We would probably all agree that noise in our world has reached a remarkable new level. With TV, radio, Internet, iPods, cell phones, and video games, we can always connect to someone or something with our brains and senses completely occupied.
The result of all this exterior noise is a disturbing interior noise – a reverberating clatter in our heads that, unbelievably, urges us on toward more noise. And then there is that inner voice that says, “What do we do now?” when we do find ourselves faced with those rare moments of silence.
Do we actually fear silence on some level because in silence we are faced with examining our thoughts and our relationship with God and our neighbor?
“I heard God’s call to me when I was praying before the Blessed Sacrament. I told God, ‘I am going to be an engineer.’ God responded, ‘No, you are going to be a priest.’ “
This young man heard God while silently praying before the Blessed Sacrament during Eucharistic Adoration; he was ordained a priest in May, 2008.
While this may be an extraordinary example of what happens when we allow some silence into our lives, all of us should want to hear what God has to say to us. If as practicing Catholics we believe that God has a plan for us, and that he loves us so much that indeed “even all the hairs on your head are counted,” Matt 10:30, we need to make the time and space to listen.
No matter our state in life, whether or not we are discerning a call to the priesthood, religious life, married or single life, we can all benefit from silent prayer and reflection.
I have heard people say that God doesn’t talk to us today like he did to the men and women we read about in scripture.
But do we really know this to be true? Have we sat down long enough to open our minds and our hearts to the gentle urgings of the Holy Spirit? The key word here is ‘gentle.’ Anything that is gentle is not loud and could easily be missed given the frenetic pace of our everyday lives.
“Behold I will pour my spirit into you, I will make known my words unto you.”
And what about those times when God speaks to us through people and events, or through something we read, hear or see in the media? Don’t we need silence to process what those messages might really mean for us and how we should respond
The answer is a resounding Yes!
When we look to scripture, we are reminded that Jesus turned to silence, silent prayer, before doing his Father’s work always – as did many men and women we find in scripture, including prophets, such as Abraham and Moses. They turned to silence before the big and small moments of their lives. And when God burst in, completely unannounced, I would like to think they turned, in silence, to reflect on the impact of these moments as Mary did: “… his mother kept all things in her heart.” Luke 2:51
For me, Jesus’ Agony in the Garden is the most powerful example of silence in the history of the world:
“Then going out as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him.” Luke 22:39 “… after withdrawing about a stone’s throw from them and kneeling he prayed saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still not my will but yours be done.’ ” Luke 22:41-42
As Jesus spoke with the Father in the silence of the garden, he gathered strength for the task of redeeming the world. And so we are given the perfect example of silence and its fruits that are immeasurable: pure and self-less love.
By working some silence into our daily lives, to talk to God and to listen, our vocation, our challenges, and even those small things we need to accomplish every day, may become clearer and may be accomplished with greater love.
“… a time to tear, a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak,” Ecclesiastes 3:7.