I suppose it's a sign I'm getting on in years, that I am becoming increasingly intolerant of the introduction of novelty to my Sunday worship. Now, as Catholics, we should think that most things are pretty well spelled out. But as many of us have discovered over the years, that does not appear to satisfy certain people with time on their hands, and the inability to leave well enough alone. Now, you probably think we in the Diocese of Arlington are spared this malaise. It is true that we are spared much of it. On the other hand, like most people, you might be confusing "orthodoxy" with a form of anal retention.
As the late Cab Calloway once sang: "'Taint necessarily so."
Witness this little gem I received today, an excerpt from a memo for the lectors at my parish:
"[D]espite what you may see others do, we should proceed to the altar to receive the handshake of peace. Simply begin to make your way up the altar as the Celebrant is reciting the rite of peace. Then share it judiciously with those seated around you. The only exception is in those situations when the number of people around the altar would cause the lector's entrance to distract preparations for Holy Communion. These crowded situations do sometimes arise when the Bishop celebrates."
I thought my old man was the only guy who ever called it "the handshake of peace." Someone should remind whoever comes up with these ideas, that inasmuch as the priest is not supposed to be leaving the sanctuary to greet people, and that the Holy See has gone to some trouble to point this out (Redemptionis Sacramentum, 72), it is reasonable that people should not be entering the sanctuary for the same, particularly when they have to turn right around and leave anyway.
I wish these visionaries went to half as much trouble to train those devoid of personality to proclaim the Scriptures well, not read it as if it were a grocery list. Several of them are so lackluster, I do declare that the finest public address system in all the land could not redeem them.
Sal and I share the "holy kiss" with one another*, then I put my nose back into my missal where it belongs. This would appear to be a prudent application of what is an optional practice to begin with -- that's optional as in, not required, eh? -- which is why I'm going to (politely) ignore the above communique. And if some duly-appointed reprsentative decides to make an issue of it, I'll be having a little chat with The Guy In Charge.
Whatever the outcome, kiddies, Rome is sending us all a message of late: There's a new sheriff in town. The party's over. GROW THE HELL UP!
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* In the classical Roman rite, the sign of peace was conducted at the Solemn High Mass by the priest extending a light embrace to the deacon, saying "Pax tecum," to which the deacon responded "Et cum spiritu tuo." The deacon then extended the same to the subdeacon, then the subdeacon to the master of ceremonies. The closest thing we have to this in the world is the form of greeting in Spanish-speaking countries known as the "Latin kiss." Such is likely what proponents of the liturgical movement would have intended for this gesture, as it is a far cry from the glad-handing that occurs at the typical parish Mass shortly before Communion.