January 17, 2017 by eneubauer
During the course of a year and in particular at the end of each year I hide. I find a place to literally shut out the noise of our world, noise that competes for our attention and works hard to get us to act in particular ways. It’s not all bad, yet it’s noise none-the-less.
For the vast majority of us – we are used to this noise. It is a thing we have come to accept and to some extent enjoy. Noise is not going away. Because of technology, the pace of life and demand for information noise is only increasing. In light of this reality I make this suggestion.
We Need Silence:
I would argue that we need silence now more than ever! Silence is a doorway into the deep recesses of our mind and soul. It makes room for individuals to come to know themselves. For some, this is perceived to be a scary endeavor. Because of this many choose to shun silence or regular retreat into the soul. However, because we are prone to distraction and experts at running from God, the human person is in desperate need to incorporate silence – giving each of us the opportunity know our true self.
It’s funny, every time I write about self-reflection or confession it’s like crickets in the blogosphere. In some way it proves my point – many of us are estranged from ourselves. See, when we stop, pray and take time for self-reflection we encounter the real self and we see our weakness. However, we see those weaknesses only in the shadow of the person God intends us to be. It’s like shining a light in a dark room – everything becomes crystal clear. Hence, when we retreat using silence as a mechanism to look within, we see the good (God), the bad and ugly to use an old phrase.
At that moment we are drawn to the good, inspired at the opportunities God reveals while at the same time finding strength to discard the bad and ugly things. This act prepares us for a good confession. For me the act of embracing silence always leads to a good conversation with my priest and/or spiritual director.
Because getting to know oneself isn’t always easy, we have become experts at avoidance and procrastination. We purposefully keep ourselves distracted and busy until we are ready to crawl into bed and pass out from the pace of the day. In avoiding relational development between ourselves and the Holy Spirit we become blind to that person God intends us to be. This can lead us to believe that we are a sum total of the mistakes we have made throughout our life. To battle against this I have employed this strategy:
- Take a retreat! I do this by incorporating days of silence scattered throughout the year. I also try and take one, organized multi-day retreat per year.
- Find a spiritual director that is willing to sit with you on a monthly basis to talk about the things you find in light of the person God intends you to be.
- Go to confession on a regular basis as encouraged by your spiritual director and/or priest.
Be intentional, give yourself the opportunity to really get to know yourself by taking a retreat and embrace silence as a spiritual discipline. I have found silence to be a key in developing an intimate knowledge of self and a relationship with God. Silence is a path into the peace of Christ and positions the human person to hear the voice of God. Finally, silence is a tool that allows the individual to discover both the challenges and keys to becoming that person God intends you to be.
At the end of the day, God has gifted you with unique gifts, talents and abilities that are unique to you. Silence, cultivating the spiritual life and confession can open doors to opportunities you thought impossible. Silence allows the individual both the eyes to see and the strength to overcome that which is holding you back. Embrace silence and get to know yourself.
It’s going to be a great year.
January 19, 2017:
I have never made an edit like this before. However, after posting this article about embracing silence I received an email at work from a consulting agency I follow. Guess what, their blog post for the week was about embracing silence. I find it fascinating that religious and non-religious people alike are finding solace in silence. Here’s the link:
On the topic of silence, one of the things I like most about my TLM parish is the silence before Mass. What an act of devotion now a days to get 250-300+ Catholics sitting or kneeling in the pews for several minutes before and after Mass in complete silence. Except for the sound of the babies and children you have the luxury of silence to pray. Great book on personal preparation for Mass called “Mediations Before Mass” by Fr. Romano Guardini starts off with stillness and silence.
Bryan, thank you for this thought. Love it. Indeed, how awesome it is and would be if more of this happened around the country and world. Silence is unfamiliar in the 21st century and we need to work hard to incorporate it and encourage others to do the same. What a rich tradition we have.
Thank you for the article. Silence has become an increasingly important part of my busy life. Here’s a quotation from Saint John of the Laddder.
Intelligent silence is the mother of prayer, freedom from bondage, custodian of zeal, a guard on our thoughts, a watch on our fears, a friend of tears, a recollection of death, a concern without judgment, a foe of license, a companion of stillness, the opponent of dogmatism, a growth of knowledge, a hand to shape contemplation, hidden progress, the secret journey toward the Light. The lover of silence draws closer to God.
–Saint John Climacus (c. 525-606)
A really wonderful quote. Thank you for sharing. Going to read and re-read this one…
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I often go into a silent retreat and call it ” Holy Silence”