On the first full day of our time in the New Forest, we were privileged to have a morning with Mgr. Edwin Barnes, who is part of the Bournemouth Ordinariate and lives nearby.
We had two sessions, the first being on the Peace. Fr Neil had asked Mgr. Barnes to talk about this partly because it is one of the things that changed when we became Catholics.
Mgr. Edwin talked for a little while on the history of the Peace and its function in the mass. As Anglicans we had been used to the Peace coming before the Eucharistic Prayer (after the Offertory Hymn.) Now it comes after the Amen and before the Agnus Dei.
The Anglican position is in the same place as in the Ambrosian Rite. The Peace signalled the point at which the Catechumens were sent out. Before they were received into the Church they were not allowed at the Eucharist. It was suggested that this position of the Peace, placed during reforms of the C of E liturgy in the 20th Century might have been about “not disturbing the holy part of the Eucharist.”
If the Peace is about welcome and relations between the faithful this is fine. However there is an aspect of the Peace that is not this.
In the Peace the Priest and People seal the action of the Eucharist. The Peace has to happen to show that the People give their assent to what has happened. Here and at the great Amen this happens.
The group reflected on what they had heard. The different position of the Peace was one of the difficult parts of moving to the Catholic Church. Some people found the different position disruptive initially, where we had been used to having it before the Eucharistic Prayer.
Some people were struck by the corporate nature of the Eucharist, reflecting on the Peace acting as assent. Mass is not ‘my special time with God’ but is done in the context of the community. There is a powerful image in people consciously assenting. The importance of the Liturgical nature of the peace is vital.
There was an important link for some, in thinking about the ‘putting things right with my neighbour’ aspect of the Peace and its liturgical function.
Much came out of the session and I think that we will return to some of these issues as a community.