Okay, so the Sign of Peace is definitely a nice sentiment. But I really don’t enjoy shaking people’s hands. Especially in the winter with cold and flu season. It would be one thing if it was AFTER taking the Eucharist, but it’s not. So you watch someone sneeze, then s/he shakes your hand, and then you go up, get the Eucharist in your hands, and in goes the Body of Christ and all of your fellow parishioners’ germs.
While I support giving some sign of peace, I share your concern, especially during cold and flu season.
My dh takes medication that weakens his immune system and a simple cold can easily turn into bronchitis or pneumonia. It is very difficult to avoid shaking hands (though one could clasp one’s own hands together while saying “Peace be with you” and smiling genuinely) so we keep a small discreet (we hope) bottle of hand sanitizer which we use just before going up for Communion, slipping it out of and then back into a pocket. There are not many other choices.
I do not like it at all, especially at its current place in the modern Roman Rite. Inasmuch as we would like to keep it, it should probably be moved to the Offertory, but I find it so disruptive I’d rather see it go altogether. The* Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum* should be sufficient.
I think it is disruptive and makes things uncomfortable that otherwise might be fine, between parishioners. Sometimes I am deep in prayer / meditation and v sensitive and emotional during mass. It feels weird to break that and also think ok now everyone is awkwardly saying hi to the girl who was crying at mass. I think that diminishes my chances of just getting to know them normally, maybe? Why not more coffee and donuts events after mass? But then I prefer TLM, just wish it was daily in my area.
As for germs I have never had a problem w not shaking hands bc germs. Just wave and smile.
While I certainly sympathise with the hygiene issue, I hate it when parishoners give half-hearted handshakes or wave (unless they’re far away or ill–but in the second case, why come to Mass?) even in the winter. It’s rude.
Your parish should keep hand sanitiser, or you should keep a bottle of it in your pocket during Mass.
I’m not a mad fan of the “sign of peace” thing and I don’t think I would miss it one bit if it were discontinued. But, it’s really not that big of a deal to me, so, I just do it and don’t think much of it.
As for the worry about communion, germs, etc., I prefer communion on the tongue so germs aren’t an issue for me.
One of my favorite aspects of the EF low mass is kneeling at the Sanctus, adoring Him when the host and chalice is raised, and then praying in the presence of the body, blood, soul and divinity for His mercy, and His healing so that I may be a worthy vessel for Him when I receive. I’ve had some very profound praying experiences in those quiet moments. And I don’t have to move or touch anyone during the entire time.
When I’m not in the mood to touch anyone at an OF mass, I simply look at them, sniffle and wave a bit, and say “Peace Be With You.” I find a strategically timed nose blow helps with this strategy as well. I always receive on the tongue, OF or EF, from the priest who has washed his hands before the consecration, so the sacrament contamination thing is never really an issue for me (unless the priest touches my tongue with his fingers - ew!).
I’m not a big fan of the sign of peace, but I do it. I’m a total germaphobe as well! In the winter, I usually end up keeping my coat and gloves on because the parish I go to is always so cold! Hand sanitizer is good. Communion on the tongue is better ;), but that’s just me!
One of the things that amused me greatly when I converted was noticing that Catholics keep their coats on in church. At the LDS wards when I was growing up, there was alway a big coat rack in the foyer area where most people hung their coats. But Catholics, they keep their coats on, I guess because of the space they take up in a pew or something.
When I keep my long black cloak on in church (because of temperature, room, etc), I always feel like Batman. Except for, you know, the lacy veil on my head.