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Mass is a time of silence and prayer, not idle chitchat, pope says

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Catholic News Service

 

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Mass is the highest form of prayer and not an appropriate moment for small talk, Pope Francis said.

At church, Catholics should spend their time in silence before Mass, preparing “to meet with Jesus” instead of engaging in “chitchat,” the pope said Nov. 15 during his weekly general audience.

“Silence is so important,” he said. “Remember what I told you last time: we are not going to a show. Silence prepares us and accompanies us.” Read more »

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‘Silence’ is dramatically powerful and theologically complex

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Catholic News Service

Directed and co-written (with Jay Cocks) by Martin Scorsese, “Silence” is a dramatically powerful but theologically complex work best suited to viewers who are prepared to engage with serious issues.

Liam Neeson stars in a scene from the movie "Silence." The Catholic News Service classification is L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. (CNS photo/Paramount)

Liam Neeson stars in a scene from the movie “Silence.” The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. (CNS photo/Paramount)

Those willing to make such an intellectual investment, however, will find themselves richly rewarded.

In adapting Catholic author Shusaku Endo’s 1966 fact-based historical novel, a project in the works since the late 1980s, Scorsese finds himself in Graham Greene territory. As fans of that British novelist know, he had a fondness for stretching and twisting fundamental issues of faith and morality, and Endo’s plot shows the same tendency. So this is also not a film for the poorly catechized.

The movie’s primary setting is 17th-century Japan, where persecution is raging against the previously tolerated Christian community.

Shocked by rumors that Christavao Ferreira (Liam Neeson), their mentor in the priesthood, has renounced the faith under torture, two of his fellow Jesuits, Sebastian Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Francisco Garrpe (Adam Driver), volunteer to leave the safety of Europe for the perils of the Land of the Rising Sun. Their twin goals are to find their role model and to minister to the underground Japanese church.

What follows is a long, sometimes harrowing battle between doubt and human frailty on the one hand and fidelity on the other. Earthly compassion is set against faithfulness and an eternal perspective, with both divine and human silence contributing to the appropriateness of the title.

Scorsese has crafted an often visually striking drama that’s also deeply thought-provoking and emotionally gripping. The performances are remarkable all around. But the paradoxes of the narrative demand careful sifting by mature moviegoers well-grounded in their beliefs.

Those lacking such a foundation could be led astray, drawing the conclusion that mercy toward the suffering of others can sometimes justify sin. While Catholics who are blessed with the freedom to practice their faith in peace are hardly in a position to judge those facing martyrdom, the principle that circumstances can mitigate guilt but not transform wrong into right remains universally valid.

In the end, “Silence” movingly vindicates a certain form of constancy. That may, in a roundabout way, match the historical record: There is edifying, though inconclusive, evidence that the real person behind one of the three main characters in the picture not only rejected his previous apostasy, but ultimately surrendered his life for the faith.

The film contains religious themes requiring mature discernment, much violence, including scenes of gruesome torture and a brutal, gory execution, as well as rear and partial nudity.

The Catholic News Service classification is L, limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted.

 

Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

 

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Morning homily: Be silent, to hear God’s love and tenderness, pope advises

December 12th, 2013 Posted in Vatican News Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — If silence is not one of the sounds associated with Christmas preparations, chances are people will miss an experience of the love and tenderness that is at the heart of the holiday, Pope Francis said.

(CNS photo/Adrees Latif, Reuters)

Celebrating Mass Dec. 12 in the chapel of his residence, Pope Francis offered a reflection on the tone of voice and the endearments God uses to speak to people and communicate his love.

It’s not so much what God says as how he says it, the pope said in his homily.

“When a child has a bad dream and wakes up crying,” he said, “Dad goes and says, ‘Don’t be afraid, don’t be scared. I’m here.’

“The Lord speaks this way, too,” he said, pointing to the day’s reading from Isaiah 41, in which the Lord reassures Jacob, affectionately calling him a little worm.

“When we watch a dad or mom talking to a child, we see how they become small, using the voice of a child and the gestures of a child,” he said. “From the outside one can think, ‘Oh, how ridiculous.’ They make themselves smaller, don’t they? That’s because a father’s or mother’s love needs to be close. I’d say this: They need to crouch down to enter the world of the child.”

Pope Francis said it is obvious that parents don’t have to talk baby talk to their children to be understood, but sometimes it helps if they “make themselves children. The Lord is like that, too.

“And so, the father and the mother say ridiculous things to the child, like, ‘Ah, my love, my toy,’” the pope said. “The Lord says these things, too: ‘You worm, Jacob,’ ‘You are like a worm to me, a tiny little thing, but I love you so much.’”

The language of the Lord is the language of love and tenderness, of whispers and extreme simplicity, he said.

When the Lord spoke to Elijah, the pope said, it was not in the roar of the wind or the rumble of an earthquake, but in “the sound of that silence that is proper to love” and “doesn’t make a spectacle.”

“This is the music of the Lord’s language and, as we prepare for Christmas, we must listen for it. It will do us good to hear it,” Pope Francis said.

“Usually, Christmas seems like a very noisy feast,” he said, but “we can use a bit of silence to hear these words of love, closeness and tenderness.”

 

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Silence is golden amid media chatter, pope says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Amid the deluge of information and nonstop chatter in today’s media, the church needs to help people find safe havens of silence, Pope Benedict XVI said.

Far from being the enemy of calm and quiet, social media and the Internet can lead people to virtual sanctuaries that offer silent reflection, thoughtful dialogue and true meaning in life, he said.

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