Silence has been on my mind a lot lately. As my speech slowly leaves me, I naturally ascend into silence. My speech, at this point is literally gibberish. My family can pick up on a few words here and there, but for the most point, I communicate via my eye gaze computer, the alphabet board, or the list of frequent needs that I can nod yes or no to.
More and more I become silent, which is not altogether unwelcome. Silence is a privileged place of encounter with God. It was in the small, still voice where the Holy Prophet Elijah heard God speak. It was in the desert silence where so many of the early monks found God. It is still in the silence of monasteries where modern monks and nuns find God.
Silence, I have found, is challenging, difficult, and to those who can bear it, a sublime encounter with God. It is so challenging because everything in our world is noise. From the moment we wake up, to the moment our brains shut the world out through sleep, there is noise. TV, news media, social media, car horns, sirens, music, noise in our ears, noise in our mind, noise in our eyes. Everywhere there is noise. We can hardly avoid it, unless that is, we make a conscious decision to shut it out.
After the last presidential election, I made a conscious decision to turn off the news. This was a great surprise to my family, because I was one who had the news constantly on. But after the election it became obvious to anyone with sense, that the news media is nothing but propaganda for wicked men. It is a constant feed straight to our mind telling us what we should think. A very dangerous diet for our mind. The only one who should be teaching us what to think is Jesus, the perennial teaching of the Church, and proven wisdom from Holy men and women.
But I digress.
The decision to turn off the news was a brilliant one. No more was my brain filled with drama, bad news, and flat out lies. Now it could be focused more on the scriptures, spiritual reading, and in a word: peace.
I recently have turned on the news again. A mistake for sure. I turned it on while I take my nebulizer treatment, which lasts a mere five minutes. Yet, in that short span of time I become interiorly disturbed, the interior noise grows loud, and I lose my peace. Which tells me just how dangerous to our spiritual life the news media is, and why we should turn it off, and embrace silence.
Now my silence, by God’s grace, is growing. It allows me to leave the sarcastic comment left unsaid. A real sacrifice for me! I am able to let that idle talk that my Holy Father St. Benedict so often condemns, go by the wayside. I can finally be truly silent, something any serious seeker of God should embrace. And to think, it only took a terminal disease with no cure to shut me up, so I could more easily hear God speak to my heart.
Cardinal Sarah has said “Silence is the privilege of courageous persons. They may fall and lose hope; silence will unceasingly be able to lift them up again because it bears within it a divine presence and a divine origin. Silence is a conversion that is never accomplished easily.” So, be courageous my children! Turn off the noise that invades our eyes and ears. Replace it with Sacred Scripture read with attention and devotion. Practice what holy monks have done for millennia: recite over and over The Jesus Prayer, until it is like your very heart beat, constantly repeating with every beat of the heart, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” This prayer, when practiced constantly will light the fire of God’s love within you, making the silence in which you pray it, a mysterious encounter with the Lord!
And of course, how could we forget about the silence of our humble mother. Her words in scripture tell us that she must have been, and still is, a woman of silence who ponders the love of Jesus in her heart. By praying the Rosary, we too enter into her silence and ponder the mysteries of our redemption. This too, will, if practiced consistently, will make our hearts burn with love for God and man.
My children, with all affection I say this: shut up! Be silent. Let it permeate your soul, so you can hear God speak.