Friday, March 20, 2009

Word and silence...

As a people, we are afraid of silence. That’s our major barrier to prayer. I believe silence and words are related. Words that don't come out of silence probably don't say much. They probably are more an unloading than a communicating.

Yet words feed silence, and that's why we have the word of God... the written word, the proclaimed word. But the written and proclaimed word, doesn't bear a great deal of fruit - it doesn't really break open the heart of the Spirit - unless it's tasted and chewed, unless it's felt and suffered and enjoyed at a level beyond words.

If I had to advise one thing for spiritual growth, it would be silence.

Thomas Merton, from Contemplative Prayer

We need to bring all our reading, all our thoughts and our feelings, into silence. It is in silence that God is (1 Kings 19.12 NRSV - after all the wind and earthquake and fire, "a sound of sheer silence").

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. (Romans 8.26-27)

But it is only in silence that we can give the Spirit room to search the depths of our hearts.


  1. Anonymous4:45 am

    "But it is only in silence that we can give the Spirit room to search the depths of our hearts."

    Very true. Silence is much more about presence than simply the absence of words.

    I look forward to following your blog.

  2. I love the silence of the Trappist Monasery near here, or the St. Padre Pio Chapel when no one is in it, or the perpetual adoration chapel at my parish.

    I find it easier to pray, to focus, to listen.