Vatican announces desire for more restrained sign of peace at Mass

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Vatican announces desire for more restrained sign of peace at Mass

Vatican City, Jul 31, 2014 / 05:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Congregation for Divine Worship, in a recent circular letter, announced that the placement of the sign of peace within Mass will not change, though it suggested several ways the rite could be performed with greater dignity.

“The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments … pronounced in favor of maintaining the ‘rite’ and ‘sign’ of peace in the place it has now in the Ordinary of the Mass,” Fr. Jose Maria Gil Tamayo, secretary general of the Spanish bishops’ conference, related in a July 28 memo.

He noted that this was done out of consideration of the placement of the rite of peace as “a characteristic of the Roman rite,” and “not believing it to be suitable for the faithful to introduce structural changes in the Eucharistic Celebration, at this time.”

The sign of peace is made after the consecration and just prior to the reception of Communion; it had been suggested that it be moved so that it would precede the presentation of the gifts.

Fr. Gil’s memo was sent to the Spanish bishops, and prefaced the Congregation for Divine Worship’s circular letter, which was signed June 8 by Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, its prefect, and its secretary, Archbishop Arthur Roche. The circular had been approved and confirmed the previous day by Pope Francis.

The letter made four concrete suggestions about how the dignity of the sign of peace could be maintained against abuses.

Fr. Gil explained that the circular letter is a fruit of the 2005 synod of bishops on the Eucharist, in which the possibility of moving the rite was discussed.

“During the Synod of Bishops there was discussion about the appropriateness of greater restraint in this gesture, which can be exaggerated and cause a certain distraction in the assembly just before the reception of Communion,” Benedict XVI wrote in his post-synodal apostolic exhortation ‘Sacramentum caritatis’.

He added that “I have asked the competent curial offices to study the possibility of moving the sign of peace to another place, such as before the presentation of the gifts at the altar … taking into account ancient and venerable customs and the wishes expressed by the Synod Fathers.”

An inspiration for the suggested change was Christ’s exhortation, at Mt. 5:23, that “if you remember that your brother has anything against you, leave your offering before the altar, and go be reconciled first.” It would also have brought the Roman rite into conformity, in that respect, with the Ambrosian rite, celebrated in Milan.

The Neo-Catechumenal Way, a lay movement in the Church, has already displaced the sign of peace, in its celebration of the Roman rite, to before the presentation of the gifts.

The Vatican congregation’s decision to maintain the placement of the sign of peace was the fruit of dialogue with the world’s bishops, which began in 2008, and in consultation with both Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.

The Congregation for Divine Worship said it would “offer some practical measures to better express the meaning of the sign of peace and to moderate excesses, which create confusion in the liturgical assembly just prior to Communion.”

“If the faithful do not understand and do not show, in their ritual gestures, the true significance of the right of peace, they are weakened in the Christian concept of peace, and their fruitful participation in the Eucharist is negatively affected.”

On this basis, the congregation offered four suggestions which are to form the “nucleus” of catechesis on the sign of peace.

First, while confirming the importance of the rite, it emphasized that “it is completely legitimate to affirm that it is not necessary to invite ‘mechanistically’ to exchange (the sign of) peace.” The rite is optional, the congregation reminded, and there certainly are times and places where it is not fitting.

Its second recommendation was that as translations are made of the third typical edition of the Roman Missal, bishops’ conference should consider “changing the way in which the exchange of peace is made.” It suggested in particular that “familiar and worldly gestures of greeting” should be substituted with “other, more appropriate gestures.”

The congregation for worship also noted that there are several abuses of the rite which are to be stopped: the introduction of a “song of peace,” which does not exist in the Roman rite; the faithful moving from their place to exchange the sign; the priest leaving the altar to exchange the sign with the faithful; and when, at occasions such as weddings or funerals, it becomes an occasion for congratulations or condolences.

The Congregation for Divine Worship’s final exhortation was that episcopal conferences prepare liturgical catechesis on the significance of the rite of peace, and its correct observation.

“The intimate relation between ‘lex orandi’ and ‘lex credendi’ should obviously be extended to ‘lex vivendi’,” the congregation’s letter concluded.

“That Catholics are today faced with the grave commitment to build a more just and peaceful world, implies a more profound understanding of the Christian meaning of peace and of its expression in liturgical celebration.”

I imagine some of the English speaking readers do not recall having heard a “song of peace”. I have seen that in many of the latin-American Spanish Masses: after the Our Father comes the rite of peace, then a song, such as “dame la mano” (give me your hand [see full lyrics below :eek:]), and when the people have calmed down or in order to calm them down 'cause otherwise they won’t, the cantor rapidly switches into singing the Lamb of God…

…I guess this would be an example of what the Holy See desires to change.

*No importa de donde tu vengas
Ni tu raza ni cuanto tu tengas
Si en tu corazon tienes a Cristo
Dame la mano y mi hermano seras

Dame la mano, Dame la mano
Dame la mano y mi hermano seras
Dame la mano, Dame la mano
Dame la mano y mi hermano seras*

Translation:
*I don’t care where you come from
Nor about your race or how much you have
If in your heart you have Christ
Give me your hand and you’ll be my brother…
*
Needless to say, the tune isn’t any more suitable for liturgy than the lyrics…

Good. I really, really, really, really, really, really look forward to seeing this implemented.

(No, I am not holding my breath)

Is there a link to the actual letter anywhere?

Amen! God Bless, Memaw

And why not just drop it all together!!!

Linus2nd

Amen.

There are other examples of what this statement desires to change, which I have seen happen much in some parishes in the U.S. For example, people leaving their places and going about the church giving signs of peace. And there are some priests who leave the altar and go into the congregation to give signs of peace. I know one priest who is accustomed to go all the way up the aisle to the back of the church to give the sign of peace to people. And it apparently says it ought not to be mandatory for everyone in church to give such signs of peace.
I would never have raised this whole issue myself, because there have been threads here dealing with the sign of peace, which cause much opposition between posters. Nor does this document seem to implement new regulations to these effects, but (though perhaps I am wrong), it simply makes recommendations about what should be done.
I will wait with interest to see what if anything this Vatican message effects.

No importa de donde tu vengas
Ni tu raza ni cuanto tu tengas
Si en tu corazon tienes a Cristo
Dame la mano y mi hermano seras

Dame la mano, Dame la mano
Dame la mano y mi hermano seras
Dame la mano, Dame la mano
Dame la mano y mi hermano seras

Translation:
*I don’t care where you come from
Nor about your race or how much you have
If in your heart you have Christ
Give me your hand and you’ll be my brother…
*
Needless to say, the tune isn’t any more suitable for liturgy than the lyrics…

Agree.:thumbsup:

Let us hope for the return of some good Anglo-Saxon rectictude in this. I personally abhor having to shake hands with a lot of sweaty pensioners, much less see women in their eighties rushing around hugging indiscriminately, and other women holding each other’s temples in something similar to the Vulcan mind merge. All very ucky when a polite bow is as good.

Funny story – my girlfriend and I were visiting a quaint little town in Texas called Salado a few weeks ago. There, we saw a tiny stone chapel with a high altar, chalice, altar veil, tall altar candles, etc. It was an Episcopalian Church, it turned out. We thought they might be celebrating the traditional rite there, just given the aesthetic, so we resolved to check it out the following Sunday (after Mass, of course). It turned out it was rite II, so basically their equivalent of our Novus Ordo; they even still use our crummy, pre-2011-correction translation.

When the sign of peace started (right after the homily), the service basically came to a halt. People left their seats, milled around, and started talking. This dragged on for about 15 minutes without end in sight before she and I finally just left.

The Vatican and I share this desire! A sign of peace that makes anyone feel uncomfortable or agitated is surely a contradiction. I’m not even considering the whole worship versus fellowship - vertical vs. horizontal - debate. I’m just not a touchy-feely kind of guy.

“Sweaty pensioners?” Actually, the elderly people I know actually long for a bit of human touch, human contact, alone as they after are, with family long distances away.

But that aside, I’m all for restraint and have never been a fan of the aisle-crossing congregation-churning form of the Sign of Peace. But neither is bowing a traditional gesture of peace in the West, and a church full of heads bobbing in all directions doesn’t strike me as restrained either. I think a handshake is both traditional and restrained, so long as it isn’t part of a liturgical conga-line. Actually, I love how Peace is exchanged in the Maronite Rite - you can look that up.

Absolutely.

I just returned from the Middle East where most of the members are from the Philippines and India.

The Sign of the Peace during Mass in the very large Parish:
The Priest bows to the congregation.
Congregation members bow to each other, mostly just to the person standing next to him/her with a simple head nod and hands folded.:gopray:
At the end of the Sign of Peace, altar servers walk to the foot of the altar and bow to the congregation.

Namaste.

I’m more in favour of simply dropping it. The “Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum” should be sufficient. In the other two Uses of the Roman Rite, there is no communal sign of peace, and the atmosphere before Communion is more, well, peaceful.

Let the kiss of peace be exchanged only between the Priest and Deacon, or between priests if concelebrated.

ummm wat

Let the kiss of peace be exchanged only between the priest and deacon, or between priests if there is concelebration.

Let the people stay put.

What’s unclear about that?

I wonder how this would fly in my sweetheart’s parish. It’s one of those spaceship, in-the-round places, and the ushers start at the back and shake EVERYONE’S hand during the sign of peace, even continuing after the Agnus Dei begins. We usually sit near the front, so that’s typically when the usher gets to us. Every usher does this.

I’ve gotten to where I stand with my hands folded and stay focused on the altar when it begins, and the lady doesn’t try to shake my hand. I don’t do it to be rude, but sometimes I wonder if I’m being uncharitable. It seems like once the mass has continued, we really shouldn’t be trying to shake hands anymore. There are plenty of other times to make everyone feel “included,” like when this parish has everyone stand right before the processional and tells everyone to “introduce yourselves by name.” (Don’t get me started…)

Thank God!

…baby steps…

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