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CATHOLIC LITURGY: Can Priest Go Down Aisle at the Kiss of Peace?
Zenit News Agency ^ | October 28, 2003 | Father Edward McNamara

Posted on 10/29/2003 7:07:44 AM PST by NYer

Q: Is it OK for the priest to come down during the peace offering to shake hands with the congregation? I hear this is wrong and I'd really like to know if it is or not since it makes me uneasy about our doing something inappropriate. -- I.S., San Ysidro, California

A: The new General Instruction on the Roman Missal (GIRM), with approved adaptations for the United States, refers to this question in No. 154: "The priest may give the sign of peace to the ministers but always remains within the sanctuary, so as not to disturb the celebration. 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. At the same time, in accord with the decisions of the Conference of Bishops, all offer one another a sign that expresses peace."

For the moment the above exceptions, which are quite reasonable, apply only within the United States as almost no other episcopal conference has submitted a translation for the Holy See's approval.

The reason the GIRM dwells on this point is to put the kiss of peace into its proper context as a brief, and relatively unimportant rite in preparation for Communion; in fact, few realize that it is actually optional. It is the forthcoming Communion, not the priest, nor the good feelings we harbor toward our neighbors, that is the reason and source of the peace we desire for our fellows and the peace we receive from them. As GIRM 82 says, in the Rite of Peace: "the Church asks for peace and unity for herself and for the whole human family, and the faithful express to each other their ecclesial communion and mutual charity before communicating in the Sacrament."

So, when the celebrant walks down the aisle shaking hands, the gesture, despite his good intentions, tends to inordinately draw attention to his person, as if he, and not the Lord, were the source of the peace that only Christ can give. Sometimes we priests can forget that being a "Pontifex" means being a bridge, and a bridge serves its purpose only when we walk over it, not when we admire it from a distance.

The gestures of the faithful, while respecting local custom, they should avoid excess exuberance and ebullience, again according to GIRM 82: "as to the sign of peace to be given, the manner is to be established by Conferences of Bishops in accordance with the culture and customs of the peoples. It is, however, appropriate that each person offer the sign of peace only to those who are nearest and in a sober manner."

At the same time when this rite is done well it can be very effective spiritually. Dr. Bernard Nathanson, for example, has written of the powerful impression caused by witnessing this gesture at a Catholic Mass as he struggled to leave behind radical atheism and find, first belief in God, and eventually, acceptance of the Catholic faith.


TOPICS: Activism; Apologetics; Catholic; Current Events; General Discusssion; Theology; Worship
KEYWORDS: catholic; liturgy; mass; novusordo
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Father Edward McNamara, is professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum.

This post is part of Zenit's efforts to address questions of liturgical abuse in the US, and other parts of the world.


Readers may send questions to news@zenit.org. Please put the word "Liturgy" in the subject field. The text should include your initials, your city and your state, province or country.

1 posted on 10/29/2003 7:07:45 AM PST by NYer
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To: american colleen; sinkspur; Lady In Blue; Salvation; Polycarp; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; ...
Here's an opportunity to sound off ... just how bad is it in your parish?

Catholic Ping - let me know if you want on/off this list

2 posted on 10/29/2003 7:11:29 AM PST by NYer ("Close your ears to the whisperings of hell and bravely oppose its onslaughts." ---St Clare Assisi)
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To: NYer
Dear NYer,

This isn't something typically seen in the churches which I attend in the Archdioceses of Washington or Baltimore. Maybe at a wedding or a funeral, that's about it. Even then, perhaps not. A friend of mine died in the spring, and the priest who celebrated the Memorial Mass didn't do this.

I can't even remember the last time I saw this in my own area.


sitetest
3 posted on 10/29/2003 7:17:05 AM PST by sitetest (Remember to pray for my dad.)
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To: NYer
"The gestures of the faithful, while respecting local custom, they should avoid excess exuberance and ebullience, again according to GIRM 82: "as to the sign of peace to be given, the manner is to be established by Conferences of Bishops in accordance with the culture and customs of the peoples. It is, however, appropriate that each person offer the sign of peace only to those who are nearest and in a sober manner."

I think we all have seen this aspect abused by priests we've known. Locally, we had two priests that thought it was necessary to shake hands and visit with everyone in the first three rows. It is very distracting to have this behavior taking place AFTER the Consecration, as it is, but some priests don't seem to understand what they have just accomplished on the altar, and take it as an opportunity to glad-hand and schmooze for five minutes.

Is there anything in the GIRM about perhaps having this ceremony at the beginning of the Mass, to avoid the apparent sacrelige of the chitchat after the Consecration?

4 posted on 10/29/2003 7:21:04 AM PST by redhead (Les Franšais sont des singes de capitulation qui mangent du fromage.)
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To: NYer
It is, however, appropriate that each person offer the sign of peace only to those who are nearest and in a sober manner."

As an Irish-Algonquin Christian, I object, and I will be seeking a dispensation from my Bishop.

5 posted on 10/29/2003 7:25:09 AM PST by Catholicguy (MT1618 Church of Peter remains pure and spotless from all leading into error, or heretical fraud)
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To: NYer
In Chicago I know that Cardinal George is allowing Priests to leave the sanctuary to share the "kiss of peace." I don't have a problem when it is tastefully done, and my priest does do it tastefully, he will shake the hands of a few people and then he returns to the sanctuary. We have one priest who at Daily Mass shakes the hand of everyone who is sitting off of the Middle Aisle. Of Course, Daily Mass is probably a little different and attendance is much lower. Anyway, that is what I see at my parish here in Chicago.

God Bless
6 posted on 10/29/2003 7:26:02 AM PST by StAthanasiustheGreat (Vocatus Atque Non Vocatus Deus Aderit)
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To: NYer; dansangel
Not too bad where I am now but when we were looking for a church tht we approved of it was unreal. in some people were getting out of the pews and running aroung all over the place to shake hands. I do not move from my position and I do not turn around if I can help it I will nod is I make eye contact.
7 posted on 10/29/2003 7:50:53 AM PST by .45MAN (this page written on recycleable media)
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To: NYer
Several things I have noticed:

Mass in upstate New York parish: No handsakes, No Our Father, Part of Mass in Latin.

Mass in Pennsylvania: Handshakes, hugs, Our Father, As many women on altar as men, One assistant helping Priest with Communion, Two assistants on either side of sancturary giving out wine. After Mass a person goes to tabernacle, opens door, genuflects, puts arm in and takes out host and puts it in leather carrier and walks off???
Much too much movment before mass. 3 alter girls, 1 alter boy and none appeared to know what they were doing. I got the feeling that the Priest was all alone with everything going on about him.

Mass on EWTN: No hugs, handshakes, or "Our Father" and part of Mass in Latin.

I raise the question of what has happened to the One Holy Apostolic Church. Why does this confussion reign?

8 posted on 10/29/2003 7:59:18 AM PST by franky
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To: franky
Why does this confussion reign?

Cuz they keep talking everything to death.

One thing that makes me shake my head is all the talk of "unity" combined with all the "optional" prayers and parts of the Mass. Huh?! No two Masses are ever the same.

Carp as some might about the Trinitine, at least you know exactly what to expect when you attend.

9 posted on 10/29/2003 8:06:56 AM PST by american colleen
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To: american colleen
DUH! Of course "Trinitine" is supposed to be "Tridentine"!
10 posted on 10/29/2003 8:07:46 AM PST by american colleen
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To: NYer
While you're at it, could someone please put a halt to priests who feel the need to walk around during the homily like they are giving a comedy routine. Pulpits were built for a reason -- use them! (The logic of the last sentence also applies to choir lofts.)
11 posted on 10/29/2003 8:22:04 AM PST by Unam Sanctam
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To: NYer
The parish I am in now, I've never noticed the priest shaking hands. I am a convert, and the "mass confusion" isn't what I expected coming in. I remembered the Masses I'd attended as a teenager, and it was so different. (in the 70's). Frankly, I could live without this particular ritual, it does seem to break into the solemn rite of Communion. This parish is better than the one I attended before-there was no sense of the Consecration & Eucharist being the "main event". Alot of shortcuts in the Mass there.
12 posted on 10/29/2003 8:26:31 AM PST by Annie03 (donate at www.terrisfight.org)
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To: franky
Mass in upstate New York parish: No handsakes, No Our Father, Part of Mass in Latin.

Which upstate NY diocese are you referring to? Here in the Albany diocese, we (discreetly) shake hands, ALWAYS say the Our Father, but no parts of the mass in Latin.

13 posted on 10/29/2003 8:32:06 AM PST by NYer ("Close your ears to the whisperings of hell and bravely oppose its onslaughts." ---St Clare Assisi)
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To: Unam Sanctam
*...could someone please put a halt to priests who feel the need to walk around during the homily like they are giving a comedy routine. *

Lol ... my pastor walks around. While he was away for 2 weeks, we had a Franciscan from the local college. He planted himself by the lectern and delivered an inspiring homily without ever shuffling his sandal clad feet.

Email Zenit News Agency at the address listed above. Let us know what they say, okay.

14 posted on 10/29/2003 8:37:36 AM PST by NYer ("Close your ears to the whisperings of hell and bravely oppose its onslaughts." ---St Clare Assisi)
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To: Annie03; ahadams2
*I am a convert, and the "mass confusion" isn't what I expected coming in.*

Welcome home!

Do you have cable TV at home with access to EWTN? One of my favorite programs is "Journey Home" hosted by Marcus Grodi, a Baptist convert. Live Mondays at 8pm ET on EWTN, Encores: Tuesdays at 1am &10am ET; Saturdays at 11:00pm ET. The Best of Journey Home: Wednesdays at 1pm ET.

GUEST SCHEDULE


October 20
Journey Home from England
Petroc Wiley

Former Baptist

October 27
Steven D. Greydanus

Former Dutch Reformed

November 03
Mr. Jimmy Akin, Open Line First Monday
Former Presbyterian

November 10
Fr. Gray Bean
Former Southern Baptist minister

November 17
Dr. Paul Williams
Former Buddhist

November 24
Mr. James J. Pinto
Former Anglican Priest

Marcus also has an excellent web site, The Coming Home Network.

LINK

As for the "mass confusion", many of us cradle catholics have had to deal with confusion and changes, following Vatican II. You will enjoy the discussions in this forum.

15 posted on 10/29/2003 8:53:36 AM PST by NYer ("Close your ears to the whisperings of hell and bravely oppose its onslaughts." ---St Clare Assisi)
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To: NYer
Here in Wyoming, in our parish, Father does not leave the sanctuary. In fact, parishioners no longer hold hands during recitation of 'Our Father'. Thats fine with me because all it did was spread cold and flu critters.

In a mission church nearby (run by the Jesuits) the priest shakes hands with EVERYBODY, up and down the aisle.
16 posted on 10/29/2003 8:54:21 AM PST by hardhead (He Must Increase; I Must Decrease)
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To: NYer
Originally coming from NYC I should point out that anything north of the Bronx was upstate in my youth.

I was at my cousin and wifes home in Warwick, NY. I do not know the diocese but it is in Orange County. Could it be New York City?

My cousin's wife said the parish they go to (we attended with them) is not the local parish. Her complaint was that she asked the local priest to come and bless their new home at the time and he told her, "We don't do that anymore! My cousin is 85 and his wife the same age. She is from Ireland and she said the priest got her "Irish" up. I can believe that.

My cousin volunteers at St. Peters Hospital 3 days a week and the hospital is in the middle of town.
17 posted on 10/29/2003 12:02:48 PM PST by franky
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To: NYer
Thank-you!
18 posted on 10/29/2003 12:07:38 PM PST by Annie03 (donate at www.terrisfight.org)
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To: NYer
Yes, I watch his show frequently. I also catch the Mass during the day. The Mass had Father Trigilio serving the last few days. His parish is not far from where I live (Harrisburg, PA Diocese)I really enjoy his Masses and homilies. I also like Father Shaugnessy's Masses also. The priests are just great. They really tell it like it should be told. I wish I lived in their parish.

EWTN is a haven in our stormy sea today. When I et down on things, I can always count on some sanity from their station. God Bless!

19 posted on 10/29/2003 12:11:06 PM PST by franky
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To: NYer
I have satellite, and before that cable. Neither carries ETWN, which is SO dissapointing. Had it years ago before I converted, but used to watch a show they had that did the Rosary.Now I can't get it :(
20 posted on 10/29/2003 12:11:15 PM PST by Annie03 (donate at www.terrisfight.org)
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