Praying for Silence

Pray silence please for the Mass and St Thomas Aquinas
On Sunday I went to Mass at St Joseph's Church in Brighton and was struck by a few things that made me wonder whether or not the new translation is making a difference to the liturgical life of the Church already.

My impression is that, unfortunately, much still depends upon the Priest who is celebrating the Holy Sacrifice, which is really a great shame because I had got the sense that with the new translation that the Priest may decrease so that Christ may increase. Why do some Priests hog the Mass? Why can't they let go and let God?

Clearly the Priest there has been versing his congregation very well in the new translation and he noted at the beginning of Mass how the translation had deepened the "devotional" aspect of the Mass. I don't think he used the word "reverent" but he seemed to be saying that the Mass with the new translation was more prayerful, devotional and perhaps contemplative. I wholeheartedly agree with him...but...

At various times during the Mass the said Priest talked about how important it is that there is a great deal of silence in the Mass, because we live such busy lives that we do not have enough time of silence in which God can speak to our hearts. All of this was highly agreeable and head-noddingly worthy, but I couldn't help wondering if maybe the spiritual need to impress upon the congregation our need for holy silence may best be said before Mass has started when seemingly all parishioners bar two veiled ladies near the front of the Church were talking to their neighbours in the pews about a myriad different things when I have been taught that before Mass (if we are able to get there with time to spare) we are to pray and spiritually prepare for Mass.

Secondly, I know that Sunday is the day of the Resurrection and Glorias ring out of every Church, but I was really quite burdened on Saturday at the Vigil Mass with a sackful of guilt and the Priest omitted the Confiteor with its thrice-breast-beatingly contrite "through my fault, through my fault, through my own most grievous fault", asking for Our Lady and all the Saints to pray for us and skipped straight through to the shorter version of "Have mercy on us, O Lord. For we have sinned against you. Show us, O Lord, your mercy. And grant us your salvation" to the "Lord, have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy" bit. Why? It seems like a little thing, but sometimes a man just wants to beat his breast before Almighty God thrice and implore the help of the Angels and Saints.  Is the Priest trying to say that God loves us so don't concern yourself with it? Someone will have to fill me in on this, but I would have thought that the Confiteor is there in the Missal for the Priest to lead the Faithful into an acknowledgement before Almighty God of our sins and omissions. I hope I don't sound like a Jansenist, but can they just really shorten it on a whim like that?

Anyway, aside from the one-armed consecrations and the fact that the said Priest described "our Eucharistic Ministers" as such and omitted to mention that their use is still considered by the Universal Church to be something "Extraordinary", one could definitely and palpably sense that the new translation of the Mass is more prayerful and is more devotional and all of the things the Priest welcomed in it, if, if only the Priest would stop talking, ad-libbing during the Mass and adding his own perfectly sensible, but highly distracting commentary on the Mass, during the Mass.

During the Gloria the Priest told us that we should pause for silence after "we praise you", after "we bless you", after "we glorify you", after "we adore you", after "we glorify you". Why? Well, in the Priest's terms, this is so that way we can turn a prayer of the Mass, during the Mass which is recognised by the Catholic Church as prayer - into a prayer. Why? Why the emphasis on our pausing, our reflecting or silence? We don't turn it into a prayer. It is a prayer. Apart from the readings, nearly every word of the Mass is a prayer. I know that the Priest is very well-intentioned, I just think that in order to introduce more reverence into the Mass, while the new translation is a vast improvement, all that a Priest has to do is step back a little and do what Fr Zuhlsdorf keeps saying  - "Say the black, do the red."

I don't mean this to be a huge moan, I just think that everything the Priest is asking for in the Mass is correct and praiseworthy - silence, devotion, reflection, prayer, pausing to reflect on where our lives are going, seeking God's Face etc. It's all wonderful - its what the Holy Father has been saying for ages. But if that is going to be achieved in Mass, then he is going to have to take his advice to heart and be more silent himself, surely? Personally I found it difficult to pray before Mass, during Mass and after Mass and, as you can now glean, it wasn't just because my guilt was getting me down. I wonder whether what he is really asking for is the Traditional Latin Mass.


RE Confiteor. in the old Mass, it was, according to the 'liturgical movement', not striclty a part of th Mass as it was part of the prayers at the foot of the altar. Nonetheless, these are said rain or shine (well, not in 1962, Bug-Ninny Mark 1 that it is). There is no such distinction in the Novus Ordo, but it is an optional thing. That thing about 'deus tu conversus' you wrote about, that's in the TLM as well. It was also in the NO before as an option, but never used.

Sounds like Fr Blake's been treating you too well, trying to do the NO as closely to the TLM as possible (though that begs the quesiton, why not just do the TLM?) When I was at the NO, I wouldn't hear the confiteor for long periods of time.

Gotta love those options!
Richard Collins said…
I am sure the HF is 'asking for the Latin Mass' but he will do so by example (communion kneeling and by mouth) and, at some stage, I believe that he will celebrate the EF Mass in public.
The trouble is, the Bishops, as we know, refuse to follow their leader.
Ttony said…
There is good news and there is bad news.

The good news is that, as you say, any move towards sacralisation is immediately latched on to and observed.

The bad news is that it is down entirely to the priest because not even the witness of the two women in veils will persuade the "Ministers of Noise" that silence before Mass might be a good thing.

Who is going to catechise the priests so that they can catechise the faithful as opposed to merely exposing them to something better.

And (worst of all) who, apart from 50 bloggers and about 5000 blog readers, actually cares?
Ben Trovato said…
Interesting post! A few comments:

The confiteor remains one of the three options for the penitential rite, so you may expect to hear it sometimes but not always.

Our PP has imposed a few minutes' of silence before the start of Mass: it can be done and is wonderful when it is. (He still hasn't dared to suggest silence after Mass, so making one's thanksgiving is particularly trying, as the pent up chatter of the, erm, faithful is pretty overwhelming - but I think he knows he has to pace it...

My belief is that the readings are also prayer: is not Lectio Divina prayer?

One of the great things about the Holy Father's visit was his liturgy and the way he, the superstar of the pre- and post-Mass celebrations faded away during Mass, became, as it were transparent, so that we could focus on, and adore, God. A great example of liturgical practice.