This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Saturday, 20 July 2013

NO 4: the Sign of Peace

We're continuing with our guide to some of the more unusual things you may expect to see in a Novus Ordo Mass, and today we have something very ecumenical, as it occurs in many Church of England services too.


Surrounded by 8 neighbours - but which do I greet first?

Our hearts sink as we reach the point where the priest tells us to offer each other the sign of peace. The first step is to decide on the order in which we are going to harass our neighbours - during the sermon is usually a good time to make a little diagram like the one above, and prepare a batting order. Probably you should start with the lady on your left, but don't hug her too hard or she'll call you names. Then the seedy-looking chap on your right.

The nature of the physical contact allowed will depend on the church, but KEEP YOUR CLOTHES ON. If you're wearing any, of course.

Be warned that the man behind you will probably thump you if you leave him too late. I'd avoid the chap with the big teeth altogether, personally.

The kiss of peace

A typical kiss of peace.

Appropriate forms of greeting:

Peace be with you!
Pax tecum!

Pax, Man! - an acceptable greeting in some churches.

Inappropriate forms of greeting:

Peace off!
If you wish pacific communication with me, kindly arrange it 
through my solicitor. After you've cut down that tree which is
blocking my light.
Hello, cheeky!
In most churches use a simple "Peace be with you, peace be with you, peace be with you, I've done you already, haven't I?" and, for those who are too far away to reach, a "Mwah!" or a sheepish grin will do.


A pious Catholic demonstrates the Vatican-II recommended "grin of peace".


  1. darling eccles, it's the creepy man who insists on an actual kiss who puts me off - unless it is a deacon in good standing, in which case a quick right to chin is the best response. Jess :) xx

  2. Eccles - can you advise on what to do if a Priest doesn't allow sufficient time to offer the sign of peace to all the people we want?

    1. A good questoin, bruv - I think you just keeps going. you don't want the priest to think he's in charge.

  3. In a church in Glasgow I looked across and the kilted man on my right said in a quizical voice, "Peace?". I nodded reluctantly, whereupon he reached into his bag and gave me a sandwich.

  4. In an otherwise clearly well-researched and and scholarly piece I am surprised that you make no mention of the snoggers. These are married couples who, not satisfied with having homes in which such intimacies may be practised in decent privacy, set about each other with lascivious abandon in church in full view of everyone present.

    1. Reminds me of the lady who, on turning to the gentleman next to her was told 'no tongues mind' - and I don't think he was a pentecostal!!

    2. Then there are the snoggers who think any single woman under the age of 50 is game - you need to develop a swerve for those :) xx Jess

    3. I always try to sit behind a likely pair of soixante-huitard snoggers as they are very entertaining. If they hold their hands up during the Our Father, I'm there like a flash. Once the husband dislodged his wife's dental plate in his enthusiasm. I placed a gardening catalogue discreetly in her handbag as they sashayed up to Communion. I hope she took the hint to get a healthier hobby.

  5. Jessica/Patricius: imagine if real kissing were the only option available - the practice would die out PDQ. Ironic, as that is likely what happened primitively, yer 1st and 2nd century Latins not being as self-conscious as we 21st century Brits are in the kissing department.

    1. Selfconsciousness is one of these culture-dependant things .M' late(fairly Brit and Traddie) father never forgot at one of his granddaughters' first communions in Spain being given (Standard church and secular greeting ) a kiss on both cheeks by a complete stranger, and a man to boot.Probably descends from Roman times.
      Romans however Did use tu, the thou form,in speech,as we did/do in Latin whereas I ve known Castillians of my generation and above, as many Hispanics remain, who would greet new male aquaintances with the double kiss and brief embrace (not hug) yet incapable of adressing them with other than the formal Vd second person and expecting the same .
      OF opened a worm's nest in some ways.
      Spain varies a bit on handshakes vs socially extant double cheek kiss - one of my treasured memories at a Spanish wedding was a fellow guest who replied "pleased to make your aquaintance."
      If the time comes again, which looks evercloser, which Godsend not come about, wherein we might betray any fellow mass goer into administrative or deathly persecution, things might take on a different look.
      Again, the early church.
      PS: grin of peace : like !

  6. At da Telegrafio bloggistas annual Mass at San Darryls lasta week, all da boys were-a keesing lika Ttony says da ancient latins should. Excepta none of them were-a keesing me - despite all da inside intelligentsia that I send them from my job cleaning the cabinetti at the St Martha Pensione, abouta my old patrone "Nina" Ricca. Mi amici Damiano pretenda dat he still traditionalista, and hid behinda deacon.

  7. I dread this moment in mass.

  8. I just pull out an ostentatious handkerchief and people just nod instead of shaking hands with someone with a cold...have not seen snoggers-eeiiuu, but then I am over 50, thank God.

    What is most horrible are people crossing the aisles and going through the entire congregation. Hey, just have coffee and doughnuts afterwards, folks.

  9. Frankly, I subscribe to the “Glare of Peace”. Or perhaps it is “…impending war”

    Meaning: “If you touch me, I will smite you with my Daily Roman Missal which I am holding firmly in my clenched fists - which go along with my clenched teeth.”

    “Get thee back to thy pew…pronto!”

    Of course it doesn’t help that Father abandons the altar and glad-hands everyone in the first five (or more…) pews. It is understood as ‘welcoming’ and ‘being inclusive’.

    For me, a right cross could be perceived as being inclusive.

    I mean, it is ‘pressing the flesh’…init?

  10. Slightly disconcerted last week when a glad hander exchanging sign of peace with us immediately used hand sanitiser after touching our horny hands of soil