by Carmelite Sisters | June 18, 2018 12:04 am
There is a lot of noise around me—constantly. So much chatter. It seems to me that conversations in general are getting more superficial. I’m reminded of the title of one Shakespeare’s plays. It seems to fit what I am trying to say—Much Ado about Nothing. What are your thoughts?
Ah! Much Ado About Nothing. Well said!
I hear a longing in your question—a longing for something deeper, restorative and spiritual. To fulfill this longing, we must all try, even though it is not so easy in today’s culture, to re-discover the healing power of silence. As Ecclesiastes says, “There is a time a time to be silent, and a time to speak.”
Each one of my Carmelite Sisters, including myself, is required to make an eight-day silent retreat yearly. When we first entered Carmel, silence was difficult for us. It was new. Many of us spend our first eight-day retreat simply meditating with growing astonishment that anyone could even keep quiet for eight full days, and how were we ever going to get through it? Of course, throughout the years, we have all come to love it.
There are two kinds of silence—exterior and interior silence. Each complements the other. Each makes the other possible. Both bring you closer to God. We learn to keep still and quiet so that we may pray. It doesn’t take long to realize that the external silence, once achieved, reveals all those interior noises that converge within our minds. The Carmelite way is a way of profound prayer and we all find out soon enough that our interior thoughts can be very noisy. I’ve heard from people who had tried the hermit way of life, and left it because the silence uncovered so much of their interior noise. As they put it, it uncovered too much.
During one eight-day silent retreat, the retreat master, who happened to be Father Thomas Dubay, SM, spoke about the opposite of silence. He concentrated on speech, on WHAT we CHOOSE to say and WHEN we choose to say it.
I still have my notes from that memorable eight-day retreat. Each point was an eye-opener for me. You may find this helpful in your quest. So, here are my notes from conferences given by Father Dubay, who divided the topic into two sections:
“In a multitude of words, sin is not lacking” (Proverbs 10:19).
RULE: NEVER pass on derogatory or uncomplimentary information about anyone, unless the Word of God has given you the specific authority and responsibility to do so, and the person you are informing likewise has responsibility in the situation and a need to know the information.
Of course, the reason we have times of silence is so that we may turn our conversation toward God. The silence we are speaking of is a prayerful, expectant waiting silence. Our world has too much noise in it today, and if we are really honest, each one of us could probably say that our hearts do also. When we do speak, let us be more attentive to what we say, why we are saying it, and how it affects others.
Thank you for your question and until next time,
Sister Laus Gloriae, O.C.D.
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