Once Again about Silence

We look forward to Bishop Caggiano’s presence at St. Mary’s to bestow the Sacrament of Confirmation on our young people on May 27 at 4 p.m. This is the first time the bishop will confer the Sacrament in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, that is, the Traditional Roman Mass. Under the guidance of Deacon Steve Genovese, our Coordinator of Religious Education, and with the gracious assistance of his wife, Sue, these young people have been prepared well to open their minds and hearts to the Grace that will be bestowed on them in the Sacrament.

One of the last parts of the preparation is the Pastor’s Interview. As the pastor I have a conversation with each of the confirmandi. The conversation is free-ranging but zeroes in on faith and on believing in God and Christ and the Church in a non-believing world. One question I ask them that is practical is this: Is there anything you would change in the Confirmation program that you have gone through. The answer is almost always, “No”. Then I ask them about the retreat at St. Birgitta’s in March. We have two retreats: one for boys, one for girls. They all responded positively. And contrary to what I expected they all said that the best thing about the retreat was that it was in silence. And that silence even included the mid-day meal. Our young people live in a noisy world, a world where the phone has become almost a part of their body, instant and constant communication, a source of constant music of some sort, a source of endless chatter. There is a general conception that because of the noise that constantly surrounds our young people that they avoid silence, that it is something so foreign to them that it would be off putting if they were asked to be silent for an entire day at a Confirmation retreat.

But that common assumption, as we so happily discovered, is absolutely wrong. Their experience of silence in the retreat freed them in a way that they did not know was possible. As one young woman told me: “The silence freed me to think about and talk to God.”

Silence is so deeply needed in our society. And that silence must be encountered not only in one’s personal prayer life. It must be encountered in the worship of the Church, it must be encountered in the Mass. In the Traditional Mass this silence is “built in” and is part of the power of this form of the Mass. It is more difficult to foster silence in the Novus Ordo Mass, but we try to do this here at St. Mary’s with every daily Mass we celebrate and even at Sunday Mass. The only way to encounter the silence of God is in silence.

How silently, how silently the wondrous Gift is giv’n!
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heav’n.
No ear may hear his coming
But in this world of sin, Where meek souls will receive Him still,
The dear Christ enters in.

Father Richard Gennaro Cipolla

Comments are closed.