Swiss Guards (inferior) first salute
Cardinal O’Malley (superior)
In common courtesy, it is the custom that the lesser first salutes or greets the greater. A private first salutes a general. A citizen first greets the governor. You get the idea.
In Catholic nations, there was historically a notable exception to this courtesy. Whenever a superior meets an inferior in the presence of his wife, the greater salutes the lesser.
Why? This custom showed the sanctity and honor of the sacrament of sacramental marriage. Since the husband and wife in the sacrament of matrimony are icons of Christ and the Church, they receive the greater honor.
So if a Catholic general saw a private and his wife on the street, he would first greet them rather that the private first greet the general.
At least among ourselves, we Catholics should strive to enshrine common courtesies. The old Catholic courtesies were built around the mysteries of the Sacred Scriptures. These are little things, but they reenforce the dogmas of our Holy Faith in Christ.
“Pass not beyond the ancient bounds which thy fathers have set.” (Proverbs 22:28, D-R)
Blessed Charles of Austria, pray for us.
Recommended book on “Catholic courtesy”: