Too much noise at sign of peace
  • Just wondering how many of you have trouble knowing when to start the Agnus Dei because of all the hugging, kissing, and hand shaking at the sign of peace? My pastor wants to start immediately, but yesterday, with the church crowded more than usual, I was already to Dona Nobis Pacem before people stopped socializing. It was very disturbing.
  • Scott_WScott_W
    Posts: 456
    Pull out all stops and drown out the irreverent noise from the pew-lunge of peace.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    MT56, I believe all you need do is watch for the moment the celebrant returns to the center of the altar to initiate the fraction. The behavior of the "assembly" is incidental to the order of the liturgy, no? Unless they one day decide to bum rush the altar and displace the priest. I wish I could say that was meant as a total joke....sigh
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,939
    The Agnus Dei begins when the priest begins the fraction. It's that simple. Just as the communion chant begins as the priest receives the Sacrament (not after....)
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,114
    Is there any way you could use a very obvious introduction? You could even try using a longer introduction, so that people calm down, but don't miss the prayer. However, that could backfire I'd they use the extended to socialize...

    Where does your pastor stand on this? It might help if he preached on it, or at least mentioned it a couple times.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Gavin
  • I know, of course, when to start the Agnus Dei. I was just commenting that it's such a shame to start it when the people are obviously not paying any attention. But, thanks for hte comments. As far as my pastor, he wants it started as stated above...when the priest begins the fraction. It's just horrible that people continue to talk, shake hands, etc., during the Agnus Dei.
    Thanked by 1francis
  • It takes catechesis. For us it didn't happen overnight. However, our pastor kept teaching
    about the symbols of the liturgy and especially that the peace was offered from the altar and returned there- not a community "love-in." It only happens to us now at liturgies where a majority of the assembly is not comprised of regular worshippers at our parish.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,043
    I don't know if anyone has considered it, but the congregational sign of peace can be omitted; it is an optional practice.

  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,549
    People don't seem to realize that the sign of peace is not a free for all to shake every hand you can and fraternize with the pips. When the priest returns to the altar, the fraction rite begins. If people are not paying attention, its because they aren't paying attention. Not our fault!
    Thanked by 1Bobby Bolin
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,043
    The USCCB has some helpful instructions, with GIRM references:
    After the prayer for peace (82, 154), the deacon invites all to exchange a sign of peace which everyone immediately shares with those nearby (82, 154). So as not to disturb the celebration, the priest celebrant normally remains in the sanctuary (154). However, for pastoral reasons the priest celebrant may extend a sign of peace to some members of the liturgical assembly near the sanctuary, for example, in the case of a funeral or wedding or when civic leaders are present (Appendix 82).

    If the priest is making a habit of leaving the sanctuary, that tends to prolong the sign of peace more than appropriate.
  • hartleymartin
    Posts: 1,447
    I always use Agnus Dei XVIII either in Latin or English. As soon as the fraction rite begins, I give the incipit. Since most of my local congregation (college chapel) know this piece of music they quickly finish making their gestures of peace and begin singing. So far the most effective method I have found.

    If people complain about it, I point out that the rules of the mass state that it has to start at the fraction rite and that I would be breaking rules if I didn't. I also let them know that they only have to shake hands with 2 or 3 people at most and not the entire gathered community.
  • Mark M.Mark M.
    Posts: 632
    I don't know if anyone has considered it, but the congregational sign of peace can be omitted; it is an optional practice.
    I recall Dr. Mahrt mentioning this too — and upon inspection of the rubrics, it seems that it is optional indeed. Here's #128 from the Roman Missal… italicized emphasis is mine.
    Then, if appropriate, the Deacon, or the priest, adds:

    Let us offer each other the sign of peace.

    And all offer one another a sign, in keeping with local customs, that expresses peace, communion, and charity. The priest gives the sign of peace to a Deacon or minister.

    I'm curious… has any of us actually seen this omitted in the OF? If so, would the part where the priest gives the sign of peace to the Deacon also be optional??
  • Mark we never have a sign of peace at any of our OF Masses. No one misses it, in the 17 years I have been a member of this parish I have not once heard a complaint that we do not have the sign of peace.
  • I don't know if anyone has considered it, but the congregational sign of peace can be omitted; it is an optional practice.


    I my humble opinion, this is the best solution.

    The problem with the sign of peace is that it has rarely been done correctly with the congregation for centuries. The novelty of the sign of peace in the Novus Ordo is only vaguely similar to the original sign of peace which it was supposed to restore to the Mass. If we would really like to restore the original sign of peace, a number of things would have to change, including removing all uninitiated catholics from the assembly.

    Since this is not likely to happen, either the faithful must be educated of the reason for and the way to exchange the sign of peace, emphasizing that the Agnus Dei is far more important, or simply omit the sign of peace. If the faithful were to be educated in a homily, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity would be the best as this is the only time in the Sunday Lectionary that one of the verses that refers to this is mentioned. Of couse, as with most of the optional practices in the Novus Ordo, the best is simply to omit it.
  • If this was the first time that you began Agnus Dei after just a moment of peace sharing, it is understandable that the people were not expecting it and were mentally unprepared for it. It seems to me that if you continue starting Agnus Dei after an appropriate moment they will become adjusted to it. This can only have a beneficent effect on the liturgy. You might even wish to make an announcement to this effect BEFORE the prelude and the liturgy begin. Too, some understanding between you and the priest would seem helpful, i.e., that he won't allow time for general pandemonium before performing the fraction. (What an irony it is that the sharing of peace so often shatters any peace or spiritual continuum that existed in one's mind and spirit! This is just one more 'straw' by which Divine Service is turned into a predominantly assembly-centred event.)
    Thanked by 3chonak CHGiffen Jani
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,626
    I know St. Vincent Parish in Hanover, PA had at one point completely eliminated the sign of peace from their OF Masses.

    My wedding (OF) also did not have it.
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,114
    My parish does not use it at daily masses. Another one across town rarely uses it.
  • Blaise
    Posts: 438
    I am at an Anglican Use (Roman Catholic, celebrated according to the Book of Divine Worship) parish which celebrates both the AU and the OF (Latin-Roman Missal) Masses. Our choirs start the offertory immediately after the priest chants "The peace of the Lord be always with you" and the faithful reply "And with thy spirit". The Agnus Dei begins after the deacon and the people sing "Alleluia....Christ our Passover....". The rite of peace in this fashion lasts the whole of, what, ten seconds or so? None of this trying to grab the hands of the person in the pew behind the pew behind you nonsense-it is disruptive to the order of worship.

    I absolutely do not miss the rite of peace of the OF.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,332
    Interesting.

    Sometimes, a thing is normal, and there is an option to omit it. (Like doing a shorter reading, or leaving out some of the Lessons at the Easter Vigil.)

    But it looks, from the way that is worded, that the Sign of Peace is not typical, but may be added if appropriate.

    Episcopal churches place the Sign of Peace earlier in the Mass, at the end of the Liturgy of the Word. It seems to act as a sort of dismissal for the half-time break (which includes announcements, for whatever reason) before everyone re-convenes for the Offertory Anthem and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. I'm not sure how I feel about the "half-time break" (it does have some practical benefit, I have to say), but I do think that - if you're going to have a sign of peace in the conventional fashion, this is a much better time to do it.

    I'm curious- what is the original precedent for the Sign of Peace? What did it originally look like? I have hard time imagining anything like what we all do these days as being an integral part of any ancient liturgical practice.
  • Mark M.Mark M.
    Posts: 632
    In the EF, wasn't it just something between/among the priest, deacons, and subdeacons?
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,542
    I believe the older Ambrosian rite had it before the Offertory.

    I could be wrong, I have to double-check, but I believe I recall Fortesque(?) saying that originally at Rome it was before the offertory procession with the deacon's invitation; later when it became too unruly (!) it was removed and shared only among the clerics (from celebrant down to those in choir) after the "Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum/Et cum spiritu tuo".

    Before the offertory to me seems to be the only logical place to put it (i.e. make peace with your brother before offering your sacrifices at the altar), but even there it seems (historically) that it caused problems. Perhaps it's just best to not have people touching eachother at Mass?
  • As has been noted, the peace comes before the offertory in the Anglican Use (as well as in some other more ancient uses). I had heard from several sources that Rome, also, was going to move the peace back to this point, where it really makes more sense and has greater antiquity. It is unfortunate that it has, at least here in America, been so abused, misunderstood, and deformed that it is anything BUT peaceful and has become a grotesque intrusion into the ritual of the mass. It should be merely a sincere, thoughtful, exchange of 'peace be with you' to one's neighbour. This is how it is done at Walsingham. In fact, in Walsingham's infancy, I had it done the way I had read somewhere that it was originally done, namely, that the priest would share it with the deacon, who would share it with an acolyte, who would pass it to the choir, who would pass it to the congregation, who would pass it one by one amongst themselves. It was sober, peaceful, and made liturgical sense as everyone was purposefully given the peace that had been passed down from the celebrant. (Others, of course, may question this procedure, but there was a the element of a sacramental about it.)

    Another practice which grew up in the mediaeval era was the passing of the 'pax board.' This consisted of passing around from amongst the sacred ministers and then amongst those in choir a square 'board' (suitably covered with cloth and embroidery, I think) which represented 'the peace.' Unless I am mistaken, this practice continued up into fairly recent times in some places.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • In our EF/OF parish, the congregation is never invited to share the Peace except when there is another priest substituting for our pastor. And since the tabernacle is directly over the altar within reach of the celebrant, we all kneel when Father genuflects before opening the tabernacle, and sing the Agnus Dei kneeling. This occasionally causes a slight consternation with visitors (which we often have, being conveniently situated just off I-95 en route to the coast), but it certainly sets them up for receiving Communion kneeling at the altar rail, on the tongue, and under one species only. (There are simple but prominent notices in the bulletin about our customs, so it is only those who don't read the bulletin or are determined to do things 'their way' that stick out.)

    In the Anglican (not Ordinariate) parish where I work, the Peace is in the pre-Offertory place, and is immediately followed by the chanting of the Offertory, during which people nod to those close by (the more exuberant will give a one-armed hug to spouse and/or child :-) and then sit down and reach for their hymnals to sing the Offertory hymn. (Every Sunday main liturgy is fully chanted.) And the celebrant passes the peace to the first assisting cleric (priest or deacon), and the rest of those in the sanctuary exchange the peace with one other person, and then the varied duties of serving take over. MJO, at their version of Solemn High Mass, the peace is indeed passed from the priest down as you described above, but only throughout the sanctuary. Interestingly, several parishioners have told me that the round of incensations, concluding with the congregation being incensed, makes them feel like the peace has been passed to them without words. The power of symbols!
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,013
    The 'eastern position' before the Offertory is normative in Lutheran churches as well, though the seminarians at Oakland's Resurrection Lutheran delighted in occasional seasonal use of the 'western position' while I was there. In Methodist churches the handshaking follows the opening greeting, and is sometimes ended (shudder) by the organ introduction to "Surely the Spirit of the Lord is in this Place". At the 8:30 Mass at St. David's the greeting of one's neighbors is already gotten over with before the introit.
  • mahrt
    Posts: 510
    For many years, we gave the sign of peace as a conclusion of the intercessions, on the grounds that it was optional before the Agnus Dei, and that the construction of the intercessions was largely up to the individual congregation. There was a recent Roman document prohibiting such a usage, so we gave it up.

    I have always felt that one thing wrong with it is the handshake itself. This is a secular gesture, and as such, it encourages the conversation and casual attitude so often seen. In our diocese, during the flu epidemic, the bishop forbad shaking hands, communion on the tongue, and the sharing of the chalice; this prohibition was communicated clearly to the congregation. When several weeks later, he relaxed the prohibition, it was not mentioned, and so many people now simply make a simple bow to each other, saying "peace" or even "pax" and that is the end of it.

    The problem of its position before the Agnus Dei, at least in a sung Mass, is that there is a build-up in the liturgy from the Offertory, leading to the Communion; the music plays a significant role in this. The peace, with its conversation and casual attitudes dissipates this trajectory of attention and devotion in a somewhat destructive way. When we did it after the intercessions, this was not a problem, ecause there is a hiatus in the liturgy there: the liturgy of the word is completed by the intercessions, and then people sit for a few moments, the collection is taken, and then the increase in action begins again.

    My other pet peave is the announcements, for a similar reason. This exquisite build-up results in the communion, and the singing of a motet can be expressive of an intense devotion and elevation, a sense of prayer that the people can take with them as they leave. But then come the announcements, sometimes lots of them--Bingo on Wednesday evening. Plop! There goes the elevation, the attitude of prayer, and the effect of the sacrament is left behind for more mundane considerations.