What is this part of the Mass?
During the Communion Rite of the Mass, we prepare ourselves to receive the Body and Blood of Christ. The Communion Rite begins with the Lord’s Prayer and continues through the Prayer after Communion. What we do before and while receiving Communion does not change. Together we stand and pray the Our Father. We should not hold hands at this time because our sign of unity comes next. We remember we are one family with God. As a sign of this unity we share a Sign of Peace with those around us. We receive Holy Communion and then we are sent forth. But some of the words will be different in the new translation of the Roman Missal.
What do we say now and what is changing?
The Lord’s Prayer has not changed. It is one of the holiest and most well known of all Christian prayers. What has changed is what the priest says between the Lord’s Prayer and our acclamation (“For the kingdom…”):
“Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil; graciously grant peace in our days, that, by the help of your mercy, we may be always free from sin and safe from all distress; as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.”
These new words of the priest echo the letter of St. Paul to Titus in verse 2:13, which affirms that Christ has come and we await the blessed hope of his return. Christ is our hope!
The priest then prays for peace and unity in the Church and greets us again with “The peace of the Lord be with you always” and we respond (raise hand here) “and with your spirit.” This evokes the deep peace that Jesus imparts to his frightened disciples, appearing to them after the Resurrection: “Peace be with you,” as told in John 20:19.
We then exchange the Sign of Peace before receiving Holy Communion. Remember that the Sign of Peace is an action prayer. We reach out our hand to those people around us. We wish them God’s peace. Giving the Sign of Peace to others is a sign that we are united with one another at the table of the Lord. We remember we are one family with God.
Reverence: Since we are making changes in the prayers, how about we also work to put more reverence into the Mass as well? In the Sign of Peace, we should show more reverence by keeping in mind that a handshake, nod, smile, or brief hug is to be shared with those in immediate proximity to you. You should not leave your pew at this time. Attempting to fellowship with everyone you know, regardless of how far away they are sitting disrupts the Mass – this is not the point of the Sign of Peace. Share a nod with those too far to reach from where you are standing. When the Agnus Dei (AHG-noos DAY-ee) begins, you should not still be walking back to your seat.