Carmel Bulletin, 17 March 2019

The Temptation in the Wilderness by Briton Riviere
The Temptation in the Wilderness, c. 1898
Briton Riviere (1840-1920)
Guildhall Art Gallery, London

The Sundays of Lent begin each year with an account of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness.  Temptations can be easy to come by, and hard to ignore!

For liturgical musicians, one temptation can be to want to fill the Mass with as much music as possible.  On some occasions, this is quite appropriate.  During Lent, however, a lot more restraint is required.  The ‘fasting’ of Lent challenges us to strip away some of the excess – the instrumental music and the hymns for parts of the Mass that are nice to sing, but not essential.

Once the music disappears, though, a new temptation creeps in – the temptation of filling the new-found silence with words!  Prayers and other dialogue can quickly fill the quiet void.

Elijah on Mount Horeb (detail) by parishioner Bill Casey.

This often happens because we struggle with silence, especially in a busy, modern world.  It can be confronting to be left alone with our own thoughts.  Yet it’s what Jesus did for forty days, and it strengthened his resolve to carry out his mission.  As a Carmelite family parish, we can’t ignore Elijah, who, on Mount Horeb, recognised God not in the noise of fires, earthquakes and wind, but in the silence.  We will be reminded next week of how Moses – also at Horeb – was called by God in a moment of solitude.

Silence provides the space for us to encounter God.  Let us all make an effort this Lent to make that space.

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