silencia est pater praedicare = silence is the father of preachers

image

I learned this Dominican expression in college as I was getting to know them.  Think about it. 🙂

Find time for intentional silence.  That means no books, no media, no noise or distraction of any kind.  And, yes, that means no reading voluminous emails from Matt.  I knew you were waiting for that one.  🙂

Catholicism has the practice, highly recommended, of retreat – spending dedicated, intentional, focused, valuable time in spiritual reflection.  Catholic or not.  Sinner, saint, or other.  Come and see. Jn 1:39.  I was caught with magazines by Fr. John Haughey, SJ when I was supposed to be on silent retreat!  The temptation of a too active mind that too rarely finds quiet time for reading and reflection. Ooops!  Don’t be hungry or tired.  Get your bathroom functions out of the way.  Turn off all electronics.  That means OFF!, away.

Give this silence your best time of the day.  Half an hour before the day begins, works well for me, or on a long drive, no radio.  Showered, shaved, dressed, coffeed, alert, awake, ready to go, but silent for a period of time.

I’m too tired at night.  Cannot concentrate.  Whatever’s left at the end of the day is not my best offering.  Attend a brief, convenient, early morning Mass during the week if you can.  Make it a habit.  It’s wonderful.  The “others” will wonder where you are when you are not there and will worry about you.  Buy the Divine Office app on iTunes!  Brilliant.  Does wonders if you get in the habit (no pun intended!). 🙂

Even for short periods, moments.  Always be aware.  Awareness is a form of prayer I like and have found, all throughout the day.  I pray constantly throughout the day, mostly by intentional awareness, paying attention.  Sometimes more formally.  Paying attention, in every aspect of life, is so important, wiser persons than I have told me.

I feel like I have ADHD when I try to be silent, find time for silence.  Silence is counter-intuitively difficult & can be unnerving, which is why I think most Americans do their best to try and avoid it.  You might hear yourself think, the voice of conscience.  Unnerving.  Discomforting.  Honest.  Can you handle the Truth?  I try.  I really do try.  I have a problem with the Truth.  I like it too much.  Didn’t say it was easy, just said it leads to eternal life.  That’s all.

Refuse to structure silence or to bring an agenda.  Be open.  Empty yourself.  The Holy Spirit does wonders when we are open, attentive, listening, and silent.  Shut up & listen.  This works with God, too!

Use silence as a form of healthy and invigorating mortification/discipline, like the athlete who trains his body, the scholar who trains his mind.  God wants to fill us up.  How can He do that when we are full of ourselves and our cares and worries and racing thoughts, emotions?  Believe in the possibility of grace and peace; empty yourself, and it will come to you.  I promise.

With it, I have found I have time and peace for everything else, even my abounding shortcomings.  Without it, nothing works.    Before the day begins, after prayer & silence, I say “Ok, Jesus, let’s DO this thing!  Be with me ALL throughout the day!  Be constantly by my side!  Amen!”  “Play like a Champion!” and slap the overhead door frame as you run out of the house yelling “Yeahhhhhhhhhh….”  Oh, that’s Notre Dame.  Got carried away.  Sorry.  You know what I mean.  🙂

How can you hear God talking if you’re not listening?  Who (even God) wants to talk to someone who isn’t listening?  It’s about relationships, isn’t it?  All about relationships?  What about that One, most important relationship?  Lk 13:27/Mt 7:23.
image
-by Br. Tomás Martín Rosado, OP, who writes about silence, developing St. Catherine of Siena’s image of religious life as a ship based on his experience with sailboats.

St. Catherine of Siena, O.P., describes (professed) religious life as a ship “ready to receive souls who want to race on to perfection and to bring them to the port of salvation. The captain of this ship is the Holy Spirit, who lacks nothing. His religious subjects who violate his orders can hurt only themselves, never this ship.” This goes not only for the ship of religious life, but also for the barque of St. Peter, the Church. The ship can never be sunk, though it can be steered into hurricanes.

Growing up around sailboats, I learned the cardinal rule that one would never guess from pirate movies: silence is key. This is true for three major reasons. First, without silence you can’t hear the captain’s orders. Silence is not only a lack of external noise, but internal listening. Without it crucial directions can be missed. The Holy Spirit is not usually a yeller.

Secondly, you need to hear your shipmates. They have specific duties that cannot be explained in the midst of a storm. They may need your help with one of their tasks or they may need to get by you to reach their station. At times, it is through your shipmates that you hear the orders of the captain.

Thirdly, you need to hear your ship. The external structures of the ship require attention and the creaks of the ship communicate to the sailor. St. Catherine describes the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience as ropes that hold up the sails of the ship. Terrible consequences come of a frayed rope in the midst of a hurricane…

In this extended metaphor, silence is correctly seen as a positive aspect of the religious life and of the Christian life in general. It not only provides the space to listen to God, but it is a weapon of the Christian life. As St. Faustina wrote: “Silence is a sword in the spiritual struggle. The sword of silence will cut off everything that would like to cling to the soul.” Storms are not the only danger to a ship, but sea serpents roam the waters too.

We must be prepared to listen past the winds of the world, struggle against the noise of our hearts, and fight the demons of the depths. Silence is the weapon with which we fight the world, concupiscence and demons. It is in the silence of the cross that the ship sails into safe harbor.”

image
-Fra Angelico, “St Peter Martyr, O.P., enjoining holy silence”

Silence is rare for parents, but we must try.  Find it where/when we can. 🙂
1 Kings 19:11-13

I have always been awestruck how silent the world is at dawn after a fresh snowfall.  Awestruck.  Absolute silence.  Outside.  I lie in the new snow, look at an azure sky, and “listen” to the silence.  Listen.  Wonderful.  Wonderful…literally.  In this “quiet time” of year, as the din and distractions of the holidays fade, when it “might” be easier to enter into silence, if you dare-you might hear/find God, do so.  Do so.  Do so.

Love and silence, peace, profound peace and silence, powerful silence,
Matthew

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.