Friday, November 28, 2008


God speaks to us in the silence of the night. In concrete terms what actually happens when we experience silence? Often we feel rather uncomfortable because we are not used to silence. Our world is filled with noise - radio, television, constant chatting about this and that - words, words, words. When we pray, we do not change our human nature and so for this reason we may find silence difficult even at times of prayer. There exists the temptation even to fill the entire experience of Lectio Divina with words. Of course it is necessary to take time to read the Word of God, to meditate on it and to pray it with words and thoughts which arise spontaneously from our hearts but it is equally important to leave space for silence where God speaks to us in the sound of a gentle breeze.

The voice of God is so gentle that we run the risk of suffocating it with the noise within ourselves. Consciously we enter into silence and leaving aside our beautiful words and holy thoughts for a moment, we reserve a space which we hope God will fill. I have often been surprised by the number of people who do not seem to understand the value of silence and who cannot appreciate its place in Christian prayer.

The silence to which I am referring is not merely an empty space, a lack of words; it is a desire to which God alone can respond. There is a type of silence which is not Christian. Everything depends on one's intention. If we want to use the time of silence to sleep or daydream or for relaxation, that is not Christian prayer. It is, however, possible to enter into silence with the best of intentions and after a few minutes to fall asleep or become distracted but if our intention is to communicate with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, it remains prayer. To appreciate the value of silence, we must be convinced that God lives and works in us whether we are awake or asleep. God does not need our beautiful words and holy thoughts but our desire. What do we really desire? If we really desire that God transform us, He will do it.

--from the British Province of Carmelite Friars

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