Shaking hands expected during Sign of Peace

Years ago, during SARS or H1N1 or Swine Flu scare (I forget which; they all tend to blur together), they cut the distribution of wine for the general congregation (it’s since been reinstated), and they said we should understand other people’s desire to not hold hands during the Lord’s Prayer or shake hands during the Sign of Peace.

Since then, people at my church pretty much don’t hold hands during the Lord’s Prayer (unless it’s with relatives). They usually hold “invisible hands” or just keep their hands close to themselves.

They do, however, usually shake hands.

However, one day, I was at church, and the guy next to me stuck out his hand and said “Peace be with you.” I nodded and said “Peace be with you.” I then looked away. He then “slapped” me on the shoulder and said “Hey!” I looked at him. He had his hand stuck out and said “Peace be with you.” I nodded and said “Peace be with you.” He stared at me for a moment and then said “Really” in a tone that sounded like he was so offended.

Anyone ever come across insistent hand-shakers?

Or people that squeeze/shake your hand prior to letting go after the Lord’s Prayer (the primary reason that I’m glad that we no longer hold hands)?

Simply a matter of preference.

The Church doesn’t require anyone to lift their hands or hold hands during the Our Father(in fact she discourages it), nor do you have to shake hands during the Sign of Peace, it’s your prerogative. Though, if I were you, the second time the gentlemen placed out his hand I would’ve just done a quick shake and get it over with.

Your right, but tell that to many Catholics!!! We have so many ‘distractions’, holding hands, raising hands, hugging and kissing, it has become all about us and we seem to loose whats really important!! Many walk right past the Holy Water font, don’t genuflect, and talk loudly in Church. And the way some dress, it is down right shameful!! No wonder they say Catholics have lost the belief in the Real Presence, we don’t give HIM much attention or respect. God have Mercy. God Bless, Memaw

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I was tapped from behind way too hard one day, I had already turned around to everyone behind me and this person must have come back to the pew after the fact. I was very disturbed to be hit so hard because it came across like I had done something wrong. I told that person they had hurt me and please be more careful as what he did was not appropriate. Then I said peace be with you and turned around. I think the person who did that to you was way out of line. There have been many threads on this, you might enjoy reading some of the comments people make pro and con on this part of the Mass.

Wouldn’t just being polite and smiling and shaking the guy’s hand have been a whole lot easier and less distracting from the Eucharist then throwing a hissy fit in protest? No one around you knows that you are practicing civil disobedience because you disagree with the unspeakable liturgical abuse of touching other people for 1.2 seconds. They think you are just a jerk, which isn’t a very strong Christian witness. Is this really the hill you want to die on? “Dear Lord, thank you for giving me the strength to withstand the urge to shake hands with all those lesser, unchatechised, self-absorbed, shorts-wearing, possibly swine flu-infected, Catholics. Please let them learn from my holy example that it’s not all about me!”

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Yeah I had this happen not to long ago.

Some cultures don’t like shaking hands and will just nod.
I prefer to just smile and say “peace be with you” but I will shake hands if the other person offers.

I have to admit that I feel that the person who was not polite in this instance was the man who did not accept the Peace Be with You offered by Tuxedo Mark and then insisted it be done on his terms by approaching him again and making an audible remark. He could have just gone on after he was greeted and stopped. As for the rest of what you have posted I feel you are making some assumptions about Tuxedo Mark and his attitude that might not be fair in light of what he has posted.


The guy the OP dissed responded negatively because the OP was rude to him first. It is rude to decline to shake someone’s hand without an explaination. It’s a blatant sign of disrespect in our culture. Even with an explaination, it’s likely to be perceived as rude. I’m willing to bet he wouldn’t have ignored the outstretched hand of someone he knew and liked.

Some people can’t shake hands for medical reasons. And some just don’t like to be touched.

It might have gone better if TuxedoMark had explained briefly that he doesn’t shake hands, but the other gentleman was rude. When someone won’t shake my hand at the Sign of Peace, I just figure she is not feeling well, or has arthritis, etc.

My son, who has autism, shakes the hand of every person he can reach, even those he has to poke in the back. Thank goodness they are good sports.

I am always baffled by how many people on CAF are so totally against the sign of peace. You have to shake hands with six, maybe seven, other people. Is that really so hard? You have gone to a gathering of God’s family. Do you really think that God brought everyone together so that we could ignore each other? What is so offensive about being nice to another Christian for just a few second?

In all honesty, this whole thing is a first world problem. We should focus on real problems instead.

In my own parish it seems that while some do extend their hands, most turn and nod to their neighbors, saying “peace be with you.”

Peace and all Good!

Though I now attend the EF, where this isn’t an issue, there were some very insistent handshakers at my OF Parish & I would usually do exactly what you suggested if my simple "Peace be with you didn’t go down quite so well, a quick handshake just to get it over with. Some of the congregation could get rather huffy about it if I didn’t shake hands-even though I clearly have problems with manual dexterity (thank the Lord for voice recognition software, trying to type without it was a nightmare!)


I hate the current Sign of Peace and the customary way it’s conducted in North America. It’s distracting and and imposition. The “Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum/ Et cum spiritu tuo” should be sufficient.

That said, you should just have shaken the man’s hand. Refusing a handshake in North America is a major social snub and is usually done only in an atmosphere of great hostility. It’s completely understandable why the man was upset.

Peace and All Good!


Sometimes the Sign of Peace really does seem to have become an opportunity to catch up on other people’s news. The amount of loud chatter right up to the start of Mass & immediately after it is shameful. I was at Mass once while visiting family in another part of the country and when it came to the sermon the Priest said, “I’m sorry, I was going to give a homily on the Readings but I think it’s more important to address the amount of loud talking there was before Mass and some of the other things I noticed before the start of Mass” and preached about exactly this sort of thing. There was a fair bit of grumbling about it from the congregation after Mass but it needs to be said sometimes!

Peace and all Good!

I’m not against the Sign of Peace at all, in my case i 0prefer not to shake hands because I have very poor use of my hands & also it can be quite painful to shake hands with anybody.

The only thing I’m against is when the Sign of Peace becomes a serious distraction. By this I mean if people use it as an excuse for talking about things & catching up-which can be done outside afterwards. I think the Sign of Peace itself is great

Was it worth offending your brother in Church? I mean, “really”. Just offer it up. A little sacrifice.

How many people will willingly shake a stranger’s hand when they are formally introduced without a second thought, because it is our custom, and it is rude to ignore an offered hand, yet will complain about the SOP. And I know for certain this happens.

Or “la paz” if you attend a Spanish Mass.

This cracked me up. And for all of the people who LOATHE this practice…why don’t you just go to another parish? :shrug: No, better to come on CAF and complain and complain…
preach to the choir instead of opening a real dialog with the Pastor.
I’m not keen on it myself. But as you suggest, it’s always far easier to offer it up and show kindness (which, um, is kind of the whole point of the sign of peace) than to make a statement. When I don’t care to be touched, I make a point to sit away from people. I also close my eyes during the Our Father…then they really know I’m in the zone and not touchy feely.
But yeah…it’s not a hill I want to die on.
Thanks for the giggle.

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