Leaving out the handshake at the sign of peace?


#1

Hi:

I suppose I should ask the priest this but I never get the chance:

There are a couple of very holy priests in our local churches. Both are relatively new to our area. They are the type who follow the Missal to the letter.

Except:

they both fall silent at the time it is said, "let us show one another a sign of peace".

At those times, most of us just fall silent and wait for the next part. Some people will quietly shake hands as usual with the people nearest them.

In the Missalettes, the sign of peace is mentioned. Why are these priests leaving it out? Are they right to do so? (I'm sure they have a good reason, these are not the type of men to just do their own thing with the Mass?)

What gives?

Thanks in advance.


#2

It is optional.


#3

You’re going to have to ask them. I don’t see anything in the GIRM about it being optional.


#4

I would say it’s not ‘right’ and it’s not ‘wrong,’ and probably depends on the parish.

Some people don’t like the sign of peace because in some parishes, people went a bit over the top - hugging and kissing each other, and leaving their seat to shake hands with people - which was deemed irreverent.

There was also a big debate on a local radio show concerning the sign of peace. Some people wanted it removed because they think they will catch germs from other people by shaking hands with them.

They leave it out for a time during the ‘swine flu’ epidemic - for the obvious reasons - but restored it when the panic was over.


#5

[quote="agnes_therese, post:3, topic:288067"]
You're going to have to ask them. I don't see anything in the GIRM about it being optional.

[/quote]

It is optional.

  1. Then the Priest, with hands extended, says aloud the prayer Domine Iesu Christe, qui dixisti (Lord Jesus Christ, who said to your Apostles) and when it is concluded, extending and then joining his hands, he announces the greeting of peace, facing the people and saying, The peace of the Lord be with you always. The people reply, And with your spirit. After this, if appropriate, the Priest adds, Let us offer each other the sign of peace.

The Priest may give the Sign of Peace to the ministers but always remains within the sanctuary, so that the celebration is not disrupted. ..

It is the decision of the priest on the appropriateness at any given celebration.


#6

This is exactly what happens in my parish. It becomes quite loud for a moment because so many families and friends sit next to each other, with kids who look forward to this part etc.

I personally only shake hands with the people immediately around me. I don’t go out of my way to grant peace to someone who is out of range. I think it’s implied that we are wishing peace upon everyone in the room, anyways, not just those around us.


#7

Wait... we're not supposed to hug each other during the Sign of Peace?

I always hug my cousin if she's sitting beside me... ):

Oh well.


#8

How the sign of peace is shown is not scripted or formatted. I never shake hands with my wife, I kiss her…but, neither do I ever kiss the lady sitting in the row in front or behind me, I simply shake her hand:D

Some people just do not like to shake hands, and that is hardly an indication that they are not wishing someone peace…in the winter flu season, I am very picky about who I shake hands with at the sign of peace if I am in a crowd of wheezing, coughing, sneezing, folks…it can be done without offending anyone, and doesn’t mean I am rejecting their friendship.

When you visit other countries, or even geographic areas within the same country, you see different customs for sharing the sign of peace.

The most charming I saw was a Mass in Iraq. The way it was conducted was the priest shook hands with the alter servers. The alter servers went down the isle, shaking hands with the person setting on the end of the pew. That person turned and shook hands with the person next to him, and it continued down the pew…Kinda like a Wave at a footboall game.

We often don’t know when people pray for us, because we don’t see it. I imagine the same is true of their offers of peace to us. Just because there is not a physical gesture, does not mean they are not sharing peace with us.


#9

I'd think it important, but also that the presiding priest may do as he wishes so long as he allows space for the congregation to participate. The silence is likely imitation of the president.

The mass we normally attend has skewed much older recently, probably with younger families going to earlier Mass due to (misguided) early games in Sunday sports leagues, and within that group I've noticed few want to shake hands, especially with us, whose small children are sneezing and need diaper changes and nose wipes all through the Mass. The baby has this awkward tendency to need a change right as the Liturgy of the Eucharist begins.


#10

Very well said.


#11

[quote="Neofight, post:8, topic:288067"]

The most charming I saw was a Mass in Iraq. The way it was conducted was the priest shook hands with the alter servers. The alter servers went down the isle, shaking hands with the person setting on the end of the pew. That person turned and shook hands with the person next to him, and it continued down the pew...Kinda like a Wave at a footboall game.

We often don't know when people pray for us, because we don't see it. I imagine the same is true of their offers of peace to us. Just because there is not a physical gesture, does not mean they are not sharing peace with us.

[/quote]

That's more or less the original way to do it except with a kiss.


#12

What version is that? Because on the Vatican website it says:

  1. The Rite of Peace follows, by which the Church asks for peace and unity for herself and for the whole human family, and the faithful express to each other their ecclesial communion and mutual charity before communicating in the Sacrament.

As for the sign of peace to be given, the manner is to be established by Conferences of Bishops in accordance with the culture and customs of the peoples. It is, however, appropriate that each person offer the sign of peace only to those who are nearest and in a sober manner.

The Canadian version of the Roman Missal says:

  1. The Rite of Peace follows, by which the Church asks for peace and unity for herself and for the whole human family, and the faithful express to each other their ecclesial communion and mutual charity before communicating in the Sacrament.

In the dioceses of Canada, the sign of the peace is given by a handshake or a bow. However it is appropriate that each person offer the sign of peace only to those who are nearest and in a sober manner.

I don’t see anything in there suggesting that it is optional.


#13

The sign of peace is not required at all times, but it is not strictly "optional" either. The Missal at this point says, "Then, if appropriate, the Deacon, or the Priest, adds: Let us offer each other the sign of peace." Some people, then, have argued that the phrase "if appropriate" makes the sign of peace completely optional at the priest's whim, because the priest can simply decide that since he does not like the sign of peace and doesn't think it should have been introduced into the Mass in the first place, it is never appropriate.

I disagree that the sense of these words is intended to give complete latitude to the celebrant's personal preferences and caprice. If the intention of the Missal were to make the action really optional, then suitably permissive language would have been used, as it is elsewhere in the Missal to indicate true options. Moreover, the importance of the sign of peace has been stressed by the Holy See. In 1975, the Congregation for Divine Worship, which gives authoritative rulings on liturgical questions, was asked whether priests can omit the sign of peace because they have people hold hands during the Our Father instead.
Can the practice, flourishing here and there, be permitted, by which the participants at Mass, instead of making the sign of peace to one another at the deacon's invitation, hold hands while the Lord's Prayer is sung?

RESPONSE: To hold hands for a long time is, in itself, a stronger sign of communion than of peace. Furthermore, it is a liturgical gesture introduced spontaneously but on private initiative: it is not found in the rubrics. Nor can it be understood what reason there could be for suppressing the sign of peace at the invitation "offer one another peace," which holds such great significance, grace, and Christian spirit, so as to introduce a different sign, of lesser signification, at another moment in the Mass. If such a substitution is under consideration, it is simply to be repudiated.
Were it true that the sign of peace is a purely "optional" thing that the priest can eliminate just because he doesn't like it, this would have been the perfect time to mention it -- to point out that the sign of peace is an irrelevancy that can always be suppressed. Instead, the Congregation for Divine Worship signals almost the exact opposite: that it is a gesture holding great significance and grace, and that even introducing a lesser sign would offer no justification for eliminating it.


#14

I have always loved the sign of peace since coming back to the Church 7 years ago.
It was the only time other Catholics actually spoke to me.

Just as Cobrsteel said, I only shake hands with those next to me, but kiss my fiance.

I remember reading that kissing was common in the first century. But that is still today a cultural norm as a greeting in much of the Mediterranean (and often on the lips, eughhh, not for us Anglo-Saxons or Celts).


#15

[quote="Neofight, post:8, topic:288067"]
The most charming I saw was a Mass in Iraq. The way it was conducted was the priest shook hands with the alter servers. The alter servers went down the isle, shaking hands with the person setting on the end of the pew. That person turned and shook hands with the person next to him, and it continued down the pew...Kinda like a Wave at a footboall game.

[/quote]

At the Maronite liturgies, you have a sort of handshake that originates with/from the priest in a similar fashion. Except it's not really a handshake; the server would cup his hands over the aisle person's hands and this continues down the pew.


#16

Optional or not, it’s always rather sad when it is omitted.


#17

[quote="OraLabora, post:12, topic:288067"]
What version is that? ...]I don't see anything in there suggesting that it is optional.

[/quote]

He was quoting directly from the Roman Missal, not the GIRM. Indeed, the rite of peace is not optional, but the sign of peace is. The rite of peace includes the prayer before the sign of peace (the peace of the lord be with you always). That may not be omitted, and that is what is being talked about when it talks about the rite of peace.


#18

You are right, Mark.

The way I would prefer to see it is in contunity with the past: the congregational sign of peace only happens at high Masses.


#19

It’s sadder when no one shakes your hand when they can. I’ll bet there are many people who feel slighted during that part of the Mass. Just saying.


#20

The GIRM says “the priest . . . says,” not “the priest may say . . .” Again, nothing indicates that it is optional.

What IS optional, is how the sign of peace is given by the congregation.


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