Friday, September 4, 2015


If you celebrate it, they will come.


Advertise that your Sunday Mass is only 20 minutes long and people will drive an hour to get there.

This hardly leaves time for any silence.

The mere size of the sanctuary at St. Sebastian helps fight against this.  When the first reading is done, it just plain takes a little while for the cantor to make it to the microphone.  Voila!  Pre-packaged silence.

Of course, most of us American HATE silence.  It is time being wasted when something productive (or at least entertaining) could be accomplished.  Sitting?  In the quiet?  With nothing "happening?"  Not so much.

This makes paragraph 56 perhaps one of the most neglected (and under appreciated) paragraphs in the whole GIRM.  It says, "The Liturgy of the Word (LOTW) is to be celebrated in such a way as to favor meditation."  Be honest, how many people, when thinking about what happens at Mass, say, "We go there to group meditate on God."  Sing?  Yes.  Be entertained?  Yes.  Listen?  Yes.  Read, sing, shake hands, take up gifts, if you're lucky pray along with the Mass?  Yes.  But meditate?  Never heard anyone say it.

"Haste," it says, "is clearly to be avoided."  So much for a 20 minute Mass.  (How do they even do that?)  Periods of brief silence are to be introduced for example before the LOTW begins, at the end of the readings, and at the conclusion of the homily.  (I think this makes the Catholic Mass startling unique from much of the rest of the Christian world.)  This is so that those who are there to pray and exercise their priestly ministry may have a moment under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to digest what they heard and so remember it.  
The periods of silence are something to be used, not endured.  Something IS happening there if individuals take advantage of it.  For example you might ask yourself, "What stood out in that reading for me?"  The celebrant may go in an entirely different direction with his homily, but something that was meant to touch you will still come in to your heart.


Stephen said...

Dear Father Valencheck,
I agree with you 100% percent. People act that if there is any silence, they would melt. What I hope and pray for is the return of the GRAND SILENCE during the reception of Holy Communion. This blessed period of silence starts at "Behold the Lamb of God" and ends 5 minutes after the priest returns to his seat. I suppose if we did that today, there would be dead bodies lying in the aisle.

Based on the fact that people spend 7 or more dollars to sit in a dark room and watch a stupid movie for 90 minutes or more, based on the fact that Jesus asked, "Can you not spend one hour with me?", When I am Pope, all Masses will be not one minute short of a hour.

Dear Father, what you should do is return the GRAND SILENCE to St. Sebastian while the Holy Father is in the US. He would hear about your restoration of the GRAND SILENCE at St. Sebastian, be ever so
impressed and restore the GRAND SILENCE worldwide. It could happen.

Anonymous said...


Your post is very timely for me. Last Sunday, while on vacation, I visited a parish where the priest said a "speed mass", with music, that lasted 40 minutes from beginning to end. The priest said a 5 minute homily followed immediately, without any break, by the Creed. He spoke quickly without pausing, either during the different parts of the Eucharistic prayer or between the people's vocal parts of the mass and his responses. With 7 EMHC's distributing only Our Lord's precious Body, communion was over by the time I returned to my pew.

The speed of the mass, without any periods for quiet reflection, was jarring. After mass ended, I felt uneasy when usually I feel a sense of peace. Your post articulated the reason why I felt that way. The overly-fast pace of the mass, without appropriate periods of silence, made the mass feel like it lacked the proper reverence.

Karen said...

I would imagine the 20 minute Mass has no music, but I can only imagine how rapidly that Mass must be said. One of our priests flies through daily Mass and I'd say he has it nailed down to the 25-27 minute mark. I've noticed that he doesn't wait for us to finish responding before moving on. He does, however, always have a great homily so I suspect he says Mass so quickly to accommodate for that and also to make sure he's bearing in mind that many of those in attendance have to get to work or get their kids off to school. Sunday Masses are a different thing with him. You can always count on them to be at least an hour.