US Catholic Faith in Real Life

More peaceful sign of peace?

By Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

The liturgical winds of change keep blowing: Fresh off his restoration of the Latin Mass, Pope Benedict XVI is polling the world's bishops about moving the sign of peace to the time of the preparation of the gifts from its current position just before Communion. The purpose of the change, according to Cardinal Francis Arinze of the Congregation for Divne Worship, "to create a more meditative climate" at Mass.

What's funny about the proposal is that the U.S. bishops have been asking for years to have the option of moving the sign of peace to more adequately reflect the gospel injunction to reconcile before bringing your gifts to the altar. But the concern of the Vatican seems to be that the sign of peace has become too rambunctious!

"The meaning of this gesture is often not fully understood," said Arinze, in L'Osservatore Romano. "It is thought to be a chance to shake hands with friends. Instead it is a way to tell those nearby that the peace of Christ, really present on the altar, is also with all men." Actually, I'm pretty sure that most folks make the proper connection; in a way it's too bad that the Vatican can't see all that energy--handshakes, hugs, and kisses--as a sign of piety rather than a disturbance.

But we have come a long way from the time when people thought "shaking hands at Mass" was silly.