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March 13, 2007


Mark Andrews

If memory (of past experience) serves me, this is where Anglicans and Episcopalians, at least in the U.S., have placed the sign of peace in their liturgy (and the announcements, too). I don't know if Anglican Use folks follow the same practice.

Dave Wells

That is correct, at least as far as the Episcopal Church is concerned. The Peace occurs after the General Confession (if that did not occur in a Penential Rite at the beginning of the service), and immediately before the offertory. That placement gives added weight to the Holy Father's observation regarding reconciliation with God and one's neighbor before "bringing your gifts to the altar." It would be a welcome change to the current structure of the Mass.


The most welcome sign would be to put it prior to the beginning of Mass, perhaps in the vestibule or the parking lot, or after Mass, just before the doughnuts.


Also, it is the place where the Sign of Peace has always been in the Ambrosian Rite.

Shaun G

Does anyone know whether the sign of peace, since it currently falls within the Liturgy of the Eucharist, can take place in a Catholic wedding that does not include a Nuptial Mass?


I am not certain about this, but isn't this custom from the Ambrosian rite, i.e., that which is practiced in the Archdiocese of Milan?

Father Elijah

The existence of the 'rite [sign] of peace' has been since Apostolic times. We hear Paul exhort each other again and again to 'greet each other with 'the holy kiss'.

Within the Liturgy of the Eucharist-Mass, the placement of the 'rite of peace' has changed over the centuries. In the description of the Mass, that Saint Justin gives us, from the mid-second century [which can be found in the CCC] the rite of peace concludes the Liturgy of the Word signifying both the effect of the word of God bringing about reconciliation AND the Lord's own dictum to be reconciled before bringing one's gifts to the altar [see Matthew 5].

Later, in the Roman Rite, under the influence of Pope Saint Gregory the Great, the Rite of Peace was moved to its present place aspart of the expanded 'preparation for reception of Holy Communion' And there it has remained.

In the reforms of the Tridentine Mass, the rite of peace remained in its place of preparation for the Rite of Holy Communion-however it came to be celebrated only at High Masses-which in the eyes of the Tridentine Reform was the full flowering-or expression of the Mass. While it was not part of what became known as the 'low Mass', nonetheless, while the low Masses were more common, they were not normative.

Much discussion took place again concerning the place of the 'rite of peace' in the reforms of the Roman Liturgy leading to the Roman Missal of 1970, however, its traditional placement was maintained.

I am aware that there was much discussion in the NCCB, American Bishops' Conference concerning the placement of the Rite of Peace, at the end of the Liturgy of the Word-however, in the midst of all other discussion, I must admit I am not sure if they formally petititioned Rome for permission to do this in the promulgation of the New Roman Missal.

It is fascinating that our Holy Father is seeking this 'possible' shift of placement of the Rite of Peace. An ancient yet new placement and context for this Apostolic tradition and rite is being offered to us.


To move the sign of peace to before the presentation of the gifts would completely change the meaning of the sign. In the current rite, the gift of peace comes from Jesus present on the altar and moves from Him through the congregation. To have the sign of peace before the consecration would seem to remove Jesus in the Eucharist as the source of the action.

Does anyone know if there is a precedent for this other kind of peace in the history of the Roman liturgy?


How about, I have asked the competent curial offices to study the possibility of purging the sign of peace from the liturgical celebration, since it is a small but important root cause of liturgical abuses that have metastasized among the faithful since 1965.

F. C. Bauerschmidt

Does anyone know if there is a precedent for this other kind of peace in the history of the Roman liturgy?

Well, if the Apostolic Tradition is in fact reflective of 3rd century Roman practice, then that would be a precedent.


The Holy Father is not so untraditional as to "purge" the Mass of a rite instituted on Jesus' own orders.


Well Gee PMcGrath how unfortunate that the Vicar of Christ seems to disagree with *your* assessment.
I love the way some people can point to every cause for liturgical abuse but the proper cause: The failure of the Ordinary to curb such abuse. How anyone can point to this licit practice or that licit practice and claim it is the cause of liturgical abuse is beyond me.
Go back and read Father Elijah's very informative post. The sign of peace has been a part of the Mass since the mid-second century. No doubt it just took it a 1700 years to blossom into liturgical abuse.


No, the Sign of Peace has always been a target of abuse from Judas on, particularly among gnostic and occult groups. A blasphemous or obscene version is almost de rigueur in your various forms of Black Mass.

Which just goes to show how much the Devil hates that particular sign of Christian identity and unity, which has always been a part of being a Christian. What we love and Christ commands, the demons hate.

So torque off a demon today with the kiss of peace! :)


I think that the Sign or Peace would be less distracting and more meaningful at the the beginning or end of Mass.

RP Burke

In the days before the 1970 Mass, most people in parishes never saw the "Kiss of Peace" ritual, which was located in the solemn Mass at about the same place as it is today, after the Lord's Prayer but before communion.

The reason is that in most parishes, the ONLY solemn Mass ever celebrated was the Requiem Mass for funerals, and in the solemn Requiem Mass the Kiss of Peace was omitted. (In all Requiem Masses the final blessing of the people was omitted, even in memorial and anniversary Masses that did not have the absolution of the body that followed the funeral Mass.)

Its emergence after 1970 thus was an addition to the Mass as it was routinely celebrated.

Fr. Augustine Thompson O.P.

The placement of the Pax ceremony before communion after the Our Father has been the case in the Roman liturgy since at least the fourth-century. Thus Pope Innocent I, in his letter to Decentius (A.D. 416) complained that in some Western churches it was given before the offertory (as still in the Milanese rite). St. Augustine, about the time of Pope Innocent, also mentions the Pax as before communion, which shows the Roman practice was also found in Africa. Its origins are unknown, but all earlier references to the Pax (all from Greek writers) describe it as before the offertory.

In any case, the problem of how the laity were to perform the rite seems to have been a problem because from the earliest we know with certainty about the particulars, the people did it "in honor of honor." E.g., men first, then women; adults, then children; nobles, then commoners; and (yes alas) rich, then poor. On the disputes over precedence this caused in England, see Eamon Duffy, _Stripping of the Altars_, pp. 126-27. The same lay hierarchy ordering was also found in 13th-cent. Italy, probably producing similar disputes. See my _Cities of God_, pp. 251-52.

The solution of this problem in the post-Tridentine period was to have only the clergy perform the ceremony (at least they were supposed to know their own hierarchical order).

Henry Dieterich

When our parish (Christ the King, Ann Arbor) began as an "Association" we practiced a number of liturgical variations. Only two now remain: a brief exhortation before the first reading and charismatic prayer at the Gloria and after Communion--both, I hasten to clarify, with the approval of our bishop. Another, which apparently did not survive episcopal scrutiny, was moving the kiss of peace to the Offertory. It seemed to me then, and since, a more appropriate spot for it, because of Mt 5:23-24, and because it seems better to place it at a major turning point in the liturgy, and because this is the moment when we are making our offering to the Lord, both in the bread and wine that are to be the matter of the Eucharist, and in the tithes and alms we offer to the God in His Church. (Yes, the collection is spiritual: see Exodus 35 or Malachi 3:6-12.) To express our charity to one another, since we cannot love God Whom we do not see if we fail to love our brothers whom we can see, is appropriate when bringing our gifts to God.


No matter how hard I try, I just can't stand the kiss of peace. I've always found it forced and contrived. Andy Warhol, a faithful presence at St. Patrick's in New York, said it made him cringe. Me too. Let's get rid of it. Or make it, like Roseberry said, part of the doughnuts and coffee scene.

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