Holy kisses and hugs - do we need more of this?

Dear CAF members,

I noted on Trinity Sunday that the second reading included St. Paul’s exhortation to “greet one another with a holy kiss” (i.e., in 2 Cor. 13:12). St. Paul includes this exhortation in his other writings as well (i.e., Rm. 16:16, 1 Cor. 16:20) and St. Peter mentions it in 1 Pt. 5:14. For our purposes of today, how is this to be applied? For example, is it ever appropriate to hug and kiss (of course, in a holy way) during the sign of peace during Mass? If a kiss is too much, is a hug okay?

I ask this because it seems that we are often “stand offish” with each other and seem to keep our physical distance from each other. This is especially true for the area in which I live in Texas where hand shaking seems the norm. However, it would seem to me that it would be better if we, as Christians, would open ourselves to showing love to each other in a physical, of course holy, way by hugs and kisses, where appropriate.

I am a married woman and tried to hug another lady with whom I was well acquainted a few months ago during the sign of peace and I could tell that she wasn’t expecting it and it took her off guard. However, about a week ago, I had an opportunity to hug her and she seemed more comfortable with it. I have also received hugs from men and women within my parish and it seems fine with me. I actually view it a very kind gesture and a great way to connect with other people. I was moved by the that these persons felt comfortable enough to think I was huggable. :hug3:

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences as well as any official or unofficial stance that our Church holds on demonstrating affection between our members. I understand that not everyone is amiable to receiving hugs and kisses, especially from persons who they do not know well. But, isn’t it worth a try to promote more affection among our members?


I think it is just dumb. It is a cultural thing. Apparently the Jews of St. Paul’s day and surrounding cultures had such a habit. But it is quite foreign to American culture, at least it was when I was growing up. Ever sense the changes after Vatican II it has been the norm in our Churches. But I have never gotten used to it.


I think it is completely a personal thing. I am ok with it sometimes but not ok other times. :shrug: I hug my kids and husband and close freinds I may know if we sit next to each other but don’t with other people. Many people do not even like to shake hands during the sign of the peace. It doesn’t bother me and don’t think it is an insult. I just say Peace be with you and smile.

Ugh! What is up with all of this people talking to and/or touching each other stuff? It’s as if they think that mass is some kind of community event rather than a solo experience between me and God!!! BARF!

What an interesting and new question. I personally don’t want to be hugged or kissed during Mass by strangers. I always hug my kids at Mass though and that’s because they are family.


It should be primarily dependent on culture. But there’s another concern. We now know about germs. Some dioceses have instructed against handshakes during flu season and it’s caught on year-round. I would love to see a bow of the head as the norm. It would be consistent with the rest of the Mass gestures. I think a hug or kiss on the cheek is appropriate for family. Hugging strangers is considered creepy in American culture. Is a 40-year old man supposed to hug the 14-year old girl next to him?

Alternatively, we can have gender-specific greetings. Handshake between men, hug between women, and bow between men and women.

I do shake hands with others, whether I know them or not, if they put out their hand. I don’t embrace others. Perhaps there are those who feel a need to embrace and or kiss others at mass. But keep in mind, many people are not comfortable with that, especially if it’s someone they’re not familiar with. I do say *“peace be with you”, *and I’m fine with that.

Not sure if that was sarcasm but some Catholics really do forget that we’re there for Communion, not oxymoronic self-communion. Some are even offended when there isn’t a period of silence or reflection after Communion even though the rubrics indicate that the hymn be communal because, well, it’s Communion.

Is this sarcasm? Who says that Mass is as you described? To me, it would seem that if you were correct, than why should believers go to Church period, other than to receive Communion? It kind if lends credence to the people who state that they don’t need to go to a church to worship, that they can just stay home and pray.

I come from family happy to hug each other and we do whenever we meet or depart from each other.

I might hug someone, a female, if she is in distress or there is a matter of special thanks, but it becomes false if one indiscriminately hugs everyone or passing acquaintances.
It loses its value. Someone who hugs everyone in sight can be repelling rather than encouraging. It can become generic not personal.

I don’t hug a man outside my family though I might perhaps touch his shoulder or forearm if he is distressed, however one must have some discretion because one has to be careful what message is received. You have to use discretion!

There are other ways of showing warmth to others in the way you speak, the words you use, the warmth of your smile.
This means most effective in conveying warmth, sympathy, friendship caring. I find this means to be immensely useful and effective. I convey a great deal of friendship and warmth by this means, listening and responding, It’s far more effective than just hugging everyone and it also avoids pushing a hug onto those people who naturally cringe away from indiscriminate hugging.

I don’t want to be hugged indiscriminately either! I am already happy to hug and receive hugs with my husband’s family and mine, with all my cousins, nephews, nieces, uncles, aunts, and I hug particular friends on special occasions. However I convey as much if not more through being attentive to what others are saying, expressing interest or concern for their issues, warmth and voice. It’s far more creative and blessing than indiscriminately hugging everyone I meet at Church or elsewhere.

If one hugs everyone, one’s hug loses value. Oh she hugs everyone, quick let’s go! It takes more effort, more discernment, and is more personal to give people your full interest and attention in the time you are responding to them.

In Mass, it is sufficient to shake hands with others, and to hug family members. Or simply greet family members with a warm smile and the peace greeting. Plenty of opportunity to hug them elsewhere.

These are the words of the Holy Scriptures. They are not simply cultural! Although Paul and Peter came from a Semitic cultural framework, isn’t it just possible that their admonitions apply to all human beings? We are physical as well as spiritual. Worship of God - “liturgy” - is primarily public and communal. Mass is not a solo experience - “just me and God”. That’s absolutely untrue. It is the Holy Sacrifice which began at the Last Supper and ended with the death of the Lord on the Cross. All time and all baptized Catholics are brought inside the reality of the Mass. All are present: the holy Trinity, the saints, us sinners, and all the angels.

I come from a very “puritan” North American culture where we are very distant to each other. Unlike a few years ago, I am personally not against being hugged at Mass by a complete stranger, and I am happy to do so myself. For me, if it is done with a sort of solemn reverence - for example, bowing your head to touch the other person’s shoulder - there is a great and striking beauty about it… and I hate hugs, generally!

Anyway, here something radical and totally anti-modern: we should not let our cultural biases skew the eternal truths written in Holy Scripture! So far we have let our petty cultures influence how we love one another. If we don’t like touching others or being touched, I think Mass should even be a time for doing penance. I don’t believe Heaven is pure “spiritual” staring at God. We will have our resurrected bodies when all is fulfilled. Think about that… and Ephesians 5:21. We must submit to each other in love, and the fear of God. He has told us to greet one another with a Holy Kiss - and whatever form that takes in Western culture, it certainly isn’t a neutral business handshake and a quick smile.

Hello, I am a protestant inquirer into Catholicism and I find this topic interesting.

I went to my first Mass a little over a week ago and liked it. The sharing of the peace was brief and seemed a bit stiff and formal to me. You just shook the hands with the people on each side of you and it was over very quickly. I was used to a little longer and friendlier greeting at my church.

However, right after that, something very touching (no pun intended) happened. It was the Saturday evening before Father’s Day Mass and all the fathers were asked to remain seated while those around them stood and prayed for them, touching them on the shoulder.

Most of the fathers presumably had family in attendance who did the honors. Since I am a father but came alone that evening, I was totally by myself and was the only father in my section without someone to pray for me.

A lady not too far away apparently saw me sitting there by myself and came over and touched me on the shoulder and prayed for me during the prayer for fathers.

That meant a lot to me and I still remember her kind gesture, although she didn’t have to do it. I would’ve liked the Mass regardless, but her act of kindness made me think more highly of the parishoners at that parish church and it made me more likely to return.

I’m glad you received an act of kidness during the Mass and hope you will return again!
Blessings and Peace~

Thank you all for posting, both the supporters and non-supporters of “hugs & kisses.”

It is helpful to note your opinions and experiences. I know that, in any case, we should demonstrate “love” to our neighbors during and outside of Mass (I believe a few of you noted this in your posts). I agree that indiscriminately hugging everyone loses the personal touch. We all want to be loved individually and in particular. And, Christ often uses His body, .i.e. us, to show His love to others in a very personal way, like He has pursued each one of us individually out of a crowd of a million. In truth, Christ does love each of us in this way. So, if possible, we should strive to be His hands and feet by reaching out to His “lost sheep” with a smile, hug, kiss, or other kind gesture, and this may include the stranger who stands next to you week after week at Mass.


Sorry, I need to stop being so sarcastic. :frowning:

Agreed. I have a strong reflex to punch people who try to hug/kiss/grope/touch me. I don’t seek human contact and have no desire for it as one living a celibate life. I go so far as a handshake and a hug for my grandmothers as an act of charity for them.

Haha, good one!

On a similar note, when did it become fashionable to for women to greet everyone by giving them a hug? Not a light hug either, but basically full on snuggling. It’s weird and I don’t like it at all!

I would be find with some kind of sober liturgical kiss, but you know that it would lead to abuse. Everyone would be groping each other and snogging.

We don’t need the huggy kissy stuff at all. The purpose of the sign of peace is not to express affection for people and make sure no one is left out. The purpose of the sign of peace is to put aside our disagreements and offer goodwill to others. “Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” - This is the context of the sign of peace. It is not a hippy love-in.

Putting aside our disagreements and offering goodwill to others isn’t a hippy love-in?

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