Part 2, Carmel Bulletin, 14 September 2014
The Sign of Peace leads us into the breaking of the bread and reception of Holy Communion. Previously, however, suggestions had been made that it could be better celebrated elsewhere during the Mass.
One suggestion that is made sometimes is to move the Sign of Peace to the Introductory Rites of the Mass. If this had happened, however, it would change the meaning of the ritual.
The Introductory Rites are focused on gathering the assembly together and preparing us for the celebration of the Eucharist. Is the Rite of Peace, however, about welcoming? There is certainly a place for acts of welcome, but there are more appropriately fulfilled in the hospitality we provide as people arrive at the church, and in introductory comments that may be made before Mass begins. Furthermore, the priest’s greeting (such as “The Lord be with you”) is in itself an act of welcome.
If the Rite of Peace was to be placed later in the Introductory Rites, then it would sit more closely with the Penitential Act. This may seem to make sense at first. Yet this then gives the Rite of Peace a character and tone that is related to penance and forgiveness, which again wasn’t originally anticipated. It would potentially draw out the penitential aspect of the Introductory Rites even further and may give the sense that this is the primary focus of the beginning of the Mass.