"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

Let's between us make the world a better place.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Oh for A Still Small Voice of Calm

I was lucky enough to be in Mallorca a few months ago. It's the largest of the Balearic Islands, in the Mediterranean, and amongst other worthy tourist attractions it is known for its cathedral in the capital Palma.
And in the cathedral there is a magnificent rose window, all of 36ft or 11m in diameter, claimed to be the largest in the world.
So I had to take a day trip to Palma to see this for myself.

I love visiting churches and cathedrals. I love the atmosphere, the hushed sense that pilgrims galore have visited and prayed and worshipped and found in the building a communion with God or some other transcendent quality greater than themselves.

But oh dear I was sorely disappointed this time. The din was incredible. Even art galleries and museums usually manage to maintain some air of decorum and atmosphere. Here in the cathedral there was none of that. This great sacred monument was simply full of a massive noise - as dozens and dozens of parties were being shown around or making their own way, guidebook and camera at the ready, oblivious of any sacred space - simply anxious to take as many photos as they could to take back home, upload and forget! How sad! I left quickly, wondering if any one else was similarly affected. It seemed not.

More recently still I visited Florence. What a joy - a super abundance of sacred art and sacred spaces to surely affect even the most hardened non spiritual amongst us. But even here, in the amazing Duomo, pictured above, the noise level would have been unbearable if there hadn't been a pre recorded Sshhhhhhh ... relayed at regular intervals throughout the building. At least they were trying to maintain some sense of peace and awe so that all could enjoy brief snatches of the true atmosphere of this wonderful building.

We need quiet, and beauty, and atmosphere and positive energies. We need to nurture our sensitivities and our spirit. And this nourishment will come from beautiful things, from sacred spaces, from the wonders of nature and science, not from noise, whether it be loud "music" or mindless chatter. We need to be able to listen and hear that "still small voice of calm" in our lives.

I am reminded of what St Benedict said in Chapter 52 of his Holy Rules about the Oratory of the Monastery:

"1The oratory ought to be what it is called, and nothing else is to be done or stored there. 2After the Work of God, all should leave in complete silence and with reverence for God, 3so that a brother who may wish to pray alone will not be disturbed by the insensitivity of another. 4Moreover, if at other times someone chooses to pray privately, he may simply go in and pray, not in a loud voice, but with tears and heartfelt devotion. 5Accordingly, anyone who does not pray in this manner is not to remain in the oratory after the Work of God, as we have said; then he will not interfere with anyone else."

(In a commentary on this by Philip Lawrence OSB at the website of the Benedictine Abbey of Christ in the Desert, he writes:

"We hear right away that the Church must be a place of silence. Many Churches have lost this sense of silence in our own time. Always we need to work to keep the Church silent and still so that anyone who comes in at any time can pray in silence. We need to keep working on developing this atmosphere of silence and reverence for God throughout all of the monastery buildings, but especially in the Church of the monastery.") 

St Benedict clearly knew what I mean!!

No comments:

It's Time you knew - by Transition Rachel at YouTube

Many reasons to love La Gomera



with vapor trails


Total Pageviews