The Church suggests several times during the Mass to observe a few moments of silence.
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In today’s noisy world, it can be difficult to find times of silence when we are able to listen attentively to the voice of God.
The Church, in her wisdom, has suggested several times during the celebration of Mass for periods of silence.
These suggestions come directly from the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) and are an invitation to us all to open our hearts to God.
The Penitential Act
At the beginning of Mass, the priest invites the faithful to pause and consider their own sins before praying together the Confiteor (I confess).
[T]he priest calls upon the whole community to take part in the penitential act, which, after a brief pause for silence, it does by means of a formula of general confession.GIRM, 51
This brief moment of silence is meant to help us realize that we are sinners and to think about the words we are about to say.
Before the opening prayer, there is again another moment of silence.
Next the priest calls upon the people to pray and everyone, together with the priest, observes a brief silence so that they may become aware of being in God’s presence and may call to mind their intentions.GIRM, 54
Liturgy of the Word
[T]he Liturgy of the Word is to be celebrated in such a way as to favor meditation, and so any kind of haste such as hinders recollection is clearly to be avoided. in the course of it, brief periods of silence are also appropriate, accommodated to the assembled congregation; by means of these, under the action of the holy Spirit, the Word of god may be grasped by the heart and a response through prayer may be prepared. it may be appropriate to observe such periods of silence, for example, before the Liturgy of the Word itself begins, after the first and second reading, and lastly at the conclusion of the homily.GIRM, 56
A most profound moment of silence should occur after the reception of Holy Communion.
[A]fter this, the priest may return to the chair, a sacred silence may now be observed for some time … after communion, they praise God in their hearts and pray to him.GIRM, 164, 45
This is probably the most important time for silence during the Mass, as it allows those who have received Our Lord in Holy Communion to dwell upon his presence and to listen attentively to his voice.
Pope Francis has encouraged times of silence as well, noting how important it is during Mass.
Whenever silence is observed during Mass, may we take advantage of it and let God’s presence flood our soul.