Monday, December 01, 2008

Possible Liturgical Shakeup: Move the Sign of Peace?

Francis Cardinal Arinze, Prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments (and, incidentally, one of my favorite Princes of the Church), has revealed that the Pope is considering a change to the liturgy, namely, moving the Sign of Peace to before the Offertory.

"In order to create a more meditative atmosphere as we prepare for Communion, moving the sign of peace to the offertory is being considered. The Pope has consulted the bishops, and later he will decide," says Cardinal Arinze. "Often the full significance of this gesture is not understood. It is seen as an occasion to shake the hands of our friends, when in reality it is a way of saying to the one next to us that the peace of Christ, truly present on the altar, is also for all mankind."

Hooray for anything that fosters reverence at Mass. But a question arises. Does this possible change actually seek to eliminate the problem of the full-blown chaos that too often erupts during the Sign of Peace, or does it just represent the liturgical equivalent of "containment" and "peaceful coexistence"? Is there a need to resign ourselves to a circus atmosphere at any point during the Mass? Under our present Holy Father, I have no doubt the answer is a resounding negatory.

To bring back a sense of where we are and what we're doing at Mass, I'd like to see the following:

-- A return of all tabernacles to their rightful place in the church, namely, front and center and on the altar.

-- The priest facing away from the people, to emphasize that God is supposed to be the center of worship, not our precious selves.

-- A return of the communion rail and the reception of Communion in a kneeling position (excepting, of course, those who are physically unable to kneel: nobody has ever been forced to kneel who physically could not).

-- A return of the crucifix to the sanctuary (the suffering Christ, not the Resurrifix)

-- A return of the kneeling posture to the Agnus Dei (in my diocese, we have to stand for this).

Maybe if we did these things, the problem of turning the Sign of Peace into Old Home Week would eventually take care of itself.


  1. Anita, If only!

    I suppose since most of the changes that have occured over the last 40 years have been slow and incremental that to revert the changes has to be slow and incremental.

    I wish we did not have to do it so slowly! We will get there some day.

  2. In The "Pax Vobiscum", a simple "Et Cum Spiritu Tuo" will do.

    This hand shaking is so New Age

  3. And remember, the Sign of Peace is OPTIONAL; the priest is under no obligation to have it said.

    I have always said "Peace OF THE LORD be with you" at the SoP so it's not like Old Home Week. Also, I no longer join hands at the Our Father (how did that get started anyway?).

    I also back each and every one of your suggestions on restoring the Novus Ordo to something resembling reverence, awe, and mystery. The lack of all three of those led a good Catholic friend of mine to convert to Greek Orthodox.

  4. Kneeling to receive communion is really the best. I do hope t6hat if everything else is rejected this one thing is not.
    BY the way I have stopped receiving communion in my hand and much to the hatered of the Lay ministers they cant do a thing to stop me short of not giving me HOly Communion.
    Out of my own free will during the Creed i bow my head during the Incarnation statement much to the amusement of those around. I dont care about them. Mass is really about God