Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Everything has gotten louder. Have you noticed?  I especially ask this question of others who have been around this planet for  40+ years.  You may dimly remember a day when every waking moment did not contain the possibility of electronic entertainment at the touch of a button, when certain places were special and part of that distinction meant that they were quiet.

When I was a kid and our family went out to dinner (a rare treat) -- the restaurant was quiet. We put on nice clothes and we were  . . . quiet. Everyone could hear each other, there was no loud music blasting.
Even the decour was, well, quiet.

Around the late 70s or early 80s I discovered Chile's Restaurant. It was eclectic, it was loud, it was energetic and sort of irreverent in a fun, young way. Boots, canoes, wash tubs and antlers all hung from some hook on the wall or even from the ceiling itself. It was "cool," mostly because it was unique.

OK - enough already! Here we are almost 30 years later and I, personally, am saturated with and tired of this. It has become the well-worn norm, this cookie cutter style in restaurants. For heaven's sake, it is more quiet in a Starbucks --- people talk in normal voices there. If only Starbucks did not match contributions to Planned Parenthood -- I would be a steady customer -- for the civility and quiet.

I think, as a society, we have become louder. Our every waking moment is filled with some kind of noise.  This is all the more reason that I long for the quiet church I remember from my childhood!  --- Sorry, I didn't mean to shout!

I just read a post by Pat Archbold on this very subject. I must say that it is wonderful to know I am not alone in this quest for respectful, contemplative, nourishing silence. His post has a great title, "For the Love of God -- Shut Up!" Here are some of the things he says -- you should read the whole article if you find you are like-minded in this. :-)

He notes that these days energetic and talkative parishioners fill the open sanctuary, greeting one another with enthusiasm. Some would say, "Ah, but this fosters community."
I would say I agree with Bishop Murphy of Rockville Centre when he stated, 
This interferes with the ability of the people to enter into the liturgy and have the kind of active participation that the Second Vatican Council calls for.
Now, the good Bishop was also referring to the problem of having the tabernacle in a separate area than the nave of the church. That is a whole other post just waiting to be written. I certainly agree wih him on that point, also.
But back to the subject of "quiet" and Pat's comments.

That real active participation can be fostered by silence, glorious and heavenly silence. 

Further, there are plenty of other times to foster community, silence is much rarer indeed.  This manic need to be moving and talking in the misguided notion that it is active participation is, well, misguided.
Bishop Murphy had it right.  He . . . . began an education campaign on the value of silence and her constant companion, reverence.

This was the message (paraphrased) in a Church Bulletin at Pat's parish,
“If the Church is not on fire, you should not be talking.”  Amen.
So to those who still think that cacophony equals community, I say one thing.  For the love of God, shut up.

1 comment:

Abbey said...

Call me cratchity old lady but I am forever irritated when I arrive at Mass early to pray the Rosary and just absorb the ambiance of being in the the House of God, feeling His presence, and there are babies crying (we have a cry room - use it!!) and people talkng, oh, and the occasional cell phone ringing! Forget that before Mass begins that everyone is asked by the Lector to turn off all cell phones.

What else can I say?

Abbey ♥

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