Silence: theological place for encounter with God
“Silence is the door to God. Unless you create silence and enter your inner desert, it is difficult, even impossible, to hear God. In this desert, in this solitude, God allures the soul that desires following Him: “I will lead you into the wilderness and speak tenderly to you” (Hos 2:14). When man wants to hear the word of God, he must hide himself under a mantle of silence, and plunge himself into darkness, and leave behind him the world - so light is God’s murmur!”
From Outer Silence to Inner Silence
“In this frenetic world of hectic work hours and unbridled activism; with the multiplication of television and internet images that crowd our minds, the need to find space for silence during our day has become essential. We need to do everything with simplicity and calm, and without anxiety, and above all, we must cultivate inner silence. God wrought his greatest works in silence. In the eternal silence the Father created the heavens and the earth. In the night, far from the city, Jesus was born. In the quiet and solitude of the house of Nazareth Jesus prepared for his mission. In the solitude of the night Jesus distanced himself from everyone to pray. In the dark silence of Christ’s tomb the joy of Resurrection was budding!”
“The crowd is not outside of us, but within us, with a multitude of thoughts, inclinations, feelings, worries, and interests. All this means dispersion for the soul; the soul is impeded from finding God. For as long as the thoughts of man are not of God, man remains scattered. His thoughts are scattered because of the various types of news he listens to, out of the desire to know: via the paper, the radio, the TV… Man has his mind on one thing or another, but there is no real core to his inner life, and no real goal for his intellectual activities. What is the remedy? Without doubt, prayer; and inner silence which is already obtained through prayer. A person used to contemplation sees everything in the light of God. Many people (including men of the Church) see things only in the light of success and effi ciency.
Three types of silence
“Teachers of the spirit speak of three types of silence as a condition for communion with God. These three are: around self, silence of self; silence within self.
Silence around self (means to) silence occupations done with exaggeration, and the superﬂuous. It is the silence of futile conversations, of mundane visits not done out of charity. Outer silence gives back to the body and the spirit the necessary calm to allow it to recuperate inner silence.
Silence of self, is the silence that is hidden to the eyes of others, and makes us pass unobserved in our everyday life. It is the silence that envelops our sorrows, worries and hopes to the point of desiring that no one’s gaze might stop upon us, that no word of praise or compassion or comfort might be said for us.
Silence within self is the silence of the critical spirit, of the susceptibility of the heart, of the needs of the suffering body. We need to hush the inner racket, the chaos of our thoughts, the tangled knot of desires, the restlessness and anxiety of the spirit.”
Word and Silence
“Speaking is a grand thing. In general, however, our words, instead of communicating to others what we are, hide it from the others. Instead of engaging us, they place us on a plane of superfi ciality and inner dissipation! The words that are emitted from our mouths ought to be a true expression of ourselves. With every word we ought to donate ourselves totally. Precisely for this, our words ought to be few to be truly effi cacious.
More than this, our words must express not only us, but Christ. We cannot pretend to give God to others by chattering away about our Lord. Unless we are truly engaged we give neither ourselves nor God. The word that gives God must rise from an abyss that is more profound than the word that gives you. God is more intimately close to us than we are to ourselves. Let us ask of the Lord this grace: to learn how to speak! I don’t mean to know how to make speeches; there are already enough of these. I mean to know how to speak the basic and essential language that will allow our word to give God to souls.”
Silence and Sobriety
“Silence is a fast, the elimination of the superﬂ uous. Don’t do too many things. Everything must be marked by sobriety, by the simplicity of our gestures and life. In fact, outer silence does not concern only the word, but also the hands and our activities. This fasting of the soul, and of human relations; this plunging the soul into silence, does not impoverish the soul. Rather, it makes it richer because it unites it to God.” *