New Circular Letter on the Ritual Expression of the Gift of Peace at Mass

Pray Tell recently received a copy of the newly issued (July 12th) Circular Letter on the Ritual Expression of the Gift of Peace at Mass. After the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist in 2005, the question was raised about whether the sign of peace should be maintained “in its present form” and location. Pope Benedict at the time requested that the “pertinent Congregations” study the question. The Congregation for the Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments studied the question and consulted Episcopal Conferences from around the world. According to Antonio Cardinal Cañizares Llovera in his introduction to the Circular Letter, the results of the consultation were as follows:

A great majority of them [Episcopal Conferences] pronounced favorably in maintaining the “rite” and the “sign” of peace in its present form and time, as it is presently found in the Ordinary of the Mass, considering it as a characteristic of the Roman rite and therefore not convenient for the faithful, at this time, to introduce structural changes during the Eucharistic celebration.

After consultations with “both Supreme Pontiffs, Benedict XVI and Francis” a Circular Letter was issued. According to Cardinal Cañizares, it is hoped that this Circular Letter

will become an opportunity for all the Episcopal Conferences to reflect on this question and to present and study the proposed adaptations for the “sign of peace” in respect of the different cultures and sensibilities of the different peoples around the world.

The Circular Letter makes it clear what this means:

It may be advisable that, on the occasion of the publication of the translation of the third typical edition of the Roman Missal in their own country, or when new editions of the same Missal are undertaken in the future, Conferences of Bishops should consider whether it might not be fitting to change the manner of giving peace which had been established earlier. For example, following these years of experience, in those places where familiar and profane gestures of greeting were previously chosen, they could be replaced with other more appropriate gestures.

The following section discusses liturgical abuses to be avoided. The Circular Letter mentions four specifically:

– The introduction of a “song for peace”, which is non-existent in the Roman Rite.

– The movement of the faithful from their places to exchange the sign of peace amongst themselves.

– The departure of the priest form the altar in order to give the sign of peace to some of the faithful.

– That in certain circumstances, such as at the Solemnity of Easter or of Christmas, or during ritual celebrations such as Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation, Matrimony, Sacred Ordinations, Religious Professions, and Funerals, the exchange of peace being the occasion for expressing congratulations, best wishes or condolences among those present.

So it appears that the status quo will be maintain; however, many of us have become accustomed to the “liturgical abuses” outlined in the Circular Letter. I must admit, I find it a bit surprising that Pope Francis would consider some of these “abuses.” He strikes me as the kind of priest and bishop who would depart from the altar to give the sign of peace to some of the faithful. While some of the Circular Letter sounds like Pope Francis, such as section 7 which mentions the social consequences of worship, the remaining document lacks the positivity that has become the hallmark of Pope Francis’ papacy.

The failure of the Circular Letter to mention consultation with liturgists or theologians is also troubling. It appears to be little more than a survey of bishops around the world. However, the fact that bishops were consulted and taken seriously is a good thing. Perhaps we are beginning to see the fruits of Pope Francis’ call for greater collegiality within the Church.

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56 comments

  1. I had no idea that the sign of peace is optional in the Mass. Is this a new clarification or was this always the case?

    It doesn’t surprise me that Pope Francis approved this document and I can’t imagine him leaving the altar for the sign of peace. His usual informal style certainly does not influence how he celebrates Mass.

    1. @Stanislaus Kosala – comment #1:
      Well, the invitation to exchange the sign is optional; the failure to make the invitation doesn’t mean folks in the pews won’t necessarily do it anyway.

  2. I can imagine if Francis were not in situ as this circular is being published that the good cardinal might be telling us that the sign of peace itself was an abuse which he intended to extirpate.

  3. Stanislaus, it was always optional — the text says pro opportunitate: “if it seems appropriate”. The same phrase is used for incensing the altar.

    However: assuming suitable liturgical decorum (no backslapping or wandering around the nave, etc.), under what circumstances would a celebrant reasonably opt to omit the congregational exchange of the peace? I am struggling to think of any, except perhaps to recreate the atmosphere of a “private Mass”, where the presence of the congregation itself is pro opportunitate and its participation entirely incidental to the liturgical action.

    1. @Jonathan Day – comment #4:

      I unfortunately don’t have the text to hand, but I think there is a point in Bugnini’s memoirs where, in dealing with the revision to the Mass, he mentions the idea behind “pro opportunitate” whenever it occurs. If I recall correctly, he contrasted it to the use of “ad libitum” in other parts of the IGMR. Perhaps someone would be kind enough to look it up and post it?

  4. Liturgiam Authenticam: the evil gift that goes on giving.

    I am fairly sure that “profane gestures” was in the Latin something like gestus profani. Most English speakers would interpret “profane” as meaning “obscene” or “outright impious”. What it really means here is “common” or “non-churchy”: pro fanum was “outside the temple”.

    I can’t imagine anyone, even in the rowdiest non-traddie non-RotR congregation, making obscene or, in the modern sense, “profane” gestures at the exchange of the peace.

    But setting the mistranslation aside: what kind of gestures are the bishops looking for? A kiss? A bow of the head?

    1. @Jonathan Day – comment #5:
      In my present parish the folks are going to be very upset to see their custom of waving or throwing kisses to friends on the other side of the aisle in any way denigrated, or even abolished. For them there is nothing profane about their interpretation of the rite.

      One way to restore the importance of the kiss of peace is to have an icon of Christ or the gospel book passed throughout the congregation. The person at the end of each pew touches the icon/boo or kisses it. Then passes it on to the person next to them.

    2. @Jonathan Day – comment #5:
      Jonathan, thanks for making that point about the meaning of “profane” — exactly my point too. When I first read the document, I collapsed laughing at the thought of what “normal” English-speaking Catholics would understand “profane” gestures to be. I must admit, I have never seen anything resembling those at Mass.

  5. Stanislaus Kosala : I had no idea that the sign of peace is optional in the Mass. Is this a new clarification or was this always the case?

    The rubric since 1970 has always allowed the Sign of Peace to be optional among the people.

  6. I’m actually in favor of the priest remaining in the sanctuary. It’s a way of avoiding those situations (in my experience, not uncommon) where everyone has exchanged the sign of peace and we all then stand around waiting while Father goes up and down the aisles shaking hands.

  7. Ok Todd, I get that — don’t shake hands when there is risk of infection. Thanks.

    Now, in addition to supposing liturgical decorum, let’s assume that there is no significant infection risk. What other reason for skipping the sign of peace could there be?

    Fritz, I agree with you: especially in a church with a long nave, the celebrant leaving the sanctuary presents a problem: does he only shake hands with those in the front row? On the aisles? And what of those with whom he doesn’t shake?

    In our largest parish Masses, the EMHCs — when we have them — don’t come forward until after the peace, and the priests almost never leave the sanctuary.

  8. I have to agree with those who wanted to move the sign of peace to the beginning of Mass. How do we spend an hour or so praying in a large group of people who have been instructed to enter quietly, not talk to each other, and then expect us to pray together? While the silence before Mass may have its purposes, it does also encourage individualism rather than community. And community is one of the reasons we gather in a building together to pray.

  9. It is false that the “rite” is optional. The invitation need not be given, but the text of the Exchange of Peace cannot be omitted. I find it curious indeed that one would think that the continuation of an exchange of peace is dependent on a cleric’s instruction. Honestly: we don’t need deacons and priests telling us what to do.

    As for the CDWDS’s four abuses, I think they’re largely living in (fear of) the 60’s and 70’s.

    1. Who has done this in the last 40 years?
    2 & 3: So what? And try and stop us.
    4. Blow it our their ear. Again, who can stop this?

    Let’s look at real liturgical issues with the CDWDS, like the crappy translations they’re trying to foist on the world.

    1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #13:
      I too read the rubric as putting the “pro opportunitate” label on the invitation, not on the sign of peace itself. I wish more priests and deacons would grasp the opportunitas not to say it. After forty-plus years of experience with the sign of peace, the example of the priest extending it to those near him should be enough to get people in the pews going, if indeed the example is needed at all. Our wordy liturgy needs to shed words that don’t pull their weight.
      In 1971 a visiting priest in my parish modified the invitation to “If you do it, go ahead.” I doubt that it would be given today in those words. But if they’re all the invitation amounts to, why give it?

  10. Jonathan Day : What other reason for skipping the sign of peace could there be?

    At the daily mass in my home parish people do not sit close together, and there is no functional purpose to inviting it to be exhanged when one has to walk 20 feet to the next person.

    But that never stops the Priest from inviting the people, and everyone just looks at him.

  11. Todd Flowerday : It is false that the “rite” is optional. The invitation need not be given, but the text of the Exchange of Peace cannot be omitted.

    The rite is not optional with reference to the text. In fact, there is a mandatory exchange of the Peace between the Priest and Deacon when the Deacon participates in Mass.

    The invitation for the people to exchange it is entirely optional, and that’s all the Circular Letter mentions.

    1. @Todd Orbitz – comment #15:
      That’s not a change. The invitation for people to exchange it is indeed optional. But lacking the invitation, many if not most people will do it anyway. And with the invitation, the exchange is always optional for individuals. People do what they want.

      Which leads me to your comment #16. It has nothing to do with ecclesiology. People will continue to hug, kiss, clasp both hands, reach across the aisle, and even wander around. The insight is this: there is nothing anyone can do to stop it. Nothing reasonable, that is.

      The Rite cannot be omitted, and even without the invitation and in spite of the warning about “abuse,” people, including priests, will continue doing as they have done.

      And even the most hidebound clergy I know will still use the exchange of peace to console mourners at a funeral. It’s become a cultural expectation in nearly every American faith community. A priest who declined such opportunities would find himself in more hot water.

      Your snark directed at maturity may be better saved for the CDWDS. With respect to B16, there are far more serious issues in the liturgy to tackle. The time is not right to fiddle with Peace: on that point, I agree with the curia.

  12. Todd Flowerday :3: So what? And try and stop us. 4. Blow it our their ear. Again, who can stop this?

    Thank you for your insight here. I find it entirely refreshing and deeply insightful. It indicates a mature ecclesiology, and one which provides deep spiritual insight.

  13. It is worth remembering that in the context of Matthew 5:23 etc there is a call that there be a ‘gesture of peace and reconciliation/forgiveness’. It does not have to be very ‘demonstrative’ or overly emotive — just an establishment of ‘commonality of place before the Lord and one’s neighbor’ and a single active intention before approaching the Holy Eucharist. It certainly does not have to be lengthy, or chatty, nor as ‘solemn’ as the ‘kiss of peace’ among the ministers at a Solemn High Mass. It is a practical means of ‘reassurance’ that the persons present, each in their own ‘proper order’ are united before sharing the ‘Divine Gifts’.

  14. To Todd Orbitz’s point (number 14) — if I were a priest in your parish, I would be sorely tempted to ask the parishioners at those daily Masses: why do you sit so far apart? Is it contempt for your brothers and sisters in Christ? Fear? Pride? Greet one another as members of the one Body!

    But many people at my parish do the same at daily Mass. When the priest — as he always does — asks us to offer one another the sign of peace, some move a few feet to shake hands. And there is bowing and smiling and nodding that goes on. A very few just sit there, eyes down.

    One reason I keep asking “why omit the sign of peace?” is that some traditionalist/RotR writers claim that was a mistake to have built it into the modern Roman rite. They are crowing over the latest from the CDWDS, saying, in essence, that a priest can freely omit it in order to correct Msgr Bugnini’s supposed mistake. That seems wholly wrong to me; I like to believe that there are other reasons.

    So far we’ve had infection risk and congregational seating at a daily Mass. Hold those assumptions in mind. Now add the supposition that it’s Sunday; the pews are full. The celebrant looks at the Missal, which says “Then, if appropriate…” He skips that section and moves straight to the commingling and the Lamb of God.

    Further assuming that he is celebrating the modern rite willingly and not trying to drive a reform agenda, why does he skip it?

  15. Todd Flowerday : @Todd Orbitz – comment #15: That’s not a change. The invitation for people to exchange it is indeed optional. But lacking the invitation, many if not most people will do it anyway. And with the invitation, the exchange is always optional for individuals. People do what they want. Which leads me to your comment #16. It has nothing to do with ecclesiology. People will continue to hug, kiss, clasp both hands, reach across the aisle, and even wander around. The insight is this: there is nothing anyone can do to stop it. Nothing reasonable, that is. The Rite cannot be omitted, and even without the invitation and in spite of the warning about “abuse,” people, including priests, will continue doing as they have done. And even the most hidebound clergy I know will still use the exchange of peace to console mourners at a funeral. It’s become a cultural expectation in nearly every American faith community. A priest who declined such opportunities would find himself in more hot water. Your snark directed at maturity may be better saved for the CDWDS. With respect to B16, there are far more serious issues in the liturgy to tackle. The time is not right to fiddle with Peace: on that point, I agree with the curia.

    That’s funny, because one of the Parishes I choose not to go to near me omits the invitation for the people to exchange the Peace. No one does. They move directly into the Lamb of God. No one even looks around.

    Hey, I agree with you on BXVI. There were much more serious issues to address. I wouldn’t be defending him on this.

    With respect to my snark, you sounded like a spoiled brat 12 year old in your original comments.

    My comment just reflected the same sarcasm I would direct to any adult who…

    1. @Todd Orbitz – comment #20:
      Thanks for replying. I’m anticipating the responses this is likely to get. And if clergy aren’t willing to listen, people will certainly think it. And move on. And the Church will lose one more chip that, apparently, some prelates think we can afford to lose. I don’t mind the snark: I can certainly give and get on that score.

      The Peace is part of Mass. Traditionalists can thumb their noses at the Sermon on the Mount or the Ambrosian Rite all they want. They can withhold a gesture of respect and reconciliation when any gesture will do: just be creative and authentic. I would suggest a community that persistently declines the signation here has serious problems. Unless they manage to hold the peace elsewhere. Maybe they do; maybe not. It’s not of much concern to me.

  16. Jonathan Day : So far we’ve had infection risk and congregational seating at a daily Mass. Hold those assumptions in mind. Now add the supposition that it’s Sunday; the pews are full. The celebrant looks at the Missal, which says “Then, if appropriate…” He skips that section and moves straight to the commingling and the Lamb of God. Further assuming that he is celebrating the modern rite willingly and not trying to drive a reform agenda, why does he skip it?

    The reason I mentioned those two situations is that is what was being asked.

    I would find it hard to omit the invitation to exchange the peace at any well attended Mass.

      1. @Jonathan Day – comment #23:
        This is the problem–people with certain liturgical sensibilities insisting on imposing their way of doing things on others. I don’t like the sign of peace. In fact, I hate it, and have done since Bugnini’s mass was imposed on us. I find it embarassing and disruptive. Whenever it’s omitted–not nearly often enough, IMO–I breathe a huge sigh of relief. If others feel differently, fine. But don’t think you’ve got a monopoly on the truth.
        We really need to stop telling others how they should ‘do liturgy’.

  17. Brian Palmer : @Jonathan Day – comment #5: In my present parish the folks are going to be very upset to see their custom of waving or throwing kisses to friends on the other side of the aisle in any way denigrated, or even abolished. For them there is nothing profane about their interpretation of the rite. One way to restore the importance of the kiss of peace is to have an icon of Christ or the gospel book passed throughout the congregation. The person at the end of each pew touches the icon/boo or kisses it. Then passes it on to the person next to them.

    I for one would love to see a restoration of the pax brede, as it better represents the actual passing of the Peace of Christ from the altar.

  18. (1) It appears that Benedict XVI wanted to move the Sign of Peace to the end of the Liturgy of the Word. In this he was following the views of many liturgists, who would like to reposition the Penitential Act to the end of the Liturgy of the Word and follow it with a sign of peace. The rationale for this is (a) it gives a context for reconciliation and (b) Matthew 5:23-24.

    (2) Concerning “The departure of the priest form the altar in order to give the sign of peace to some of the faithful”, it is really impossible to imagine a priest at a funeral Mass not leaving the sanctuary to exchange a sign of peace with some of the bereaved. To simply continue as if ignoring the bereaved would surely come across as pastorally insensitive in the extreme.

    (3) It was for this reason, among others, that the Bishops of England and Wales, in the course of an ad limina visit to Rome, specifically asked Cardinal Arinze why he was so insistent on the priest not leaving the sanctuary. Arinze’s response: “Oh, it wouldn’t be right to leave Jesus all alone on the altar.” This infantile reasoning appears to be the basis on which this ruling has been preserved. Obviously one wants to discourage priests from going on a massive walkabout all down the nave, but a veto on leaving the sanctuary at all is redolent of sledgehammers and nuts.

    (4) I for one would love to see a restoration of the pax brede, as it better represents the actual passing of the Peace of Christ from the altar. But this is a misunderstanding of what is taking place in the rite at this point. The exchange of a sign of peace is not dependent on it coming ultimately from the priest (one still occasionally sees celebrations where no one turns to their neighbours until the servers, who have “received the peace” from the priest, have “transmitted it” down the nave). It is “the faithful [who] express to each other their ecclesial communion and mutual charity before communicating in the Sacrament”. (GIRM 82)

    1. @Paul Inwood – comment #26:
      If one understands the sign of peace as something that must originate from the presiding cleric, sort of like apostolic succession, then one could argue that it would be “pastorally insensitive in the extreme” not to offer it to the bereaved, though such a description might seem a bit over the top. But if the sign of peace is something that originates in the heart of a baptized member of the assembly, then why is the priest’s offer of peace any better or more important than that of any other member of the assembly? It reminds me of those good folks who want to receive Communion from the priest, not from a layperson, because it makes Communion more special.

      1. @Jan Larson – comment #29:
        Pope Francis speaking to the clergy of Caserta last Saturday:

        “Therefore, what will be the profile of the priest of this century, which is so secularized? A man of creativity, who follows the commandment of God – “create things”; a man of transcendence, both with God in prayer and with the others always; a man who is approachable and who is close to people. To distance people is not priestly and people are fed up of this attitude, and yet it happens all the same.”

        Peace does not depend on the initiative of the clergy. But a pastor sets a tone as a spiritual leader. Paul is right: in most communities in the US I would say a priest who keeps his distance during Mass would be perceived as socially inept.

      2. @Todd Flowerday – comment #31:
        I have nothing against the priest offering the sign of peace to the bereaved at a funeral. I’ve done it countless times. It just seems that if the priest has comforted them on hearing of the death, been present to them as the funeral rites are prepared, prayed with them at the Vigil, presided at the Mass, prays with them at the graveside, and even visits them at the reception, it seems overly harsh to label that priest as “pastorally insensitive in the extreme” and maybe even “socially inept” should he exercise his option to not leave the altar to give a personal greeting of peace to the grieving family.

      3. @Jan Larson – comment #43:
        I would tend to agree. But most priests who have comforted at the time of death, helped in the preparation of the rites, dined with the family, and such, are the ones who leave the altar, knowing the power of the Eucharist, and reach out to the mourners rather than keep their distance.

        This would be the kind of thing better left to a pastor’s judgment rather than Rome. If the CDWDS has concerns, a general shout-out: keep it dignified and appropriate, and then get out of the way to let the local clergy to figure it out.

      4. @Jan Larson – comment #29:
        I always thought the idea of the pax being initiated by the priest has to do with the peace originating from Christ on the altar, that’s why in the EF before giving the sing of peace, the priest and the deacon kiss the altar at the same time, and then give each other the sign of peace which they pass on. The idea is that peace flows from the altar through the celebrant, deacon and onto others. Even though it is different in the OF the idea is the same. At least, I think it is, I could be wrong.

      5. @Stanislaus Kosala – comment #32:
        I think that was the idea behind the passing of the pax brede, a practice once common in the English Benedictine and other communities. The pax brede (or sometimes the gospel book) was on the altar and passed from there to the monks after the celebrant had kissed the altar.

      6. @Jan Larson – comment #29:

        If you understand the presiding cleric is a compassionate human being affected by the family’s grief, you should be able to understand why he would offer peace to the troubled family. It is not that his offer of peace is better than anyone else’s, but that compassion takes precedence over the other duties of the presider.

  19. This is good news.I detest the handshaking and talking during the sign of peace.I hope more priests omit it altogether or urge the faithful in their parishes to just make a slight bow to one another.

  20. Another solution in search of a problem! I think the people of God would rather we address the abysmal music and preaching found in so many churches. I suppose it’s easier to nit-pick at details than to address systematic failures.

  21. From another thread here on PTB. A non-Catholic attending Mass for the first time:
    “Ironically, she said the time she felt most like an outsider was at the sign of peace. “Everyone seemed to know each other and greeted each other as friends. I was clearly shaking hands with strangers.””

    On another note: if a priest is using the Peace to comfort and console a grieving family, it seems to me that he hasn’t ‘done his job.’ But then again, I’ve seen the ladies of the Rosary Society provide more comfort to the family at the wake by leading the Rosary, than by the priest who said the funeral Mass the next day.

    It might be a good idea to move the Peace after the Creed and the General Intercessions, omitting the prayer usually prayed and just giving the versicle and response and having the deacon give the invitation to offer the Peace. Keeping it after the Pater Noster just seems to overload the Communion rite, the Fraction – commingling, Agnus Dei, and preparation for Holy Communion still needing to happen. I kind of think of it the same way as those who want to go right from the Sign of the Cross directly into the Gloria or Collect at the start of Mass. Uncluttering.

  22. Let’s look at real liturgical issues with the CDWDS, like the crappy translations they’re trying to foist on the world.” +1

  23. I have been biting my tongue over this letter. But …….
    When it is put in the context of the internal issues the church faces, and in context of the state of the world the church is there to serve …… well, it beggars belief, to be frank.

  24. I always leave the sanctuary to give the sign of peace to the bereaved, and I encourage newly ordained priests to do the same at their Mass of Thanksgiving, in order to share their joy with their family as they celebrate Eucharist. I also try to include a sign of peace at the conclusion of Rite II of the Rites of Reconciliation. I would never use the word “abuse” unless it referred to some notorious act of disrepect.

  25. We omit the Pax on Maundy Thursday so as to preserve continuity with the Extraordinary Form. I also love the symbolism/reasoning that just as Our Lord was betrayed with a kiss, so the kiss is omitted that night.

  26. I feel the sign of peace after the Liturgy of the Word is an act of reconciliation … “before bringing your gifts to the table” kind of act. The sign of peace after the Our Father is an act of community. It is the same act, looks the same, sounds the same, feels not the same. If we move the place of the gesture, we will move its meaning as well.

  27. Odd enough, traveling to visit family near the Finger Lakes, last evening was my first encounter with a song being sung by a small choir during the Pax. The community didn’t need it, and the song lingered on past the Pax right up to the Fraction.

    1. @Karl Liam Saur – comment #47:
      I recall a setting of the Lamb of God that had as a kind of intro,”Peace I leave, my peace I give, Peace for you, Peace for all. Lamb of God…” This would be begun maybe 20 seconds into the peace. It seemed to be popular in the early 80s.

      1. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #50:
        I remember hearing that during the fraction in college 35 yrs ago, it’s Conry’s A Song for Breaking Bread. But it’s what was sung yesterday.

  28. During the 1980s or 1990s the E&W bishops (or probably their liturgy office) issued a clarification on the sign of peace. Their take at the time was that the sign of peace was integral to the modern rite which meant that it should always be included (i.e. is the default position) only being omitted if there is significant cause (e.g. infection control or other strong unspecified pastoral reasons etc.). The ‘if appropriate’ rubric signified the above but also by implication that any personal reservations by the priest was in itself NOT a sufficient reason to omit the sign of peace. The traditionalist sects as prat of their resistance to Vatican ii appear to be trying to use a rubrical loop hole to turn the argument on its head so that the sign of peace can become the exception to the rule rather than the norm – this is clearly not what the rite expects.

    In my view there can be few justifiable reasons for omitting the sign of peace. If we were in Japan then a bow to each other might be appropriate but it would feel very strange to do this in the western world and its just plain silly to suggest we adopt this. In my parish, there are handshakes as well as (among closer relationships), embraces / brief hugs or a small kiss on the cheek – all seem entirely appropriate to me.

  29. I can see that a lot of the energy around this question has dissipated, which is probably not a bad thing, but in reading the circular itself a number of things struck me.

    1) This question has been under review for over seven years. Now that seems as impossibly long to me as it probably does to most everyone else, but it also helps to explain why some of the concerns might seem dated. A lot has changed in the last 10-15 years.

    2) The arguments about meaning are not insignificant, for the same ritual action can surely signify a plurality of things, but there can be a primacy of meaning, especially as regards the ritual development of the practice in question. I think paragraph 2 answers the question about the meaning of the sign of peace in the Roman rite in its historical position, “Its point of reference is found in the Eucharistic contemplation of the Paschal Mystery as the ‘Paschal Kiss’ of the Risen Christ on the altar, as in contradistinction to that done by other liturgical traditions…” The appeal is, of course, historic, but this would basically reduce the movement of the ritual to a Byzantinization or importation.

    3) In terms of the specific abuses (a word, of course, freighted with lots of baggage in the contemporary mileu):

    A) The Song–As many of you have noted, I’ve not seen this in years. That does not mean, however, that it’s not happening somewhere.

    B) This obviously seems to be a bigger problem with smaller groups and the desire to exchange the pax with everyone.

    C) This has been exhausted by everyone else. Use your head. But it is related to:

    D) This actually seems to be the biggest problem, even if formally less frequent. Remember, the same ritual action in two different contexts can mean different things. The embrace by the superior following a profession of vows symbolizes one thing, but it means something different when the embrazo is exchanged among the whole community. Hence condolences, congratulations, and “Happy Feast”, are all good, but are not good…

    1. @Dominic McManus, OP – comment #49:
      Following up on Paul Inwood’s reference to liturgists and in an effort to correct a few comments that still see a *Bugnini conspiracy* behind every sign of peace:

      http://americamagazine.org/issue/100/kiss-never-just-kiss

      Key points:
      “The exchange of peace prior to the reception of communion is an acknowledgment that Christ whom we receive in the sacrament is already present in our neighbor. In this exchange, the assembly acknowledges the insistent Gospel truth that communion with God in Christ is enjoyed in communion with our sisters and brothers in Christ. The rite of peace is not an expression merely of human solidarity or good will it is rather an opening of ourselves and our neighbors to a challenge and a gift from beyond ourselves. Like the Amen at communion, it is the acceptance of a challenge, a profession of faith that we are members, one with another, in the body of Christ.”
      “Kissing and hugging are ancient practices among Christians. After telling the Corinthians to live in harmony and peace, St. Paul tells them to greet one another with a holy kiss. In his Letter to the Romans, after greeting a series of people, Paul writes: “Greet one another with a holy kiss. All of the churches of Christ send you greeting.” Thus, to the divided Corinthian community he makes the kiss a sign of reconciliation, but to the Roman community it expresses greetings of affection and love. Peter tells his readers to greet one another with the embrace of true love. He then immediately concludes his letter with, “Peace to all of you who are in Christ.”
      Kissing at Christian liturgies, then, has a long history.”

      Some additional history from Bugnini’s *The Reform of the Liturgy*:

      August 15, 1968 – Paul VI and the bishop of Crema, Italy’s notes:

      “Regarding the greeting of peace – agree with Cardinal Bea that the prayer, “Lord, Jesus Christ, who said……..” should not be omitted in Masses with congregation. Point out, too, that while the phrase “Offer each other a sign of peace” (to be said as circumstances permit) may not be classical Latin, it is used in the Ambrosian Rite. It will be necessary to define more clearly the manner of exchanging peace among the faithful but I would not play down the gesture in view of the profound evangelical meaning.

      Later, Paul VI”s notes added – the rubric states – pro opportunitate; as circumstances allow. Paul VI noted – “Remove the “as circumstances allow”.

  30. One wonders whether this document is not an ‘example’ of ‘clearing the desk of work put off’ (not unknown in management circles and even in the Roman Curia) before the Cardinal’s rumored return to Spain to be the Archbishop of Madrid? Did not “Liturgicam Authenticam’s” publication have a similar history of origin?

  31. Clement of Alexandria, Paedagogus 3.11.81.2-3, quoted in J. Stevenson, A New Eusebius:

    “And if we are called to the kingdom of God, let us walk worthy of the kingdom, loving God and our neighbour. But love is not tested by a kiss, but by kindly feeling. But there are those, that do nothing but make the churches resound with a kiss, not having love itself within. For this very thing, the shameless use of the kiss, which ought to be mystic, has occasioned foul suspicions and evil reports.”

    That low-key approach makes sense, but ten years attending a Black Catholic parish has impressed upon me the value of the everyone walking around to just about everyone else usage. People I brought to church as guests were usually very moved at their inclusion, and the communion that followed was approached all the more devoutly for what preceded it. Of course, we had more time in that service.

  32. It is good to know the difference between consultation made public and consultation done without publicity – it is not as if consultations were not done before. We can differ on which is a better approach. I think too much expectation from the Pope in the way expressed here can only lead to choosing from a text what we think is Pope Francis’ signature or not, thus misreading Vatican documents to be good when it fits into our idea of the Pope and bad when it does not. Otherwise we can conclude that the Pope approves what he does not sanction, which is ridiculous

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