However, there is a deeper and more meaningful silence which we can experience most especially in this week.
As a birthday present I was given a ticket for a performance of Bach's majestic setting of Matthew's Passion. It was performed in a former Church that is now a concert venue by a secular choir, but the time of year and the music itself cannot but speak of Christ's sacrifice.
As Aria followed chorus followed recitative in wondrous succession, each short silence was punctuated by the obligatory concert-hall coughs as we waited eagerly for the next course of this rich musical banquet.
Until suddenly, at the moment when Christ gives up his spirit everything stopped. The conductor held the silence for what seemed like an eternity. No one coughed or moved and the silence grew and grew in intensity until it became almost unbearable. Because it had been surrounded by music of such sublimity the silence took on a new meaning, an absence, a violent break with the preceding musical expression of Christ's presence among us. Then he was dead. This was not the silence of peace, nor the silence of contemplation, but the silence of the grave.
I was looking forward to re-living that moment during the reading of the Passion at Mass today, unfortunately the reader hadn't been briefed and the traditional pause and genuflection at Christ's death lasted half a second. Ah well... maybe next year but in the meantime those 30 seconds of complete silence in a concert hall will echo throughout this week.