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Roman Catholics move closer to Anglicanism

In the midst of Roman Catholics re-translating the Latin original into better, more Anglican-sounding English, comes pressure now, from the pope and others, to move the Sign of Peace from the Roman Catholic position, just prior to communion, to the Anglican position between the prayers and the preparation of the gifts (offertory). The move is being driven by the experience of irreverence. In the current RC practice, Christ is present on the altar and people turn to each other and greet each other with varying degree of enthusiasm. The Anglican practice is the way it was done in the early church and recorded in the earliest liturgies. See, for example, The Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus of Rome

4:1 When he has been made bishop, everyone shall give him the kiss of peace, and salute him
respectfully, for he has been made worthy of this. 2Then the deacons shall present the oblation
to him, and he shall lay his hand upon it, and give thanks, with the entire council of elders, saying:
3The Lord be with you.
And all reply:
And with your spirit.
The bishop says:
Lift up your hearts.
The people respond:
We have them with the Lord.
The bishop says:
Let us give thanks to the Lord.
The people respond:
It is proper and just.
The bishop then continues:
4We give thanks to you God,
through your beloved son Jesus Christ,…

18:1 When the teacher finishes his instruction, the catechumens will pray by themselves,
separate from the faithful. 2The women will also pray in another place in the church, by
themselves, whether faithful women or catechumen women. 3After the catechumens have
finished praying, they do not give the kiss of peace, for their kiss is not yet pure. 4But the
faithful shall greet one another with a kiss, men with men, and women with women. Men
must not greet women with a kiss…

21:25 From then on they will pray together will all the people. Prior to this they may not pray
with the faithful until they have completed all. 26After they pray, let them give the kiss
of peace
. 27Then the deacons shall immediately bring the oblation. The bishop shall bless the bread,
which is the symbol of the Body of Christ; and the bowl of mixed winec, which is the
symbol of the Blood which has been shed for all who believe in him;…

Wherever the peace is placed (and some confuse the liturgical sign of peace with a friendly greeting your neighbour and visitors in the pews at the start of a service) I still hold to what I wrote over a decade ago in Celebrating Eucharist:

Teaching which encourages sensitivity is appropriate. The Peace is part of worship, it is a liturgical action. To seek out our friends and ignore the stranger or visitor or the one with whom we really need to seek reconciliation is to miss the point of the Peace. The Peace anticipates the coming kingdom, it is not a foretaste of the morning tea after church! To put this in another way, it is the Peace which should shape the atmosphere of morning tea after church, rather than the atmosphere of an ordinary New Zealand morning tea being that which shapes the way we relate at the Peace.

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