Fr. Michel Mulloy, Vicar General
Silence! Can you imagine the stillness after someone shouts out that command? It is deafening in a world filled with chaotic noise. Some people love silence. Some do not. An anxiousness can flair up, the foreboding that something is wrong, someone forgot to say something or do something. That is a common experience unless we know that the silence is intentional and if we know what we are supposed do with the quiet.
In the celebration of the Mass there are four moments of silence. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, which governs the celebration of the Mass, calls us to silence at the introduction to the Penitential Rite, the introduction to the Collect (Opening Prayer), during the Liturgy of the Word, and after Communion. The GIRM asks for this with adjectives like “brief” and descriptors like, “if appropriate.”
Yet, silence in the Mass is not just a “time-out.” I think it is essential to our encounter with Jesus, but we have to know how to take advantage of the freedom it provides for our personal prayer, reflection and encounter.
Silence is more than waiting for something happen. It is not travel time for the server or other ministers. Silence in the Mass is an invitation to receive what Jesus is saying to us, to think seriously about what it is that we want to share with God or to simply be present to him.
Mass is a prayer addressed to God the Father by Jesus. Jesus is present in the priest who leads, and the community gathered. St. Paul said we are Jesus present, “head and members.” Jesus prays through the priest and through us. Jesus prays for us in the Mass and he wants us to enter the mystery and pray with him.
At the beginning of the Penitential Rite the priest, who is Jesus present, is asking us to acknowledge that we are sinners. Sufficient silence allows us to do that. In the beginning of the Collect, the priest again invites us to pray. He is asking us to seriously offer our intentions for the Mass. Jesus wants to take our intentions to the throne of his Father. Again, having sufficient time to do that is key.
The whole Liturgy of the Word is an opportunity to listen to God speaking to us, being present in his word. Jesus, the Word of God, is proclaimed for us to hear and receive into our hearts and minds. Silence after the first and second readings and after the homily allows us to receive what God wants to say to us that day. These moments of silence are even more important and need to be long enough for us to truly receive God’s Word.
After receiving Communion, we are invited into an even more significant moment of silence. We have received the Lord, truly and really, in holy Communion. We need time to express our love and to listen to the Lord speak to our hearts. Movement really needs to cease, music needs to stop, so in the silence we can hear the Lord speak to us.
Once silence is explained and becomes a regular part of the Mass, it will become important. It will be missed if the Mass is too rushed. Silence, when it is understood and embraced, becomes essential to the encounter with Jesus that we are promised in the Mass.
For more information go to www.rapid citydiocese.org/office-worship-liturgy to view a workshop further exploring silence in the Mass.
I would like to personally invite you to join our Diocesan Choir for the Chrism Mass, April 8, 7pm, at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Rapid City.
In following our Bishop’s call to be “good stewards” for our diocese I strongly encourage you to prayerfully consider joining us for this very special Mass and be a good steward of the gifts God has given you. The Chrism Mass is a blend of music, holy oils being blessed, and a time for laity to support their priests. I have listed the dates and times of our choir rehearsals, all of which are held at the Cathedral. I would ask that if you live near Rapid City, you attend at least two of these rehearsals. If you are not able to attend these rehearsals but would still like to share your musical talents, please contact me at email@example.com or by calling 605-342-0507. If you have any questions please contact me and I will be happy to help you as I am able.
Choir rehearsals for this Mass will be held on the following dates:
Thursday, March 21, 7pm-8pm
Saturday, April 6, 9:30pm-10:30pm
Sunday, April 7, 7pm-8pm
Please prayerfully consider joining us for the Mass — even if you decide not to sing in the choir — so that we can show our support to Zane as he takes this next step in his discernment.
Thank you and may God’s grace be upon you!
— Amber Larsen
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