Bow If You Must

… but wave?

Bishops and diocesan liturgy directors are warning off communion from the cup in some places. But this idea seems a little limp to me:

(M)embers of our congregations should not be offended at this time if someone chooses not to shake the other person’s hand at the sign of peace.

If you are ill, the appropriate response to someone extending a sign of peace might be to bow to them and say, ‘Peace be with you,’ to avoid bodily contact, or one might wave slightly at the other person.

This, from Father Michael Dugan, Dallas diocesan liturgy director. I like the bow. That works well. Slight wave: that doesn’t. I’d stick with the bow: dignified, non-secular,


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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8 Responses to Bow If You Must

  1. JC says:

    One of the holiest priests I’ve ever known would only bow at the Signum Pacis, both as a gesture of humility and as a holdover from his decades in South Asian missionary work. I wish he hadn’t left the altar at all, but the parish hated him as it was.

  2. Sean says:

    People in China put their hands together and bow at the sign of peace. It’s nice and fast. I think the same thing happens in Buddhist liturgy, but I am not sure.

  3. Gavin says:

    Actually I do the wave when I’m ill. I always make a point to extend the peace to each of my choir members and musicians, but if I’m sick I simply do a short wave and say “I am ill. Peace be with you all.”

  4. Randolph Nichols says:

    I have an acquaintance whose cancer treatments make her vulnerable to infection and thus she is reluctant to shake hands during the Sign of Peace or to hold hands during the Our Father. Not all are understanding of her hesitation.

    The handshake and the wave have become so mechanized that the purpose of the Sign of Peace is now lost. I like the bow. Not being an everyday mannerism, it heightens a sense of reverence and sincerity. But I suppose in our casual culture even that would soon be maligned.

  5. Liam says:

    Only if we hit foreheads….

  6. Jimmy Mac says:

    Handshake? Wave? I’m all for a full-bore hug and, if that absolutely freaks someone out, a grip & grin.

  7. puella says:

    At a monastery I know the sisters have what seems like a well-choreographed bow-holy_air_kiss-bow sequence at the pax. It’s probably not choreographed at all but just convention as to which cheek is first.

  8. Jim McK says:

    In my diocese, they had something official about the cup and the sign of peace, but no mention of communion in the hand. Any thoughts on having a priest put his hand close to the mouths of successive communicants? (link should be to an AP photo by Eduardo Verdugo of a Mexican priest wearing a mask offering communion to the tongue of a woman who has a face mask on her neck to accommodate the gesture.)

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