The Poor Clares: The power of silence
As the oldest of 10 children, I have clocked in many hours of babysitting. I grew comfortable manning the ship while relying on tried-and-true cookie recipes, fingerpaints, and three-hour long movies. From changing diapers to running to basketball practice, I felt confident that I had everything under control – until a sudden deafening silence would alert me that, in the twinkling of an eye and behind my back, the little guys had disappeared. In chagrin and haste, I would search for the small rascals because I knew that the lack of noise meant they were probably up to something.
In a similar way, silence in the interior life is not simply a void or mere absence of noise, but the fertile ground for action – in this case, it is the prerequisite for the positive action of God in the life of the soul. The truth of this reality is revealed within nature itself. A constant reminder of God's hidden action, nature's example inspires us to open our hearts to silent activity within prayer. In prayer we come to know Christ, who chose the way of silence Himself as the conduit for His greatest works. Modern society bombards us with noise, distracting us from recognizing those graces of Jesus. By fostering a deep silence through practical means, we can cultivate the seedbed of our soul for the fruitful action of the Father in our lives.
First of all, consider the natural phenomena that take place in hidden silence. The sun rises and sets, wildflowers sprout up and bloom, and human life develops within a mother's womb. The miracle of life in nature is shrouded in silence.
From these examples, we recognize God's invitation to draw close to Him in prayer with His own silence. He revealed Himself to Elijah, not in thunder or an earthquake, but in a small, still voice.
Regarding the Trinity, St. John of the Cross points out, "One Word spoke the Father, which Word was His Son, and this Word He speaks ever in eternal silence, and in silence must it be heard by the soul."
God sent His Son on that "Silent Night," while most of the world remained oblivious to the miracle taking place. Jesus spent 30 years of His life out of public view, giving us an example of how to live the interior life. When He completed the greatest act of love on the Cross, He gave us His Last Testament in merely seven sentences. The Resurrection itself occurred in silence in the early morning. Through His own example, God wants us to grasp the importance of silence and to pattern our interior life in such an atmosphere.
God invites us to foster an atmosphere of interior silence, but our society makes it difficult. Everywhere we go, we are bombarded by noise: cell phones, iPods, portable computers, televisions. We constantly overload our minds with information, while making ourselves available at every moment to everyone – except for that quiet voice of our Lover.
God will not compete with the clamor of the world. He waits for us to make Him the treasure of our hearts, so it is up to us to make the necessary efforts and movements to nurture silence in our lives.
Here in the monastery, we have set times for silence, because we know it is absolutely vital to our spiritual life. Religious, however, are not the only ones called to deep interior lives. The laity are also called to reach into the depths of divine love and to scale the heights of holiness. Without some degree of silence in your daily lives, this is simply impossible.
Incorporating small habits of silence is vital for everyone. Take at least 15 minutes a day to step back from noisiness of life and retreat to a quiet place to listen to God. Try to leave the computer off on Sundays.
At first, silence may be intimidating, but repetition is the key. We must regularly practice exterior silence to cultivate interior silence, when God will speak to us in the depths of our hearts. Practicing silence is like learning a new language – the language of God – and the most beautiful conversations take place in the silent soul.
Sister Mary Raphael of the Divine Physician is professed with the Poor Clare Nuns of Perpetual Adoration St. Joseph Monastery in Charlotte. This is part of a monthly commentary by the Poor Clares to focus on topics of faith and to address questions about religious life. Learn more about the community and subscribe to their newsletter by going online to www.stjosephmonastery.com.
Patron saints of familiesThere's a saint for everyone, and families are no different. Here are a few noteworthy examples for your family to learn more about. There is the familiar and beloved St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus, and St. Francis of Assisi, who's on everyone's...
Reflections on St. PeterPeter the fishermanAfter Jesus, Peter is the figure best known and most frequently cited in the New Testament writings: he is mentioned 154 times with the nickname of Pétros, "rock," the Greek translation of the Aramaic name Jesus gave him directly;...
Pope Francis on the Year of FaithPope Francis spoke about the Year of Faith in his audience with representatives of the Churches and Ecclesial Communities, and other religions March 20: "I begin my apostolic ministry in this year that my venerated predecessor, Pope Benedict...
As pope, Benedict worked to promote understanding of Vatican IIVATICAN CITY — On Feb. 14, in one of the last public appearances of his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI spoke to the clergy of Rome about his experiences at the Second Vatican Council, which he had attended as an expert consultant half a century...
People around world pledge to say rosary daily during Year of FaithEASTON, Mass. — The Family Rosary division of Holy Cross Family Ministries in Easton has gathered more than 80,000 pledges from people around the globe who said they would pray the rosary daily during the 2012-13 Year of Faith. The pledges,...
A culture of lifeIn 2013 our country observes a shameful anniversary: marking 40 years of a "culture of death" that began when the U.S. Supreme Court, in Roe v. Wade, struck down all state laws restricting abortion. Since the advent of "legalized" abortion,...
The Fathers of the Church
Lives of the Saints
St. Mark the Evangelist's feast day celebrated on April 25St. Mark is the patron of St. Mark Church in Huntersville, which was dedicated in 2009. (File, Catholic News Herald)St. Mark, the Evangelist, is the author of the second Gospel and the patron saint of notaries. He wrote the Gospel in Greek for the Gentile...
St. Damien of Molokai's life of sacrifice remembered May 10The Church will remember St. Damien of Molokai May 10. The Belgian priest sacrificed his life and health to become a spiritual father to the victims of leprosy quarantined on a Hawaiian island. Joseph de Veuser, who later took the name Damien in religious...
'Oracle of Palestine' St. Epiphanius of Salamis celebrated May 12On May 12 the Church honors St. Epiphanius of Salamis, an early monk, bishop and Church Father known for his extensive learning and defense of Catholic teachings in the fourth century. During a 2007 visit with the Orthodox Archbishop of Cyprus, Pope...
St. Katharine Drexel has local connectionOn March 3, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Katharine Drexel, a Philadelphia heiress who abandoned her family's fortune to found an order of sisters dedicated to serving the impoverished African American and Native American populations...
St. Bede known for scholarship and holiness, honored May 25The Church will celebrate the feast of St. Bede May 25. The English priest, monk and scholar is sometimes known as "the Venerable Bede" for his combination of personal holiness and intellectual brilliance. Bede was born during 673 near the...
FROM THE PASTORS
Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte:
- Fr. Frank Cancro at Queen of the Apostles
- Fr. Patrick Earl at St. Peter in Charlotte
- Fr. John Eckert at St. John the Baptist in Tryon
- Fr. Timothy Reid at St. Ann in Charlotte
- Fr. Benjamin Roberts at Our Lady of Lourdes in Monroe
- Fr. Patrick Winslow at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Watch full Masses live and on demand, listen to homilies and reflections from Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury
- Listen to homilies from St. William Catholic Church in Murphy