ROME – Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the Holy Eucharist by encouraging priests not to be in a hurry and neglect the moment of silence following the Mass’s opening prayer.

During his Wednesday audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican, the pope focused on the ‘Collect,’ the moment in Mass when faithful are called to present their individual intentions and needs to God and think about why they are there. The priest’s exhortation “Let us pray,” must be followed by silence and reflection, the pope said.

“Silence is not reduced to the lack of words, but in being open to listen to other voices: That of our heart and, especially, the voice of the Holy Spirit,” Francis told the seven thousand faithful gathered for the audience Jan. 10.

The nature of silence in liturgy changes depending on the moment it takes place, he added, representing an opportunity to collect during the penitential act and the call to prayer, a chance to meditate after the readings and homily, and a moment for praise after Communion.

“Here lies the importance of listening to our soul in order to open it up for the Lord. Perhaps we come from days of challenges, joy, pain, and we wish to say this to the Lord, invoke his help, ask that he be close to us; we have family and friends who are sick or going though a hard time; we wish to trust the fate of the Church and the world to God,” Francis said.

The priest’s ‘Collect’ puts together all of these intentions brought forward during the moment of silence. “I strongly recommend priests not to be in a hurry and observe this moment of silence, which without wanting to we risk neglecting,” he added.

The oration made by the priest first of all invokes the name of God and praises what he has done for the world, and then pleas for his intervention. The priest does this with his arms wide, imitating Christ on the Cross.

In the Roman Rite the orations are “short but rich in meaning,” Francis said, encouraging faithful to meditate on these texts even outside of Mass as an example of how to talk to God, what to ask and which words to use. “May the liturgy become for all of us a true school of prayer,” the pope added.

Francis also addressed the Gloria, an ancient hymn drawn from the song the angels sang when Jesus was born in Bethlehem. “We can say that the ‘Gloria,’ sung or recited on Sundays– excluding those of Advent and Lent – and also during solemnities or feasts, represents an opening of the earth toward the sky, in answer to the sky’s folding unto the earth,” the pope said.

Francis was welcomed warmly by the faithful in the Paul VI hall, with the pope stopping as usual to take pictures and be with children. Beyond the now traditional exchange of the ‘zucchetto’ (the white papal hat), the pope did not hesitate to stop for a quick sip of mate, the typical Argentinian drink, given to him by a woman in the crowd.