The lack of silence in contemporary society is making many people’s lives “more agitated and at times convulsed,” Pope Benedict XVI has said.
“Some people are no longer able to stay long in silence,” he told members of a silent Carthusian monastery in the southern Italian region of Calabria on Oct. 9.
“Most young people, who are already born in this state, seem to fill every empty moment with music and images, almost afraid to feel, in fact, this void.”
The monastery visit was the Pope’s last stop on a one-day trip to the south of Italy. Upon his arrival in the town of Serra San Bruno, crowds of over 30,000 greeted the Pope as he made his way through the streets in the popemobile.
The local monastery was established over 900 years ago by St. Bruno, a fellow German and founder of the Carthusian Order.
The Pope contrasted the silence of the order with the noise of modern life.
“Without realizing it, people are immersed in a virtual dimension, because of the audio-visual messages that accompany their life from morning to evening,” he said.
He called the Carthusian charism of silence “a precious gift for the Church and the world,” and one that contained “a profound message for our life and for humanity.”
“Retiring into silence and solitude, man, so to speak, is ‘exposed’ to reality in his nakedness,” said the Pope. This allows man to experience “the fullness, the presence of God, of the most real Reality that there is, and that is beyond the dimension of the senses.”
The Pope joined the monks for Vespers, the evening prayer of the Church. Before entering the monastery, he remarked that the ancient monastic life is a rebuke to a certain modern mindset “that is not Christian, or even human, because it is dominated by economic interests,” or is only concerned with earthly and not spiritual things.
A society based on such a mindset, he said, “not only marginalizes God, but also our neighbor, and we do not strive for the common good.” The monastery, though, is instead “a model of a society that focuses on God and fraternal relationship.” This is something for which we have “so much need in our time,” said the Pope.
While some may think it “impossible to remain for life in a monastery,” said the Pope, “a lifetime is just enough to get into this union with God.”
He concluded by telling the Carthusians that their vocation is in “the heart of the Church” and puts “the pure blood of the contemplation and love of God” into its veins.
Pope Benedict also visited a monastic cell and the community’s infirmary before signing the monastery’s visitor's book. He then set off on his return to Rome by helicopter and plane.