Thursday, April 16, 2009

#10: Giving Peace

Notre Dame Students love Sunday night mass.  They don’t love the mass because of the homily, or the singing, or the Eucharist.  No.  Notre Dame Students love Sunday night mass because of the Rite of Peace.  Most Catholics around the world find this to be the most awkward and unnecessary part of mass; shaking hands with strangers just because they happen to be sitting next to you, awkward sayings, and muffled noise characterize this part in most churches. 

For Notre Dame Students however, the Rite of Peace is an event in and of itself. 

Handshakes?  Not allowed.  Everybody gets a hug.  Notre Dame Students all hug each other.  For Notre Dame Students the hug becomes second nature.  Some don’t even hug their families back at home (making for the awkward mass when friends from school come home) but at student masses, it would be out of place NOT to hug each other.

Even if there are several rows of chairs in between two students, Notre Dame Students will get up and walk around their chapels several times until they have given peace to everybody that they even vaguely know.  Notre Dame Students become giddy during the Lord’s Prayer because they all know that it is almost that time when they get to furiously move around the chapel and shake hands with everybody they know.  When the time comes to give peace, most Notre Dame Students do not even bother shaking hands with the people who just happen to be sitting near them because time is of the essence.  If a Notre Dame Student is not making at least one lap around their chapel, something is clearly wrong*. 

For Notre Dame Students the rite of peace does not just involve the normal hugging motion however.  Most male Notre Dame Students participate in the bro-hug, which involves a firm handshake, a pull in towards each other, a single pat on the back, and possibly some brief words between peace givers.  Maybe a joke that somebody thought of earlier during the mass, or a comment about an awkward moment in the priest’s homily.  During the fall, these interchanges might even involve speculation about the current state of the Sunday Night NFL Game (for fantasy purposes only).  Other times, these interchanges might simply be the classic: “peace man”.  This is quick enough so that both peace givers have enough time to continue moving around the chapel in earnest. 

Because Notre Dame Students like to give peace so much, this process usually takes a good seven minutes in the dorm chapels.  Because this is the main reason why Notre Dame Students attend mass however, they do not mind.  After the Rite of Peace Notre Dame Students sing louder and happier knowing that they were able to hug all of their friends, and knowing that everybody saw them at Mass (See #4). 

*Exception: when a Student decides to give peace with their rector or priest, this could take up all of the allotted time due to long lines and adverse conditions at the front of the chapel.


  1. I always hated those long lines you had to wait in to hug Ed, that's why I only hugged him every other week.

  2. Bwahahaha. This is just like the masses at my Jesuit high school in Denver. It's an all-guys school (basically)and people behave the exact same way, usually extending the rite waaaay past it's normal length. Good stuff.