Wednesday, June 19, 2024

The Sign of Peace, for Catholic Answers

The Kiss of Peace at the LMS Walsingham Pilgrimage 2023: High Mass in the Shrine

The Pax, the Kiss of Peace, is one of my favourite ceremonies of High Mass: one of the most dramatic and easily understood symbolic actions. The celebrant kisses the Altar and given the deacon a stylised embrace; the deacon embraces the subdeacon, the subdeacon the MC, and if there are clergy in choir it can be passed on down a whole row of them on both sides of the church.

For a photographer it is easy to miss. It only happens at High Mass with deacon and subdeacon, and not at Requiem Masses or on Maundy Thursday. At Prelatial Masses and First Masses of newly ordained priests, you get an extra chance to catch it, with the 'Assistant Priest'.

This is the historical context for the ceremony in the Novus Ordo, which sadly can take a form that feels not only somewhat secular but even disruptive and an invasion of personal space. I always think of a letter to the Catholic press from one worshipper in Bristol some years ago:

In my church, one elderly widower tours the pews 'making a meal'; of his license to to make contact with female bodies. ... When the 'feel good' moment arrives, they approach me expectactly, but I ignore such cheap, shallow, bonhomie. I have often felt like adding 'a little peace before Mass would not have gone amiss.'

My latest piece for Catholic Answers is on this topic. It begins:

The Sign of Peace, the handshake that takes place at Sunday Mass between the Our Father and the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) before Holy Communion, is sometimes a source of friction and confusion.

The friction derives from the experience of it getting out of hand—being disruptive and even an intrusion. These problems were serious enough to raise the question, at the 2009 Synod of Bishops in in Rome, of moving the Sign of Peace to before the Offertory. Here, I want to shed some light on the meaning of the rite, which helps to put the question into some context.

At the LMS Annual Mass of Reparation in Bedford.

Support the Latin Mass Society

No comments:

Post a Comment