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Vatican aims to stop 'abuse' of the rite of peace during Mass
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The Rite of Peace is one ritual of the Mass that can sometimes contrast with the dignity and decorum of the ceremony. To reinforce the dignity and importance of this act, the Vatican is contemplating changes to how the rite is performed.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - You've been there. You've seen the fellow who crosses the aisle during Mass to shake hands with as many people as they can. Then, there's the affectionate couple who decides to lock lips during the rite as though it were a wedding kiss.
These overzealous antics during the rite of peace undermine its significance and appreciation for the gift by turning it into a distraction and an abuse.
The sign of peace is intended to demonstrate religious communion and mutual charity towards one another. It's about acceptance of your neighbor in the full spirit of Christ. It isn't about romantic affection, nor should it be reduced to shaking as many hands as possible because the Mass isn't an election campaign and you are not a candidate.
The sign of peace is properly exchanged by shaking hands with those in immediate proximity to you. It should be soberly exchanged for it has deep meaning and significance. It is a recognition of solidarity.
Presently, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments is reviewing the sign of peace and contemplated moving it to the place right before the presentation of the gifts. Discussion of moving the rite started in 2005 under Benedict XVI amid concerns that people were becoming distracted by how the sign of peace was being exchanged and that the true meaning and importance of the sign was being lost.
A decision has been made to leave the sign of peace where it has long been, but the Congregation has also said it would "offer some practical measures to better express the meaning of the sign of peace and to moderate excesses, which create confusion in the liturgical assembly just prior to Communion."
"If the faithful do not understand and do not show, in their ritual gestures, the true significance of the right of peace, they are weakened in the Christian concept of peace, and their fruitful participation in the Eucharist is negatively affected," the Congregation explained.
The Congregation's letter concluded by saying, "That Catholics are today faced with the grave commitment to build a more just and peaceful world, implies a more profound understanding of the Christian meaning of peace and of its expression in liturgical celebration."
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