The custom of exchanging the greeting of peace at Mass is found in the words of St Augustine in the 4th century: “After the Lord’s Prayer, say ‘Peace be with you.’ Christians then embrace one another with a holy kiss. This is the sign of peace.”
In the primitive church at Rome and in the Eastern Church, the kiss of peace was offered after the first part of the Mass and before the Eucharistic Prayer. Early baptismal documents also indicate that the exchange of peace was reserved only for the ‘faithful,’ and so catechumens were dismissed before the Prayer of the Faithful, which was followed by the Kiss of Peace. In the Western Church the sign of peace was moved quite early to where it is as Augustine described it and where it is today. The Western Church saw a close link between peace and communion–peace with one another before receiving the Prince of Peace.In the Middle Ages the laity were excluded from the sign of peace and it was then dropped altogether from the Mass; the only remnant of the rite was the action of the priest kissing the altar Vatican II restored the ancient rite of peace to all who participate at Mass.
During one Easter period in 1957, I met the late Archbishop Justin Simonds coming out of the sacristy at St Mary’s church, West Melbourne. He stopped to speak with me and said: “I heard that the greeting among yourselves is “Peace be with you”. The Archbishop commented that it was a wonderful greeting and should be used among all Christians. He also said that he would be going to Rome for the ‘ad limina’ visit and would suggest the idea to Pope Pius XII.
On his return from Rome, he told me that the Pope liked the idea very much. It may seem presumptuous that this idea came directly from the SDC but is it possible that this suggestion to the Pope by Archbishop Simonds may have assisted in the re-introduction of this greeting into the Liturgy.
Maurice Mifsud SDC Hobart
About one year after SDC activities had commenced in West Melbourne in the late fifties, two boys who travelled to the SDC by bicycle were hit by a motor vehicle. One was in hospital and unconscious for many days. When Father Preca was informed, he wrote a prayer in English for travelling. This prayer is still used for travelling by people connected with the SDC in Australia today.
O Lord, God, keep us we ask you
and deliver us from all evil,
both spiritual and temporal,
We are convinced that all our efforts
to save ourselves will be in vain,
unless in your boundless mercy
You will save us yourself.
St Raphael – Pray pray for us.
In September 1961, the Delegate of the Superior General in Australia at the time, Reverend Joseph Abela and four SDC Members went to Hobart, Tasmania to survey the possibility of beginning the mission of the SDC in that State. This at the request of the Archbishop of Hobart, Guilford Young. The Archbishop had already requested a copy of the SDC Constitutions and wanted to discuss the matter further before his decision.
We met the Archbishop and for two consecutive days went for a drive with him around Hobart and environs discussing further aspects of the SDC life. His questions were direct; he was taking a keen interest in the mission and work of the SDC particularly the life of the Member.
While driving along Strickland Avenue in Hobart (named after Sir G Strickland of Malta who once was a Governor of Tasmania) we referred the Archbishop to the Vow of Forgiveness which Members make daily. On hearing this, he immediately pulled the car to the side of the road, removed his hat, bowed his head on the steering wheel and said “Please come to Tasmania. If SDC Members live this way of life there must be many holy people in the Society.”
With God’s grace, the first SDC Centre in Tasmania was founded on 11 November, 1961.
Maurice Mifsud SDC Hobart