“There is a time for everything,” it says in Scripture, but it seems there is none left for silence. One of the problems with Catholicism is that it takes a lot of thinking and contemplation. After having a day of constant input of information, facing our bodily desires, seeing the wants of others, in short being tugged in twenty five directions, there needs to be time to process it all and come up with what we hope is the most Godly, the most life giving decisions.
How on earth are you supposed to do that? From the moment we wake up in the morning there is input of information – much of it passive. The television goes on, the radio in the car, headphones, computer screens, constant chatter on cell phones, mall music, televisions in restaurants and checkout lines, a busy day at work, and then veging with the television or computer game until, crawling into bed, crashing. When did you have time to review the day? To make well thought out decisions? To consider if the life you are leading is good and nourishing at least to someone? To give thanks for what was great? To debate if you are on your life’s goals? The choice is just to wake up the next morning and plow ahead again. So instead of deep contemplation our arguments are more along the lines of, “I feel,” and “I like.”
Unfortunately, for many, Sunday Church is like this too. We walk in late. (On time would be several minutes before the opening hymn to do some prayer or sit quietly if it is possible at your parish.) For too many it is a race to get to the end of the service or Mass with no moments of stopping and resting in silence. (Do I buy that homily? Is it in keeping with Church teaching?)
There is value to silence – to facing yourself and your thoughts. There is value to teaching a child to sit still at Mass and be quiet even if he is bored. Being able to sit still without Cherrios and toys as a distraction is a great discipline that will serve a lifetime.
In the end it may not be heresy or government oppression that will do the greatest harm the Church in the United States. It will be distraction. It will be the constant and passive input of information contrary to Church teaching. It will be from a people who no longer know how to be still and know God.