At PrayTell, Fritz Bauerschmidt wonders about the practice of wordless reception of the Eucharist among clerical concelebrants at Mass. It strikes me we have a lot of dialogue prior to the Communion procession: Eucharistic acclamations, including an Amen response to the entire anaphora, the Lord’s Prayer, a verbal exchange of peace (which may not be omitted from the Mass), and an adaptation of the centurion’s prayer.
Instead of thinking about adding words for priests, I was wondering about subtracting them for the laity. How would this impact the celebration of Mass?
Think about the other six sacraments:
- Baptismal dialogues precede the water bath, and even adults have no given response to their encounter at the font.
- In confirmation, there is the double dialogue with the minister, but again: how necessary is this, given the silence of infants, parents, and godparent at infant chrismation?
- Considering Penance, there is the “legal” formula for absolution–that seems essential to the ritual.
- When a sick believer is anointed, there is also a double formula. The rite is otherwise wordy prior to this, especially if there are no abbreviations for a seriously sick person.
- Exchanging consent at marriage seems vital, but remember: the clergy need not speak at all during this part of the liturgy. A cleric is witness, not minister.
- Likewise ordination rites are wordy, perhaps the most of all the sacraments. The most visually significant moments are often done in silence.
I’m disinclined to suggest a rewrite on this in the Order of Mass. On the other hand, I don’t think words matter as much as the simple, profound gesture of the bow and the humble reception of the consecrated bread and wine.