Shake . . . rattle and roll? Nope. Shake hand with all your neighbors, and kiss the colleens all? Nope. Shake and say . . .

. . . “THE PEACE OF CHRIST BE WITH YOU”? YES! — a 2006 cogitation.

It happens at mass after the Our Father, during which you may have held hands in a show of solidarity or watched others do so. It’s SHAKE TIME.

I liken it to violating a library’s silence by interrupting someone, extorting his or her response.

My friend Jake (not his real name) intends to pull his phone out and threaten to call 9-1-1 the next time he is approached while trying in his admittedly clumsy way to commune with the Almighty. An empty threat, yes.

A Catholic New World reader put it to Question Corner priest, John Dietzen:

I’ve had my arthritic fingers crushed. I’ve had parishioners blow their nose and then offer their hand to me. . . . I’m tempted to isolate myself in back [of church]. . . . [T]his . . . scenario is unnecessary and superfluous.

Father John says this scenario is not new. They did it this way in the middle ages and in New Testament times. Late middle ages, the kiss of peace was for priests only, but it is now (for several decades) “prescribed.”

No it isn’t. And no it wasn’t in 2005, when Fr. John gave his advice. It was (merely) “appropriate,” with qualifications, the Vatican said.

Indeed, there were warnings:

It is appropriate “that each one give the sign of peace only to those who are nearest and in a sober manner.”

“The Priest may give the sign of peace to the ministers but always remains within the sanctuary, so as not to disturb the celebration.”

Ditto “if for a just reason he wishes to extend the sign of peace to some few of the faithful.”

As what kind of sign, that’s up to a country’s the sign to be exchanged, that’s up to the country’s bishops “in accordance with the dispositions and customs of the people,” with the Vatican’s approval.

A “sign of peace” is called for, says Fr. Dietzen. Not quite. Appropriate, remember. “Deep roots” here. Handshake, embrace, or kiss may not be “the perfect” sign of peace, “but it can still carry a message we need to understand if we are to celebrate the Eucharist together as Christ intended.”

We weren’t doing that before?

So: Arthritis got you down? Just look at the one next to you and, without extending your hand, say, “Peace be with you.”

Don’t worry, says Father John. “No one will be offended.” How does he know that?

So doing, handshake refused, “you will be sharing a moment of the Mass that can be most prayerful and precious.”

It can be, he’s right. But question was about when it isn’t.

For intance, when the arthritic senior citizen, to take one example, has corralled what he takes to be the peace of Christ already, including a resolve to be nicer to people, and has to abandon his beneficent reverie with smile and nod to those on either side of him and sometimes to lots of others, some of them climbing over pews to get to him?

That’s one to stump Question Corners throughout the land.

1 Comment

  1. Jim Bowman says:

    Reblogged this on Blithe Spirit and commented:

    Signing peace


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