Divine Office Forum: Kissing the Breviary
Kissing the Breviary QUESTION from Kurt Barragan August 15, 2001 I have seen a number of European clergy kissing their breviaries before opening them to pray the Office and on closing them afterward. I think this is quite a beautiful custom and wondered if you knew anything more about it.
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on August 19, 2001 Dear Mr. Barragan:
Kissing the beviary is a sign of respect and reverence to the Holy Word of God. I do this too at the end of the Office.
In European Culture kissing is rather common and can have several meanings. On a general level it is a means of showing respect for a person. And it does not necessarily mean that the person likes or loves the person or thing, but is a mere cordiality. In this context kissing in many European Cultures is equivalent to hand-shaking in the American culture. That is what the Pope did when he kissed the Koran. It was a mere generic sign of respect that is no more significant than shaking hands.
Since kissing can have a variety of meanings, however, people sometimes get confused -- especially anti-catholics who want to interpret anything the Pope does as negative. The Church teaches that we should always interpret other's actions positively unless compelling evidence suggest otherwise.
Back to your question: kissing in this instance of the Divine Office, is more than a mere sign of respect, it is also a sign of reverence to the Holy Word -- the same reason the Gospel is kissed during Mass.
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