The Sign of Peace is getting some more attention at the Vatican. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments released guidelines on the Rite of the Sign of Peace during Mass.
The letter, written by the current prefect of the dicaster, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares, addresses several inquiries made by the Conference of Bishops in May 2008. The conferences asked the Congregation on their thoughts on changing the Sign of Peace to another moment "with the end of a better understanding and development of such a gesture.”
After much consideration, the Congregation for Divine Worship saw that it was best to preserve "in the Roman liturgy of the Rite of Peace in its traditional place and not introduce structural changes to the Roman Missal.”
The Congregation also gave several practical suggestions on how to better educate the Rite's significance during the Mass.
The guidelines also noted several liturgical missteps that are made during the Sign of Peace that should be avoided, including:
- The introduction of a "song of peace”, that does not exist in the Roman Rite;
- The displacement of the faithful in order to exchange the sign of peace;
- The priest leaving the altar to give the peace to some faithful;
Cardinal Cañizares concluded the letter, exhorting Bishops and Priests to help the faithful deepen the spiritual significance of the Sign of Peace.