Silence before Mass

Q. I attend a parish where 10-15 minutes before Mass the musicians tune up their instruments, practice their music and talk loudly among themselves. I find it impossible to maintain an attitude of prayer. Should there not be a time of quiet before Mass?

A. Here’s a reply from Msgr. M. Francis Mannion:

I couldn’t agree with you more. I tell the musicians in our parish that they can practice up to 15 minutes before Mass, but that then there should be silence with a quiet and meditative organ prelude. Besides disturbing the peace, lots of practicing before Mass gives the impression that the musicians are not well prepared and have not been practicing during the week.

Silence before the liturgy and during appropriate places within the liturgy is really important. The Mass should proceed at a nice, slow pace with various periods of quiet. Silence makes many people nervous, but if it is explained, they accept and appreciate it. Pope Benedict XVI has really been promoting silence at various times during the liturgy. In an age of unprecedented noise, liturgical silence is of the greatest importance.