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The Socially Awkward Person's Guide to the Sign of Peace

BY Jennifer Fulwiler

| Posted 6/3/11 at 7:27 AM

 

The first time I went to a Catholic Mass, there were a lot of things that seemed crazy to me. The kneeling, the incense, the parts with everyone saying the same prayers at the same time—most of it was baffling. But none of it startled me more than when the priest suddenly said, “Let us offer one another a sign of peace.” With no warning other than that simple phrase, there was eye contact! And hand-shaking! And verbal interaction! People I didn’t even know were looking at me and addressing me!

For those of us who are both extremely introverted and socially awkward, this sort of rampant interaction with other human beings isn’t the sort of thing you just rush into. It requires practice, preparation, and analysis on a scale not entirely dissimilar to that of a moon landing. For my fellow people who share the psychological profile of SHBDH (Should Have Been a Desert Hermit), I offer this handy guide to the strange extrovert ritual known as the sign of peace:

WHAT TO DO

WHOM TO ACKNOWLEDGE

EXCEPTIONS & UNUSUAL SITUATIONS

BEHAVIOR TO AVOID

You’re all set! Simply review this guide before each Mass, and you’ll be able to blend in with even your most extroverted fellow parishioners during the sign of peace.