Friday, February 18, 2005

Mass Under a Microscope: The Rite of Peace
Some good discussion below on the Rite of Peace, as prompted by jcecil's question about the omission of it at his parish's daily Masses. The GIRM says in section 82: The Rite of Peace follows, by which the Church asks for peace and unity for herself and for the whole human family, and the faithful express to each other their ecclesial communion and mutual charity before communicating in the Sacrament. As for the sign of peace to be given, the manner is to be established by Conferences of Bishops in accordance with the culture and customs of the peoples. It is, however, appropriate that each person offer the sign of peace only to those who are nearest and in a sober manner. We read the Rite of Peace has a twofold purpose: 1. A prayer for the Church, as evidenced in the priest's narration immediately after the Lord's Prayer. 2. An expression of the laity at the particular Mass to show both their "ecclesial communion" and "mutual charity." The contention in the comment boxes centers around the possibility that while the Rite of Peace may not be omitted, perhaps some elements of it can. Jcecil posted on his blog: "We go straight from the priest saying 'the peace of the Lord be with you always...'right into the 'Lamb of God' with no exchange of peace to our neighbor." The priest in this instance has maintained purpose one, namely, the prayer for the Church, but has omitted the demonstration of number two, the ecclesial communion and mutual charity of the congregation assembled, as the GIRM intends. Do the daily Mass laity at jcecil's parish demonstrate communion and charity at other times during the Mass? If they're like my parish, I daresay they do. Our daily Mass folks are deeply bonded to one another and show in their mutual devotion and their concern for one another the aspects the Rite of Peace aspires to. In a parish setting, I don't think this is a serious abuse. It's about on par with moving the Rite of Peace to just prior to the Preparation of the Altar and Gifts. You also see it more correctly in the omission of the Penitential Rite on Ash Wednesday, where the distribution of ashes carries the same purpose. The more important value is the goal of the rite, not its actual "performance" at the liturgy. If people find themselves more relieved at not having to exchange peace, I think the pastor's adaptation would be an error. The only purpose of omitting the laity's exchange of peace is that it would be a redundant exercise, like the Kyrie on Ash Wednesday. If the worshipping community is not mature enough to recognize the importance of what the Rite of Peace is striving for, they are probably not ready for the omission.

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