The article that started it all!

For The Love Of God – Shut Up!

by Pat Archbold

Monday, February 14, 2011 12:20 PM Comments (92)

Of the many things that have been lost during the last  forty years in the name of the council, I miss one the most.  Silence.

Noise is my life.  With five children ages ten and  under, I know from noise.  My ten year old daughter screaming at my nine  year old son “You are SOOOOO rude!” while he bangs on the bathroom door  laughing.  The seven year old and the five year old are playing Mario on  Wii with the volume up to 147, and my three year old daughter is running around  in a princess dress with a light sabre yelling “I’m Apunzel!  Daddy, I’m  Apunzel, see?” Noise is my life.

But these same children who are an endless source of  decibels know, the moment we open the doors of the Church, silence is the  rule.  This is God’s house, not yours.  That is what I teach the  children, now if someone would only teach the adults.

So it bugs me when I read a story like this.  A  reporter with an Anglican background goes to a Catholic Church to do a story and  is taken aback at the noise level.  This is a Church right?  Shouldn’t  it be quieter?  The Pastor, Fr. Reilly responds this way.

I had gone to St. Ann’s in search of sacred space, drawn  there by the beautiful exterior architecture. But what I found there during a  Sunday service was different from the hushed reverence of my Anglican childhood.  Energetic and talkative parishioners filled the open sanctuary, greeting one  another with enthusiasm.

This,  according to Reilly, is as it should be.

“Since  Vatican II, the Catholic Church has seen a change,” he says. “A sense of  community is stressed. The main church, by which I mean the nave of the church,  is the place where the community gathers for celebration, to celebrate the  Eucharist.”

While Reilly admits that there are those who may complain  about “talking before Mass,” he believes that this is congruent with the  liturgy, in which the congregation greet each other and exchange tokens of peace  before the Eucharist.

One reason this is possible is that St. Ann’s, like many  Catholic churches, has a separate chapel housing the Blessed Sacrament.

Oy. The spurious spirit of the council strikes again!

So now a story. A few years ago my Bishop, Bishop Murphy  of Rockville Centre, visited my parish for a confirmation and was appalled at  the noise level and the total irreverence he witnessed.  Being Bishop has  its privileges and he decided to do something about it.  He wrote a letter  to my former pastor and said this…

As I mentioned to you during that day, I am very concerned  about the comportment of the faithful in your parish church prior to the  celebration of the Eucharist. I am not blaming anyone. I am not trying to say  that anyone is at fault. I am  simply saying that the comportment is not compatible with proper preparation for  the celebration of Mass. This interferes with the ability of the people to enter  into the liturgy and have the kind of active participation that the Second  Vatican Council calls for.

In my judgment, a major reason for this is the fact that  the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in a separate chapel that is so removed from  the main body of the church that no one knows where the Blessed Sacrament is. I  don’t mean that literally but I mean that conscious awareness of’ the presence  of the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament is lacking to those who enter the main body  of your parish church. This is further hampered by the fact that the music  ministry is set up in front of the doors into that chapel where the Blessed  Sacrament is reserved. That means that anyone who wishes to go and pray needs to  go through the paraphernalia of those who provide music. I find this  problematic.

Problematic is Bishop-speak for really really bad.   What Fr. Reilly misses and what Bishop Murphy gets is that real active  participation can be fostered by silence, glorious and heavenly silence.   Further, there are plenty of other times to foster community, silence is much rarer  indeed.  This manic need to be moving and talking in the misguided notion  that it is active participation is, well, misguided.

Bishop Murphy had it right.  He asked my pastor to  move the tabernacle out of the chapel and back to the center of the Church and  begin an education campaign of the value of silence and her constant companion,  reverence.

The pastor did what the Bishop asked and things have  improved, a bit.  We recently got a new young pastor who, not long after  his installment, wrote a letter to his new parishioners in the bulletin.  I  don’t have the full quote here in front of me, but it went something like  this.  “If the Church is not on fire, you should not be talking.”  Amen.

So to those who still think that cacophony equals  community, I say one thing.  For the love of God, Shut Up!

I encourage readers to go to the article/blog and read the extensive comments from many sources.  Click below. GN

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