I like my mom's priest. Why? Because he just skips right over the part of mass where we offer the "sign of peace." Heck, the first few times I didn't even notice it. Finally, I leaned over to my wife and pointed out that we didn't do it. My mom later pointed out that he never does it. Hmmmmm, so much for my police observation skills.
I like not doing it. I didn't use to have a problem with it but now I do. Evidently, I take after my Uncle Dave, who, back in the early days after Vatican II would fold his arms up as opposed to go shaking hands.
Now before you go off shaking your head and starting to wonder about me just hear me out. I have two reasons I don't like it. The first is, and I'll be the first to point out that I'm not a theologian by any means, but I think it's in the wrong part of the mass. Think about it, we are at the end of the consecration. We are about to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. All of our attention is supposed to be on Him. Suddenly, Father calls a time out and we have to start shaking hands with our neighbor--put on a little phony smile and say a dozen times, "Peace be with you." Now your hands are all sticky because the kid behind you was eating Raisenettes and I'm pretty sure I'm pretty sure I guy in front of me has the plague the way he has been coughing and hacking into the very hand I just shook. He just couldn't settle for a wave or a fist bump could he? Now, my attention is on anything but Jesus. Although, I'm probably going to meet Jesus soon because of the aforementioned plague that I now have festering on my hand.
The second reason I don't like is because everyone seems to think it's social hour. People can't just be happy shaking the hands of those around them. No. They have to go all the way to the other side of the church to shake hands of friends and family members. Seriously? Mass will be over in about ten minutes. Can' you wait a minute? Heck, it hasn't been an hour since you talked last. I know, because I heard you laughing all the way over here while I was trying to pray before mass! It takes away some of the reverence at mass--something that I complained about here.
I think it would be more appropriate to have the sign of peace, if you are going to do them at all, in the opening rites. Smack dab right there at the beginning. It's like you are greeting those around you. I don't think people will feel they need to say hi to their friend who they just left a moment ago. And most importantly---you can keep your eyes on Jesus.
Do you know of theological reasons for having the sign of peace where it is? What do you think about it?