Taste and See: The sound of prayer – a sound in silence?

Mary Maryvale

The First reading at Mass on Sunday, the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, set before us the image of Lady Wisdom, a challenge to the motivation and end of much human endeavour.
In the upturning of values is found the way to godly life.

I prayed, and understanding was given me;
I entreated, and the spirit of Wisdom came to me.
I esteemed her more than sceptres and thrones;
compared with her, I held riches as nothing.
I reckoned no priceless stone to be her peer,
for compared with her, all gold is a pinch of sand,
and beside her silver ranks as mud.
I loved her more than health or beauty,
preferred her to the light,
since her radiance never sleeps.
In her company all good things came to me,
at her hands riches not to be numbered.
Wisdom 7:7-11

The evocation of wisdom is so striking, one might miss that the writer’s encounter with her is both gift of God and fruit of prayer.

In popular discourse prayer is is often about petition and intercession. There are other characteristic activities in prayer – one of which is the practice of stillness out of which – as here – may come meditation, insight and praise.

Stillness and silence are too often absent from contemporary celebrations of Mass. Perhaps this is because of a desire to conclude the celebration within a set period of time, while at the same time (still) wishing to squeeze in hymn singing as well as the singing of the songs of the Ordinary of the Mass (the first priority for singing at Mass.) St Augustine famously said to sing is to pray twice. Hmmm. Sometimes hymn singing is not prayer – not for all the assembly anyway. Regular review of practice at Mass is a responsibility entrusted to liturgical ministers. Ensuring our celebrations are prayerful and (appropriately) meditative (as well as tuneful and sung) is high among the purposes of such review.

  • Pray for those responsible for preparing the liturgy for celebration
  • Pray for those who celebrate it
  • Pray for the leadership of the Spirit of Wisdom in your prayer and your life.

And, if you’ve not done so for a while, why not have a read of Celebrating the Mass or the more technical General Instruction on the Roman Missal, for a reminder of the Church’s expectations of all things regarding the Mass

Photograph of carving of Our Lady, from Maryvale, Old Oscott. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.