It has been a long time since I have posted anything - I'm having to relearn! Sandro Magister informs us that a new teaching document has been sent to the bishops of the world concerning the sign of peace. Following the Synod on the Eucharist in 2005, a study was made as to whether the sign of peace should be moved to another place in the Mass, e.g. before the Offertory, or remain in its traditional place. It has been decided with Pope Francis' approval that no change should be made as to its place to avoid structural changes to the Mass but that its true nature should be taught.
I cannot find the letter in English but from the Spanish version one learns the following:
- the invitation to exchange the sign of peace should not be given in a mechanical way, i.e. it shouldn't be just automatic. If it is likely that the sign of peace will not be exchanged in an appropriate manner in a given circumstance of if it is judged that pedagogically it is a good thing not to carry it out on certain occasions, it may be omitted and even should be omitted. We are reminded that the rubrics say: "Then, if appropriate, the Deacon, or the Priest, adds: Let us offer each other the sign of peace."
- abuses such as the following are to be avoided:
- the introduction of a "song for peace" which does not exist in the Roman Rite;
- the moving around of the faithful during the sign of peace;
- the priest leaving the altar to give the peace to some of the faithful;
- in circumstances such as Christmas, Easter, or during ritual celebrations such as Baptisms, First Communion, Confirmation, Marriage, Ordination, Religious Profession or Funerals, turning the sign of peace into an occasion to greet or to express condolences to those present.
- Episcopal Conferences are invited to prepare liturgical catechesis about the significance of the Rite of Peace in the Roman liturgy and the correct way of carrying it out during the Mass. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments encloses with their letter some orientational lines.
[Update: Fr Z reports and comments.]