The Armchair Liturgist: Running On or Careful Spacing

armchair.jpgI once worked with a priest who liked one part of the Mass to flow seamlessly into the other. He would often roll smoothly from the  opening dialogue into the penitential rite. Another preference was to begin the Creed while he was still in the ambo, right after the last sentence of his homily.

More frequent is the custom of praying the Liturgy of the Word in quick succession: reading-psalm-reading-alleluia-gospel. In my present parish, we frame the first three scriptures–including the psalm!–with twenty to thirty seconds of silence.

My armchair question of the day: What parts of the Mass lend themselves well or better to being prayed in quick succession without silence?

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Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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4 Responses to The Armchair Liturgist: Running On or Careful Spacing

  1. Hi Todd! Busy freaking summer out here.
    You must’ve had some serious cognitive difference with the seamless garment celebrant in relation to your having studied Eugene Walsh!
    Here’s why that doesn’t work for me:
    I get the image that seem-less transistions would look like a five course, fine cuisine dinner party held upon one of those air terminal flat escalator people mover thingy’s. As soon as a course is finished the dinnerware/flatware disappears and the next course/plateware/flatware/beverage demands immediate consumation as the beltway doesn’t stop, the next course awaits on schedule, and so forth.
    It’s wrong-headed no matter how idealized and rationalized, and I’d hope that would be shared by both poles of the liturgy ideological spectrum.
    The seamless, mysterious, compelling element the priest could aspire to: singing the whole Mass (save the homiy, but I wouldn’t even rule that out on occasion!) from start to finish. And some rest and reflection between movements, just like we have between movements of the sonata or symphony. And fine dining.

  2. David D. says:

    At least with respect to the Liturgy of the Word, doesn’t GIRM 56 pretty much settle this issue?

  3. 20-30 seconds of silence for the readings and probably the homily) sounds appropriate and commendable. After Communion and during the Pentitential Rite as well. Where might a quicker succession work? Definitely in the Prayer over the Offerings/Introductory Dialogue/Preface/Sanctus. Certainly, they shouldn’t be rushed, but it seems odd if they don’t flow well (i.e., wondering “was the wrong page marked?”).

    For the most part, I think that, where silence is recommended, it ought to be taken. They are recommended either to allow for consideration or else digestion, after all. At all other times, a gentle flow (unrushed, non-choppy) seems appropriate.

  4. Percy says:

    As for how long to make pauses: A useful rule of thumb is one that I’ve found musicians use in pausing after the death of Jesus in the Bach passions: the length of an Our Father.

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