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Just as is necessary in politics, the Church needs unification of all community members in order to keep a healthy balance.To utilize analogous contemporary political terminology, we need those on the right, the left, and those in the middle under the same roof, for the effect is compromise, as friction and diversity of opinion undeniably helps to move everyone to the center, thus reducing factitious extremist tides.At the request of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, a requisite inquiry into the timely appropriateness of the Latin Rite’s gesture of peace shared amongst the people during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass commenced almost a decade ago.The Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (“the Congregation”), under the papal authority of a new Holy Father, Francis, disseminated publicly this year their conclusions on the placement of the gesture.With a view toward respect for the Lord and unification in the Church, the Church’s good and blessed priests who seek to avoid the devolution of the Mass into celebratory weekend party sessions must begin to move away from inviting the people to embrace as they would at a weekend cocktail party, reminding the faithful that they are about to receive the flesh and blood of the Lord.Perhaps inviting worshippers to embrace after the Mass might be a compromise, for this move would not eliminate the communal gesture but would also aid in the reclamation of a lost reverence in the sacrifice.One need not have considerable knowledge of the liturgy to see that the peace gesture just does not fit.
In John Paul II declared with respect to the Eucharist: In various parts of the Church abuses have occurred, leading to confusion with regard to sound faith and Catholic doctrine concerning this wonderful sacrament.
At times one encounters an extremely reductive understanding of the Eucharistic mystery.
Stripped of its sacrificial meaning, it is celebrated as if it were simply a fraternal banquet….
Quoth Benedict XVI 2007 post-synodal apostolic exhortation Taking into account ancient and venerable customs and the wishes expressed by the Synod Fathers, I have asked the competent curial offices to study the possibility of moving the sign of peace to another place, such as before the presentation of the gifts at the altar.), and in the Supper of the Lord, receiving His very body and blood as did the apostles on the night that they were told He was to become the Passover Paschal Lamb, the gesture of peace in its current place obliterates the reverence of the moment.
As Saint John Paul II reminded the faithful in his encyclical letter : “Every priest who celebrates Holy Mass, together with the Christian community which takes part in it, is led back in spirit to that place and that hour.” By “that hour,” John Paul II meant “the hour of his Cross and glorification.” If at “that hour” Mary and John on Calvary looked up to the cross, smiled, hugged, and shook hands, this column would have nary any authority; but, alas, the Gospel of John says Mary and John did nothing of the sort.
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In , the stated abuses of the peace gesture mirror some of the points made in the Congregation’s Circular Letter, released over ten years hence.