Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Quiet time in worship. . .
That said, it occurs to me that perfect silence is a privilege not accorded to the disciples of old or the early church. What about the noise and turmoil which surrounded Our Lord during His Passion and His Crucifixion? What about the noise and turmoil of a nave filled with people praying because the Mass was in Latin, taking place behind a rood screen, inaccessible to the people in the pews (before there were any). We tend to have short attention spans today. We have both an unrealistic expectation of silence and we have an incredible lack of patience toward those who occasionally break that silence. Worse than this, however, is the fact that we actually look for things to distract us. We do not sing so it gives us time for minds to wander and eyes to turn away. We do not pay attention to the Word of the Lord read and proclaimed because we are more interested in the trivial things that go on around us.
The truth is I long for silence in worship -- not silence from the children but silence from the cell phones that ring, the sound of steps coming and going to the drinking fountain and rest rooms, and the sound of adults who have no control over their tongues (who cannot refrain from comment no matter how important it is that is taking place in the liturgy). Why should our children be quiet if we cannot? At the same time, however, I will admit that worship will never take place in perfect silence. We will always hear the sounds of the world intruding in the holy place of God's Word and Table. Whether a motorcycle speeding away from the stoplight or an ambulance racing to an emergency or a helicopter taking someone to a trauma center -- we will always have our attention spans tested by noise extraneous to the liturgy. The most we can do is make sure that we are not the sources nor the causes of such intrusions. Toward the children I beg patience and some indulgence. Toward the adults I am less than patient and less than forgiving.
I wrestle with this proneness to judge and condemn. It is my weakness, to be sure, but one I often find it hard to confess or admit that it is wrong.