The Place of Silence
The Place of Silence is a document of the Liturgy Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. The full document can be found with related resources on the Liturgy Office’s Website www.liturgyoffce.org.
Silence before the Celebration of Mass
The reception of Holy Communion is both a personal and a communal act. It is a mark of personal faith in Jesus but also an expression of our faith in the communion of the Church....
....There is also a need for personal preparation, to recollect in prayer, to maybe reflect on the readings. Fruitful participation in the liturgy does not just happen. Pope Benedict wrote of how we need to foster an openness to our constant conversion to Christ.
“Active participation in the Eucharistic liturgy can hardly be expected if one approaches it superficially, without an examination of his or her life. This inner disposition can be fostered, for example, by recollection and silence for at least a few moments before the beginning of the liturgy, by fasting and, when necessary, by sacramental confession. A heart reconciled to God makes genuine participation possible. The faithful need to be reminded that there can be no actuosa participation (fully involved participation) in the sacred mysteries without an accompanying effort to participate actively in the life of the Church as a whole, including a missionary commitment to bring Christ’s love into the life of society.”
The fruit of silence is prayer.
The fruit of prayer is faith.
The fruit of faith is love.
The fruit of love is service.
The fruit of service is peace.
(St Teresa of Calcutta)
The Priest can set a good example with his own personal preparation for the liturgy and his prayerful, dignified celebration of the liturgy....
When a congregation is able to achieve a certain discipline in how it gathers and how it prepares for prayer it too sets good example....
Times of silence in the liturgy needs to be developed and through careful preparation even grow in length. Not everyone will be comfortable initially and may need help how to engage with the longer periods of stillness. Through careful invitation even young children can engage in awe and wonder.