THE LITURGY OF THE EUCHARIST: The Communion Rite – The Rite of Peace (2)

The Rite of Peace

“The peace of the Lord be with you always.”

After praying for peace the priest or bishop celebrating the Eucharist, in the form of a blessing, wishes the Lord’s gift of peace for all those participating in the liturgy with a simple gesture of greeting used in other moments of the Mass. In earlier moments of the Mass he prays that the Lord be with them; now on behalf of the Lord he wishes peace for them, and those participating respond in kind.

This distinction of making it a separate moment in the Mass reminds us that the peace is coming from Christ. The celebrant represents Christ and offers the peace of Christ in his name. In this way the peace comes from the altar and to the assembly, an altar upon which Our Lord is sacramentally present in order to enable us to achieve the peace and unity for which we strive through the sacrifice he made to reconcile us with Our Father.

Without denying the importance of wishing your peers well, this moment shows that the peace we want to achieve is something spiritual that comes from beyond us, since it not only involves communion amongst ourselves, but communion with the Lord.

“Let us offer each other the sign of peace.”

Just as we pray that peace should spread, we accept the celebrant’s invitation to wish those celebrating with us the Lord’s peace as well. Through exchanging a sign of peace we are expressing our communion and charity in preparation for Holy Communion. It is a moment where we strive to follow Our Lord’s advice in Matthew 5:23-24 to be reconciled with our brother or sister before we approach the altar.

Reconciliation requires work. Just as the sacrament of Reconciliation is the culmination and continuation of our efforts to overcome sin in our lives and the negative effects sin has in the lives of others, a simple exchange of a sign of peace with someone with whom we’ve been feuding is one gesture on the path to a deeper reconciliation. Sometimes we can shake the hand or someone with whom we’ve not been getting along and feel a little hypocritical. That should not be a cause for concern; in dioceses of the United States we say “Peace be with you” in this moment. We’re expressing a desire for peace, wishing something good for that person, and that is the right path to take. Exchanging a sign of peace is also extending a blessing to another, and that, when we live it from the heart as best we can, is an act of charity and communion.

When you are really struggling to be at peace with another, this is the moment to set bad feelings aside and focus your efforts on really wishing peace for that person. A sincere desire for peace, and not just any peace, but the Lord’s peace, will have a transforming effect on both of you. Our Lord doesn’t just expect reconciliation; he empowers it.

What did you think?

Share your review! Just log in or create your free account.

Leave a Reply

Want more?

Sign up for the weekly email and access to member-only content

Skip to content