Friday, May 22, 2015


GIRM paragraph 45
Watching some news programs is very interesting.  While the anchor is talking, there are scripts running, pictures flashing, and sub-screens with other faces patiently waiting to interrupt and talk.  If the main message is boring you, there are constantly other visual things to occupy your mind.  It would be ridiculous (though probably very beneficial) if the news anchor would say something like, "That last story has a lot of implications for how we are forming ourselves as a culture and what it means to be a human being and how we should treat each other.  Let us take a moment to quietly reflect."

There would be a unified remote control button pushing across the nation.
Yet that is exactly what we are asked to do during the Mass.  It is very counter cultural.  For those who can practice it, it is very life giving - almost essential.  For those totally plugged into the modern lifestyle and can feel as though, in every moment that is passing, something inside of you dies.  But it is NOT a moment of rest.  It is a time of liturgical work.
Priest tell people all of the time that there are no passive roles at Mass.  The person praying as a baptized priest in the pew is not doing less than a lector or altar server.  When we attend Mass and pray, making our offering, we are fulfilling a real role in the offering of the sacrifice. 
But what happens when the celebrant says, "Let us call to mind our sins," or "Let us pray," and then doesn't give the silence to call to mind those sins or to recollect what it is that needs prayers?  How might something in homily be contemplated for a moment if we just go on to the next item?  How much more deeply might we grow in Christ if, after communion, we spend a moment with Him instead of rushing to the closing prayers?
Silence is difficult.  It is a discipline.  And like all disciplines it requires work.  Liturgy IS work.  Priests need to provide that time for that ministry that is the outcropping of silence. 

1 comment:

MaryofSharon said...

A hearty Amen, Fr. V., (or perhaps a silent and solemn nod of approval would be more in order.)

I love the timing of this! I'm in the middle of an exceptional podcast series on the Mass by Deacon James Keating, PhD, the director of Theological Formation at the Institute for Priestly Formation (where the good new Fr. Merzweiller spent a month on silent retreat last summer). The series, which is equally appropriate for clergy and lay people is called The Way of Mystery: The Eucharist and Moral Living.

In episode #12, he talks about the reception of the Body of Christ in Holy Communion and the silence warranted by this time of unsurpassable (in this life) union with our God:

"Ideally this is when there should be silence....Silence is also something we share in common; we don't just share music....Now we are all just together sharing Him in silence....There is something very powerful about being silent in a big throng of people; there's a profound unity there.... We are all in the same place. Heaven has come to earth, and we are doing our best not to be an obstacle to that coming....Here is another epiclesis, so to speak. Even though there is silence, there is a lot going on, like a seed in the ground before spring....This is my big plea to the celebrant: Let the silence envelop your people....let us be with our own Salvation. If we don't know what to do, catechize us....Teach us what to do in silence....You want to make sure the life is taking root....Receive Him, let Him change we can change the culture."

And then there's the esteemed Romano Guardini in his classic Meditations on the Mass in which he offers a reflection on "The Stillness and Silence of Mass".

The new perspective on silence that you and these other great teachers offer can be life-changing.