46th WORLD COMMUNICATIONS DAY Sunday, 13 May 2012
World Communications Day, the only worldwide celebration called for by the Second Vatican Council (Inter mirifica, 1963), is celebrated in most countries, on the recommendation of the bishops of the world, on the Sunday before Pentecost. But in Papua New Guinea it is celebrated on the Sunday before Ascension. The announcement of the theme is made on September 29, the Feast of the Archangels Michael, Raphael and Gabriel, who has been designated as the patron of those who work in radio. The Holy Father's message for World Communications Day is traditionally published in conjunction with the Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, patron of writers (January 24), to allow bishops' conferences and diocesan offices sufficient time to prepare audiovisual and other materials for national and local celebrations.
The extra-ordinarily varied nature of the contribution of modern communications to society highlights the need for a value which, on first consideration, might seem to stand in contra-distinction to it. Silence, in fact, is the central theme for the next World Communications Day Message: Silence and Word: path of evangelization. In the thought of Pope Benedict XVI, silence is not presented simply as an antidote to the constant and unstoppable flow of information that characterizes society today but rather as a factor that is necessary for its integration. Silence, precisely because it favors habits of discernment and reflection, can in fact be seen primarily as a means of welcoming the word. We ought not to think in terms of a dualism, but of the complementary nature of two elements which when they are held in balance serve to enrich the value of communication and which make it a key factor that can serve the new evangelization. It is clearly the desire of the Holy Father to associate the theme of the next World Communications Day with the celebration of the forthcoming Synod of Bishops which will have as its own theme: The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.
There are moments in life which call for silence.
So, for example, each year on remembrance day
we are united in a minute’s silence to recollect all those
who have lost their lives in warfare.
And at football matches silence is often the
way in which the crowd will unite in paying tribute to the death of a great player.
There are the moments when we are lost for words.
At the birth of a child,
before the beauty of a great work of art
or the majesty of a golden sunset over the ocean
silence is often the only appropriate response.
On Easter time we can imagine the wonder of the disciples
as they witness the glory of Christ’s Resurrection and Ascension.
The scenes painted in the Gospels and in the Acts of the Apostles
depict them, open-mouthed, staring heavenward.
Silence need not mean emptiness,
silence can be the contemplation of glory.
In his message for Communications Day
Pope Benedict has written about the need to rediscover silence
as an integral part of communication.
He observes that
‘It is often in silence
that we observe the most authentic communications
taking place between people who are in love:
gestures, facial expressions and body language are signs by which
they reveal themselves to each other.’
He reminds us that God also speaks without words.
The great Christian mysteries are first of all what God does even before God speaks.
At Christmas when God gives us his only beloved Son
the great carols celebrate silence.
‘Silent Night, Holy Night’
and we also sing
‘How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given’
And it is in silence that Holy Saturday is transformed into Easter Resurrection