QUEZON CITY, Philippines — A Philippine parish has begun a monthly practice of spending an entire day in silence and prayer by unplugging and freeing themselves of their gadgets.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help parishioners began the 24-hour silence Feb. 23, and organizers said they hope to continue the practice on every last Wednesday of the month, reported ucanews.com.
“Let us change our lives within 24 hours through silence. Let us unplug ourselves from social media, television and use of cellphones. Let us also avoid going out and engaging in chitchats. Let us spend our time of silence with the Lord,” the parish said in a recent Facebook post.
Instead of their usual routine, parishioners were asked to attend Mass at 7 a.m., midday prayer, a novena to the Divine Mercy at 3 p.m. and the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament from 5-7 p.m.
Ucanews.com said the project was spearheaded by Father Robert Reyes, parish priest and human rights activist.
“This day of solitude on the last Wednesday of the month, we will change our old habits by not using our gadgets, no shopping. Once a month we go back to silence for 24 hours … we will say goodbye to our gadgets, we will unplug them,” Reyes told ucanews.com.
He said the move was based on the U.S. National Day of Unplugging, which promotes a 24-hour respite from technology.
Reyes said his parish aims to “unplug” every month since many Catholics, including religious institutions, use electronic gadgets to an extent where people become detached from actual relationships and what is going on around them.
Around 40 parishioners initially signed up to participate in the day of silence, but Reyes said organizers expect hundreds more to take part.
“More are inquiring how to join, maybe because many have realized the importance of silence in today’s world. We live in a world of noise. Noise is so rampant that it already prevents us from growing a deeper relationship with God. We need to seek silence to pray,” Reyes added.
Organizer and parishioner Bernie Benedicto said it was important to step away from gadgets once in a while.
“Unplugging gives us a break from the noise of the world and allows us to bask in silence to meet God. This is consistent with the Gospel, when Jesus always went away to pray, but he would withdraw to deserted places to do so,” he told ucanews.com.