Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Divine Office Factoid #7 - the Sounds of Silence

One element of the Liturgy of the Hours is not a particular prayer or action, but a lack thereof. Sacred Silence--a brief pause now and then during liturgical prayer prevents us from simply galloping through the Office, and helps us to reflect on what we have prayed, or just rest for a moment, without particular thoughts, to allow what we have heard in the psalms of the reading to "soak in".

Sections 201 thru 203 of the General Instruction on the Liturgy of the Hours talk about this. Here is some of it:

[Silence] may come either after the repetition of the antiphon at the end of the psalm, in the traditional way, especially if the psalm-prayer is to be said after the pause (see no. 112), or after the short or longer readings, either before or after the responsory.
Care must be taken to avoid the kind of silence that would disturb the structure of the office or annoy and weary those taking part.
203. In individual recitation there is even greater freedom to pause in meditation on some text that moves the spirit; the office does not on this account lose its public character.

Here's my own comment on this from The Everyday Catholic's Guide, etc.:

"Naturally, if you are praying by yourself, you may pause to reflect for as long or as short a time as you wish. The point of sacred silence is not to make a lengthy meditation that you may not have time for, but rather enough of a pause to turn you back from inevitable distractions and keep you mindful of what your are doing. It might take no more than one deep breath to accomplish this. or, you might wish to devote half a minutes or more to reviewing a psalm: finding again the verse that surprised you, moved you or taught you something new."