We have been looking at the place of silence within the celebration of Mass over the past few weeks. Last week, we looked at the place of silence during the Act of Penitence and the Opening Prayer.
Another time during Mass when silence is encouraged is after each of the readings and the homily.
During the Act of Penitence and Opening Prayer, the purpose of the periods of silence is to allow for the recollection of our thoughts and intentions. The silent periods we should observe during the Liturgy of the Word, however, have a different purpose.
After each of the readings, and again after the homily, we are encouraged to take time to reflect on what we have just heard. We believe that when the scriptures are proclaimed at Mass, God speaks to us. Furthermore, Christ is particularly made present to us through the proclamation of the gospel. It is important, therefore, to meditate briefly on just what is the message that God has for us today in the readings. Even if we are familiar with the story, each time we hear it we have the chance to pick up on something we haven’t focussed on before.
After the homily, we should take some time to consider what has been said to us, and how the scriptures proclaimed to us today may help to guide us as we go forth into the next week.
Some parishioners may recall some of priests of years past inviting to take a moment “to allow the Word of God to find a place within our hearts.” This is a helpful way of understanding the purpose of silence within the Liturgy of the Word at Mass.