Category Archives: Spiritual Life

Create a space for silence, Bishop Hugh Gilbert tells us

Silence is misunderstood by so many people today. Some friends and family think that being silent is horrible, or that it is a punishment for something. Silence may have been used as a weapon, but in reality, it is not and silence ought not be used as such, ever. The new bishop of Aberdeen (Scotland), Hugh Gilbert, delivered his first pastoral letter on the subject of silence. As a Benedictine he is attune to the contours of silence as Saint Benedict exhorts followers of his Rule for Beginners to live in an atmosphere of silence. Could what Bishop Hugh offers be of assistance to us?

We live in a noisy world. Our towns and cities are full of noise. There is noise in the skies and on the roads. There is noise in our homes, and even in our churches. And most of all there is noise in our minds and hearts.

The Danish philosopher Kierkegaard once wrote: ‘The present state of the world and the whole of life is diseased. If I were a doctor and I were asked for my advice, I should reply: “Create silence! Bring people to silence!” The Word of God cannot be heard in the noisy world of today. And even if it were trumpeted forth with all the panoply of noise so that it could be heard in the midst of all the other noise, then it would no longer be the Word of God. Therefore, create silence!’

‘Create silence!’  There’s a challenge here. Surely speaking is a good and healthy thing? Yes indeed. Surely there are bad kinds of silence? Yes again. But still Kierkegaard is on to something.

There is a simple truth at stake. There can be no real relationship with God, there can be no real meeting with God, without silence. Silence prepares for that meeting and silence follows it. An early Christian wrote, ‘To someone who has experienced Christ himself, silence is more precious than anything else.’ For us God has the first word, and our silence opens our hearts to hear him. Only then will our own words really be words, echoes of God’s, and not just more litter on the rubbish dump of noise.

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Forgiveness Has Implications in This Life, the Next

Last Sunday’s Mass readings centered our attention on fraternal charity, fraternal correction. We have to heal the person who causes harm because he or she needs the healing more. The Rule of St Benedict and Pope Benedict had something to say about it. This coming Sunday’s reading continues the theme of forgiveness. The Church in her wisdom keeps on reminding us of the facts that make up the Christian journey and how to live within these “facts” so that we thrive. 


Basilian Father Thomas Rosica’s reflections on this coming Sunday’s readings on forgiveness are appropos.


What does it mean, “to forgive”? First of all forgiveness implies that there is something to forgive. Whether it’s something big or small, the need for forgiveness means somebody has done something wrong. The Greek word used for “forgiveness” in today’s parable means “to send away” or “to make apart.” Forgiveness “sends away” whatever has been keeping people apart. Anger or feelings of vengeance are “sent away.” By forgiving, one is no longer under the control of that past sinful act he suffered. We know that Jesus demands boundless forgiveness of his disciples. Forgiving and showing mercy, however are not always simple matters.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean that the people will be reconciled immediately. Nevertheless, it begins the healing process and helps to remove feelings of revenge. To ignore Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness has serious implications in this life and in the next. Do we really believe that our eternal destiny and salvation are harmed or hindered by our inability to forgive while we are on this earth? How do we do justice and show mercy? These are certainly not easy questions for us to answer and they surface in us a myriad of emotions that are also present in this parable.

The Church is called to break down the barriers that divide peoples, to build up relationships of trust and to foster forgiveness and reconciliation among peoples who have become estranged. As followers of Jesus we must be prophets of justice and peace, and always passionate about the suffering of humanity in our times.

Father Thomas Rosica, CSB  

“Forgiveness Has Implications in This Life, the Next

Biblical Reflection for 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time A”

Fraternal love and correction essential, Pope reminds

Christ washing the feet Tintoretto.jpgOne of the themes from Oblate retreat this past weekend was humility. And from within the Gospel and Saint Benedict’s vision of humility Brother John Mark spoke about love and fraternal relations, particularly rubbing elbows in true charity with your brother and sister in community. A stone is only polished when it meets other stones.

Pope Benedict brings up the human desire to be in community with other other people: how good it is for brothers and sisters to live in unity, St Paul says. But this unity and love have one condition: “You will love your neighbor as yourself” (Romans 13:8-10). Some take this point as an easy thing to do. I assure you, it is not. This past Sunday’s Scripture readings teach this point.
In his Rule, Saint Benedict places a strong emphasis on mutual responsibility (“a reciporcal responsibility” the Pope calls it) and charity toward the other person is lived only in a personal way. Benedict XVI argues as Saint Benedict did before him, “that there is a co-responsibility in the journey of the Christian life: everyone, conscious of his own limits and defects, is called to welcome fraternal correction and to help others with this particular service [of forgiveness and healing injuries].

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No substitute for a personal encounter with the Lord


St Peter walking on water LBorrassa.jpgJesus invited us to meet. Saint Benedict’s talked about it; a plethora of saints have talked about it; Fr Giussani constantly talked about it; Pope Benedict XVI talks about it: nothing can substitute for personally knowing Jesus. Want to be a Christian? Go and meet Christ in Scripture, in the Holy Eucharist, in personal and communal prayer, in doing good works. In short, meet Jesus Christ by the ears of your heart and in your minute by minute human experience.

Saint Benedict asked a question that ought to be remembered:

What, dear brothers, is more delightful than this voice of the Lord calling to us? See how the Lord in his love shows us the way of life. Clothed then with faith and the performance of good works, let us set out on this way, with the Gospel for our guide, that we may deserve to see him who called us to his kingdom (RB, Prologue, 20-1).


After reading the Holy Rule, I read the following from The Way of the Disciple:

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Peter, you are the rock upon which I will build my church

St Peter recieving keys from Christ LMonaco.jpg

Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ. (Matthew 16 13-20)


A challenging gospel passage for people who are skeptical about Christ being THE Way, and giving the keys to Peter and thus to the Church. We have to ask ourselves: Who do you say Jesus is? Do you take His words seriously? Is Peter’s confession of Jesus believable? Do you know the Church in a loving and faith-filled way?

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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