Priority of Silence

This past week, Pope-Emeritus Benedict XVI who had pledged to “remain hidden” from the world since his resignation from the papacy in 2013 released an afterword for a future edition of a new book by Cardinal Robert Sarah, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship at the Vatican entitled “The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise.” Benedict writes: “We should be grateful to Pope Francis for appointing such a spiritual teacher as head of the congregation that is responsible for the celebration of the liturgy in the Church,” and states further, “With Cardinal Sarah, a master of silence and of interior prayer, the liturgy is in good hands.”

Yes, certainly Cardinal Sarah, whom most people had heard about last summer after a conference he had given in London which called for an encouragement for Masses celebrated ad orientem in parishes throughout the world, might not have ideas about the sacred liturgy with which everyone in the Church may feel immediately comfortable. But his point, we should remember, was not really about the direction that a priest faces when he celebrates Mass; it really is all about reverence and prayerfulness in the liturgy.

Cardinal Sarah’s new book on silence is really about coming to grips with the role and importance of it in our media and technological world. In an interview about his book, the cardinal said: “Let us not fool ourselves. This is the truly urgent thing: to rediscover the sense of God. Now the Father allows Himself to be approached only in silence. What the Church needs most today is not an administrative reform, another pastoral program, a structural change. The program already exists: it is the one we have always had, drawn from the Gospel and from living Tradition. It is centered on Christ Himself, whom we must know, love and imitate in order to live in Him and through Him, to transform our world which is being degraded because human beings live as though God did not exist. The only reality that deserves our attention is God Himself, and God is silent. He waits for our silence to reveal Himself.

“Regaining the sense of silence is therefore a priority, an urgent necessity.”