This column came to Father Pierre-Alain Lejeune’s mind during his vacation. In the middle of summer, he went for a few days of retreat to the Abbey of Lérins, on the Ile Saint-Honorat off the coast of Cannes. He gives us here a meditation on Pascalian entertainment.
After a busy pastoral year, I longed for silence and rest; I implored spiritual asylum with the Cistercian monks. What a joy to share their prayer and their song!
It is true that the contrast is striking between the orgy of noise and “have you seen me” on the beaches of the Côte d’Azur, and the peace that reigns on the island of the monastery, not far from the. But now, during my stay in Lérins, an electro music festival took place in Cannes for three days and especially three nights… in a surge of decibels. And although the gigantic enclosures of David Guetta and consorts were almost six kilometers away as the crow flies, the abbey could not escape the incessant hammering of rhythms as devoid of poetry as a jackhammer.
Good and bad entertainment
I have nothing against electro music and even less against those who appreciate it, but I wonder what drives so many people to become deafened in this saturation of noise. What void are they trying to fill? What loneliness are they fleeing from? What worries are they trying to forget? The entertainment society we have created has reached one of its saddest peaks here! I want to talk about entertainment in the sense understood by Blaise Pascal. Because if it is obviously good and healthy to be entertained, Pascalian entertainment designates something else. These are the strategies that men invent so as not to come face to face with themselves, so as not to leave room for fundamental questioning, to flee and forget what frightens them so much: their mortal condition. Entertainment is ultimately a way of turning away from self and from God. Moreover, etymologically, “to entertain” means “to turn away”.
Preserve in our days a space of silence
What our world suffers from so much is overflow: overflow of activity, noise, images and information saturating our minds and sterilizing our inner life. And what about the screen of our smartphones which infiltrates everywhere and invades our days with its hypnotic power! God’s salvation for man consists, I believe, not in filling a void but rather in removing what is too much, in decluttering, in freeing up space within us. During this back-to-school period, we could decide to cultivate in each of our days this part of emptiness, of silence, this space of encounter with ourselves and with God; we could decide not to turn away. And to listen to this little inner music: the song of the soul.
Monks have lived on the island of Lérins for sixteen centuries. We can reasonably think that in a few decades, electro music will have disappeared from our universe; the monks will always be there; and their silence and their song will continue to rise towards God as if to tell us: “Do not turn away from yourself, do not turn away from God. »
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Entertainment distracts from self and God
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