Continuing his Lenten messages pertaining to the value of silence in our lives, Pope Benedict XVI delivered another pointed message at this past Wednesday's general audience:
The interplay of word and silence that marks the prayer of Jesus during his entire earthly life—especially on the cross—also touches our own lives of prayer, in two ways. The first concerns our welcoming of God’s Word. Interior and exterior silence are necessary in order that this word may be heard. And this is especially difficult in our own day. In fact, ours is not an age which fosters recollection; indeed, at times one has the impression that people have a fear of detaching themselves, even for a moment, from the barrage of words and images that mark and fill our days.
He continues, speaking specifically of personal prayer and liturgy:
This principle – that without silence we neither hear nor listen nor receive the word – applies above all to personal prayer, but it also pertains to our liturgies: in order to facilitate an authentic listening, they must also be rich in moments of silence and unspoken receptivity.
Even Sunday choir liturgies, youth Masses, etc. still need moments (more than a few seconds—preferably a minute or two at least) of silence to facilitate the recollection of which Pope Benedict speaks. Please encourage your liturgy planners, priests, and musicians to work towards a goal of proper amounts of silence in liturgy! There are few parishes that consistently provide me enough time after communion (or heck, even after Mass) where I can quiet distractions enough to actually pray in thanksgiving for the gift I have just received.