Q: Happy Easter! I hope you are well. You are always so good about answering my “tough” questions about the liturgy! I have another good one.
As you know, in the time of COVID-19, the Sign of Peace has taken a dramatic transformation. Some parishes have omitted it and some parishes leave it open ended and people turn to one another and wave or give the “1960’s Peace Sign V”. Of course, they still embrace members of their families.
Revising the COVID-19 Guidelines, yesterday we had a conversation with our Bishop and he agrees that the Sign of Peace shouldn’t be “omitted”, and I asked that we please refrain from the word “voluntary” as it is part of our Liturgical Tradition. He is concerned and rightly so, that this waving or giving the “V” does not convey the theological implications of what the sign of peace truly means. And I have to agree. He suggested bowing or nodding the head toward the person. More of the East Asian tradition of bowing to one another as a sign of profound respect and humility.
He is hoping that we could use this opportunity as a teachable moment for pastors to use with parish communities. Do you have any thoughts, ideas, suggestions, etc. as we rewrite the guidelines?
I would love to hear anything you have to add to this matter. Thanks in advance.
A: Happy Easter to you, and I’m happy to know you all are working on guidelines for peace.
I’ve written quite bit on this. The simplest is to go to my web site and enter “sign of peace” in the search engine.
You’ll also find my commentary on this in two of my books: At the Supper of the Lamb and Let Us Pray.
In addition, my collection of Bulletin Inserts for the Liturgical Life of the Parish gathers reproducible items for parish bulletins and web sites. You’ll find one on the sign of peace there.
Thanks for asking.