14/10/12 – Fifty Years Since Vatican II – Noble Simplicity and Scripture

On Thursday, the Church marked the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.  During this Year of Grace, we have been invited to revisit the constitutions of Vatican II.  The first of these constitutions was on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium.

After addressing general principles that were to underpin the constitution’s understanding of the liturgy, it began to articulate some general norms that were to be observed when implementing the liturgical reforms the constitution would subsequently propose.

The first was that the liturgical rites were to be marked by a “noble simplicity”, that they be clear and generally comprehensible.  It should not, for example, be necessary for there to regularly be lengthy explanations needed during a liturgical celebration for people to understand that is taking place.

Gospel According to MarkAnother general principle was that of the importance of sacred scripture in liturgical celebrations.  Sacrosanctum Concilium called for an increased use of a wider range of scripture texts.  It emphasised the importance of good preaching, helping people to come to a better understanding of the scriptures and the liturgical rites.  Finally, the constitution also encouraged an more frequent use of what it called “Bible services”, especially on more important occasions during the liturgical year, and in places and on occasions when a priest is not available.

24/10/10 – Silence During the Liturgy of the Word

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.