If you have been following recent posts, I have been writing short commentary on parts of the Holy Mass of the Tridentine Rite. Last time, we dealt with the “Sanctus.” The previous 2 posts dealt with the “Prayers for Holy Communion.” Since I had no direction when I started this, its been kind of random. Let’s begin to give this some form and we will continue in the coming months on this topic. So let’s discuss the remaining prayer for Communion, the “Prayer for Peace.” (These prayers are said by the priest, bowing before the newly consecrated Body and Blood of Christ.)
“O Lord Jesus Christ, who saidst to Thine Apostles: Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: look not upon my sins but upon the faith of Thy Church; and deign to grant her that peace and unity which is in accord with Thy will: Who livest and reignest God, world without end. Amen.”
In order to best understand these prayers, we must understand the point we are at in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Body and Blood of Christ are now miraculously present on the altar and we have just finished the “Agnus Dei,” beseeching His mercy and the gift of peace. Continuing with the theme of peace, the above prayer is said. The priest then kisses the altar and exchanges words of peace with the Deacon. In the Novus Ordo, this is when people shake hands to show a sense of peace among each other. The idea is to show peace among the people before receiving Our Blessed Lord.
Why does the priest kiss the altar? I’m not sure what the purpose of this is, but it seems he is perhaps expressing a peace with God first, before expressing his peace with men. This would be in accord with Catholic teaching, that we cannot have peace in the world without first being at peace with God. These are the two beams of the Holy Cross. There is the vertical, reaching up to the Father, and the horizontal, reaching out to humanity. The horizontal beam cannot be supported without the vertical.
These “Prayers for Holy Communion,” are said just before the priest and the people receive Our Blessed Lord in innocence. We are beginning these 3 prayers with the sentiment of peace, which is absolutely necessary and fitting at this great anticipatory moment before communing with the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity. We call to mind the words of Our Lord Himself, telling His Apostles of the peace He gives to them. We in turn receive this peace through the Church the Apostles founded. We then reiterate in a sense, the “Agnus Dei,” in asking for mercy and peace.
Let us remember that without peace with God, there can be no other peace, not within us as individuals, and not among us. People attribute the ills of the world today to all sorts of things, but we as Roman Catholics, know the truth: We have lost our relationship with Almighty God, our loving Creator. Let us defend this truth valiantly, especially when we are in challenging situations. This is what separates the saints from the dominion of Hell! Peace to you, my dear readers:)