Shaking hands as Mass begins--what do I say to my priest?


My parish priest has been with us for two years now. Some of the changes he has made make me very uncomfortable. He asks everyone to stand up and shake their neighbors hand and introduce themselves before every mass. Why is this necessary? It takes the handshake of the sign of peace to a more social level still. I am not at mass to socialize but to pray to the Lord and receive the Eucharist and particiapte in the mass. I feel after mass is a more approrpiate time to mingle. I do not know how to approach the priest about my concerns without making it offensive to his authority. I am also a board member for the Christian Mothers and he attends every one of the meetings. It appears no one ever wants to approach him to speak up about anything due to his demeanor. I try to go to the Latin mass as an alternative as much as possible because I feel better at this mass. then i feel guilty for not particpating in my own parish mass.Please advise.



For many years the studio audience for “Art Linkletter’s Houseparty” was told to turn and shake hands with the person sitting directly behind them. This would cause them to laugh and just then the program would go on the air with a shot of the people laughing like this. The announcer would then say, “Come right on in. It’s Art Linkletter’s house party!” The upbeat theme music would begin and the TV audience would then see a marquise with “Art Linkletter’s House Party” surounded by blinking lights. This was an appropriate way for a daily light-hearted television show to begin. It is NOT an appropriate way for the celebration of the Lord’s passion to begin–and this is what the Mass essentially is ! !

If your pastor disagrees, he needs to recongnize that the body separated from its blood as is visible on the altar by the bread on the paten and the wine in the chalice, signifies the Lord’s death. The Mass is about HIS love for us as demonstrated on the cross and our response to it. It is not about celebrating our our coming together to have a good time.

He needs you to tell him this. He will probably be defensive and not take it well. But he needs to hear it nonetheless! But know that as he is hearing you, the Lord is hearing you as well—and loving you for it!

You are in my prayers!

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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