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Fr. Blake on The Sign of Peace

Fr. Ray Blake from Saint Mary Magdalen has some concerns over moving the Sign of Peace:

The American bishops have informed the CDW that they would like the Sign of Peace placed at the Offertory of the Mass, presumably so it is in line with the verse "When you bring you gift to the altar ... go and be reconciled... then bring your gift". Personally I have always understood the bringing of the gift really applied to mutual exchange of gifts at Holy Communion: we give ourselves to Christ, he gives himself us.

Personally I hate tinkering with the liturgy but if changes are to be made they should be done with understanding.
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5 comments:

meg said...

I attend a traditional Mass now, but before now I never liked the placement of the sign of peace - it seemed to me it derailed the sense of expectancy and prayerful concentration that I desired before receiving communion. I understand there are problems with moving it because it has always traditionally been where it is now, but then way back when it wasn't the "how-do-ya-do" that it's become.

David L Alexander said...

In the early church, the "holy kiss" was exchanged after what we now call the "prayer of the faithful." It retains a similar place in the Eastern rites. In the West, it was moved to shortly before communion by Pope Innocent, as a sign of acquiescence to what had taken place in the Holy Mysteries. Despite the idea having been mused over by Pope Benedict himself, the move would be an inorganic break with the early form of the Roman Rite.

Most complaints have less to do with its location, than with its appearance. Don't believe me, read what people actually say. Do they muse over the theology of placement? No, they gripe about the handshaking and backslapping that goes on. Moving it to a place where it is less intrusive will not deter such an arbitrary use.

The closest thing we have in secular society, is what in South America or the Mediterranian region would be called a "Latin kiss," a light embrace off to one side, with a suggestion of a kiss on the cheek. In the traditional Solemn High Mass, it is a light embrace among clerics.

The problem is not where it is, but HOW it is. Solving that will go a lot farther, but it is astonishing that a move with so little catechetical value is being encouraged to this extent. People who say "just get rid of it" do not address the fact that it is part of the tradition of the Roman Rite; they just want the glad-handing to go away. While their sentiment is understandable, they're hardly the ones who should be taking the lead in this conversation.

meg said...

I think it will be really hard, in this age of informality, to get people to exchange the sign of peace in a truly pious way, but it is certainly worth trying. It doesn't affect me one way or the other because we don't do it in the Latin Mass (to my great relief - that's how much the way it was done disturbed me).

Then again - isn't it actually optional? And if something optional isn't done properly, isn't it better to opt out?

David L Alexander said...

"And if something optional isn't done properly, isn't it better to opt out?"

Perhaps. How's that working out so far?

If it's in, someone is going to use it. If someone is going to use it, at least it should be known that there is a right way and a wrong way to conduct it. That is a tall order in the short run, but more faithful to tradition in the long run.

That the sign of peace is part of the Roman Rite is a fact, not a matter of conjecture. You can limit its use to the clerics, as is done in the Traditional Mass, but moving it is part of the very problem that has led to liturgical disarray to begin with.

meg said...

Dig or not? Hmmm...If you mean the TLM, it's going fine, still in the learning stages, but happy to be there. Didn't get much of a Catholic education as a kid, like many other 40-somethings I know. My kids love it.

Yes, it is disturbing that they are so casual about moving it. People can and should be educated (re-Catechized?) to know that it's not a "greet your neighbor" type of exchange. Liturgical disarray is what drove me away.


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