Saturday, December 1, 2012

Sign of Peace (to shake hands or not shake hands, that is the question)

In the United States, when the priest or deacon invites us to share the Lord’s peace with one another, the usual way this is done is by a handshake. The Catholic Church leaves this up to local custom and some places people hug you or even kiss you on the cheek. Some even refuse to give the Sign of Peace and will stare straight ahead. Recently I was informed that some young parishioners rather “fist bump” instead of shaking hands. I don’t know about you, but I find this kind of exchange during Mass as rather odd and not respectful. It is not peaceful and not a good way to spread the Lord’s peace and to show in action that we are a unity of His Presence.

What are your thoughts? At the Rite of Peace all are to make an appropriate sign of peace, according to local custom. The Conference of Bishops in each country is to establish the manner of the sign of peace to be given, in accordance with the culture and customs of the peoples (cf. GIRM, no. 82). The sign should express peace, communion, and charity (cf. GIRM, no. 154). “It is, however, appropriate that each person offer the sign of peace only to those who are nearest and in a sober manner” (GIRM, no. 82).


Laurie said...

I don't mean to be a grinch, but I usually just give a nice smile and say "peace be with you". Germs spread like wild fire at this time of year- if we shake hands (and sometimes even if we don't), my kids always seem to get sick 2-3 days after Sunday mass.

Fist bump- no way.

Allison said...

At it's current place during the Mass, I find it disruptive. I'd like to see it before Mass.

The reverence of that part of the Mass is all too often broken by well-meaning but boisterous people coming across aisles and I find it hard to regain that serenity afterwards.

There's a time and place for fellowship. And, when Our Lord is truly present, and we want to show that to others, we should resemble a posture of awe, silence, and humility with our full attention on Him. I wonder if belief in the Real Presence is impaired by our lack of Eucharistic reverence?

An Benedictine monk and priest writes an interesting post here - mentioning the history of the practice.