September 22, 2013
Dear Fellow Parishioners:
Living in New York City for the first 26 years of my life I often traveled on very crowded subway cars. Much more crowded than anything I’ve ever seen on the DC Metro. I was amazed at how we strangers were physically pressed up against one another as more people tried to squeeze into the subway car. While we were forced into those rather intimate circumstances, there were norms for how to maintain a sense of detachment. One commonly accepted custom was to avoid making eye contact or staring at anyone. The opposite is true when we gather for Mass; namely, we may not be pressed up against each other physically but we practice certain customs to express the intimacy we experience with God and with one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.
After praying the Our Father together our custom is to express a ritual form of forgiveness and mutual acceptance. After I say “The peace of the Lord be with you always,” you respond, “And with your spirit.” Then I invite you to give one another a sign of peace. Originally this was called the “kiss of peace.” As the tradition moves among different cultures, various signs of peace me be appropriate. In our culture it is usually a hug or a handshake. I enjoy giving the Altar Servers a “high five of peace.” The gesture and the words we use are more than a greeting. We wish one another the peace of Christ himself, the peace that Jesus came to give. We may not be squeezed together but the peace we offer one another is a sign of the intimacy we share.
Fr. Kevin C. Kennedy