Reading, “At Mass, what does it mean to exchange “the peace of Christ”?” from Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction inspired me to put together a little something to explain what “the sign of the peace” or saying “peace be with you” at Mass means. While I understand that most Catholics know the meaning behind this rite of the Communion, I believe that there are also a few who might still be wondering what does “Peace be with you” mean in Catholic Mass.
The salutation, “peace be with you,” was actually inspired by Jesus Christ’s words upon seeing his disciples during his resurrection. (You can read the story in Luke 24:35-48.)
I read a very wonderful and concise explanation of this rite from a book titled, “How to Understand the Liturgy” by Jean Lebo, it said: “The Sign of Peace is a point where one sees whether the liturgy holds together. If the congregation has not really been welded together during the course of the Mass, then it is useless and inappropriate to perform this action.”
So what does “peace be with you” mean in Catholic Mass? Simply put, I would say that the “sign of the peace” is meant to remind us that we cannot become one with the Lord unless we we recognize him in the people around us.