A great book in contemporary Christian literature is certainly Cardinal Robert Sarah’s The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise. In today’s world and also in today’s Church everyone wants to say his and her own. While this is important let us not neglect a very important pillar within one’s genuine relationship with God, namely silence.
In page 10 Cardinal Robert Sarah writes: Man must make a choice: God or nothing, silence or noise (p. 67). What comes first in my life, what I think or what God thinks? What I want to say or what God wants to say?
This makes perfect sense since in page 52 we find written: Prayer consists of listening to God speak silently within us. When I go to pray do I feel enriched because I have been listening to God or else emptier and emptier since I did the whole talking without letting God speak to me?
Real prayer lets adoration creep in. In page 122 Cardinal Robert Sarah writes: Sacred silence, laden with the adored presence, opens the way to mystical silence, full of loving intimacy. Do I genuinely adore God in my prayer? After I pray do I grow in full loving intimacy with my Lord?
My heart is the privileged place for my silent relationship with God. Cardinal Sarah observes in page 23: There is no place on earth where God is more present than in the human heart. This heart truly is God’s abode, the temple of silence… The Father waits for his children in their own hearts. Is my heart clear and ready to make room for God in prayer?
In page 56 Cardinal Sarah says: Noise is a deceptive, addictive, and false tranquilizer. The tragedy of our world is never better summed up than in the fury of senseless noise that stubbornly hates silence. This age detests the things that silence brings us to: encounter, wonder, and kneeling before God. What am I doing in my life to get rid of that deceptive and addictive noise which is killing in me the capacity for encounter, wonder and kneeling before God?
The heart of God is the sure base for deep affective human interiority. Cardinal Sarah notes in page 74: Nestling in silence against the heart of God, with the open Bible over our head like the wings of the Holy Spirit, is still the best antidote, the one thing necessary to chase away from our interior territory all that is useless, superfluous, worldly, and even our own self. How much do I let myself be embraced and cuddled by God’s heart, animated by God’s Word and supported by God’s Spirit?
How wise was St Teresa of Calcutta when she said: The beginning of prayer is silence. If we really want to pray we must first learn to listen, for in the silence of the heart God speaks. And to be able to see that silence, to be able to hear God we need a clean heart; for a clean heart can see God, can hear God, can listen to God; and then only from the fullness of our heart can we speak to God. But we cannot speak unless we have listened, unless we have made that connection with God in the silence of our heart.
Lord Jesus teach me to be silent so that I can listen to you in the silence of my heart and let you clean it to listen to you more fully. Amen.
Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap