from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. A ceremonial gesture, such as a kiss or handclasp, used as a sign of love and union in some Christian churches during celebration of the Eucharist.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. (Roman Catholic Church) a greeting signifying Christian love for those assisting at the Eucharist
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"Habete osculum dilectionis et pacis ut apti sitis sacrosanctis mysteria Dei", and gives the kiss of peace to the deacon (vel puero), who passes it on to the people.
However, the rival theory, that there were originally two occasions when the kiss of peace was given, one before the Offertory and the other before the Communion, does not lack probability; for St. John Chrysostom, the Prayer Book of Serapion, and Anastasius Sinaita seem all to know of some such rite before Communion, and the practice of kissing the bishop's hand before receiving the Blessed Sacrament (see Card.
It seems to be pretty generally held that this position before the Offertory was the primitive position of the liturgical kiss of peace even at Rome.
The Roman Ordines, the Stowe Missal which represents Irish usage at an early date, and a chorus of liturgical writers from the eighth century onwards attest that wherever Roman influence prevailed the Pax invariably followed the great consecratory prayer and the Pater. lt is easy to understand that the usage which placed the kiss of peace before the Offertory
This passage clearly shows that in the middle of the second century the usage already obtained — a usage now claimed as distinctive of the liturgies other than Roman — of exchanging the kiss of peace at the beginning of what we call the Offertory.
In any case it is certain that in the early Middle Ages the kiss of peace was most intimately associated in idea with the reception of Communion (see Pseudo-Egbert, "Confessionale", xxxv, in
VI, ix, 68, points out), and the modesty and reserve which so many of the pre-Nicene Fathers inculcate when speaking of this matter must be held to have reference to other occasions than the kiss of peace in the liturgy.