Robert Cardinal Sarah (Power of Silence) notes that “For some years there has been a constant onslaught of images, lights, and colors that blind man. His interior dwelling is violated by the unhealthy, provocative images of pornography, bestial violence, and all sorts of worldly obscenities that assault purity of heart and infiltrate through the door of sight” (42).
But the problem is broader than seeing what ought not to be seen. Our eyes are dazzled by glitzy gizmos and gadgets that catch the eye and distract us: “Modern life does not allow us to look calmly at things. Our eyelids remain open incessantly, and our eyes are forced to look at a sort of ongoing spectacle. The dictatorship of the image, which plunges our attention into a perpetual whirlpool, detests silence. Man feels obliged to seek ever new realities that give him an appetite to own things; but his eyes are red, haggard, and sick. The artificial spectacles and the screens glowing uninterruptedly try to bewitch the mind and the soul. In the brightly lit prisons of the modern world, man is separated from himself and from God. He is riveted to ephemeral things, farther and farther away from what is essential” (43).
Silencing the eyes “consists of being able to close one’s eyes in order to contemplate God who is in us, in the interior depths of our personal abyss. Images are drugs that we can no longer do without, because they are present everywhere and at every moment. Our eyes are sick, intoxicated, they can no longer close.” Unless we learn to silence our eyes, we will be like the blind spoken of by Isaiah, “seeing, they do not see” (44).