The first time I ever heard this, I just wanted to drop to my knees in prayer and penance. I literally stopped doing whatever-it-was-that-was-important-at-the-moment and was immersed in the sounds of total peace. You can read more about the “Miserere mei, Deus” by Gregorio Allegri here. It’s truly gorgeous.
I have been listening to this piece to drown out the din and the chatter of the news. I’ve been using it especially to block out the comments left in comboxes across the internet in this the “age of the rant.” It is my way of shouting “Silencio!”
I’ve come to believe that we are a most unserious people living in a most serious age. The Age of Me. The age of faux compassion. The age of emotion over facts, style over substance, feelings uber alles.
We are living in a time where Bill Maher, Joy Behar, Stephen Colbert and Bill O’Reilly are considered the best and the brightest among us. Too many strive to emulate them.
I read, and remain silent. I remain silent as people rant and rave on about the-way-things-ought-to-be-according-to-them. I’ve participated in this foolish exercise myself now and then. I’ve learned to avoid saying things in certain online forums. Indeed, I cannot even blog in one such “salon that shall be open” because I’m a conservative. And horror of horrors! I’m a practicing Roman Catholic! I mean really! Didn’t people like me die out during the last crusade? Shouldn’t we have? According to many on that site and elsewhere the answer is yes.
Look, I can hear the clucking of tongues and rolling of eyes when I post or speak out against the latest tirade of bigotry, usually presenting itself in anti-Semitic or anti-Catholic tones. I get that. That spirit of the world has been here long before I arrived and will continue long after I’m gone. Its playbook really hasn’t changed through the millennia:
- attack authority
- attack tradition
- belittle your opponent
- assert the importance of me
What? You thought the 60s generation somehow had an original thought all these years? Puh-leeze. That’s the way it started in the Garden of Eden, and it hasn’t varied one iota since then.
But enough already.
This evening I was doing some reading after my son’s baseball game and came across this quotation:
Purity of heart silences our unruly passions, our clouded egoism. Humility is born from the truth of ourselves, which we contemplate in the mirror of the Word of God. It is humility that does not give rise to despair but to hope, hope that confides everything in God, not resenting but loving the One who gives us all, the humility that gives us himself. Humility disposes us to receive his gifts, his fortitude, his inspirations, a participation in his knowledge and his love.
From the “Miserere”: Cor mundum crea in me, Deus: et spiritum rectum innova in visceribus meis. Make me a clean heart, O God: and renew a right spirit within me.
I’m currently finishing the draft of the introduction to my book. I’ve got several chapters in draft form, and others written in pieces. This is what’s important to me now. Not the din. Not the chatter. Not having to be tolerant in the face of the intolerance of others.
This book is for my kids. I’ve only so much time to finish it. To accomplish this I have found that I require silence. I also require a clean heart while writing from my heart these letters to my children’s hearts.
With God’s grace I’ll have that Hope and that Humility. I will strive to find that silence in my heart and my mind in order to project that peace outward. I will listen to Allegri, read what is good and true, and as Whitman did I shall look up at the stars now and then. At times I’ll even do so with my children.
When I heard the learn’d astronomer;
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them;
When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.
— Walt Whitman
©2011 Jeff A Walker. All Rights Reserved.