Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Passing the peace: It ain't half-time, folks

British Traditionalist Roman Catholic Ttony, whose blog is called “The Muniment Room”, relates here that a priest is thinking of founding a “Society of Pope Paul VI” in order to perpetuate the current Novus Ordo celebration of the Mass in the face of “the reform of the reform” in Roman Catholic matters liturgical. One of the practices apparently at issue is the celebrant leaving the altar to greet congregants at the exchange of the peace. Reading this inspired me to describe how the peace is exchanged in the Qurbana, the Divine Liturgy or Mass, of the ACCA:

First, just before the beginning of the Anaphora, or Eucharistic Prayer, the celebrant offers a prayer for peace. The following, from the Liturgy of St. James, is typical:

"O LORD and God of all, account us unworthy ones to be worthy of this salvation, that freed from guilt and united in love we may greet one another with a kiss of peace and offer to † Thee glory and thanks and to Thine Only-begotten Son and Thy Living Holy Spirit, One God, in both worlds unto the Aeon of aeons."

The congregation responds: "Amen. Barekhmar!"

“Barekhmar” means, “Master, bless”.

The celebrant then takes “the peace of Christ” from the gifts upon the altar and from the altar itself, making the sign of the cross upon the corporal. This is called “taking power from the Mysteries”. He then turns to the congregation and blesses them, saying

“Peace be † with all of you”

The congregation responds: “And with thy spirit.”

The celebrant then turns to the deacon, taking the deacon’s hands between his, and repeats this exchange with the deacon alone. The deacon then goes to the congregation and “passes the peace,” as above to one member of the congregation, who then does the same with the person next to him, who then repeats the same exchange with the person next to him, and so on. Thus, the peace of Christ is passed, from one member to another, one by one, throughout the congregation. Finally, the deacon receives the peace from the last member of the congregation, and returns it to the celebrant, who returns it to the gifts and altar, thus completing the circuit. The celebrant then begins the anaphora with the three-fold dialogue. All of this is done “decently and in order” and the congregation has expressed its mutual reconciliation, indicating that all are one with the celebrant in offering the Holy Sacrifice. The celebrant, however, does not need to leave the altar and “the passing of the peace” is not turned into “half-time”. (If there is no deacon, a server takes the role of receiving the peace from the celebrant and delivering it to the congregation.)


Ttony said...

I like the idea of the circulation of the pax, but in somebody else's Liturgy. This is gorgeous, but not copiable: it works because nobody realises that it does anything other than just happen.

"British Traditionalist Roman Catholic Ttony" - Coo! I like all of the adjectives but wonder how they look all joined up together!

FrGregACCA said...

Glad you like the description. Overly adjectival or not (it's a journo thing), it does seem to be fair.

I wouldn't presume to say whether or not this is copiable in a TLM setting (perhaps in a reformed NO Mass?). At the same time, we often have visitors who must be initiated into this ritual. In any event, from the perspective of anyone who takes the Real Presence seriously, it certainly makes more sense to have any exchange of peace prior to the beginning of the Anaphora than just before Communion (as in, I believe, the Ambrosian usage of Milan, and perhaps the ancient Roman use as well), and this also fits well with our Lord's call to reconcile BEFORE "offering one's gift at the altar." In some iterations of the Byzantine Rite, while there is no exchange of the peace, at some point before the anaphora, the celebrant turns and bows to the people and to those who are in the sanctuary, and says, "Forgive me, my brothers and sisters", to which all reply, "May God forgive us all".

Ttony said...

If you look back to here you'll see I agree with you about where the Pax should be in the Mass if we have to have it at all.

FrGregACCA said...

Thanks for linking that. Have you ever attended the Byzantine Rite service of Forgiveness of Vespers? It is held once a year, the first service of Lent. As an integral part of the service, everyone asks everyone else present, one by one, for forgiveness. Very powerful.

Mother Clement said...

I was one of those 'visitors' last year whom you had to initiate into this style of passing the Peace.
I am glad to have had the experience.

I have since implemented and mandated the same usage with the OCB's version of the St. James, primarily because I was so taken with the symbolic significance and with the manner of solemnity and decorum in practice. And especially after I found out that some of my dear Brother's congregants were taking the exchange of Peace as being the time to go outside for a smoke!
Oh! But for a wee bit of time of catechesis with such folks!

Thanks for bringing this up!

Alice C. Linsley said...

This is how it happens where I worship: the priest faces the congregation and bows, saying, "Forgive me, my brothers and sisters", to which all reply, "May God forgive us all".

It is much more meaningful than the Episcopal passing of the peace which in the 1979 prayer book has next to nothing to do with forgiveness.

FrGregACCA said...

Right, Alice. The "half-time" reference came from an Episcopal congregation, "the peace", of course, being followed by "announcements" and then, right into the offertory.