When the mass was in Latin it was a silent celebration. Apart from the Penitential Rite, the priest and the altar server in dialogue, and the words “Nobis quoque peccatoribus” in the prayer before the Our Father, we heard nothing.
The silence was beautiful and prayerful, people saying the rosary, following the prayers of the mass as best they could in the English/Latin missal, or praying their own quiet prayer. Only at the High Mass or the Sung Mass (do you remember the difference?) did the people hear the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus and Benedictus, Pater Noster, Agnus Dei.
In 1965 came the change (in Italy) and other countries followed, after the discussions at the Vatican Council. Bishops’ Conferences were allowed to approve mass being said in the local languages (the vernacular). For many this was a great blessing, to hear the prayer in one’s own language: for others, it was regrettable, a loss of the universal Latin celebration. But do remember it was a silent celebration – it might have been in any language.
In the new Liturgy, there was still silence – the Penitential Rite, after “Let us pray”, at the prayers of intercession, after Holy Communion. The prayers of the mass were shared by people and priest – Lord have Mercy, Gloria, Holy Holy, Our Father, Lamb of God – and the priest said the other prayers in two voices: proclaiming and quietly (not silently).
The priest proclaimed the offering of the bread and wine and all the Eucharistic Prayer, but he said quietly (not silently) the prayer of pouring the water and wine into the chalice, the breaking of bread over the chalice just before Holy Communion, etc.
Listen to the beauty of the prayer at the pouring of the wine and water: the two become one, an image of Jesus becoming human and thus enabling us to become children of God: “By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”
The breaking of the bread signifies Jesus’ death – the bread/body is broken, and the dropping of the fraction of bread into the chalice signifies resurrection – Jesus’ and ours. Do you have a missal or prayer book?
God bless us,
(19th February 2017)
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