This morning was one of those frustrating days at Mass. In truth, the Mass was beautifully reverent, and the small Parish of Saint Joseph’s started off well. As people arrived for the daily Mass, they were welcomed with soft Gregorian chant in the background. This was part of the new Pastor’s doing, to increase the people’s awareness that they are in the presence of the Lord; that they are entering a sacred space. It has been a simple, and effective, measure.
But, old habits die hard.
No sooner had the priest concluded the Mass and made his way out of the sanctuary and into the sacristy, did the place of prayer turn into a clamorous parish hall at a pancake breakfast. Small groups formed here and there in the Church for some small chit-chat before starting their busy week. This happens on a regular basis, with this morning being the worst I have ever witnessed. When it does happen, I try to find that quiet inner-space to offer reparation for the lack of reverence. Usually, the talkers don’t stay long, getting on with their rushed lives. But this morning, it was an never-ending bee-hive of noise. *sigh*.
It appears I am not alone in my frustration. Pat Archbold wrote on this very subject this morning. His article expresses what I would like to say, but won’t: “For the Love of God – Shut Up!” (via ThePulp.it) He is making a case for a “real active participation … fostered by silence, glorious and heavenly silence” , recognizing we can find other places and ways to be that ‘community’ for one another. He shares a remedy the new pastor of his parish asks of the people: “If the Church is not on fire, you should not be talking.”
In reclaiming the sacred space, it is important that we understand why silence is so important in a church setting. I leave you with a few:
A time of spiritual grace. St. Alphonsus Liguori* said, “There is no prayer more agreeable to God, or more profitable to the soul, than that which is made during the thanksgiving after Communion. It is the opinion of many grave writers (Suarez, Cajetan, Valentia, De Lugo, and others), that the Holy Communion, so long as the sacramental species lasts, constantly produces greater and greater graces in the soul, provided the soul is then constant in disposing itself by new acts of virtue.”
For ones neighbor:
Respect. What happened to recognizing that others might be praying and wanting to take advantage of this grace-time in silence before the Lord?
Help others grow in renewed awareness they are in the presence of the True Presence of Jesus. By simply saying, ‘Hey, let’s go outside…there’s people praying before our Lord’, lets others know of your love for God, and that will inspire them to nurture the same in their lives.
Thanksgiving. What better time is there, than when Christ is closest to us in the reception of Him in the Blessed Sacrament, to give thanks for the many ways He has blessed us? St. Faustina Kowalska* said that she received a private revelation from Jesus who told her: “My great delight is to unite myself with souls…When I come to a human heart in communion, my hands are filled with graces which I want to give to souls. But souls do not pay attention to me: they leave me to myself and busy themselves with other things. They do not recognize love. They treat me as a dead object.”
St. Teresa of Ávila* said: “There is no other time than thanksgiving after Mass when we can so easily enrich our soul with virtues, or so rapidly advance to a high degree of perfection.”
Pope Benedict XVI*, too, reminds us, “The precious time of thanksgiving after communion should not be neglected.”
Let us ask the Lord to help us to desire to grow in union with Him, and that we may be reminded of His desire to be with us. And, maybe the next time we receive Him in Communion, we might spend a few moments in silence, nurturing this union with our God. And then, just maybe, we may truly see our Church ‘on fire’.
What to Pray after Receiving the Holy Eucharist? by Taylor Marshall
For the Love of God – Shut Up! by Pat Archbold
Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, Pope Benedict XVI
*Quotes above taken from this article: Thanksgiving after Communion