Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
"Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them." This little line from today's Gospel reminds me of the importance of silence and spending time with Our Lord.
When I discerned that I was being called by God to be a priest, I packed my bags and headed out after a few years at Arizona State University, a school with 30,000 noisy college students, in order to attend St. Meinrad Seminary with a student body of 225 that was run by Benedictine monks.
Leaving the big city for rural Indiana was a bit of a culture shock. Benedictine monks follow an ancient rule called the Rule of St. Benedict. The Rule of St. Benedict is a series of precepts written in the year 516 by St. Benedict of Nursia. It details how monks should live together under the authority of a superior, in their case, an abbot. It is amazing that 1500 years later, the rule is still followed and is relevant, not only for monks but for many lay people who follow its wisdom.
The rule and life of the monks always comes to mind during Lent. For example, in the Rule, St. Benedict places a high value on silence. He devotes a whole chapter in the Rule to the subject of silence. St. Benedict believed that every aspect of monastic life should show a great reverence and preference for silence.
Lent reminds me to quiet down by removing the distractions. Knowing how weak human beings are, St. Benedict designated that certain times of the day and certain places in the monastery should be held in silence. For example, breakfast and dinner meals happened without anyone talking throughout the entire meal. As Benedictine Mother Delores Hart, wrote about monastic silence, "Benedict wanted his monks to have the best possible environment in which to hear the voice of God -- with the ear of the heart." The silence was how the monks were better able to hear the voice of God.
It is easy for me to forget about the power of silence. I'm not sure why I do not designate more times for quiet. I like Lent because it reminds me to make a better effort to diminish noise in my life. I welcome what silence does for me and my peace of mind. I stop reading the news and I don't allow myself to break the silence with music or TV. I only use my phone and computer for essential work-related things. Limiting "screen time" means that God can take up residence in my life more prominently again. It is embarrassing how I can allow myself to become too busy and surrounded with noise.
When I was a child, I would become impatient with silence. Perhaps I was feeling that life was passing me by. I now realize that life is short and so taking time to experience God and His love is the most important thing I can do. For me, quiet moments are probably the best places where life is most authentically lived. But the world misleads us into thinking that we should always be "connected" and "tuned in", chugging insatiably from the fire hydrant of social media feeds. We are taught so often that we need to stand out and find our voice.
During the 40 days of Lent, I want to underline the importance of being quiet for periods of time each day with the hope that new patterns will develop and stay. I remember that my parents always unplugged the television for the 40 days of Lent. It was challenging for young children and parents. But it was amazing how different my perspective concerning television is today. Less screen time means I have more time to notice things that I usually don't see in our world. I feel more connected, even without all the words. I am more settled and better able to experience those God moments. As I spend time in quiet adoration of Our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament, God speaks to my heart as I listen to His voice. Silence and Adoration of Our Lord is a great way to hear God speak and to prepare for Easter celebration.
I encourage you to give yourselves 15 minutes of silence each day as an experiment. Calm yourself and sit still. Turn off all electronics... including your phone. Invite Jesus into the quiet with you and listen to Him.BACK TO LIST