How well regulated we are: the moment there is silence (like first thing when we wake up in the morning) we are programmed to switch on noise – and so the day continues. Eugene’s meditations lead him to write:

Silence… , being a most suitable means of perfection, we will esteem it at all times, but it will be most strictly observed from night prayer etc.

Retreat notes, October 1831, EO XV n. 163

If we want to have a relationship with God we have to have some times of silence, so that we can hear each other. Silence does not only mean a lack of noise – it refers to an interior silence, a mental disengagement, a switching off of distractions so as to focus on the presence of God.

One of my finest teachers of this was a High School Principal in Soweto whose busy schedule only gave her 30 minutes twice a day to be away from work and family commitments. This was her “quiet time” – in a noisy minibus taxi with loud music blaring and even louder conversations around her. In the midst of this noise she was able to switch off and in her interior silence become aware of the presence of God and pray. What a teacher she was!

Eugene refers to what we called “the grand silence” of the onetime monastic-style communities from night prayer until morning.

For you and me, when is our time of “grand silence?”

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One Response to GRAND SILENCE

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    A ‘grand silence’ – where I completely ‘turn off’ everything –especially my own interior thinking. My moments of grand silence do not seem so very grand – at least in the measurement of time. During the night I sleep but there are those times when I awaken to find myself singing to God or when I awaken to greet my Beloved – not intentional – it simply happens.

    There are times when I suddenly become ‘aware’ and begin to think again – often during my daily practice of meditation but more often during my day. Where was I that I didn’t think or plan or plead, where I just ‘was’. Those moments proceeding my becoming once again aware of all that is around me and within me… I find within my heart strength, an immense base/solidity that I am hard pressed to describe; there is peace – a sense sometimes of well-being, fullness, wholeness… These moments may come when I am at Mass, or sitting in silence to rest for a moment; when I am on a bus or simply waiting for something or someone. Precious moments, instances when time simply ceases to be measured and I am in the presence of Jesus. There is an immense fullness; a stillness…

    I used to think I could order these times up – doesn’t happen that way for me – the more I try the less satisfied or complete I become and my silence becomes very noisy with ‘me’. That ‘grand silence’ is full, not an empty place, full and intense – perhaps with all that is. My mind goes to the ‘burning bush’ that is not consumed by the fire, or that ‘being on holy ground’. There is immense mystery here – I cannot explain or order it up. No planning or preparing – the most I can do to still myself and open myself…

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