A Matter of Life or Death

by Catherine Doherty

This was written before the time of the electronic media. How much more true is its message now!

Media today permeates our whole life. If it is not TV, it is music. Music is a kind of “background sound” instead of something we listen to.

In fact, as Alexander Schmemann says in his book, Great Lent, “This need for constant music reveals our incapacity to enjoy silence, to understand silence not as a mere absence of sound but as the condition for all real presence.

“If Christians of the past lived in great measure in a silent world, giving them ample opportunity for concentration, contemplation and the inner life, Christians of today have to make a special effort to recover this essential dimension of silence, which alone can put them in contact with God.

“Thus, the problem of radio and TV during Lent is not a marginal one, but in many ways is a matter of spiritual life or death.”

I suggest you drastically reduce your use of TV and radio so an “addiction” to TV does not take place—transforming you into a vegetable in an armchair, glued to the screen and passively accepting anything coming from it.

What is involved here is the experience of Lent as a special time for silence created by the absence of the world’s noises, to be filled with positive content.

We need a break from the ceaseless hammering of the media. I suggest you feed your intellect by spiritual reading and feed your soul by prayer.

From Grace in Every Season, (2001), pp. 71-72, available from MH Publications