Fr. Kenneth Doyle
Fr. Kenneth Doyle
Q. — Will we ever get the low Mass back? I miss its reverence and simplicity, when I could follow along with the priest instead of singing. I would appreciate a period of quiet after Communion — instead of quickly hearing, “Please turn to page xxx.”

I know that you will tell me to go to a weekday Mass, but if you work or babysit, you can’t. It would be nice to have a choice on the weekends. (Altoona, Pennsylvania)

A. — Whether singing is required at every parish Mass on a Sunday is not a simple question. Even the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (the church’s “rule book” on liturgy) seems to offer two different answers.

No. 40 says that “every care should be taken” that singing should “not be absent” during Sunday celebrations. No. 115, while noting that singing on Sundays is especially appropriate “in so far as possible,” admits such a Mass “may, however, take place even without singing.”

My conclusion is that, while singing is clearly the preferred choice of the church for a Sunday Mass, the directive is not absolute.

I know, in fact, of Catholic parishes that celebrate one “quiet” Mass early on Sunday mornings, particularly for people who might be on their way to work. You might look for such a Mass in your area.

And with regard to “a period of quiet after Communion,” you are right on target. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal instructs that “sacred silence” is to be observed at designated periods throughout the liturgy, and it mentions in particular “after Communion,” when people “praise God in their hearts and pray to him” (No. 45).

Q. ­— Does prayer change God’s mind? Can someone be moved to the head of the line if we pray enough? (Cuba, Missouri)

A. — To answer, we first need to admit our limitations. I cannot pretend to know the mind of God. No one can on this side of heaven.

What I do know is that Jesus told us to pray. He said that whatever we ask for in prayer will be granted (Mk 11:24; Jn 15:7), and he even said that we should pray for those who persecute us (Mt 5:44).

Throughout Scriptures, which we believe inspired by God, we are instructed to pray for the sick (Jas 5:14), for leaders of government (1 Tm 2:2), for ministers of the Gospel (Eph 6:19).

I do not think that prayer changes God’s mind. In his infinite wisdom and foreknowledge, God already knows what’s going to happen.

But that divine plan, I believe, takes into account the fact that we will pray for certain things and is guided in advance by the prayers that we will offer. In my view, people don’t “jump the line” because we pray for them; they are already standing at the front because God knew from all eternity that we would do exactly that.

I don’t purport to know exactly how it works, and I look forward to grasping it better when, hopefully, I arrive in God’s presence. Meanwhile I will continue to pray for others, especially those in need, because Jesus told me to — and I trust that they will continue to pray for me.