Silence seems to be all the rage at the minute, what with Pope Francis` silence in the face of a request from the four cardinals for clarification. Hitherto he hasn`t been noted for silence. The papal reflection on November 23rd strangely, in discussing the works of mercy, spoke of the importance of resolving doubts! Also there was a premier in the Vatican of the new film Silence based on the novel by Shūsaku Endo ( the `Japanese Graham Greene)` which I have long found thought-provoking in telling the story of Jesuit missionaries in Japan who abandoned their faith rather than accept a martyrdom which would also have meant death for many of their converts.
However,continuing on the theme of silence the liturgy Commission of England and Wales brought out a document on the place of silence in the Mass. They only discuss the Ordinary Form. The problem is that in the OF silence can only happen as a pause which is rather unsatisfactory as no-one knows how long the pause will be and so cannot be entered in to as there is no telling when the celebrant will move on. They talk about the silence of the congregation during the readings, offertory and Eucharistic prayer but there isn`t silence in church at these points as someone is reading aloud. It is one of the great strengths of the EF Mass that it affords time for silent prayer by the congregation especially at a Low Mass during the offertory and canon. Nevertheless I thought it was interesting that the topic was being explored and towards the end there is a useful section on the importance of silence before Mass which is becoming very hard to find. Strangely we`ve not received any notice of this document in the diocese unlike Cardinal Nichol`s opinion on Cardinal Sarah`s call to say Mass ad orientem which we received very quickly.
Just before devotees of the EF Mass start feeling smug about all this I came across this useful film. Embedding is disabled but do look at this link.