Sunday, June 08, 2014

A cultural challenge

It doesn’t happen very often, but there are times when I realize how much some aspects of the culture here conflict with some my ingrained habits.

It happened last night at the Pentecost Vigil in Dulce Nombre – which began at 6 pm and ended about 12:30 am. It was preceded by about an hour of music provided by one of the groups in the parish.

There was a lot of the evening which was good – but what hit me was the amount of loud music and almost constant verbiage. I had a slight head ache as the evening ended.

I realize that I really value silence. This can be absolute silence or a quiet sustained by quiet music.

But the music was most often loud – with a heavy drum beat. My ears still hurt.

But what really hit me was the amount of words – even during the exposition of the Eucharist the priest and several others prayed aloud. Since it was in Spanish I could almost block it out. But I would have preferred silence – even with acoustic instrumental music.

The procession throughout the church with the monstrance was sustained by more tranquil hymns.

Procession with Eucharist (in monstrance) during the Pentecost Vigil
Maybe I’m just a hermit by disposition. But the continuing wordiness bothers me.

It’s not that people cannot be quiet. Our experiences with Ignatian contemplation in groups have been good, with a tangible silence among the participants.

But there are all too often too many words.

I don’t have problems when I’m with people, speaking with them alone or in small groups. But all the verbiage in large meetings and formal events is a bit much for me. This includes the long sermons that I sometimes sit through – and occasionally sleep through.

I don’t know why there is so much verbiage here?

Maybe it’s because people feel that they are not heard in society and therefore have to verbalize so much.

Maybe it’s because there is not a real support, even in some groups in the church, for a more contemplative approach.

Maybe it’s part of the educational system which is, in Paolo Friere’s terminology, a banking approach to education, where the teachers, the authorities, have all the knowledge and the others have to get their knowledge from them.

I do know, however, that for me silence and careful conversation are important. I want to hear God – not just let me voice be heard.

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