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Pastor's Column

Sacred Silence

Pastor’s Column

5th Sunday of Easter

May 19, 2019

Photo by Francesco Ungaro from Pexels

Sacred Silence: What does this mean? Is there a place for silence in our Liturgy on Sunday? Fully conscious and active participation means more than just talking and singing at Mass. It means understanding what is happening! One of the greatest times of communal worship together is, paradoxically, silence. The US Catholic Bishops note that the Mass Rite calls for a number of places where Sacred Silence should be observed. We at Saint Eds are better at some of these more than others.

Silence should be observed before Mass begins: Silence prepares our heart to receive the Word and Eucharist. This is an area that we can improve on at Saint Edward. Am I being respectful to my neighbor who is trying to pray before Mass begins?

During the Act of Penitence: Here a brief silence is called for to call to mind our sins before we invite Jesus into our hearts.

The opening prayer (collect) is preceded by silence: This happens at every Mass, but we often don’t notice it! Why does the priest say, Let us pray, and then silence follows? Every Let us pray is an invitation to be recollected so that when the priest prays the opening prayer, we are all praying with him silently in our hearts.

Following the Readings from Scripture: Ideally, after each of the three readings on Sunday, there should be a period of silence so that we may “digest” the word that we have heard and make it our own. In practice, usually we do this only after the gospel, so we have some work to do in this area.

Following the Homily: It is essential to have a brief time of reflective silence after the homily. What has struck me about these readings or the sermon that I can take home with me? This moment of silence is an invitation to make the Word my own.

In the Eucharistic Prayer: It is true that, at this point, the priest is doing most of the talking. But what are you doing during this time – listening – or praying? The priest is speaking for all of the people at this point (it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it!). Why not say the words of the Eucharistic prayer with the priest in your heart? I had all the prayers memorized long before I became a priest by doing just this.

After Holy Communion: When we thank the Lord together in silence, we are acting as one body in Christ, even though we are not talking out loud! Thanking Christ for a moment in silence after we have received communion and sung together is so important.

Father Gary

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