A friend once told me a story of driving with his sister to a family reunion. About an hour into the trip and with the radio tuned to Pop, he asked his sister if he could turn the radio off. When she asked him why, his response was so he could hear.
I tell this story because increasingly, we citizens of the world say: “Entertain us. Make us laugh. Show us something we haven’t seen before.” Not surprisingly, this phenomenon has entered into contemporary worship. Why do I say this? Because on a regular basis, in expanding circles, I hear such slightly exaggerated comments.
That clergyman is boring and his message is stale. Doesn’t he know that he was ordained to dazzle and entertain? And why does the Church insist that we repeat the same prayers at every Mass?
Today, it is true that while certain Catholics have altogether abandoned their faith, other Catholics have fled our parishes in search of drama, theatrics, and variety offered by so-called “mega” churches. Now there is no doubt that lively preaching and engaging music greatly enhance our worship experience. But, I wonder. When we first favor a performance, do we miss out on the purposeful silence that unfolds during the Sacred Liturgy?
Mother Teresa once noted that “The fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love, and the fruit of love is silence.”
During Mass, we are collectively and individually being led toward that sacred and silent moment when we receive our Lord in Holy Communion. Author Richard L. Carroll described it this way:
When Catholics are asked, ‘Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?’ they should answer a resounding YES! There is no closer union with Jesus than when you receive him in the Eucharist. You too can say with St. Paul, …and the life I now live is not my own but Christ living in me.
And so, while it is true that salvation history documents many miracles that God has performed for us, it is equally true that God seeks to meet each of us in a quiet place. Once there, God doesn’t just discuss the details of a well-choreographed play, but rather, the beginning (or continuation) of an ongoing relationship and friendship where we can share our hopes, dreams, aspirations, and fears—with Him.
Now given all of this, during Sacred worship, as opposed to demanding that God reveal himself through the most extraordinary of performances, perhaps we should journey to the center of our hearts where we will find Him in that quietest of places.