Sunday, September 6, 2009

Kiss of peace too friendly?

A certain priest I met today said that, when his bishop queried the lack of the kiss of peace at Mass, he explained that in his parish, if you become too friendly, the people go away!


  1. I think that the Kiss (or Sign) of Peace is too overbold and over-familiar, particularly given that we're all different. Imagine being in a state of grief, and trying to pray quietly, and someone comes over to you to shake your hand. I think that constitutes pastoral insensativity and is rather intrusive.

  2. We don't have it at my parish (a Dominican parish). I prefer not. Usually, folks are wandering around greeting everyone even through the Agnus Dei. We're supposed to be beseeching the Lord for mercy, not ignoring him. Also, I've some problem with most people in most parishes I've attended only greeting their own family and friends, and if you're not one of the above, almost no one shakes your hand. I can do without that.

  3. As is typically the case when a liturgical element goes awry, the lack of decorum (and understanding by parishioners) can be directly attributed to poor catechesis. As with all elements of the mass, the kiss of peace (correctly performed) is to point to Christ, and allow us to share with our Christian brethren a beautiful and powerful truth, which is this: Through Christ's all-availing sacrifice on the cross, we are once again at peace with God, and, through our faith in Christ atoning work, assured of eternal life.

    It is a pity that such a beautiful element of the mass may be (and in many cases has been) lost because many in the clergy do not take the time to properly catechize their congregations on the elements of the mass.

  4. In general I would tend to agree. The Church directs that the sign of peace should be given in a decorous way, simply exchanging the sign with the person or persons immediately next to you. When people walk all round the church or wave or give actual kisses, this detracts from the liturgical nature of the sign. So I would always tend to have the sign of peace where possible and practicable.

    The other point to remember is that it is optional, and so there is no reason why it should be expected, or why a priest should be judged as not pro the modern liturgy simply because he has decided that it should not take place.

    Finally, the priest who made this remark was being somewhat humourous, and we need a sense of humour about these things.

    I must admit that, at his Mass, the change of mood after 'The Peace of the Lord be with you always' when the Agnus Dei was sung was dramatic and remarkable, and the same effect would not have been brought about had the sign of peace intervened. On balance, I felt the lack of the sign of peace was more than made up for by the effect that the liturgy had on me that day when I was concelebrating at that particular Mass.

  5. I must say that I have, not infrequent, experience with ordained servants of the Word having tongues firmly planted in cheek when making such remarks. The facetious nature of the remark is not lost on me. I suppose my comments were directed more to the responses to the remark, than the remark itself.

    However, the responses to this post do strike a nerve with me, in that they remind me of similar barbs traded over aspects of the Mass that are not as discretionary; namely the Lords Supper. Clearly, this is not an issue of concern for the Roman Catholic church (at least not yet), but it is a hotly-debated issue in the Lutheran church, where the not-uncommon practice is bi-monthly observance of the Holy Communion (3 guesses what happens during a month with a 5th Sunday; I'm afraid our Lord's directive plays second-fiddle to what's expedient/"comfortable"). The elements of the historic liturgy were instituted by the church Fathers for a reason, and all point to Christ. Excluding some of the "minor" elements of the historic liturgy for the reasons given in some of the comments to this post can quickly lead down a slippery slope, and lead to excluding elements which are *not* adiaphora. The Divine Liturgy is a gift given to us by God and helped shaped by the church Fathers. It should be protected from erosion due to "convenience" and lack of understanding. To steal a tag-line from a respected and intelligent theological publication: "Leitourgia Divina adiaphora non est".


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