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The Roman Missal is very direct in what it says about silence in the liturgy: “Sacred silence also, as part of the celebration, is to be observed at the designated times. Its nature, however, depends on the moment when it occurs in the different parts of the celebration. For in the Penitential Act and again after the invitation to pray, individuals recollect themselves; whereas after a reading or after the Homily, all meditate briefly on what they have heard; then after Communion, they praise God in their hearts and pray to him.” In the Act of Penitence, the priest’s invitation, Let us acknowledge our sins...” should be followed by a brief pause (“A brief pause for silence follows” is what the Order of Mass tells us.) This pause should not be so short as to give the impression that one has no sins; nor should it be so long as to make the people think the ministers should have gone to confession before Mass began. This pause gives everyone the opportunity for recollection, to think of their failings and to entrust themselves to God’s mercy. ( The laminated Diocesan card (you can find it in the foyer), poses the question for consideration at the Penitential Act, For what failures to live as Jesus taught, am I seeking forgiveness in this Mass?”


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