Silence Please

Carmel Bulletin, 13 May 2018

When we look back through the Bible at different people’s encounters with God, we come to see that some crucial encounters occurred in silence.  Moses found the burning bush in a moment of silence and solitude.  Elijah sensed God’s presence in the silence on Mount Horeb after retreating in fear of his life.  Before beginning his mission, Jesus seeks the silence of the wilderness; setting him on the course to our salvation.

The Mass offers us a moment of encounter with God here and now, and silence remains a crucial part of that.  It provides us time for reflection, for silent prayer, and for (as one Carmelite who used to live here in Wenty used to explain it) ‘allowing the word of God to find a place within our hearts’.

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, which explains how the Mass is to be celebrated, particularly calls for periods of silence before Mass, after the readings and homily, and after communion.

So that we can ensure that we have those silent moments of reflection, prayer and encounter, we’re asking all parishioners and liturgical ministers at Sunday and weekday Masses for your support with the following:

  • homilyProviding a brief period of silence after the first reading before beginning the responsorial psalm
  • Starting the Gospel Acclamation only once the priest rises from the presidential chair to proceed to the ambo
  • Waiting until the priest sits down in the chair again before starting the first collection on Sundays

We hope that everyone will be able to support us with these small things during Mass, which are all intended for your benefit.  Hopefully by stopping for even a relatively brief period of time, we can give ourselves the chance to let God in and make himself known to us.

We Pray

Carmel Bulletin, 16 February 2014

THE_LORD__S_PRAYER_by_navalatanjjnnLast year, we began to look at some of the things we do as a liturgical assembly when we gather together to celebrate the Mass.

It seems to go without saying that one of the things we would do, perhaps the thing that we do, is pray.

Our prayer in the Mass takes on particular forms, words and patterns that have been shaped over centuries.  There are times where we are invited to pray collectively, each of us giving our voice to the communal prayer of the Church.  There are times when the priest gives voice to our communal praise and thanksgiving; the Eucharistic Prayer being the best example.

There are other times when we call to mind our own prayers and intentions.  Such times include the collect prayers of the Mass when the priest invites us: “Let us pray”.  In the Prayer of the Faithful, after the intention is named by the minister, we take a moment to make own prayer, before we ask God to hear us.  It is these personal prayers that we, the faithful, make that are “The Prayer of the Faithful”.  Silence in the Mass is important for those moments of personal prayer and recollection.

Actions of the Assembly
Actions of the Assembly

Silence is also important for us to be open to God’s response to us.  Prayer is not a one-way communication from us to God.  It is a dialogue between the human and the divine.  We are fortunate in our parish to be able to learn from the Carmelite example, where silence and contemplation are so highly valued as a means of allowing us to speak to God, and for God to speak to us.

Photo credit: The Lord’s Prayer by navalatanjjnn

6/2/11 – What Happens At Mass, Part I

During the course of this year, we will gradually begin to use the texts of the revised translation of the Roman Missal.  This is not just a time when we need to learn new words, but will hopefully be an opportunity to come to a deeper understanding of the Mass.  Here we will take a closer look at what happens at Mass.

Obviously, before Mass begins, we have to come to the church.  Some people arrive quite early and prepare for Mass by taking time to pray, perhaps moving around the church for a time to pray before the images of saints and perhaps to pray before the Blessed Sacrament at the tabernacle.  Others arrive closer to starting time.  In any case, there should be some time for silent prayer before Mass.  What Fr Paul has encouraged us to do in recent months is not simply a matter of personal preference.  The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (no. 45) states that:

Even before the celebration itself, it is commendable that silence be observed in the church, in the sacristy, in the vesting room, and in adjacent areas, so that all may dispose themselves to carry out the sacred action in a devout and fitting manner.

To arrive even a short time before Mass and engage in some silent prayer helps all of us to prepare for fulfilling our role as participants in the Eucharistic celebration.  It is an important role which requires the focus and attention of us all from beginning to end.

As such, arriving on time for Mass is very important.  There can be an unexpected situation that causes someone to be late on a rare occasion.  To be regularly late, however, means that you’re not ready and able to fulfil your role as a member of the liturgical assembly.  For better or worse, the concept of being “fashionably late” doesn’t apply to Mass!

31/10/10 – More on Silence After Communion

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 Liturgy of the Word. 

We now conclude by returning to where we started – the period for silent prayer after communion.

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 during the Liturgy of the Word allow us to reflect on the scriptures that are proclaimed and the message offered to us in the homily.

The period of silence after communion comes almost at the end of the Mass.  We have just received the Body and Blood of our Lord in the Eucharist.  As such, the period of silence after communion is a time for thanksgiving.

Sometimes after communion, we may also join together in singing a hymn of praise.  This allows us to collectively join in thanksgiving for the profound gift we have received, and for all the blessings we have been graced with.

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.