Silence before Mass

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: Trusting you are well and safe. 

I follow your blog every day and thankfully so.

What is your viewpoint, and do liturgical documents say anything about people greeting and speaking to each other in church before Mass starts? 

There is tension in some parishes between those who wish to pray privately and in silence prior to Mass, and others wanting to greet fellow parishioners. The latter argue that when the Collect of the Mass is prayed, it should be an acknowledgement that people have in fact ‘collected’, especially given the reticence of many Catholics to develop a fellowship, let alone greet each other before, during and after mass, unlike some Protestant denominations. 

There is also a tension among those who consider Mass to be a communal act of worship, requiring interaction, and those who want Mass to be a solitary, personal and private devotional practice.

At present our parish declares a one minute silence after the welcome and before the opening procession. Other silences are maintained during the Mass, according to liturgical rubrics.

Thanks for whatever guidance you can  offer in this matter. 

 Blessings from Downunder.


A: I cover some of this in paragraphs 55 & 56 of  my book Let Us Pray. The rubrics do call for silence before Mass (GIRM 45). 

I have found that it’s hard to recommend a single idea that works for every parish. Personally, I like assuring people that the church will be quiet when they arrive, but then have the songleader invite those present to greet those around them before the opening hymn. That gives people a controlled chance to visit and it seems to enhance the singing.