An interpretation from Pope Francis of the new Sign of Peace decree

Did you notice the Sign of Peace at the Mass in the cathedral in the Philippines that Pope Francis celebrated with clergy and religious?

First a bit of background. One of the last acts of Cardinal Llovera as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship was to sign, along with secretary Arthur Roche, the circular letter on the Sign of Peace of June 8, 2014. Pope Francis had approved and confirmed the document the day before. (Pope Francis transferred Cardinal Cañizares back to Spain in August.)

The new CDW document says things such as this:

It should be made clear once and for all that the rite of peace already has its own profound meaning of prayer and offering of peace in the context of the Eucharist… If it is foreseen that [the exchange of peace] will not take place properly due to specific circumstances or if it is not considered pedagogically wise to carry it out on certain occasions, it can be omitted, and sometimes ought to be omitted. …

It will be necessary, at the time of the exchange of peace, to definitively avoid abuses such as: …

  • the departure of the priest from the altar in order to give the sign of peace to some of the faithful.
  • that in certain circumstances, … the exchange of peace being the occasion for expressing congratulations, best wishes or condolences among those present.

How to interpret these new restrictions? Pope Francis offers one possible interpretation:






83 responses to “An interpretation from Pope Francis of the new Sign of Peace decree”

  1. James B Smith Avatar
    James B Smith

    Thank you, Pope Francis!

  2. Michelle Francl-Donnay Avatar

    About 5 years ago, a blogging priest wrote about the sign of peace:

    “Perhaps we can learn something about the idea of preaching outside the sanctuary, and strutting about like a peacock, from the Church’s rubrics for the sign of peace. This is another occasion in which priests will jack-in-the-box out of the sanctuary where they belong and, sometimes, go to absurd lengths to see and be seen, to demonstrate how caring, warm and matey they are.

    The General Instruction of the Roman Missal states that funerals are one of the rare occasions when the priest is permitted to leave the sanctuary for the sign of peace…If there is a person of note present, the celebrant can leave the sanctuary to give the sign of peace. These are exceptions to the general rule that the priest belongs in the sanctuary. Period.”

    In a response at the time I noted that the Roman Missal didn’t actually say that, but did muse about who such “persons of note” might be. Perhaps the elderly parishioner in the front row, or the parent struggling to ride herd fussy children or the man who lives in the local shelter but who appears for the vigil Mass each week dressed with painful care.” So I watched this clip with utter delight — the Pope leaving the sanctuary with dignity, and greeting those of note, the elderly and infirm sisters in the front row.

    I loved watching the sister lean forward to release the papal chasuble when it caught on someone’s wheelchair. Christ playing in all those faces, for each other.

  3. Gerard Flynn Avatar
    Gerard Flynn

    Anthony, is it possible you are being mischievous by drawing attention to the Holy Father’s action, which, of course, is always worthy of emulation?

    1. Pádraig McCarthy Avatar
      Pádraig McCarthy

      @Gerard Flynn – comment #2:
      I’m all in favour of some holy mischief! Jesus shows such a talent when he names Simon to be the Rock. Even if he does not exclude the possibility of him being the rock on which the Barque of Peter could founder!
      Similar to the Sabbath, the sign of peace is made for our one-ing.
      On an occasion when the priest is without another person at the altar, would anyone say that the priest should be the only one present who does not exchange a one-to-one sign of peace with another?
      But then perhaps, instead of the priest leaving the altar, the whole congregation should come around the altar to exchange the sign of peace! full access for the physically disabled would be a necessity.

  4. John Drake Avatar
    John Drake

    His holiness has shown disregard for liturgical form before.

  5. John Mann Avatar
    John Mann

    Permitted in the US GIRM. Maybe it’s permitted in the Filipino GIRM.

  6. Gene Vavrick Avatar
    Gene Vavrick

    Obviously, the Papal MC’s were not thrilled. Heaven forbid the Holy Father should exchange greetings of peace with wheelchair-bound elderly women religious! Thank you, Father Francis!

  7. Anthony Ruff, OSB Avatar
    Anthony Ruff, OSB

    The GIRM for the US (which was approved by Rome long before the circular letter on the exchange of peace) says at #154: “In the dioceses of the United States of America, for a good reason, on special occasions (for example, in the case of a funeral, a wedding, or when civic leaders are present) the priest may offer the sign of peace to a few of the faithful near the sanctuary.” So I’m not sure that would apply here – this is more than a few, and it’s not too near the sanctuary. But I suppose one could quibble about that.

    Does anyone know if there is a similar statement for the Philippines?

    Though the circular letter does not outrank the GIRM, which has the force of liturgical law, obviously the intent of the CDW is that henceforth revisions of the GIRM would take into account the view promulgated therein. So I think it is certainly noteworthy that the pope who approved the circular letter went and did what the letter is obviously trying to do away with.


  8. Brian Culley Avatar
    Brian Culley

    Fr. Anthony it sounds a bit like John xxIII signing a document requiring Latin for seminary instruction but not expecting anyone to follow it. It was a nod to his old seminary Latin prof who was celebrating an anniversary.

  9. Fr. Allan J. McDonald Avatar
    Fr. Allan J. McDonald

    While I embrace a sober sign of peace and that the words that the priest says to the congregation prior to it, “The peace of the Lord be with you always” should suffice as his sign of the peace to all present, I can see the priest exchanging the sign of peace with those nearby and for special occasions to others in the congregation like the pope did in this video. But it does seem novel at a papal Mass. But when a priest does go to the congregation, he has to be selective and could be showing preference for some people over others, whereas the greeting “The peace of the Lord be with you always” is to all. But I have seen priests (have a good friend who does it) go throughout the congregation trying to share with everyone. It seems a bit clerical to me though and really extends a symbolic gesture into a literal act.

    What I don’t particular care for is for popes to model a liturgical gesture that is not necessarily codified and not explain it. For example Pope Benedict modeled in what some saw as a retro way, the traditional altar set-up, kneeling for Holy Communion and a retrieval of papal regalia from another era and never really explained why or codified it although he knew people were following his example.
    I think Pope Francis does the same thing but in a 1970’s sort of way, which of course is retro too, what he did at the Sign of Peace and the washing of the feet of women on Holy Thursday and with no real explanation or codifying of it.

  10. Jonathan Ziegler Avatar
    Jonathan Ziegler

    If something being a “special occasion” is what triggers the exception to GIRM 154, then it seems to be that the “special-er” the occasion, the more latitude there is with regards to the meaning of “few” and “near”. And I can’t think of much more special than a papal mass, so Pope Francis is then able to greet as many at whatever distance he chooses. Independent of the fact that he can just do what he wants anyway.

  11. Michael Delano Avatar
    Michael Delano

    Truly an inspiration. God Bless the Holy Father. I love how he goes out of the way to perform these actions that invariably point to just how pastoral and caring his personality is. Truly a humble man. Priests – if you feel you aren’t too popular with the crowd or with the world in general, this is how you disregard liturgical rigidity to show people just what a good guy you are. Take note.

  12. Peter Kwasniewski Avatar
    Peter Kwasniewski

    What this kind of thing does is simply to make a mockery of any instruction (or perhaps any document) that comes from the Vatican, whether from the Pope or a dicastery. For example, when the Extraordinary Synod entertained questions that were expressly closed off by John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio, it was making a mockery of his teaching. It would be better to have no documents at all than to publish them and proceed to ignore or contradict them.

    1. Gerard Flynn Avatar
      Gerard Flynn

      @Peter Kwasniewski – comment #13:
      No, Peter, rather than make a mockery of liturgical instructions, it shows how they may be superseded at the discretion of the presider.

      As regards your second point, what we have is two different views of the exercise of the authority of the magisterium: one which believes it has the authority to pronounce on and then to close off questions until the Parousia and the other which believes that no question is beyond review. How to facilitate a conversation between these two, and between all those views that lie somewhere between them is where the challenge lies.

  13. Norman Borelli Avatar
    Norman Borelli

    I love Pope Francis!

    1. janet kraus Avatar
      janet kraus

      @Norman Borelli – comment #14:
      ME TOO!!

    2. Geoff Kiernan Avatar
      Geoff Kiernan

      @Norman Borelli – comment #14:
      Hey Norm: Does that mean you endorse everything the Pope Says?

  14. Damian LaPorte Avatar
    Damian LaPorte

    Did anyone in the assembly offer a sign of peace to the nuns and priests in wheelchairs? Such as the priests standing behind them, otherwise occupied with their smartphones and iPads? Perhaps that’s why Pope Francis made what appears to be a split-second decision to go to them. Attending to the neglected would have been reason enough to break form.

  15. Chris Sullivan Avatar
    Chris Sullivan

    Que Linda !

  16. Anne Gomes Avatar
    Anne Gomes

    Ugh! I really hate Howdy Doody Time in the middle of the consecration. I reserved Peace is fine, but wandering around the Nave of the church, no.
    I like some things PF does. Others, not so much. He reminds me of so many Latin priests I know. They know exactly how far they can go to the limit, but next thing you know, everybody thinks anything goes.
    I’d rare see real community building and care outside mass, afterwards, at coffee, in small groups, etc, but Mass should focus on the Lord and our learning to be like Him.

  17. Fr. Jarrod Waugh, CSC Avatar
    Fr. Jarrod Waugh, CSC

    I agree with Jonathan (#13). There is form and then there is breaking from form. Breaking from form doesn’t even make sense unless there is a “usual” way of doing things. Tongue-in-cheek, I might say, “Here is Pope Francis again giving an example of what popes can do prudentially and pastorally within the liturgy. So remember that when you’re pope!”

    I am also very intrigued by what Fr. Allan (#9) brings up about the priest’s words to the whole assembly, “The Peace of the Lord…” I am thinking about the greeting at the beginning of Mass, and how it doesn’t make sense to me to hear or say “good morning” after “The Lord be with you”- a universal, not individual greeting. The same goes for the final blessing. BUT bishops (I don’t recall whom else) then often give those “little blessings” to…individuals?…as he recesses out of the church. There is an instance of individual gestures following a common gesture. Fascinating. It seems bishops can do things like this, but maybe priests should stick, generally (there are always exceptions), to the norm?

  18. Alan Johnson Avatar
    Alan Johnson

    I was more offended by the snap-happy concelebrants.
    Just wrong.

    1. Peter Pearson Avatar
      Peter Pearson

      @Alan Johnson – comment #19:
      Get over it…..

  19. Daniel Brereton Avatar
    Daniel Brereton

    That anyone should find the sharing of peace (however its done) so deeply “offensive” or in any way a major issue that threatens the proper worship of God or the effective preaching of the Word is, to me, utterly ridiculous. Such obsession with liturgical rules smacks to me of Pharisees worrying about how cups were washed but not the least bit concerned with those eating from them. The “sign of the peace” was made for us, not we for the sign of peace.

    1. Daniel F. Murray, O.F.M. Avatar
      Daniel F. Murray, O.F.M.

      @Daniel Brereton – comment #20:
      Daniel, You couldn’t have put in a better context. Thanks

    2. Sr Catherine Barker OSB Avatar
      Sr Catherine Barker OSB

      @Daniel Brereton – comment #20:
      Hear, hear!

  20. sandra emerson Avatar
    sandra emerson

    We need to encourage compassion, not forbid it. What would Christ want us to do?

  21. Fr. Jack Feehily Avatar
    Fr. Jack Feehily

    To the best of my knowledge, Jesus taught two Great Commandments and later spoke of another by which his disciples should love one another as he had loved them. We are called to keep those laws by following the example of Christ’s actions. Liturgical laws have a good purpose by supplying to us a normative form. Thank you, Pope Francis, for showing something about the greeting of peace that was not found in the circular letter.

    BTW, a lot of circular letters wind up in the circular file.

  22. Tony Phillips Avatar
    Tony Phillips

    Interesting that this post on the SOP occurs right after a post on the duration of Mass!

    I know a priest who told me they rarely use the Roman Canon (EP-1) in his parish because it’s ‘too long’. Didn’t occur to him that if he’d skip the SOP, the bidding prayers (‘prayers of the faithful’), and the extemporised greetings and weather reports, there’d be time for such luxuries.

    The SOP is one of the few novelties in the Bugnini-Montini liturgy that’s actually specified by Vatican II. And it’s one place, in my view, where the council fathers got it wrong. Which I guess is proof that, even if you cling to the, er, belief (I was going to say ‘fiction’) that Vatican II and the other councils that have occurred since the great schism were true oecumenical councils (comparable to Nicaea), nevertheless (to quote the BCP) “they may err, and sometimes have erred”.

    To any priests who may be reading this: whatever your personal tastes are regarding the SOP, please remember that some of us find it disruptive, distracting and out of place. Show some mercy, and leave it out now and then. It’s perfectly legit to do so. And if you’re feeling really merciful, skip the bidding prayers too. That’s not legit, but look at the pope–he breaks the rules all the time!

    1. Patrick McMahon Avatar
      Patrick McMahon

      @Tony Phillips – comment #24:
      in the primitive Church of the first three centuries, to refuse one the sign of peace excluded you from receiving the Eucharist. The SOP is not extraneous to the Eucharistic Action it is at the very heart of the relationship between the Church as Body of Christ and the Sacrament of the Altar as the Body (and Blood) of Christ. As a priest celebrant I would never skip the sign of peace. Nor, by the way, would I use Eucharistic Prayer I–the “Roman Canon” for while it is certainly valid its lack of a proper epiclisis is very disturbing.

      1. Dcn. Matthew Skulicz Avatar

        @Patrick McMahon – comment #34:
        Perhaps off the topic of the thread, I’m glad to read your remarks on the epiclesis of the Roman Canon. I’ve never heard a priest mention the vagueness of the invocation of the Holy Spirit before now. As a deacon, my habit is to bow when the priest prays over the species and invoke the Holy Spirit, my bow intended as an act of reverential welcome. When the First Eucharistic Prayer is said, however, I simultaneously bow at the movement of the priest’s hands and wonder at the absence of mention of the Holy Spirit. I believe that in the English version, the Spirit’s presence is reduced to an adjective. At any rate, I’ve just always presumed that whenever the prayer was composed, the Holy Spirit was not held is such high regard as it is now, in the time following Vatican Two and the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. — Thanks for sharing this observation.

      2. Fr. Jarrod Waugh, CSC Avatar
        Fr. Jarrod Waugh, CSC

        @Dcn. Matthew Skulicz – comment #69:
        Deacon Skulicz, If you are a Latin Rite cleric ordained with the vernacular rite (that’s an assumption), then think about the other times that the Holy Spirit is “invoked” by gesture but not by spoken word. In Diaconate Ordination, the Laying on of Hands is done in silence, and again also for Presbyteral Ordination. In the Baptism of Children, at the Anointing after Baptism with the Sacred Chrism, that gesture is done in silence. Those are of course different from the Epiclesis, and the Roman Canon might be “odd” for not having an explicit one, but earlier I also referred to the Anaphora of Addai and Mari, which doesn’t have an explicit (one could argue) Institution Narrative. That certainly makes it “odd” compared to other Churches, but it was a legitimate development of the liturgy for those communities.

        It seems that the Eucharistic liturgy for the Latin Rite developed (quite a long time ago) that “implied epiclesis,” which might be an outlier compared to other Rites, but is an authentic development of the tradition inherited in the West. The Church has seen fit to compose new Eucharistic Prayers, ones which do have an explicit Epiclesis, but that does not mean the ancient one should then be discarded. It is telling that the Missal *makes* the celebrant use the Roman Canon for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, when we remember the impetus for having the Eucharist in the first place. That seems to me to be giving it pride of place, not second-class status.

    2. Fr. Tim Gray Avatar
      Fr. Tim Gray

      @Tony Phillips – comment #24:
      I am the only priest I know who pauses for a few moments at the “bidding prayers” in the Eucharistic prayer. Most priests rush right through the Eucharistic prayer as though they did not know the seven constitutive elements in it.
      I’m glad you recognize that NOBODY should be satisfied (humanly speaking) by the liturgy. What pleases me, displeases another. When I celebrate, I am ALWAYS showing mercy to some, and challenging the complacency of others. That is the nature of community; and liturgy is “action of the community”

  23. Fr. Jarrod Waugh, CSC Avatar
    Fr. Jarrod Waugh, CSC

    Might the Universal Prayer also be seen as optional, though preferred? The GIRM explicitly states that it is optional in a Mass with only one (other) minister, and in 69 states that it is “desirable that there usually be” one, but that seems to indicate that *sometimes* there might not be.

  24. Edgar Wilson Avatar
    Edgar Wilson

    I have always viewed the Sign of Peace as an expression for the whole community not a further expression of ‘differences’ between the priest and congregation . I do wonder when we speak in terms of codifying! Christ was a bit short on codes when it came to relating to all peoples in his community,

  25. Deirdre Pierson Avatar
    Deirdre Pierson

    Pope Francis is not flaunting canon law. He is reminding us, once again, that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. It is a lesson right from the mouth of our Lord, but too easily lost even on his Church, when human forms once again trump divine intention. Thank you, Papa! Hope to see you in September! Always praying for you. Always and everywhere.

  26. Brian Lynch Avatar
    Brian Lynch

    Old patriarchal leaders trying to fossilize their micromanaging control…becoming increasingly irrelevant in the 21st century. Pope Francis’ humanity, compassion, and simplicity are a breath of fresh air, but there are so many who still want to keep the windows closed and to keep piping in the stale, musty air.

  27. Melanie Smith Avatar
    Melanie Smith

    Fr. Jack Feehily at comment 22 – Amen, preach it Father!!

  28. Halbert Weidner Avatar
    Halbert Weidner

    Who taught interpretation of law to most of the commentators? I was taught …by a Jesuit…that all law has to be interpreted that is applied to concrete circumstances and that the principle of application was the good of souls. Obviously when the good of souls is at stake that good prevails. Even, I suppose wandering around the nave. Loosen up people. The rubrics of the Mass in the pre-vatican 2 church may have been binding under sin but that is not the case anymore.

  29. Margaret Perrone Avatar
    Margaret Perrone

    Seems like we have too many rules!

  30. Fr. Jarrod Waugh, CSC Avatar
    Fr. Jarrod Waugh, CSC

    So you would “never” use the Canon the Latin Rite used for over 1300 years? Makes sense…
    So what do you do on Holy Thursday, cut up and paste the Missal?

    Sorry, I keep editing: Out of curiosity, what about a “canon” which doesn’t include (explicitly) the Institution Narrative? That is a different Rite, of course, but would that be just as disturbing?

  31. John Montalvo Avatar
    John Montalvo

    Did I miss something? I saw the Pope exchange the sign of peace with the clergy on the altar, but upon leaving the altar he RECEIVED acts of veneration in the form of religious kissing his hands. The Pooe did not reciprocate, so strictly speaking this was not an exchange of the kiss/sign of peace, so no liturgical norm was broken.

  32. Fr. Jack Feehily Avatar
    Fr. Jack Feehily

    Rubricists don’t “celebrate” Mass. They offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as if it was handed down intact from apostolic times. Those among them who treasure theTLM seem to believe that it was fundamentally the same since about the third century. They recoil at the notion that the pope or anyone might depart from the rubrics with impunity. For them, Catholics exist for the Mass and its rubrics. SC called for a transformation of the Latin Rite so that it could be celebrated with full, active and conscious participation thus leading to the creation of vibrant faith communities.

  33. MONSIGNOR Robert m. Perkins Avatar
    MONSIGNOR Robert m. Perkins

    I know that because I quote the most recent “Sacramentary” I will be dismissed by many. However, as we prayed the daily Eucharistic prayer,
    “You have no need of our prayer of praise, it adds nothing to Your greatness, but it helps us to grow in your grace”!!!!
    Could it be that the “Sign of peace” helps us to grow, be reminded, that we are to grow in grace with one another??? In the “sanctuary” and in the pews with the “People of God”!!! MONSIGNOR Robert M. Perkins, ordained 43 years ago

  34. David Cinquegrani Avatar
    David Cinquegrani

    People must be laughing at us. The world is struggling with massive poverty, disease and homelessness and this is what we are paying attention to? Go to a mass in Haiti and you would be SO over this nonsense. EMBARRASSING!

    1. linda daily Avatar
      linda daily

      @David Cinquegrani – comment #39:
      Thank you for this reality check. Not only embarrassing but repelling. Liturgical cyborgs evangelize no one. God is not the dungeon master.

    2. Dcn. Matthew Skulicz Avatar

      @David Cinquegrani – comment #39:
      You’re right on the mark, David.

  35. Jordan Zarembo Avatar

    S. pax domini sit semper vobiscum / P. et cum spiritu tuo (or vernacular analogue), with an immediately following recitation of the Agnus Dei, is all that is needed at the vast majority of Masses. The five minute handshake, hug, and chatter that is the Sign of Peace at Sunday Mass at many parishes is not the pax that the celebrant in persona Christi is offering to the congregation. The liturgical pax is of Christ’s outpouring of infinite agape to humanity in and through the sacrificial banquet. This point in the Mass is not the time for an extended two-hundred-person lovebomb. Demonstrative behavior can wait for coffee hour.

    A therapeutic approach to Mass has destroyed the intellectual focus and ritual sobriety of the summit of Catholic life. Pseudo-psychotherapeutics have absolutely no place at Mass. The priest is not there to roll a couch out for you. If a person comes to hear Mass with the mindset that he or she will receive emotional validation not from the abiding presence of Christ in his body, blood, and divinity, but rather a feeble emotional affirmation from other persons, he or she has lost an understanding of the very sacramental reality of the Mass.

    1. Paul R. Schwankl Avatar
      Paul R. Schwankl

      @Jordan Zarembo – comment #40:
      Jordan, I hope you aren’t saying that we should do no more than is needed (for validity and liceity?) at a celebration of Mass. I don’t agree that the sign of peace can well be omitted at most Masses, and I’m curious about which the Masses are at which you think it is suitable, and why.
      I sure do agree, however, that the sign of peace can be overextended, and that it can be left on too low a spiritual plane, approaching mere chitchat. And I agree that people looking for mere “emotional affirmation from other persons” in the Eucharist need to look for something far more sublime. But please don’t ignore that, at the sign of peace, emotional affirmation is coming from persons who have just offered the Body and Blood of Christ to the Father. The post-Vatican-II reforms of the Mass have had me more aware, in what I consider an extremely salutary way, of the presence of my fellow congregants and of their holiness that results from the act we are performing together. I think it would be very sad if intellectual focus and ritual sobriety, very good things in themselves, were allowed to cloud that awareness.

      1. Jordan Zarembo Avatar
        Jordan Zarembo

        @Paul R. Schwankl – comment #74:

        Mass is not a communion factory. In times past many priests indeed viewed Mass this way. We should be glad that this is less the case nowadays. Even so, there is a tendency in some places (but by no means the norm) to exaggerate the affective and emotional aspects of Mass. I agree that a balance must be struck between the intellectual and the awareness of a congregation or assembly as a integral worshiping whole of the Mass. This balance is often difficult to establish. Where sentimentalism is not checked, the sacramental signs are often occluded.

        In my view, the physical gesture of pax should be reserved for Masses with more than one celebrant, or especially when a prelate (in particular the arch/diocesan bishop) is the principal celebrant. This corresponds with the Tridentine tradition of reserving the gesture of pax to solemn and pontifical Masses. The medieval style of offering the pax greeting is quite appropriate for the clergy and ministers (eg. acolytes). Pope Francis uses this gesture style at papal Masses, so its practice is current. The congregation could (should?) exchange a handshake. I think that three minutes to five minutes at the very maximum is all that is needed for a congregational pax gesture.

        My restriction of the pax gesture to solemn celebrations emphasizes that the Mass is never a monolithic experience marked with the same actions at every celebration. Not every meal is beef Wellington; sometimes sustenance on fast days is veggie soup and bread. Both meals are nourishment, despite the differences in elaboration. Mass is always the supersubstantial meal of Christ’s body, blood, soul, and divinity. Even so, this essential nourishment need not always be marked by affective sharing like handshaking. At certain times the Mass offers different emphases in ritual incidentals, but not essentials. “Assembly” therefore is sometimes notionally expressed, at other times physically expressed, according to degrees of solemnity.

  36. Vic Romero Avatar
    Vic Romero

    Tony Phillips :
    The SOP is one of the few novelties in the Bugnini-Montini liturgy that’s actually specified by Vatican II. And it’s one place, in my view, where the council fathers got it wrong.

    Writing in the second century, Justin the Martyr describes the earliest celebrations of the Eucharist in his First Apology to the Roman Emperor.

    Justin: “On finishing the prayers we greet each other with a kiss.”

  37. Neil Grover, Sr. Avatar
    Neil Grover, Sr.

    Oh those of our Catholic faith lost in man made ritual, protocols and the notion of man made laws to make things holy, spiritual or sacramental. You have lost the forrest for the trees. Jesus is known in us and among us, in our joining together in his name. We celebrate the mass as a celebration of that love, tying each of us to the 2000 year ever-changing thread that is humanity gathering as the Church. Communion together is reenacting a celebratory gathering, which can be tinged with hard realities and real joys with the company of each other, all at once. Form is man’s imperfection, his desire to have a sense of what to do, in an effort for us to overcome our frailty in this life. The 20th Century, like each century before, caused reaction and change in the Church. Our Good Pope Francis shows again and again a mirror to what is good and holy in people,recognizing our humanity and embracing it, without fear and with love by snd through the divine.

  38. Gregory Hamilton Avatar

    The sign of peace has always seemed to me to be one of those VII liturgical bon bons that seem stuck into the OF liturgy. I thought that the reform of the liturgy was supposed to bring the liturgy back to some supposed more ‘pure’ state. But apparently this was an addition that had no historical basis
    the silliness of it becomes evident when an ordination is performed..then there are Two exchanges of peace.

    1. Paul Chandler Avatar
      Paul Chandler

      @Gregory Hamilton – comment #43:
      “the silliness of it becomes evident when an ordination is performed..then there are Two exchanges of peace.”
      Not at all: you have misunderstood. Those ordained are welcomed into the order they have just joined (deacon, priest, bishop) by those present who share the same order as part of the ordination rite. Later the whole congregation may share the sign of peace. Quite different symbolic gestures.

    2. Fr. Tim Gray Avatar
      Fr. Tim Gray

      @Gregory Hamilton – comment #43:
      Let me know… what was the year that the liturgy was in its “pure” state?
      (It had to be in Greek, right? or in Aramaic?)

  39. Denis Khan Avatar
    Denis Khan

    At the exequial Holy Mass for St. John Paul II, attended by the world’s dignitaries, the world watched aghast as Prince Charles turned around to exchange the Sign of Peace, and was horrified to see Mugabe, Zimbabwe dictator, beaming back at him! The exchange of peace should only be to our right and to our left. Sometimes we turn around and see our neighbor with whom we are at daggers drawn in Court. We are supposed to forgive before coming to worship, but if this law is implemented, the churches will be empty.

  40. Scott Gilliam Avatar
    Scott Gilliam

    I am so tired of people who cling to man-made rules for expressing our faith. Would Jesus venture into the Congregation to offer the greeting of peace and to console the wheelchair bound, or stay put in order to follow the edicts of the Chief Priests? I hope everyone can figure out the answer. Pope Francis follows the heart that God gave him to live the Gospel. I thank God for Pope Francis.

  41. Vic Romero Avatar
    Vic Romero

    Gregory Hamilton : But apparently this was an addition that had no historical basis.

    Writing in the second century, Justin the Martyr describes the earliest celebrations of the Eucharist in his First Apology to the Roman Emperor.

    Justin: “On finishing the prayers we greet each other with a kiss.”

  42. Vic Romero Avatar
    Vic Romero

    John Montalvo : Did I miss something? . . . the Pope . . . RECEIVED acts of veneration in the form of religious kissing his hands.

    It is an element of Filipino culture. By Filipino tradition, one does not shake hands with an elder (you don’t shake hands with your parents). You practice what is called “mano po.” You kiss their hand. Handshaking is a Western gesture. You shake hands with peers.

    1. Fritz Bauerschmidt Avatar

      @Vic Romero – comment #50:
      Our older Filipino parishioners, rather than shaking my hand at the door at the end of Mass, will take my hand and hold the back of it to their forehead. At first, egalitarian American that I am, I was a bit embarrassed by this. Now I simply accept it as part of their cultural heritage and appreciate the respect that they intend to convey.

      1. Vic Romero Avatar
        Vic Romero

        @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #51:

        Yes, that is the “mano po” tradition. Glad to hear you understand, accept and appreciate it. You are respected and revered by your parishioners.

        We Filipinos all thought it had been introduced to us by the Spanish colonists (1565-1898). But when I saw a Malaysian documentary, in which a young man, leaving home for college did exactly the same thing–took his parents’ hands and touched them to his forehead–I learned the custom was older than the Spanish conquest of the Philippines. Wow! Christian Filipinos and Muslim Malays have the same “mano po” tradition.

  43. Jaime R Vidal Avatar
    Jaime R Vidal

    I find kissing the hand of the celebrant, no matter what his rank, at the sign of peace totally inappropriate (even more so that a “merely human” hug. ) The sign of peace is a sign of brotherhood, not of reverence (except MUTUAL reverence) and even of mutual FORGIVENESS before bringing one’s gift to the Altar.

    1. Vic Romero Avatar
      Vic Romero

      @Jaime R Vidal – comment #53:
      “Inappropriate” is a conclusion, a judgment, on your part, based on your own set of knowledge, beliefs and values.

      Do you know the set of knowledge, beliefs and values of the actual participants in the situation you are judging?

  44. Jay Edward Avatar
    Jay Edward

    Since it was a special occasion, and the Pope was trying to show his appreciation for the service the sisters have given the Church, who am I to judge? However, if Fr. Joe down at the parish steps out of the sanctuary to give the sign of peace to the entire first row, or work the aisles, I kind of think the priest is being showy in a “look how down with the people I am” sort of way, and putting undue focus on his personality. The lay people are represented by the altar servers who share the sign of peace with the priest. Obviously the priest can’t shake hands with everybody, so sharing the sign of peace with the altar servers suffices if he is to have us share a sign of peace (though not strictly necessary since the priest shared the peace of the Lord to the congregation, and the congregation shared it back by saying “and with your spirit”). I don’t know if anyone else has noticed this, but I’ve noticed a lot more waving in all directions, I think due to concerns about germs, as people touch their eyes, nose and mouth, sneeze, etc. throughout Mass.

    I am more concerned with the lack of reverence and due care the distribution of Holy Communion is undertaken at these large papal Masses than if the pope shares the sign of people with religious who have given their lives in service…there were Hosts passed among the faithful in the rain, and in some cases, Our Lord even ended up in the mud!

  45. Stanislaus Kosala Avatar
    Stanislaus Kosala

    The fact is that 99% of the time, the pope follows rubrics very closely, including when it comes to the sign of peace. Anyone trying to draw a larger lesson from this instance about the interpretation of directives should take this fact into account.

  46. David Waite Avatar
    David Waite

    The Holy Father apparently believes that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Can’t imagine where he got such an idea . . .

  47. Todd Orbitz Avatar
    Todd Orbitz

    My parish priest too a fairly long time today at the Offertory and the Lavabo while the choir was singing. After the Lavabo, he walked back to the center of the altar and I notice he laid his hands on it and was saying something. I joked to him on the way out that I thought I saw him saying the Suscipe, sanct Trinitas…

    He laughed and said… “You caught me.” He followed up with and said….”When you attend my Mass…. It’s a hybrid…. but then again, liturgical rules don’t really matter anymore. [wink]”

    I was fairly disturbed, and said, “Father, but people should know what they are getting.” His response…. “Tell that to the Holy Father. I’m taking his lead.”

    Be careful what y’all wish for. I don’t think liturgical chaos is good, whether it swings right or left.

  48. Andrew Moyer Avatar
    Andrew Moyer

    Numbers 20 and 39 have got it right. I’m all for liturgy that is good, but the rigidity of some of these comments brings the straining of gnats and swallowing camels biblical reference to mind. Some of the most excruciatingly correct liturgies I’ve been to absolutely lacked any life. Get a grip, peeps.

  49. Timothy Struck Avatar
    Timothy Struck

    I probably lack the high levels of education and knowledge demonstrated by many of the posts here, but I have not seen a very basic Truth brought forward: HE IS THE POPE! What he binds or looses on Earth a likewise del with in heaven. I have heard for decades that I must follow the Pope’s teachings, even when I do not agree. I would.then propose that we all follow his teaching (example) on this, and question the Rules and not question the Pope. Even if we don’t agree.

    1. Tony Phillips Avatar
      Tony Phillips

      @Timothy Struck – comment #60:
      OK, this is satire–right?
      The pope isn’t above the law. And he’s not, as some people seem to think (vide no.22), Jesus. And the liturgy isn’t his…it’s ours.

  50. Jim Pauwels Avatar
    Jim Pauwels

    “the circular letter on the Sign of Peace of June 8, 2014.”

    Does anyone have the details for the vigil and funeral of this dead letter?

    Vic Romero and Fritz, many thanks for that explanation of mano po. I have received that gesture before, and my initial reaction was like Fritz’s. In some ways the world is very large, and in some ways it seems to be getting smaller …

  51. Vic Romero Avatar
    Vic Romero

    One of the good things about the internet is that anybody can express an opinion.

    One of the bad things about the internet is that anybody can express an opinion.

    The internet only amplifies one’s ability or inability to think clearly or reason on the basis of evidence. Too many people in this forum, including this thread, jump from 1) observation to 3) judgment, leaving out 2) their ladder of inference. How did they get from 1) to 3) ?

    Often, it is in step 2 that they err. Perhaps unknowingly. But err nonetheless.

    Maybe making one’s assumptions and reasoning process explicit might help. Also, suspending judgment on opinions contrary to one’s own might help.

    Heisenberg proved in 1939 we can’t be too certain about what we think we know. Still a valid finding today.

  52. Dcn. Matthew Skulicz Avatar

    re: comment 13. I’m with you, Peter. I’ve learned not to be surprised by these teapot-tempests raised by the codifiers. Jesus never wrote a canon, but he did command love. Francis is a Christian first–and you can see the Christianity of those who watched him in their loving eyes. God bless him for dancing his own dance in the presence of the Lord. I supposed he signed the document because he has to sit at a desk with a pen on it. He has to keep the bureaucracy happy, at least until (we hope) he fixes and downsizes it, and sends the bureaucrats off to work in the food pantries and homeless shelters, where ministers of Christ really belong. A Catholicism which blunts itself in service of its own code, whatever its blessed reasons are, is not a Catholicism worth making a fuss about. As #22 suggests, the only worthwhile Catholicism is the Christian Catholicism which manifests that the loving presence of Jesus is among us, all of us.

  53. Emelia Junk Avatar
    Emelia Junk

    Emelia Junk : For me, the Sign of Peace has received new life and care for those I will now worship with . . . I was brought to tears by the action of Pope . . . again teaching us . . .The vowed Religious, ordained men, of whom obviously one was a bishop-holding his pink beanie- I wondered how many years they have given to the Church . . what health limitations they might now have . .e.g., possibly unable to speak, had a stroke, what language . . notably the FIRST man who insisted on standing – with such difficulty. This was not a moment of rules or regs, but of outstanding TLC after our Master . . . for all to learn from .

  54. Beth DeCristofaro Avatar
    Beth DeCristofaro

    Beautiful and loving. Thank you, Pope Francis. Seems to me that Jesus told us “My peace I give you” but He did not say “my regs and rubrics I give you”.

  55. Tom Longer Avatar
    Tom Longer

    I don’t remember Jesus telling anyone this, reading it in the bible, or God sending it down in a message.

    Just another time the leaders are forgetting to use common sense.

  56. Juan Enrique de la Rica Barriga Avatar
    Juan Enrique de la Rica Barriga

    N.B.: Cardinal Llovera doesn’t exist. His family name is Cañizares, his second family name (usually in spanish, not in English and other languages) is Llovera. His given name is Antonio (not “Antonio Cañizares”; “Cañizares isn’t a given name in spanish). So, you can say “cardinal Cañizares”, or, if you wish, “cardinal Cañizares Llovera”, but not “cardinal Llovera”. In spanish the “second name” doesn’t exist, though some names are complex (v. gr. my name “Juan Enrique”), not the case of cardinal Cañizares.

  57. Fritz Bauerschmidt Avatar

    Fr. Jarrod Waugh, CSC : It is telling that the Missal *makes* the celebrant use the Roman Canon for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, when we remember the impetus for having the Eucharist in the first place.

    It does? I was not aware of this. Where does it say this?

  58. Fr. Jarrod Waugh, CSC Avatar
    Fr. Jarrod Waugh, CSC

    Sorry, perhaps instead of “makes” I should have said “seems to strongly encourage.” In the 2010 English Roman Missals (Catholic Book and CTS) I have, the Roman Canon is re-printed “in-line” within the texts for that liturgy. You’d have to flip away from the page to avoid using it. Obviously you could flip away, and the rubric says “When the RC is used…” which implies that it might not be used, but it seems clear that it is preferred, otherwise why reprint it there?

  59. Fritz Bauerschmidt Avatar

    Don’t get me wrong; I think it is highly appropriate for Holy Thursday. I suspect, however, that its printing in the propers of Holy Thursday has more to do with the awkwardness of trying to flip back and forth in order to incorporate the three special inserts than with any official preference for the Canon.

    1. Paul Inwood Avatar
      Paul Inwood

      @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #77:


  60. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
    Karl Liam Saur

    The encouragement to use Eucharistic Prayer I on Holy Thursday comes in GIRM 365. My understanding of its placement in the Missal would be the unique modification to the Institution Narrative made on Holy Thursday.

  61. Eric Kolmos Avatar
    Eric Kolmos

    GOD FORBID the Holy Father should come down to make the sign of peace with the elderly & wheelchair bound religious. Welp, its not exactly detailed or permitted per the rubrics:

    1 Corinthians 13 (RSV-CE):
    12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. 13 So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

    Matthew 23 (RSV-CE):
    23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of extortion and rapacity. 26 You blind Pharisee! first cleanse the inside of the cup and of the plate, that the outside also may be clean. 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

    Luke 11 (RSV-CE):
    39 And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of extortion and wickedness. 40 You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you. 42 “But woe to you Pharisees! for you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 43 Woe to you Pharisees! for you love the best seat in the synagogues and salutations in the market places.

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