Silence is a prerequisite to hearing the voice of God. Actually, it is the only language he speaks. Life is filled with so much noise – iPhones and iPads. Laptops and game consoles fill my life and pull my attention away to readily. In turn the voice of God is pushed out of my life and I struggle at times – like most people – with being able to put them down.
What others call communication I am easily seeing as only distraction. These tools which can be used for so much good are also too readily used for hatred and violence. Speech which very few would have face to face is easily typed out without thought.
St. Benedict reminds us that even good speech should be measured because it can and will eventually lead us into sin: “Indeed, so important is silence that permission to speak should seldom be granted even to mature disciples, no matter how good or holy or constructive their talk, because it is written: In a flood of words you will not avoid sin.” (RB, 6:3-4).
It is difficult for us oblates to find silence in the chaotic world we live in. My day at work is spent in talking to patients and coworkers. Communication is not only needed but excellent communication is required for the safety of others. By the time I hit the road for home I am exhausted from speaking to others and try to remain in silence on the trip home. This is not only a moment of respite for me but also an opportunity to prepare myself to speak again but this time in the Liturgy of the Hours.
The nights are spent in more silence as I try to read for a few hours but even this is not true silence. At times I find this too pulling me away from prayer and instead filling up the mind so that random thoughts might not cross it.
Because of my need for a greater time of silence I have begun visiting Christ more frequently in Eucharistic Adoration. It seems to be the only place in which I can be present to nothing other than Him. It is a time in which I can simply be without having to do and I have found it to breathe life into my soul.
These cherished moments of adoration are not spent in reading or much prayer. In all honesty when I see others reading in the adoration chapel I’m a bit annoyed. If Jesus were physically in front of me would I pick up a book to find something to say to him or would I simply speak? That’s my thought on it but I recognize that others have their reasons too.
When I do not find the time for silence I recognize it in my daily life. More agitation and anxiety creep in and instead of peace, chaos pervades. St. Benedict is wise in instructing his followers for the need of silence, not only to avoid sin but to be more present to God and to others. If we cannot speak by our actions then maybe we should also keep our mouths shut.