Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Saturday, 4 March 2017

"Words and Stuff....." and Maybe, Just Maybe... Silence?

Had a disturbing conversation, someone noticed I had traipsed through the nave with a gaggle of children in tow recently, asked me about it -
I told her, yes, it was partially to point out art and items of interest, and explain the liturgical and catechetical purpose of some of the architecture, but mostly to model behavior; cover my head in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, genuflect when necessary, maintain a reverent silence...
They don't know how to behave, do they....? she commiserated.
And I replied, how could they, most adults don't, the noise level before and after Mass, joking and trading recipes, and making golf plans -
But you must remember, it's a social event, too!
When other people are trying to pray?
But some people, that may be the only time they get out all week...
Now, understand,  our climate, weather and architecture are such that there is an embarrassment of riches for places to chat in comfort.
And I'm not an ogre - I am not condemning the wheelchair bound man who it takes two friends to get in to weekday Mass, or the senile and deaf-as-a-post babushka who shouts to ask, whadja say? at every squeak and sound.
And truth be told, the disabled man isn't among the offenders, he's impeccable - it's the Pick-a-little ladies who are heading to a meeting across the parking lot who are going to see each other all day but must start their kaffee klatsch konvo in the pew, and the wealthy retirees who want to make sure everyone hears their travel brag...
No, the simple fact is, many do not behave with reverence before and after the Liturgy, because the so often Liturgy itself transpires with precious little reverence, much less silence.
Fr Douglas Martis had a wonderful piece in Adoremus a few months ago about silence, different kinds, different dimensions. You should read the whole thing, (his words on the word, "mystery" are something I used in class,) but this descriptive phrase is a keeper -
"Invitation not Interdiction"
Again, something about which to talk with my gaggle of kids on Sunday, (in the classroom, not the nave.)
Silence as gift, not punishment. "A feature, not a bug," as the techie types say.
However -
I question his implication that speed and quiet reverence are a zero sum game, and to this end, (that of striking down such a notion,) I'd like to offer the neologism,
Frankly, having assisted at more than one Liturgy conducted by Fr Martis, I would say it is a virtue he himself already posesses.
And finally, wihtout getting into the, "Was Shakespeare a Catholic or not?" fracas, a quote from Much Ado always pops into my mind when Silence in the Liturgy is the subject-
Silence is the perfectest herald of joy- I were but little happy if I could say how much.

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