Silence in Worship

We return this week to the reflection on silence in worship by Pope Francis. Last weekend the passage finished with a thought on how we have to be careful in relation to how we treat the silence experienced in the liturgy. Pope Francis gave some guidance on how to approach it. He wrote: “Such silence is not an inner haven in which to hide oneself in some sort of intimate isolation, as if leaving the ritual form behind as a distraction. That kind of silence would contradict the essence itself of the celebration.” In other words, the silence experienced allows us to focus on what is happening in the ritual and is not an addition or extra to it but an integral part of it. after that he goes on to say: “Liturgical silence is something much grander: it is a symbol of the presence and the action of the Holy Spirit who animates the entire action of the celebration. For this reason, it constitutes a point of arrival within a liturgical sequence. Precisely because it is a symbol of the Spirit, it has the power to express the Spirit’s multifaceted action. In this way, going over again the moments I just mentioned, silence moves to sorrow for sin and the desire for conversion. It awakens a readiness to hear the Word and awakens prayer. It disposes us to adore the body and Blood of Christ. It suggests to each one, in the intimacy of communion, what the Spirit would effect in our lives to conform us to the Bread broken. For all these reasons we are called to enact with extreme care the symbolic gesture of silence. Through it the Spirit gives us shape, gives us form.”