Oblate Program at Belmont Abbey, NC

Moving toward a low-impact environment

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Large numbers of people are staying away from mainline church services precisely because they do not want to be put to sleep; much organized religion is seen as all too boring. The absence of religion does not necessarily make them more socially aware. An alternative source of desensitization has emerged. Our excitement-prone generation is looking for entertainment, something to distract from the tedium of daily living. Everything has to be presented in an entertaining way: the news, the liturgy, even school textbooks. I suppose you won't continue reading these reflections unless you find them at least dimly entertaining. Furthermore, in a context of spectacular images, loud music, and chemical stimulation there is little scope to be touched either by our neighbor's need or by the promptings of conscience. By creating a miasma of sensory fireworks we effectively block out anything beyond what is sensate: any spiritual perceptiveness, any attention to interiority. Our conscience is deadened by sensory overload and we are little aware of the possibilities that are open to us to create a better world.

Becoming more spiritually aware means moving toward a low-impact environment. The voice of conscience and the words of the Gospel are but a still, small voice in our noisy universe. They are further overpowered by the interior fantasies that form from the residual memories of sensory experience. A lively imagination stirs up the emotions and keeps us from attaining that level of inner tranquility that enables us to attend to the promptings of conscience and to the stirrings of the Holy Spirit. The result is that we are so awake on one level that there is no room for a more interior awakening. Most of us cannot truly listen to another speaking if we are simultaneously watching television, texting on our cell phone, and internally fretting about some imagined grievance. In the same way, we cannot be spiritually aware without turning down the volume of other voices.

Micahel Casey, OSCO
The Road to Eternal Life, p. 33.

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