Silence during Mass

“Silence is golden” is the well known saying and we can all at times appreciate it - perhaps as a parent after getting their child to sleep, or after a trip to the packed shops, or after a fun party. Such time spent in silence allows us to rest, reflect on what we have been doing or plan for our next event.

Silence is not merely the absence of noise – it is a necessary condition to enable us to encounter God in prayer and so, during Mass, we need periods of silence to help us to do just that. So it can be a help in taking stock; to realise what can we be thankful for, time to appreciate what is around us, consider something that may have happened. So it should be during Mass. We need a time to contemplate and seek understanding from the readings or, as part of the penitential act, to think about our lives and what we might have done. and of course to form our prayer to God.

To help this, we have started to adopt some practical things, which you may have noticed. Here are some of them to help us to participate more fully during Mass: after arriving at church and greeting our friends, we try to keep silent for the 5 minutes before Mass begins; a short pause between the Readings, Responsorial Psalm and Gospel Acclamation, and after the homily, to reflect on what we have heard; after Communion (and the hymn) to be able to give thanks in prayer. There are some other times, some quite short, that you may not notice – for example when the priest is saying a prayer quietly.

For those with young children, who may not yet be able to appreciate silence, rather than bringing snacks and noisy toys, why not use the books at the back of the church as an aid to start helping them understand our faith and the beauty of the Mass?  Perhaps, in this way, we may all come to a deeper understanding of what we are doing and experience the wonder of encountering Christ in our Liturgy.

Further reading: