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Our readers asked:

Do I Have to Extend the Sign of Peace to the Man My Wife is Having an Affair with in Order to Receive Communion?

Neela Kale Answers:

The sign of peace during the communion rite both recalls Jesus’ injunction to make peace with our brother or sister before bringing our gifts to the Lord (Matthew 5:23-24) and also our prayer for Christ’s peace and unity (Communion Rite, Roman Missal Third Edition). Sometimes the sign of peace celebrates forgiveness given and received; sometimes it expresses our hope for forgiveness and healing yet to come. If you are conscious of sin, it is important for you to express contrition before approaching for communion. But if someone has sinned against you, you do not necessarily have to specifically offer that person a sign of peace in order to receive communion. When deep hurt has been caused, forgiveness does not happen overnight. You need time to work through the pain surrounding your wife’s affair, and it is prudent to keep distance from this person until or unless you want to be in contact. Unless you live in an extremely small community that worships in exceptionally tight quarters, you can probably avoid greeting this person, especially during the sign of peace.
A larger question would be what if that person extends YOU a sign of peace? In that case accepting the gesture may be the first step in making amends with this person and beginning your own healing journey.

(Mike Hayes contributed to this answer).

The Author : Neela Kale
Neela Kale is a writer and catechetical minister based in the Archdiocese of Portland. She served with the Incarnate Word Missionaries in Mexico and earned a Master of Divinity at the Jesuit School of Theology. Some of her best theological reflection happens on two wheels as she rides her bike around the hills of western Oregon.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Mike

    to me it would be that man that is commiting adultry with your wife is the one that needs to worry about should he be reciving communion let alone doing anything else before he goes up to the altar. he is the one that needs to be making amends with you first, not the other way around. why would one want to wish peace upon one that is offeneding God for what they do? Jesus did not even do that, instead he made a whip and kicked ass and took names.

  • PWB

    Mercy is a grace, but if it’s feigned then it’s merely lying. God doesn’t want us to lie. I agree with the commenter below. It’s not so much important whether you’ve forgiven the person as much as it is whether you’re *trying* to forgive the person.

  • Michael

    The ‘Our Father’ prayer petitions that we be “forgive[n] (us) our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”. My humble interpretation of this is that we have no business asking God to forgive us if we are unwilling to forgive others. Having said this, I agree that our granting of forgiveness can be a lengthy process, not simply an on-off switch.

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