Or, “I wish the walking bass would walk out the church door”
My wife and I were discussing all sorts of things today, but one topic that came up is the lack of silence, especially the quiet that allows one to focus on prayer. This particular thread started from the realization that while our kids know the words for prayers, actual prayer only takes place by happenstance. For us, too, it can be hard to focus in and actually pray, rather than just go through the motions and say the words. Of course, four kids equals ample opportunity for distraction unless you get up early or stay up late (which are my particular tricks, along with while commuting to and from work or waiting for meetings to start).
We see this in the church we attend. The choir continues to try to keep up with the Pentecostals and other protestant denominations by using “Praise and Worship” music rather than hymns or, even, the actual parts of the mass. In the past few months, they’ve added a full drum kit and an electric bass. The keyboardist continues to get creative with which instrument voices he uses. Sigh. Even if you chalk all this up to a matter of taste (although the fact that they haven’t sung the actual words of the Gloria in the two years we’ve been here gives you an idea that it might be more than just stylistic differences), the lack of silence for prayer during the mass is really troubling. Today’s specific example is that they strung together three songs for during the offertory, rather than playing a simple hymn and letting the congregation pray to collect themselves for the Consecration. Also, the time after communion is filled with songs and music (sometimes even legitimate Catholic hymns!), rather than allowing people to dwell in the mystery and to pray deeply.
So, back to family. If the liturgy doesn’t give us opportunities or examples of holy silence, it makes it doubly or triply important to have those opportunities in the home. And we’re just not there yet. We did talk with our kids about ways to wait quietly, and that every moment does not need to be filled with chatter. The hope is that as they develop the practice of quiet waiting, they will be ready to hear the voice of the Lord in the whisper of a gentle breeze (1 Kings 19:12).