Translation Tony Dicksinson
Hegel wrote that reading the morning paper is a kind of realistic Morning Prayer. Might we extend this thought by saying that the smart-phone, People magazine or television have today replaced morning and evening prayer? Some theologians have tried to set things in order by saying that a Christian ought to hold the Bible in one hand and his smart-phone in the other. Better still, would not the solution be to read the Bible on one’s smart-phone?
In present-day culture it is difficult not only to read but also to be recollected. To practice Hesychia (quietness) or the Jesus prayer (“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”), the spiritual teaching so characteristic of orthodoxy. Because today’s society is in the process of putting people to sleep rather than awakening them. In the past in cities and in urban landscapes every effort was made to awaken people; it was enough look up, to contemplate. In the City of God, St. Augustine’s project was to place the inner man at the base of the Polis (The City). Today however, in suburbs dominated by thirty story buildings, it is so difficult to contemplate or to remain awake in a world of noise.
Doesn’t the task of Christianity consist more and more in helping people to rediscover silence?
How? By rooting people more deeply in their most real existence. And doing that essentially through their culture, but through a true culture. And then through prayer: we can grant ourselves every morning and evening a few minutes of silence with the door shut and the smart-phone in silent mode, even if it is only three. We must loosen our relationship to time, and now and again take the time to be astonished, to “make Eucharist” (in other words thanksgiving) in all things (1 Thessalonians; 5.18), as St. Paul asked. To awaken us to the miracle of existence (beings, spaces, oneself) and this very awakening is the light of God, a reminder that God reveals himself by hiding himself, that God is mystery and love.