Is it bad that I don't take part in the sign of peace?

Hi. I just don’t like this and stopped participating in it about a year ago. I just stand stoic and view the altar. I felt like it takes my attention off the sacrifice of the mass personally.
I hope people don’t think I’m rude because of it and I at times think that is a problem that I even should have to be worried about that when that moment liturgically is all about Christ.

9 Likes

Matthew 5: 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

The sign of peace precedes the reception of the Eucharist as we make peace, personally and communally, with our brothers and sisters before approaching the altar of the Lord and the Blessed Sacrament. This way we are one body in spirit as opposed to divided before joining in Communion as one body and one loaf.

25 Likes

There’s nothing wrong with not participating, and you are far from alone. When I attend an OF I typically choose my seat so that I will not have to participate. If I am unable to find a spot by myself, I will be polite and go along to an extent, but I really don’t like being touched, so it’s rather awkward for me. I think a lot of people who love the sign of peace either discount or are unaware of how off-putting it can be for some people. Some people, though it may be limited to posters on these forums, will even go as far as to try to shame you for not wanting to take part. Just ignore them.

16 Likes

Are you in the United States?

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal for the U.S. states:

The Priest may give the Sign of Peace to the ministers but always remains within the sanctuary, so that the celebration is not disrupted. In the Dioceses of the United States of America, for a good reason, on special occasions (for example, in the case of a funeral, a wedding, or when civic leaders are present), the Priest may offer the Sign of Peace to a small number of the faithful near the sanctuary. According to what is decided by the Conference of Bishops, all express to one another peace, communion, and charity. While the Sign of Peace is being given, it is permissible to say, The peace of the Lord be with you always, to which the reply is Amen.

“…all express to one another peace communion, and charity” would seem to indicate that participation is not optional on the part of the faithful.

6 Likes

Our faith should push us out of our comfort zone, when it comes to how we relate to our brothers and sisters. It’s part of building communion.

I never liked this aspect of the liturgy myself, but always forced myself to participate, unless I’m contagious, in which case a nod and smile suffice.

In persevering, I’ve had grace-filled moments from interacting with particularly warm and kind people.

18 Likes

Some people skip the Sign of Peace so you are not alone. However, making a big point of skipping it is also a distraction from Mass and it might make others feel rebuffed.

If you don’t wish to shake hands or wave, at least smile and nod so you’re not actively rejecting people. We have had people post on here very hurt because someone in their pew wouldn’t wish them the Sign of Peace.

11 Likes

No it isn’t bad if you dont feel comfortable with it. Dont let others judgement drag you into a liturgical war. If you dont like it dont do it. Jesus is fine with that and so am I.

4 Likes

I’m exactly like you now. I used to do the sign of peace but unless it’s my next door pew neighbour or the person in front of me turning round I don’t. If the Agnus Dei has begun I don’t shake hands with people who turn around. Week day Masses I sit near the back and do not shake hands with anyone. It’s something that’s grown with me alongside kneeling and receiving holy communion on the tongue…it’s all come about in gradual stages…

4 Likes

I think it’s fine if you don’t do that. It’s not what I do-but why would anyone have a problem with it?

edited for clarity

1 Like

I think as someone has said it has contributed to the overall decline in reverence for the Blessed Sacrament

8 Likes

People refrain for a lot of reasons. A close family member has a very compromised immune system, so they will smile and wave but not shake hands. I know someone else with social anxiety who will sit as far away from others as possible. I also know people who prefer to use that time for prayer. I love it. I always think of Matthew 5:25 “leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” It’s my last chance to offer forgiveness to others before I receive. I will intentionally sit near someone I’m having difficulty with to offer them the sign of peace when the situations arise. My husband and I also use it as a time to let go of past disputes. No matter how we came in to Mass, we use that time to know that we are to always be reconciled. But I in no way judge or feel snubbed at this time. Everyone reacts differently to the presence of Our Lord. Many think of prayer, some of reconciliation, others are just overwhelmed with His joy, and wish to share it with others. It’s truly amazing to see. Another reason why Mass is truly supernatural!

1 Like

Yes, but that does not have to be a physical thing, nor does it have to be the handshake of peace. There is a difference between theology and specific ceremony. You might consider that you maybe imposing your version of community on a person who’s version is different. Community in this case may be the loving understanding that this specific practice is alienating and may even feel like an attack.

The priest really needs to open up space for people when announcing the sharing of the peace. He can declare it can be a hug or a handshake. But, it also could be as simple as a wave or a smile. People may have germs they don’t want to spread, maybe they are worried about them. Maybe unwanted touch is triggering for them in some way. The point is to practice a culture of consent where people and give as much space or closeness as they mutually agree on. For people not so comfortable with how the sharing of the peace is experienced by yourselves, talk to your priest and explain your case. I’ll guarantee you are not the only one.

Could be construed as rude.

4 Likes

Like many people, this rubbed me the wrong way for a long, long time. It seemed so phony, so forced, and I absolutely hate forced signs of emotion.

But somehow over the years I’ve come to accept it, and now have no trouble with it. If it helps, remember that you are looking into the eyes of Christ in every person you greet.

8 Likes

For my part, I try to see Christ in the people I’m sharing the sign of peace with. I picture God’s love both flowing out of me as help to other with whatever they may need and into me for help I might not even know I need. This helps me not feel like this is “break time,” which I feel like it can become if it goes on for too long. Our parish allows enough time to briefly shake hands with those immediately surrounding us, which seems to be a good balance of friendliness and reverence.

3 Likes

I think there is a balance to be had here, there is also the issue of charity towards one’s neighbours. I too do not really like the sign of peace, but I think we have to be mindful not to offend our neighbours should they reach out to us at this time. Is blanking them and ignoring them if they reach out their hand to us the best thing to do? A ‘sober’ but genuine handshake with those immediately next to us in our pew should not really distract us too much and avoids any hurt or offence to our neighbour. I think sometimes we need to compromise to avoid causing hurt or upset to others.

2 Likes

Personally, I do not like the SOP in that it takes place at the worst possible time in the Mass, that moment immediately before Holy Communion. I would be perfectly fine with it taking place at the beginning of Mass, or even at the time of the prayers of the faithful. It is very distracting to have to exchange greetings with everyone at the moment when, if receiving, you should be at your most deeply recollected with your mind and heart set solely on the Eucharistic Lord.

That said, I do not decline to take part in it. In my social environment, refusing the SOP could well be interpreted as rude, antisocial, unfriendly, arrogant, or even racist. Sadly, these considerations have to trump my desire to be recollected, and I can only tell my blessed Lord “I am as recollected in Your Presence as I can possibly be under the circumstances”. And I do not have the personal charisma or “people skills” to enable me to catechize my fellow faithful on why the SOP is a bad idea, and to have my catechesis recognized as “hey, I never looked at it that way before, maybe that guy knows what he’s talking about”. Some people could pull that off, but not me.

4 Likes

I don’t like it much. But some things that help me :

  1. Think of it as encountering Jesus in your fellow man . You are shaking hands with the Lord (whatsoever you do to the least of these…)

  2. it is as another poster said, pushing you out of your comfort zone. Offer it up, or else think maybe that person doesn’t have human contact the rest of the week and you are ministering to them.

  3. It is a good opportunity to see God working - have you ever shaken the hand of a tiny toddler or someone who has severe learning difficulties and have them return your peace? It’s amazing

I was honestly like you at the beginning I used to dread it. Now I wouldn’t say I like it but I see it’s place. We greet the Lord in the Eucharist, the Gospel and each other

3 Likes

During flu season we are asked to give a head nod instead of a handshake. If one doesn’t like to be touched it would be easy to keep hands folded and wish someone God’s peace and blessing while nodding the head.

6 Likes

I’m not a huge fan of it because usually I don’t know the people in front or behind me but I think it’s a moment for us to realize all the other people that have also come together to pray and be Christ for others.

:dolphin:

1 Like
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.