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The Roman Canon prayed aloud in the concelebrated Ordinary Form Mass:
The Roman Canon prayed silently by the priest in the Extraordinary Form Mass:
When I was first ordained in 1980, I had many older people lament that they missed the old Latin Mass, what is now called the Extraordinary Form. Most of these parishioners were in the 60's and 70's in the 1980's, so most of them have gone to their reward by now. But they spent the majority of their Catholic lives participating in the "old" Latin Mass and just a relatively few years with the OF Mass.
I would ask them what they missed about the "old" Mass. There answer was the "silence." Because of my faulty memory, I didn't grasp what they were saying to me. My normal, liberal, post Vatican II retort at the time was that the "new" Mass had silence. In fact, even in the late 70's and early 80's liturgical theologians were encouraging that silence be recovered in the Mass. When I was in the seminary, we had silences after the readings, after the homily and after receiving Holy Communion. Sometimes the silences seem to me to be never ending, like almost five minutes after the first reading! (I don't think it was five minutes, but it seem like five minutes to me!)
Unfortunately, most parishes still do not have silences after the readings, even briefly, after the homily or after Holy Communion. Pope Benedict has instituted rather long silences at his Masses, not after the readings for some reason, but after the homily and after Holy Communion. Watching his Masses on television, one begins to wonder if the pope has fallen asleep or forgotten what to do next or if time is getting away on him, but he wants silence and is modeling it for the rest of the Church.
But the silence my older parishioners in the early 80's were missing wasn't and isn't the type of silence we should have today in the OF Mass. It was silence that was built into what the priest was actively doing at the altar while joining the laity in facing the same direction. All of the priest's private prayers are prayed silently in the EF Mass. The offertory prayers are prayed in silence as well (and still may be done so in the OF Mass). But more importantly, the Roman Canon was/is prayed in silence by the priest except for a few minor words. The silence in the EF Mass is not meditation by all, but prayer, official liturgical prayer, prayed silently by the priest.
When I first started celebrating the EF Mass three years ago, I must admit I had forgotten that the Roman Canon was prayed silently. I simply did not recall that. So when I prayed the Roman Canon in a low voice, knowing that there were many people behind me whom I could not see (which in many ways is a blessing for the priest's personal piety and spiritual nourishment at Mass) I became anxious that the congregation would be distracted by all the silence, that they would see the Eucharistic Prayer only as my special prayer and not something they should join in participating by hearing it proclaimed aloud, although the EF Mass makes clear that the people do in fact join with the priest in all the prayers that are prayed, although he alone is indispensable for praying those prayers.
So in the EF Mass, the majority of the spoken prayers are prayed in a silent way. What do you think about this? Do you or would you feel excluded by the silent praying of prayers? Does this silence make the Mass appear to be the "priest's private prayer that you are privileged to watch from a distance?"
What do you think about the silences we should have in the OF Mass? Is silence a distraction to busy people of our culture where there is a clutter of sound always occurring? For example, when I retreat to my private quarters, I usually turn the TV on, even though I'm not watching it, just so there is some noise. What about that? Is noise contemplative? Is silence outdated?