Friday, August 8, 2014
WHAT IF THE CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP HAD AUTHORIZED MOVING THE "SIGN OF PEACE?"
We know of the recent bombshell where Pope Francis approved of not moving the "Sign of Peace" to another point in the Mass. Presumably it could have been moved to the point right after the Credo and Universal Prayer.
There is a precedent for this in other rites of the Latin Rite, I believe the Ambrosian Rite.
However, while the Latin Rite Liturgy itself (both in the EF and the OF) is suppose to be sober, not all Latin Rite Catholics are sober. This has presented problems when the insobriety of clergy and laity are allowed to run naked in our liturgies. This is true especially of the Mass with the priest facing a congregation and what could possibly go wrong at the "Sign of Peace."
I'd like to offer a disclaimer. In all the parishes I've been assigned over the past 34 years as a priest (and that's only four parishes) the Sign of Peace has always been offered in a sober way and is brief. We see to it by making sure the Agnus Dei begins as quickly as possible.
The only time that I have experienced an extended "Sign of Peace" that kind of becomes a love fest is at special Masses with youth or Marriage Encounter type people or charismatics none of whom are known for being sober.
However, could you imagine what might happen in a typical Latin Rite parish on Sunday if the Sign of Peace were to be moved to the point after the Credo and Universal Prayers?
The theology of the "Kiss of Peace" at the traditional place in the Solemn High Extraordinary Form Mass (with deacon and subdeacon) as well as its placement as an option in all forms of the Ordinary Form of the Mass is to offer from the altar where Jesus is present, His peace, a peace the world cannot give. It is passed from the altar by the celebrant to the deacon who then passes it to the subdeacon.
It is not a handshake but a Roman embrace. And it is not an exchange but a passing on of the Peace of Christ which the world cannot give.
Some liturgists got the bright idea that it should be changed from the "Kiss of Peace" in the Roman liturgical way to the "Sign of Peace" where the manner in which it is given is left to ingenuity of the insobriety of the clergy and laity or to cultural customs of greeting people. In the USA it was a handshake that was exchanged between people or a peck on the cheek or lips or a hug of some kind (especially in the huggable 1970's where personal boundaries where eliminated by extroverted, needy, touchy-feely aggressors even at Mass!).
So what should have been simply an extension of the Kiss of peace to the congregation rooted in the Extraordinary Form's Liturgy and its theology of the Kiss of Peace became something altogether different in the Ordinary Form.
My point and the point of this post is that if the Congregation for Divine Worship with Pope Francis' approval had moved the Sign of Peace to the time after the Credo and Universal Prayer, it would then accelerate into the 1970's approach once again and in almost every parish where personal boundaries would be eliminated by extroverted, needy, touchy-feely clergy and laity aggressors. Then the only way to stop this abuse would be law suits by those of us more sober and restrained!
Fortunately, the Congregation for Divine Worship with Pope Francis' imprimatur wants the Kiss of Peace to remain where it is and for it to become once again what it is suppose to be as taught to us by the EF's Solemn Sung Mass. It is to be sober for a sober liturgical Latin Rite people.