We are not just material beings, but spiritual persons with a need for meaning, purpose, and fulfillment that transcends the visible confines of this world. This longing for transcendence is a longing for truth, goodness, and beauty. Truth, goodness, and beauty are called the transcendentals of being, because they are aspects of being. Everything in existence has these transcendentals to some extent. God, of course, as the source of all truth, goodness, and beauty, has these transcendentals to an infinite degree. Oftentimes, He draws us to Himself primarily through one of these transcendentals. St. Augustine, who was drawn to beauty in all its creaturely forms, found the ultimate beauty he was seeking in God, his creator, the beauty “ever ancient, ever new.”―Sister Gabriella Yi, O.P.

Living right on the left coast of North America!

So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.—2 Thessalonians 2:15

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Sign of Peace: wishful thinking

CNA/EWTN has this article:
Sao Paulo, Brazil, Aug 11, 2015 / 06:33 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The sign of peace during Mass is not a time for congratulations or small talk, but a prayerful time to wish peace to those closest to each person, clarified the bishop of Barretos in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Click HERE for the full article.
From... through... to... .

Here's the problem—that little word 'wish'. Can we not use the word 'extend', or perhaps the word 'offer'? Yes, there is a sense in which the word 'wish' can be used, but the sense of 'offering' something that originates with Christ is lost. The nuance that The Peace is extended from Christ through His priest to the congregation is mostly lost amidst the brouhaha commonly witnessed in parishes.

A personal preference is for the use of the word 'extend'. The Peace which we offer to one another comes from the sanctuary. More specifically, the altar. Even more precisely, the peace which is offered comes from Christ Who is present on the altar. The Peace of Christ is extended from Christ Who is present on the altar.

The Sign of Peace: a hierarchical progression.

The peace which comes from Christ is extended by Him through the priest/celebrant, who resides in the sanctuary—the Holy of Holies—to all present. The Peace should be a hierarchical sign, i.e., one that demonstrates 'extension', the extension of the peace (only Christ can give) from Christ through the priest to the people (through whom Christ offers His peace to all people). The Peace (of Christ) does not originate from/with us; the peace originates from Christ. Catholics share in the peace of Christ.

An image comes to mind that can be claimed from the rites of the Easter Vigil. Recall how the Light of Christ spreads from the Paschal Candle to those present. The Light of Christ is extended from the symbol of Christ (i.e., the Candle) through the congregation, growing in intensity, so-to-speak, as each additional candle is lit. Each individual candle symbolizes the original one candle, the Light of Christ. Perhaps if people remember that the sharing of fire requires attention to care and order, and apply that to the sharing of fire of peace that can only come from Christ as that same peace is extended with a deliberate sense of progression, at least initially, then perhaps the Sign of Peace can be reclaimed from the file on habitual liturgical abuse.

Orientation: adoration; communion.

The altar/sanctuary is the Holy of Holies wherein God resides. Is it not strange that, as The Peace is offered in so many parishes, a cacophony ensues that obscures attention to the One to Whom all attention should be fixed upon? More often than not, the Holy of Holies and the nave of the church are reduced to a circus, or a nebulochaotic assault on the order which should prevail in the presence of Almighty God.

Adoration is an orientation of the heart in the Presence of God. That said, the outer form embodying the inner orientation should likewise be ordered. The Sign of Peace is not embodied (nor ordered) when people reduce the Sign to just another cheap, shallow, fading sign of 'wishful' thinking.

The Sign of Peace, if not thoroughly oriented to Christ, merely reinforces the charge that Catholic worship, in practice, has been reduced to worship of self. The Sign of Peace should be that sign which affirms communion with Jesus Christ.

The Bishop of Barretos is right, of course, to require his flock to reorient their attention to Christ during the extension of the Sign of Peace among the congregation.

A suggestion for how the Rite of Peace might proceed:

A. Ad Orientem (Mass facing the liturgical East; Christ, Who returns from the East)
Priest (facing Liturgical East and inclined to the Body and Blood of Christ on the altar)
Lord Jesus Christ, who said to your Apostles,
Peace I leave you, my peace I give you,
look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church,
and graciously grant her peace and unity in accordance with your will. 
He joins his hands.
Who live and reign for ever and ever.
People: Amen
The priest, turning to face the people, says: 
Priest: The peace of the Lord be with you always.
People: And with your spirit.
Priest: Let us offer each other the sign of peace.
The priest, facing the congregation, bows to the people who then, turning to their immediate neighbours in the pews, bow to one another.
If there are concelebrants, the celebrant first extends the Peace (a bow) to the congregation, then the celebrant extends the Kiss of Peace to the concelebrants.
B. Versus Populum (Mass facing the people)
Priest (inclined to the Body and Blood of Christ on the altar)
Lord Jesus Christ, who said to your Apostles,
Peace I leave you, my peace I give you,
look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church,
and graciously grant her peace and unity in accordance with your will. 
He joins his hands.
Who live and reign for ever and ever.
People: Amen
The priest, turning his attention to the people, says: 
Priest: The peace of the Lord be with you always.
People: And with your spirit.
Priest: Let us offer each other the sign of peace.
The priest bows to the MC who then extends a bow to the other altar servers. Much as the thurifer bows toward the congregation prior to censing the congregation during the Offertory, the MC then makes his way to the centre of the sanctuary facing the people at the foot of the sanctuary and solemnly bows to the people who then, turning to their immediate neighbours in the pews, bow to one another.
If there are concelebrants, the celebrant first extends the Peace (a bow) to the MC (who then proceeds to the foot of the sanctuary, etc.), then the celebrant extends the Kiss of Peace to the concelebrants.
The above suggestions accomplish the following:
  1. by offering a bow, the priest does not transfer particles of the Sacred Host to the clothing and hands of others.
  2. decorum in the presence of the Body and Blood of Christ: there is order and a sense of progression from the altar to the congregation; there is order and a sense of progression among members of the congregation. Decorum preserves a sense of awe and adoration in the presence of God. That sense of hierarchical progression affirms communion in Christ.
  3. a bow preserves the dignity of the Sign.

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