One Good Phrase: Peace of Christ be with you always (Seth Haines)

I’m excited to welcome Seth Haines as our first guest writer in the “One Good Phrase” series. I discovered Seth’s writing via his wife, Amber Haines (who has some of the sharpest, most lovely words around). When he co-curated Mother Letters with Amber, I was happy to find out he blogs as well. And the man appreciates a good poem! You should follow him on Twitter at @sethhaines. Thanks for being here, Seth.


The son of a Catholic father and Southern Baptist mother, I was raised a bit of a spiritual mutt. That is to say, although I considered myself Southern Baptist in practice, it was my lot to attend Catholic school for the majority of my formative years, and thus, to attend the weekly ritual known as all-class mass. As if my lanky frame and pock-marked face were not enough, my distinct misfit status was highlighted by the Sisters of Mercy’s public pronouncements that I should refrain from sullying the holy water with my under-aged protestant fingers, or signing myself in the name of the Trinity, or attempting, even for one sullen second, to enter the eucharist line.

It was my lot to sit in the utmost middle of the row, so as to not hinder the ingress and egress of those communion with body and blood when the time drew neigh. So, at the begining of each mass, I excused myself as I tripped over the knees of those who sat, or the calves of those whose knelt penitently, asking God to forgive them their trespasses. These were my exercises of weekly embarrassment, the constant reminder that I was foreign.

As I grew to embrace faith, though, I began looking forward to our weekly mass, if only for one reason–the passing of the peace. It was an egalitarian moment, a moment wherein the priest offered us all (including the most protestant of the lot) the peace of Christ. It was a brief moment of rest in the middle of an otherwise outcast experience, a reminder that the peace of Christ is the great equalizer for all followers of the Way.

I think back to the passing of the peace, and it seems especially poignant these days. The world is awash in turmoil. The news reminds me of the children who lay eternally silent, the ones slaughtered by men without peace. I avert my eyes, search for an outlet but find only vestiges of violence, or scintillating sexuality, or marketed materialism. I retreat inward, hoping to find a quiet corner, but it’s there, too, this turmoil that is endemic to the hearts of men. But in these moments of unrest, I remind myself of Christ’s words, the ones he knew that we, sons of thunder as we are, needed most–“Peace I leave you; my peace I give to you.”

I am a wayward heart, no doubt, and the search for peace is sometimes ellusive. But as best as I am able, as simply as I can, I leave you with my one good phrase today. May it be a safe place for you, as it has always been for me.

Peace of Christ be with you always.


I am a working stiff stranded somewhere between Arkansas and home. I am blessed to be the husband of Amber Haines and the father of four boys. I enjoy good sentences, good music, good food, and good fly fishing. It’s a privilege to scratch out words when the opportunity arises. Thanks for reading.
Candidates who are currently funded on a one-year grant and wish to pursue www.goldessayclub.com/ a phd may apply for a two-year research training fellowship

  • As per the new translation: AND WITH YOUR SPIRIT!


    • I absolutely LOVE the new addition. My friends are a bit opposed (tradition and all)… but me? I think it says SO much more.

      And with your spirit (too)!

      • Is it kosher to reply to a reply?
        I actually work for the Catholic church, in an administrative setting (as opposed to a ministry position). A lot of people had a hard time with the transition (and let me know about it), and I understand that transition can be challenging, so I don’t blame them.
        BUT! I love the new addition, too.
        I’ve had the grace to travel and to travel lots (World Youth Day, anyone?) and one of my favorite things to do is to celebrate mass with my brothers and sisters around the globe. Since we all read the exact same readings every day and the pattern of the mass is the same everywhere, it’s not hard to follow along. I’ve prayed the ancient prayers in the grand, holy churches of Rome and Assisi and the heart-felt open-air buildings of Central America and in gyms and backyards across Europe and America.
        I love the new translation because it’s a closer translation to the prayers that everyone else prays. So, they pray in Italian or Latin or Polish or Spanish…and I pray, too, in English, following along and wish and accept peace.
        It’s a beautiful thing.

        • *wishing and accepting. 😀

        • I’m glad you replied to the reply. I love this perspective.

  • Thanks for this post; I like your idea of the passing of the peace being a great equalizer. At that moment we all belong. I always enjoyed this part of the Anglican service when I used to attend that denomination. When my husband & I got married, even though it wasn’t part of our faith tradition, we incorporated that element into our wedding. At the “you may kiss the bride” point, we had everyone greet one another with the peace of Christ. It took the attention off that (to us) awkward moment and allowed that moment of experiencing a larger community than just the 2 of us.

    • I also share your Anglican experiences (see, told you I was a mutt), but that’s another story for another day.

      Love that you passed the peace during the kiss. I’m sure it made it memorable for the patrons!

  • Oh, I love this insight – the passing of the peace uniting us in the Way. I grew up extremely sheltered in SBC practice, and so it wasn’t until adulthood that I ventured out to enjoy all there is to learn from other faith traditions. Passing the peace is one of my favorite parts of traditional liturgy, too. One good phrase, indeed.

    • Here’s the thing I like about you… you catch my caps.

      Peace be with you, Megan.

  • Beautifully written. We have indeed shared some similar church experiences but I never got to the point of looking forward to Mass. I have, however, made peace with it. I love what you’ve done here, Seth.

    • Making peace is the whole point… so… you win.

      Thanks for stopping in here, Leigh.

  • Pingback: One Good Phrase: Peace of Christ. | Seth Haines()

  • I like this story. (I don’t have anything substantive. Just that.)

    • Thank you. (Your “like” is substance enough.)

  • and also with you Seth, and also with us all

    • With us all, indeed. I’m glad you stopped in here.

  • michaboyett

    Why doesn’t this blog allow ‘likes’ on comments! Whoever’s in charge around here ought to do something about that. : )

    If there were a ‘like’ button, I would have agreed with Seth that “making peace is the whole point.” I love how active it is to “make” peace as opposed to “be” peaceful. And I love that the passing of the peace is right before communion, so that we make things right with each other before we come to the Lord’s table. My husband and I have a little weekly tradition of recognizing any failures that have gone unconfessed between the two of us that week and offering forgiveness (as quickly as possible! mostly we just say: I’m sorry I was a jerk.) during that time.

    And yes to Jeannie’s comment about how she loves that idea of passing the peace being the great equalizer.

    Great post, Seth. Thanks!

    • Love this, Micha. And to take it a bit further, I think that making peace is the point because that’s what Christ did (per the John run in Chapters 14 though the end of 20). That’s why I think it has to be the point, why we are called to be reconcilliation bearers.

      Thanks again for sharing your space. You’re right good.

  • Lovely, Seth. Thank you. And thanks, Micha, for inviting him to inaugurate this lovely new theme. Looking forward to many more!