Kelsey: I don’t like giving kiss of peace. Fr. Rutler: Not to worry.

Kelsey J from Grand Rapids, MI:

It seems to me like a needless distraction. I can glad-hand Mrs Smith any time I want. On Sundays, I’m there to see Jesus. Is this uncharitable or disobedient?

Fr. R., :

The Sign of Peace is a distraction where it is presently situated in the Liturgy, especially if effervescent personalities wave and chat.

A patrician friend of mine, when I said Mass as he was dying, asked me to omit the Peace because it made his butler uncomfortable. I have used that as a sufficient excuse ever since, regardless of domestic arrangements.

God save the butler!

If done at all, it should be liturgical: greeting just the person next to you with a formal gesture. Influenza has a salutary effect because in flu season the Peace is often suspended.

Shame if it takes that.

The real fault with it is that it is cloyingly bourgeois. If someone intrudes upon you with an unwelcome smile, just say politely: “Noli me tangere”. Our Lord said that to the Magdalene, and if it was good enough for him it should be good enough for us.

Hands off, sister?

Best answer yet for me, and I have perused far and wide for same.

Oh, and Fr. R.? He’s Fr. George William Rutler, NYC pastor of parish in hell’s kitchen who takes boxing lessons ever since he got coldcocked by a poor-box thief he caught in the act.

Also essayist and book author supreme. Uses wit and learning in the cause of Jesus and His church.

1959, An Evangelical bemoaned “decline of worship” and . . .

. . . “the rise of externalism.”

He was Warren C. Young, in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, in which he asked “Whither Evangelicalism?” citing an earlier complaint, “The Failure of Evangelicalism,” in Eternity magazine, in which that author raised two “timely” criticisms.

Evangelicals have lost the true sense of worship, and the Christian life is measured far more often by external criteria rather than by a biblical and spiritual emphasis.

Young, a teacher at West Side of Chicago-based Northern Baptist Seminary, warned:

If, because of irreverence and externalism [attention to externals, esp. to an excessive degree], Evangelicalism should be written off as an exhausted and empty thing, there may yet come a day when we shall find ourselves in the midst of a revival which some of us will not recognize as such, because it did not come out of our mold, and does not use our shibboleths. [Distinguishing characteristics]

They would be losing their character, he was saying, sounding like a Catholic traditionalist, seeing the Evangelical brand weakened and losing its appeal, “an exhausted and empty thing.”

It’s an odd or at least unexpected reference to turn up in a book about Catholic liturgy, you say? Unexpected, yes. Odd? No.

The same pretty much horrified concern pervades some commentary on the liturgical movement, much of it justified, as when coming from the likes of a founder of the movement, Dom Prosper Gueranger, as regards elimination from the mass of the custom noted in the 2nd blog about Paul Claudel.