Sunday, November 13, 2011

The sound of silence

Recent posts on here have taken in the remembrance events and the silence in Hyde Park last year, and those two came together this morning. I toddled down to Whitehall for the Remembrance Sunday events at the Cenotaph, and while I would have had a far better view if I’d stayed at home and watched it on television, I’m glad I went. Once again, it was the silence- at 11am- that struck me.

(Said cheap seat view)

It struck me that silence is a great leveller. For those of us in the cheap seats, the prayers and the music of the bands were relayed by speaker and big screens, just as those at the back of Hyde Park had the image of the monstrance relayed to them by big screen. It’s a worthy effort, but it’s not quite the same. But silence… well that’s something different. An active silence is something that cloaks everyone present, no matter how large the crowd, and everyone who wishes to be so is equally integral to it. This morning that meant everyone from the Queen down, just as last year everyone from the Holy Father down shared in the silence of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament- even if they could barely see the sanctuary.

The Holy Father has spoken often on the subject of the importance of silence. A little over a month ago, he said that “retiring into silence and solitude, man, so to speak, is ‘exposed’ to reality in his nakedness”. Silence in situations like these is incredibly intimate, and maybe one of the legacies of the visit is a deeper appreciation of the value of silence.

Picture credits: Whitehall my photo, Hyde Park taken from
(His Holiness was speaking in Calabria on 9th October 2011)

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