The Sign of Peace: Extended Version?
I managed to make it to an evening Mass at a Church in South London on Sunday and noticed that the Sign of Peace, which takes place during the service, seemed to go on forever and that the Priest offering Mass went up the middle of the aisle and shook the hand of every person a good couple of people in from the centre of the aisle in each row of pews. I've seen this a couple of times and thought it rather odd. Surely, the Sign of Peace is meant to be quite quick, but this went on what felt like forever, which I think is something of a distraction from the momentum of prayer and reverence for what we are about to receive. Some priests at this point think that it is pastoral care to do this, but I can't see it myself, because surely the priest's devotion is fixed upon the Altar where the Consecration takes place. I can't help thinking that at this point in the Mass, suddenly the Mass becomes about either the Priest or the congregation or both, when we our gaze is meant to be fixed on Christ.