Today’s Question: Silence at Mass
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal places great emphasis on the value of communal silence during Mass. It calls for or recommends silence at these points:
- before Mass – in the church, and in preparation areas (45);
- within the Penitential Act (45, 51);
- after “Let us pray” of the opening collect (45, 54);
- before the Liturgy of Word (56);
- after the first two readings (45, 56, 128, 130);
- after the homily (45, 56, 66, 136);
- after communion (43, 45, 164);
- after “Let us pray” of the post-communion prayer (165).
How do you determine when to insert silence? Which of the items in this list seem more important than others? How long do you make the silent pauses? How do you maintain the pauses consistently, and who is responsible for timing it and giving the signal? What formation or education do you give to the assembly, and how? Does it seem that the silence fosters a spirit of prayer and reflection?
Moderator’s note: “Non solum” is a feature at Pray Tell for our readership community to discuss practical liturgical issues. The title comes from article 11 of the Vatican II liturgy constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium: “Therefore there is to be vigilance among holy pastors that in liturgical action not only are laws for valid and licit celebration to be observed, but that the faithful should participate knowingly, actively, and fruitfully.” (Ideo sacris pastoribus advigilandum est ut in actione liturgica non solum observentur leges ad validam et licitam celebrationem, sed ut fideles scienter, actuose et fructuose eandem participent.) May the series contribute to good liturgical practice – not only following the law, but especially grasping the spirit of the liturgy!