The Gift of Silence

30 Apr

West Virginia Trip - October 2011 341

 

It took me a long, long time to discover silence as a path to intimacy with God.

As a child, I was taught prayers. But praying those prayers was not as fruitful then as they are now.

That, of course, can be charted up to the natural process of growing older and wiser. But, it is also true that when I was a youngster, my experience of “Church” was far different from what younger people are able to experience today.

It is not too much of an exaggeration to say that when I was 10 years old back in 1944, lay people had little realization (1) that they shared the priesthood of Christ, (2) that they were indispensable to the mission of evangelization and, (3) that the man they called “Father” was burdened with spiritual challenges as was everyone else.

There are historic reasons for this. When immigrants began to come here in great numbers, they brought with them their language and their faith—and little else. Many had limited or no formal education.

For Catholics, the parish priest was their link with the government, the people of America, and with God. “Father” became someone in whom they could trust and on whom they could depend.

Today, attentive lay people know that they do share Christ’s priesthood and are indispensable to the mission of evangelization. Also, they recognize in their priest a brother who shares his own struggle for holiness—as well as a father in faith.

Older and wiser, I still pray those beautiful traditional prayers. But I have discovered the wonder of silence. When I am still, I find God in the beauty of creation, in the comforting quiet of a foggy morning. I find him in the silent presence of a loved one.

But sometimes, when I manage total surrender to God, I find him in the utter stillness of mind and soul.

That is the gift of silence.

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