Friday, June 06, 2014


I am very fond of kissing, I can understand the Holy Father's penchant for it, at least for baby-kissing. In fact in the OF there just isn't enough of it. It is one of the things about the Old Rite, one never turns from the altar without a farewell kiss, and one never receives anything as a priest without it being kissed and the hand that receives it is kissed too; it is everything from hats to thuribles and spoons - it is a bit strange when it comes from someone with a beard or stubble - except for a few odd religious orders, the Roman Rite should be a clean-shaven Rite! For priests and those on the sanctuary kissing is de rigueur.

One of signs Henry and St Thomas Becket were not reconciled after the latter's exile was that Henry always required a Requiem Mass to be celebrated whenever the two were together so he didn't have to kiss Thomas, the custom then, I think, was a  mouth to mouth kiss.

When the Swine 'Flu epidemic was carrying off thousands to the throne of judgement, Their Lordships recommended that we avoid physical contact and desist from shaking hands at the Sign of Peace, which of course is the way in which this ancient gesture is supposed to be offered in E&W. Being of a liberal disposition I rather like the Sign of Peace, so obedient to the diktat of avoiding skin on skin contact we introduced the old form of the amplexus; the celebrant placing the unjoined fingers of both hands on the shoulders of the recipient and the recipient placing his hands under the elbows of the giver. I think it expresses more perfectly the Peace of Christ than the mundane handshake, it strikes me as ridiculous for passionately in love couples to offer a limp handshake, in our culture it something which signifies a dodgy deal between car salesmen, unlike the French we are not a hand-shaking race. I can certainly understand the dislike of people for this venerable sign to become a hippy love-fest, does anyone remember the time when the Rite was so extended we actually used to accompany it by singing a ditty? I really hate it when this Rite is over extended or becomes a time to get small children on the sanctuary to hold hands.It is not because I object to Christians loving one another but because at that stage of the Mass in both forms the Mass is so fast-moving that the Sign of Peace and the expression of communion amongst us it signifies immediately moves on to Communion with Christ. It is just a preparatory Rite. Thus in the OF here immediately after the MC or server has received the Sign of Peace we begin the Agnus Dei.

I know many people really hate the Sign of Peace but before you rant about your prejudices read the FIUV Position Paper: the Kiss of Peace, it is quite short.


Православный физик said...

The overdone sign of peace is an introvert's worst nightmare…but there is a place for it, as you have shown. If parishes did that, I might be more "in tune" with the SOP

Jacobi said...


Have read the FIUV paper. Now for the rant. The post Vat II sign/shake is awful. The traditional inclined embrace in the sanctuary is OK, but that’s it!

The present handshake has no position in Catholic tradition. Handshakes are for mountain tops and shady business deals. They should never involve children. In my parish, city centre, servers are sent out to shake with all and sundry. Leaves me feeling uncomfortable.

Now for the serious stuff. One of the objectives of the Reformers after Vat II was to change the Mass from a Redemptive Sacrifice to a commemorative meal at which we could all get together and be nice to each other, take the bread and wine, and then go off to the parish rooms for coffee and a chat. The jolly handshake fits perfectly into this scenario.

It should be stopped. It is not compulsory, either for the priest, or laity.

If you must have it the GRIM says, “only to those who are nearest”, i.e., one person right or left. Not behind! Equally, it must be in accordance with the culture of the people. Now my mother told me never to offer my hand first to a lady, and I have learned the hard way to be careful about men also!

nickbris said...

When the hand-shaking thing started in the sixties I think most of the older people just knelt down and took no part. It gradually caught on but some of the more sweaty hands make one want to run for the washroom.

Pelerin said...

I am still suffering from an excruciating crushing handshake received yesterday at the SOP! I do not wish to offend anyone who offers their hand at Mass but I really do dread it now. What can one do apart from always attending the EF?

It is no good tucking oneself out of reach as I know from experience that people will cross the aisle to reach a lone person thinking they are being friendly. And some ladies hand shakes can be as painful as those of men!

It seems strange that in a country where hand shaking is the norm on every occasion I have never once received a crushing grip and can attend the NO there without fear whereas here in England some people seem to think that they have to show their so called friendship at the SOP by gripping you as tightly as possible.

Apart from putting both arms in slings what can one do without seeming rude?

Genty said...

What's most concerning is that the SoP seems to have become the high point of the Mass for many,(especially women).

John Vasc said...

Some years ago I heard (from a priest) the (allegedly true) story of a woman who, having prayed for forty years for her chronically-lapsed husband to return to the Faith, finally had her prayers heard. The husband, having not set foot in a Catholic church since 1960, grudgingly agreed to accompany his wife to Mass.
As the (OF) Mass progressed he gave ever more frequent incredulous glances at his watch, and suppressed snorts of visibly mounting irritation. When the time came for the Kiss of Peace, the entire congregation turned to each other to shake hands, and the husband could scarcely restrain his impatience as the celebrant came down from the altar and made a leisurely informal progress all round the church, shaking hands with the people nearest the aisle in each row, smiling and waving at everyone else. As he reached the row where the husband was standing, the scowling man reached over, grabbed hold of the priest's arm and hissed 'For God's sake Father, get a b****y move on!'

diff said...

Could the kissing of the Altar before extending the sign of Peace to the congregation(i.e Kiss the Altar and then say "the peace of the Lord be with you always") be included in the ordinary form without problems?
Would it make any sense in the context of the rite to do so?

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