Let’s speak up with silence

We are surrounded by noise. A constant barrage of demands and expectations to do something, to buy something, to achieve something, to become something different. We are pulled in all sorts of directions, stretched and pressured to respond. For young people it can be overwhelming, struggling to discover their place and to find their voice amidst the noise. In the middle of this confusion and stress, their experience of the world is anything but peaceful.

And I am heartbroken by the continued rise in violent crime, highlighted in recent days by the death of two 17 years olds. They had their whole life ahead of them. This violence, the constant pressure, the noise has to stop. We need to make a change.

Our society desperately needs young people who experience peace. We need young people who realise they are valued, and know that they can have a voice and make a difference. In the midst of the noise and the violence, our young people must be a beacon of hope to their peers. We, older adults, need to stand with them and support them. We can help them be the changemakers.

This season of Lent give us an opportunity to seek peace, by giving up some of the things which fill our lives with distractions. There are many ways to do this in Lent, but I encourage you to consider siLENT from Million Minutes. Young people and adults coming together in solidarity to give up some of the things which fill their world with noise (your phone?) and spending time in silence. By reflecting on ourselves and the world around us, we try and find that inner peace.

This collective silence has its own voice. The silence speaks up for those young people who are overwhelmed by noise and violence. Many people will be sponsored for their silence, raising money for projects that promote peace, and give young people a voice – projects like Safe Haven, from For Jimmy.

I will be staying siLENT in solidarity with all you dear young people and I shall be keeping you all in my prayers.

To see what individuals, parishes, schools and communities are getting up to this siLENT please visit: https://millionminutes.org/silent40.To discover more about creating safe havens visit: http://forjimmy.org/building-safe-havens/

Join siLENT at: https://millionminutes.org/silent

 

Reflection by our champion Margaret Mizen.

Fasting from chatter and remembering dust

I usually fail my Lent commitments. Surely this year, I’ve chosen one which is a manageable minimum - I only have to stay silent for 24 hours!

However, it turns out not saying anything is easier said than done, especially when in company of loved ones. I tried it for half an hour the other day. There was an almost irresistible desire to fill the terrifying gulf of quiet - fill it with anything, even if it is just hot air.

I think this is because I prop myself up by speaking. To feel like I’m being heard, prompting conversation and ideas - this serves as a sort of crutch. Maybe we all have one of these something which reassures us that we’re still ticking and still valuable.

And yet, on Ash Wednesday, we are told “remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return”

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Even though this phrase, accompanied by the mark of ash on the forehead, kicks off the penitent season of fasting, we need not read it as an indication of our worthlessness. Even when we are dust and will return to dust, we are dust made alive by God’s breath (Genesis 2). Even when we don’t offer anything, when we don’t “perform” and when our lives seem like useless fallow earth, we still reflect God.

So, I’m looking forward to being silent for a bit. Being freed from all those trumped-up efforts to justify my existence, just watching them roll by like tumble-weeds might be quite a relief…

The other side to the Million Minutes siLENT project is an important form of witness that there are those with less voice or whose voice is less heeded.

Amidst all the unimportant chatter, every so often there is something very important to be said. But how often are they swept under the carpet? And how often are those who speak them silenced?

 

Francis Stewart (CAFOD Theology Programme Advisor) will be staying siLENT for 24 hours on March 28th along with other individuals, schools, parishes and communities throughout the Lenten season. Please support them in their endeavours by visiting: http://millionminutes.org/silent40

The WYD Experience…

An event calling those from each corner of the Globe to represent. A communion of millions of Young people. Where Heaven meets Earth. This is World Youth Day!

St John Paul ll started WYD envisioning Young People from across the World gathering to celebrate their Faith. WYD provides this rare opportunity and both Poland in 2016 and Panama in 2019 have powerfully shaped my Faith in unique ways.

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Before we travelled to Panama we stayed with families from the parish of Sacred Heart Hatillo, Costa Rica. One day, with young people from the Dominican Republic, we helped the local community serve those without a stable home by making sandwiches for them and shared an afternoon playing music and dancing together. This struck me – I realised we were very literally living out the message of the Gospels: “For I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me to drink”. (Matthew 25:35). 

Later in Panama we shared a time of Adoration with the Holy Father on a field of millions of people. You’d expect noisiness but I heard nothing but silence. Utter silence. I witnessed a sea of people - hands grasped in Prayer, eyes fixed on Jesus. It was so deeply moving to see all of these people, my age, sharing what I believe.

Through these encounters World Youth Day has kindled in me what it truly means to live being Christ-like.

Reflection from Chris Burkette a member of the Walsingham House team.