For the many people who came to Mass on Ash Wednesday, today continues the liturgical dimension of our Lenten journey. The tone of this season is markedly different to that of other seasons during the year.
During Lent, music should be used more simply and perhaps even less often. In particular, the Church insists that during Lent, the organ and other musical instruments are only used to support the singing. So organ preludes, postludes and instrumentals are definitely out for seven weeks!
To reflect the tone of the season, we have also tried gathering and leaving in silence, that is, without the singing of a hymn. The silent procession of the priest and ministers into the church can help us focus on the liturgy, and the season in which it is celebrated. The lack of recessional hymn, which is not an essential part of Mass, can give us a sense that something is not yet finished; it is unresolved. Every Mass should leave us feeling like there is more to do – we should feel compelled to go out and live the mission of Jesus.
There are certainly some people who must feel this, and are very eager to get out there and start serving others. So eager are they that they even manage to beat the priest out of the church! Recessional hymn or not, the liturgical ritual and simple good manners dictate that we all remain in our places until the priest and the ministers have processed from the church. I hope everyone will make the effort to observe this practice over the coming weeks.