Papakura parish priest Fr Peter Murphy is encouraging priests in Auckland diocese to practise three minutes of silence after Communion. 

Fr Murphy, the diocese’s director for contemplative prayer, said a moment of quiet in the frenetic pace of life is a means of healing one’s soul. Fr Murphy is also a member of the New Zealand Community for Christian Meditation.

“The silence, that contemplative silence, when people are in harmony with one another in prayer can be both very beautiful and very profound. It touches people,” he said.

Sometimes, the quiet can be so profound that it moves him to tears.

Fr Murphy said the secular world is now pushing meditation as a form of well-being. Contemplative prayer takes that further, he said.

“The obvious time for quiet is after Communion. And three minutes is a reasonable length of time,” he said.

“It’s just to give them (parishioners) experience of the quiet. If they get at least a taste, it gives them some idea of the experience. It adds another dimension of their experience of God,” he explained.

“I think it’s was (German theologian and mystic) Meister Eckhart who said ‘there is nothing so much like God as silence’.”

Fr Murphy said an aspect of the complaints people have about the new order of Mass is that there’s little room for quiet.

“I know in the parishes I was in before, there was silence while people processed to Communion, but they’d have a hymn afterwards. It should be the reverse. It is very difficult often to break those patterns when they’re entrenched,” he said.

Fr Murphy had been teaching contemplative prayer to children for a number of years. He is also encouraging Catholic schools to do the same.

“It’s important these days, particularly for children, to learn this at a very young age because it would stay with them for life. It’s a gift for life,” he said. “It is something that even if they
move away from the Church, they can always come back to this practice. (They will) always have a centre to come back to, particularly in times of trouble,” he stressed.

Contemplative prayer is a practice that has somehow been lost in the western Church, said Fr Murphy.

“It seems foreign in the west because we developed much more intellectually. That dimension of the heart somehow disappeared or got lost along the way,” he explained.

“Nowadays, it is widely recognised that we need to restore that balance of heart and mind.”

To meditate, Fr Murphy suggested sitting with one back straight, hand on one’s lap or knees, eyes lightly closed.

He recommended saying a prayer word like “Jesus” or “Abba”. “You don’t focus on the meaning. You listen to the sound. You sound the word. The whole purpose of the word, is to lead one into stillness. In the stillness of your heart, you experience the love of God.”

The regular practice is 20 to 30 minutes, twice a day.


  1. Thank you for the input, Fr Murphy.
    One sainted Irish Christian Brother Con Moloney late of Carseldine Brisbane might have replied “You’re blood’s worth bottling!” as he used to on other occasions.

    Cardinal Pell spoke of youth and mass… if there was nothing there for them, how could they be expected to come to mass?

    And one man was so upset by the noise in another church that he spoke up for his dad and complained to the ladies. He told them his dad wanted to pray before mass.
    So to shut him up, they put him on the offertory procession!!
    The noise of course remained.
    So sad.
    But is it not true to say congregations which are not docile, but noisy, have been simply so absorbed by TV that their reply is more of a community which is AUDIENCE driven?
    Contemplatives, the Carmelite sisters of Ormiston at the Redlands, Qld however, have a SIGN screwed to the door to encourage silence for all participants at Mass.
    In the foyer at the Basilica at Fatima was a SIGN in 2008 with “Silencio”. Inside the visitor could say he or she could “hear a pin drop”. And This was a very large congregation.
    It has been a practice at Our Lady of Victories Newstead, Brisbane, that the monstrance is exposed before the 8 a.m. mass. This means all who enter kneel and adore before the service. TOTAL QUIET.
    Contemplation with a Divine presence.
    The same occurred at St Marys South Brisbane.
    Little children notice. If their mum or dad is quiet at Holy Communion, and the rest of the congregation is quiet, something rubs off.

    …And well known Contemplative Thomas Merton put it this way:
    Lent is an appropriate place to have a pause for thought.
    3 minutes is not a long time for the priest nor is it for the congregation.

  2. In all Catholic churches I have attended in New Zealand in the last 20 years or so, I have noticed subtle changes taking place during Mass. Many of these changes, I am told, are to do with the so-called ‘Spirit of Vatican II’. These changes have nothing to do with legitimate Vatican II liturgical changes in most cases, of course, but are changes that others have made to satisfy whims on the local scene. These local whims eventually take off in other churches, making congregations think they are legitimate parts of the Mass.

    The insistence on singing hymns while people are receiving Communion is one these changes. The noise is such on occasions that Communicants cannot pray or thank their God after receiving. With most of those in the Communion queue acting as if there’s nothing special about to take place together with the music commotion after receiving, it is little wonder that statistics indicate only 30% of Catholics believe in the Real Presence.

    I, for one, would relish 3 minutes silence after Communion.

  3. Dear Father Murphy,
    I’m a little late in responding. What a surprise and delight to see you from across the world and read your article. We first met when I was a little boy, and you new my parents Steve & Denise Wilson from Te Awamutu. Now I am in Switzerland, living in a medieval town, married and with 3 children. I still remember your face and smile as a little boy.
    As I have grown in the Lord (still a long way to go), and also grown in age I realise the utter importance of silence, meditation and dialogue with our saviour. Just to be with Him. In Romont, Fribourg where we live there are several religious communities close by including cistercien nuns and the Chanoine priests / munks. In both cases we visit regularly, and every time I think to myself….. they are completely out of phase, out of kilter like something is not right! But actually I am sure that it is myself, my famille that is the case. It is exactly the opposite and it is indeed the world who desperately needs to listen!
    God bless you and perhaps we shall meet again soon.