silence

Trump Still Wins the Personality Contest

At the end of September, Public Discourse published a series of columns about voting for Trump. Or not. Mostly not. Mostly ewww. Brandon McGinley argues the usual yadda-yadda that Christians have no home in either political party. I don’t know about you, but my home is where my family lives. I don’t look for a [...]

The Desert Fathers and the Geography of the Human Heart

“The crown of the monk is humility.”  ∼ Abba Orr, Desert Father, fourth century. The Lenten season is well underway and it would be difficult to find devotional writings more aligned with the spirit of Lent than the words of the Desert Fathers. Two volumes come to mind: The Sayings of the Desert Fathers, translated by [...]

Cardinal Sarah Confronts the Dictatorship of Noise

Postmodern man, says Cardinal Sarah, lives on the “sad drug” of noise, which “sickens yet reassures him.” He “gets drunk” on noise to deny reality, to “anesthetize his own atheism.” He’s hooked up to the “morphine pump” of agitation; his eyes “are sick, intoxicated, they can no longer close.” They’re “red” from the flickering screens [...]

The Age of Noise

More than 70 years ago, the English satirist Aldous Huxley wrote that modernity is the “age of noise.” He was writing about the radio, whose noise, he said “penetrates the mind, filling it with a babel of distractions—news items, mutually irrelevant bits of information, blasts of corybantic or sentimental music, continually repeated doses of drama [...]

Hope in the Eternal Word: The Silence of Cardinal Sarah

Earlier this year I completed another silent retreat at a Trappist monastery. Such is the monastic emphasis on respecting silence that retreatants are surrounded by signs that read “Silence spoken here.” Even the refrigerator magnet I bought at the gift shop is emblazoned with this declaration. My mother remains astonished that her talkative son was [...]

Seeking God in the Silence

"Where shall the word be found, where will the word Resound? Not here, there is not enough silence…" ∼  T.S. Eliot, Ash-Wednesday One of the truly awful torments of modern life, from whose myriad aggressions no one is entirely safe, is noise. More and more, it fills the space that was once marked by that silence [...]

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Silence and Culture at a Carthusian Monastery

When the film Into Great Silence came out in American theatres back in 2007, a student of mine, who is a high school religion teacher, took some of his students to see it. They had to leave about half way through. The students, accustomed to fast paced entertainment, couldn't handle the presentation of the life [...]

Preparing for the Synod on the Laity

I am probably not the likeliest contributor to a symposium on the vocation of the layman since I don't usually do the sort of things better Catholics do, like being active in the "faith community," the "parish family," and suchlike. Nor do I find myself caught up in any of the partisan movements which, to [...]

A Case Study: Can Catholic Schools Remain Catholic?

Nowadays, people seem to think that schools can achieve inherently contradictory aims. For example, educators in Catholic schools often blithely pass over the friction between their desire to teach students to be tolerant of people who hold different values and the school's stated purpose of enhancing the students' appreciation of religion. Nor do such educators [...]

Common Wisdom: Marigolds and Silence

Not long ago we pulled into the parking lot of the local optician, where our son, prescription in hand, was about to invest his savings in a pair of contact lenses. On an adjoining lot is a day care center — a well-run day care center of excellent reputation, owned and operated by a respected [...]

Catholic Women/Common Wisdom: Remembrance of Christmas Past

It should have been the worst Christmas of my life. An only child from New Jersey who had not been farther west than Pennsylvania, I made a quantum leap when I took a job in San Francisco. This was the fifties, not yet the mobile society. But the lure of the position, coupled with determination [...]

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