Praytell blog there is a discussion about something Pope Francis did in the Philippines, which one of my commenters picked up in a thread I had earlier. It was the Mass with priests and religious in Manila's beautiful cathedral, that has a fence, I mean, an altar railing and has not undergone a wreckovation at all.
The Mass with the Holy Father was stunningly beautiful. But then, as is His Holiness' obsessive compulsive disorder-like style, he broke away from the altar and his MCs after the introduction of the Sign of Peace and went into the front of the congregation to greet individually a number of religious sisters in wheel chairs.
It was of course one of his spontaneous gestures that caught the MCs off guard and certainly gives validation to us 1970's types to continue to make the Sign of Peace into a horizontal love fest of sorts with the priest leading the way. In fact in some places the Sign of Peace is accompanied by a song, such as "Peace is Flowing Like a River" or "Let There be Peace on Earth and of Course let it begin with me." In effect it becomes the "Liturgy of the Sign of Peace."
Of course Praytell loves this papal novelty and throw back to the 1970's. But they forget and sometimes we do too, that Pope Francis in other less than OCD-like ways does some tradtional things too at Mass which take forethought to do, such as Intinction for the Deacons at Mass who receive Holy Communion and at those rare times when Pope Francis distributes Holy Communion to some in the congregation. Praytell would never use that to extol this pope's liturgical progressiveness or the forethought that it takes to celebrate the Baptism of the Lord liturgy in the Sistine Chapel at the historic altar ad orientem.
I had two comments at Praytell on this subject one of which was similar to the paragraph above but deleted, which is any bloggers right, since when we comment, we enter the living room of the host who can kick us out if he wishes. But another comment seems to have remained and it is this:
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.
But then I read a subsequent comment by Jordan Zarembo who is a faithful commenter there but prefers the Extraordinary Form of the Mass and explains his reasons for it in a very cogent way when he comments.
This is what he wrote about the topic which is excellent:
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.
KUDOS TO Jordan Zarembo!