“Silence is Golden.” That’s an old saying I used to hear as a young boy. It was usually directed at an overly talkative or noisy child when he/she was disruptive. However, the world needs to rediscover the beauty of silence. From the ring of the alarm clock, through the constant sounds of radio, television, cell phone conversations; through the noise of traffic, there is hardly a moment of silence. The only place where silence is found is in church, and even there we try to minimize it, because we are uncomfortable with it.
In the First Book of Kings, God tells Elijah to leave his cave and stand by the mountain as He will be passing by. A strong, heavy, rock-crushing wind passed, but God was not in it. Nor was He in the earthquake or fire. Instead, God was in a tiny whispering wind.
So if we want to experience God, silence is necessary. Vatican II called for periods of silence during worship, but few listened or paid attention. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal says:
“Sacred silence also, as part of the celebration, is to be observed at the designated times. Its purpose, however, depends on the time it occurs in each part of the celebration. Thus within the Act of Penitence and again after the invitation to pray, all recollect themselves; but at the conclusion of a reading or the homily, all meditate briefly on what they have heard; then after communion, they praise and pray to God in their hearts.
Even before the celebration itself, it is commendable that silence to be observed in the church, in the sacristy, in the vesting room, and in adjacent areas, so that all may dispose themselves to carry out the sacred action in a devout and fitting manner.”
So when the lector bows his/her head after the first and second reading, they haven’t lost their place nor are they having a senior moment. They are meditating and inviting you to meditate on the Word of God they just proclaimed.
- Fr. Carl