lunch, relaxation and later on, rambling walks and bible study, rather than the cut and run mad dash for the carpark before the final benediction!!

    We are community, not atomised individuals. We need each other. And as others have explained, the Eastern Rites by and large engage in the sign of peace with dignity and decorum without it becoming a ‘back slapping chat-along’. The form of the sign of peace, my receiving the sign from my fellow’s gently enfolding hands, to pass this along to my next fellow enfolding their hands gently and passing seamlessly is less confronting than the crushing handshake.

    Please don’t take this the wrong way, but as Ben Kenobi has suggested, it would seem to be my observation that many here use theology and liturgical orthodoxy to mask or refuse to confront various levels of social phobias, antisocialism, agoraphobia, anxiety, difficulties in processing sensory stimuli etc. Now, if this is the case, this is completely understandable, but please don’t rant at liturgical practices and rhuberics as an alternative for acknowledging, facing, treating and gaining relief for said social phobias and antisocial tendencies.

    Thank you, Ben, and may our Lord and Saviour, along with His Immaculate Mother, Our Lady of the Word Incarnate, guide and bless you on your Catholic Christian path.

    As I move into a part of the state with no Maronite presence where I will be fellowshipping with Roman Rite Catholics (as of Advent, praise God for the purchase of our new home and soon sale of existing property), I carry my Maronite roots of faith with me, along with its sober, mindful, mystical love of our Lord and lady into my new place of sojourning. Please pray for good liturgy and good pastoring from my new priests down there, as I have been spoilt rotten with my Maronite and university roman Rite faith experience, that has been glorious.

    I’ll refrain from ‘our Father handholding’ commentary, as my hands are full with my guide dog’s lead and rosary :-)

    With a Devotion to St. Rafka (Rafqa) and St. Theresa Benedicta (Dr. Edith Stein) can anybody come up with a new sign-off tag for me to more aptly reflect my shifting Catholic experience?

    thank you, Fr. Zuhlzdorf, [Zuhlsdorf] for your amazing blog ministry, and prayers with thanks to Ben Kenobi and others such as Mass Chicken and ‘Supertrad Mum’ plus the Aussie readers/commenters here.

  57. Panterina says:

    If you asked me, oh, 20 years ago, I would have replied “I dread it”. 10 years ago, I would have replied “I tolerate it”. Today? Now I say “I like it and happy to do it”. It’s one thing that pushes us to abandon the love of self, and to think that we worship in a community. At the moment of the sign of peace, right there and now, the answer to the “Who is my neighbor?” couldn’t be any clearer. How do we approach this [liturgical] gesture? Are we like the good Samaritan, or are we like the priest and the Levite?

  58. Priam1184 says:

    @Panterina I will say that most of the comments opposed to the sign of peace use slightly ridiculous arguments that seem to describe problems with the Mass as it was said about 1985 and not 2013, but comparing it to the Good Samaritan is a bit far fetched. Is a half genuine handshake and smile issued at the same moment that everyone else in the building is doing the exact same thing the same as pouring wine on the wounds of an unknown to you victim of robbers on the Jerusalem-Jericho road and then taking him to an inn and putting him up at your own expense for as long as he needs it? Really?

  59. papaefidelis says:

    I dread the whole business! Lately, and much to the dismay of all the hand-shakers around me, I hold my hands behind my back at the Sign of Peace, nod my head, and say “Peace” or “Pax tecum”. It’s the “Sign of Peace”,not the “Extended Smile and Handshake of Peace”, let alone the “Extended Smile, Laugh, Shake Hands, and Turn in a Semi-Circle to Give Everybody the Hippie Peace Sign of Peace, into which it has devolved.

  60. olivia says:

    FR. Z, have you ever had the privilege of attending a Mass in Poland? I think you would really like it.

  61. Panterina says:

    Priam1184. the point I was trying to make was that if we cannot be charitable to each other in the small things, how can we be so in the bigger things? I’ll reach out to you if you are bleeding alongside a street, but I won’t shake your hand in Church? To me, there’s a contradiction.

  62. APX says:

    I hold my hands behind my back at the Sign of Peace, nod my head, and say “Peace” or “Pax tecum”. It’s the “Sign of Peace”,not the “Extended Smile and Handshake of Peace”,

    This just screams arrogance and pride. The rubrics prescribe for the sign of peace to be what is custom in the location. In most parts of NA (save for a few cultural personal parishes which may be different) a handshake is what is customary. Furthermore, the rubrics call for no words to be said, thus if you really want to follow te rubrics, you should say nothing, let alone use Latin in a prideful way.

    Even our priest, who is from the FSSP, stood up from kneeling during the sign of peace smiled and shook the priests’ hands who were around him and went back to kneeling during the Chrism Mass this year. We need not be stuck up about it. Snobbery doesn’t attract people. Warmth and kindness does.

  63. APX says:

    it would seem to be my observation that many here use theology and liturgical orthodoxy to mask or refuse to confront various levels of social phobias, antisocialism, agoraphobia, anxiety, difficulties in processing sensory stimuli etc.

    If we’re going to use psychology terms, we should use them correctly. Anti-socialism does not mean being against socializing with people. The correct terms are anti-social behavior and anti-social personality disorder. The first refers to those who engage in destructive behaviour contrary to the societal norms such as drug use, murder, rape, vandalism, theft, lying, swearing, sexual promiscuity (contrary to what it may seem, it is still considered destructive behaviour), etc.

    Anti-social personality disorder is the personality disorder which can develop from uncontrolled anti-social behaviour that is not controlled during childhood.

    I believe the term you’re looking for asocial which refers to being non-social with people to varying degrees. It’s not entirely considered a negative trait such as with introverts and those living within the cloister, or those with a deep spiritual life. However, it is also found in those who have schizophrenia and Aspergers.

  64. Bea says:

    It seems that the aim in defending the “sign of peace” has turned into a judgement of being anti-social, uncharitable, arrogant, prideful, disdainful, etc.

    Not so. We have lost our aim.

    We must remember “What is the Mass?”
    The Mass is the re-enactment of Our Lord’s Sacrifice on the Cross.
    The Mass is about HIM.
    We come to adore, participate in the Bloodless Sacrifice, and give homage to HIM that saved us from eternal damnation by His Holy Terrible Sacrifice for love of us on the infamous Cross reserved for thieves and evil-doers. He let Himself be immolated in every way possible: physically (death and dying on the cross), spiritually (when he cried “My God, My God, why have You abandoned me?”), socially (when He was derided by all as He hung on the cross “Come down from the cross if You are the King” and the placard reading “King of the Jews”)

    And THIS meditation during the Mass is interrupted by a “friendly handshake”?

    NO !! This “friendly handshake” interrupts the meditation that gives Glory and Honor that belongs to God alone. Satan is so wily. He cannot undo the sacrifice on the Cross, but he will attempt to undo the purpose, honor and glory that should be in our hearts during this Holy Sacrifice.

    There is plenty of time to be social outside the church doors.
    There is plenty of time to shake somebody’s hand outside the church doors.
    There is plenty of time to show charity in our lives outside the church doors.

    This is God’s time, not people-time.
    No uncharity shown here, only lack of charity to God Himself.
    I tolerate but resent this time stolen from me to be with God alone.
    If I see you talking to a king or to the POTUS should I interrupt your conversation and go shake your hand? Quite uncharitable and impolite, but here we have someone greater than a king or POTUS.

  65. APX says:

    The Sign of Peace is Biblical, and while I’m not fond of what it has turned into, it does have its proper place in the Mass right before communion. It’s from the passage, “If you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Mt 5:23-24).

    I think the Church knows better than we do.

  66. Bea says:

    That’s right, APX.
    If we do have to have it (although the rubrics, I believe, says it’s optional) then it should be placed before the offering, before the Canon of the Mass.

  67. Jeannie_C says:

    I agree with Bea that placing the sign of peace before the offering would be a better practice. Where we have it now feels like an intermission and I always have difficulty getting back into the rhythm of the Mass once my concentration is interrupted.

    APX: the sign of peace IS biblical, but let’s face it, shaking hands with those around us in Mass does not fulfill the imperative to reconcile, as in your scriptural reference, unless it is actually those individuals with whom we are in conflict. The Church does know better, and so do we. Outside of Mass I’m a handshaker, hugger, and worked as a nurse. I have no phobia about touching other people, tending their wounds, alleviating discomfort, but I come to Mass to worship not to hold hands, either at the sign of peace or during the singing of the Our Father.

  68. jhayes says:

    Bea wrote: The Mass is the re-enactment of Our Lord’s Sacrifice on the Cross.

    It’s that, but it’s also a banquet. As the Catechism says:

    “1382 The Mass is at the same time, and inseparably, the sacrificial memorial in which the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated and the sacred banquet of communion with the Lord’s body and blood. But the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice is wholly directed toward the intimate union of the faithful with Christ through communion. To receive communion is to receive Christ himself who has offered himself for us.

    1383 The altar, around which the Church is gathered in the celebration of the Eucharist, represents the two aspects of the same mystery: the altar of the sacrifice and the table of the Lord….

  69. robtbrown says:

    To those converts from various Protestant sects critical of the lack of community in Catholic parishes:

    IMHO, dissent in the Church is a principle factor in the destruction of parish life. Unfortunately, at most Novus Ordo Sunday masses in the US there will be people who favor women priests, disagree with Church teaching on sexuality, see nothing wrong with homosexual “marriage”, vote for pro abortion political candidates, and think liturgy should be entertaining.

  70. Bea says:

    A banquet, true, but think about it.
    It is a banquet and what is the “meal” at this banquet?
    It is The Very Body and Blood of Our Lord, The Sacrificial Lamb, A Sacred Banquet.

    The Eucharistic Sacrifice:
    #1382 The celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice which is wholly directed toward the intimate union of the faithful with Christ.

    So this is a banquet but not a banquet as we understand it in modern terms/a social event. It is an Intimate Banquet in which the Faithful are united with Christ, Himself.

    Handshakes and Prayers-out-loud interrupt this Intimate Banquet with Christ.

    I can imagine the Apostles at the Last Supper AKA The First Mass.
    They were not focused on each other, greeting each other, handshaking, etc.
    Their focus was entirely on Our Lord and His Words and Actions at the Table/Altar.

  71. acardnal says:

    This is off topic but to respond to some posts, the Holy Mass is a sacrifice, a banquet, a memorial. But it is fundamentally and primarily a sacrifice. The representation of Calvary, Christ of the cross: No sacrifice, no Mass. No Mass, no Eucharist.

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