Tag Archives: silence

Blessed Guerric of Igny

I am reminded by my own heart that the the early morning is a particularly good time of the day to be clothed in a special silence, but there are time at dusk that the discipline of silence is helpful. This is an essential part of spiritual maturity, an adult faith in Divine Providence. Listening and speaking to the Trinity is done when the heart and mind are slowed, even word-less. Knowing and following God’s will is only possible if we give a certain amount of day to quiet, that is, silence. Not a punishing silence, not a hopeless silence, but a manner of being that helps us to see ourselves in action: the manifestation of the virtues of faith, hope, charity, justice, peace, perseverance, etc.

Blessed Guerric in his 28th sermon says,

“As the Christ-child in the womb advanced toward birth in a long, deep silence, so does the discipline of silence nourish, form and strengthen a person’s spirit, and produce growth which is the safer and more wholesome for being the more hidden.”

Silence, therefore, is a gift that allows us to enter more deeply into the revealed Word of God, the biblical narrative through the practice of lectio divina, the practice of prayerfully reading the sacred Scripture. It is, I am convinced, the new springtime of the Church as Benedict XVI said, proposing once again the ancient Christian practice. Most often we when we hear the words lectio divina we think of monastic reading where the person is immersed in God’s holy word with the distinct desire to seek the face of God, thus making a home for that Word in his heart.

The famous Cistercian father Blessed Guerric of Igny (c. 1070/80-1157) was influenced by Origen and whose formation was under Saint Bernard was quite insightful on many things when it came to liturgical theology and the monasteric life.

If you are inclined to read more about what this Cistercian father taught, you may want to pick up a copy of John Morson’s Christ the Way: the Christology of Guerric of Igny (Liturgical Press). But his liturgical sermons are worth every effort; they are published by Liturgical Press, too.

Blessed Guerric taught the following to his brothers lectio divina:

Search the Scripture.  For you are not mistaken in thinking that you find life in them, you who seek nothing else in them but Christ, to whom the Scriptures bear witness.  Blessed indeed are they who search his testimonies, seek them out with all their heart.  Therefore you who walk about in the gardens of the Scriptures do not pass by heedlessly and idly, but searching each and every word like busy bees gathering homey from flowers, reap the Spirit from the words. (Sermon 54)

Benedict XVI: to whom do you belong? –asks for prayers for himself and future pope

When the Pope came into the Paul VI Hall he was greeted with lots of people which is typical, but there seemed to be more than c. 8000 people in attendance. The outpouring of affection was evident. Before the weekly teaching, he said, 

audience feb 13 2013.jpg

Dear brothers and sisters, as you know I decided. Thank you for your kindness. I decided to resign from the ministry that the Lord had entrusted me on April 19, 2005. I did this in full freedom for the good of the Church after having prayed at length and examined my conscience before God, well aware of the gravity of this act.

I was also well aware that I was no longer able to fulfill the Petrine Ministry with that strength that it demands. What sustains and illuminates me is the certainty that the Church belongs to Christ whose care and guidance will never be lacking. I thank you all for the love and prayer with which you have accompanied me.

I have felt, almost physically, your prayers in these days which are not easy for me, the strength which the love of the Church and your prayers brings to me. Continue to pray for me and for the future Pope, the Lord will guide us!

The catechesis the Pope offers us today…

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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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Silence is the environmental condition to listen to God

Sand dune on the Sinai Peninsula.

Image via Wikipedia

Mentioned earlier this week, the Pope spoke of silence and monasteries as places of beauty and the environment that opens the soul to deeper things. I have a particular interest in what the Pope speaks: I love the monastic culture and the heritage it has given us in order to seek the Face of God. Here’s more of the papal text of August 10, 2011:

In every age, men and women who have consecrated their lives to God in prayer – like monks and nuns – have established their communities in particularly beautiful places: in the countryside, on hilltops, in valleys, on the shores of lakes or the sea, or even on little islands. These places unite two elements which are very important for contemplative life: the beauty of creation, which recalls that of the Creator, and silence, which is guaranteed by living far from cities and the great means of communication. Silence is the environmental condition that most favors contemplation, listening to God and meditation. The very fact of experiencing silence and allowing ourselves to be “filled,” so to speak, with silence, disposes us to prayer. The great prophet, Elijah, on Mount Horeb – that is, Sinai – experienced strong winds, then an earthquake, and finally flashes of fire, but he did not recognize the voice of God in them; instead, he recognized it in a light breeze (cfr. 1 Rev 19:11-13). God speaks in silence, but we need to know how to listen. This is why monasteries are oases in which God speaks to humanity; and there we find the courtyard, a symbolic place because it is a closed space, but open toward heaven.
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Monasteries are true and proper oases for humanity, Benedict XVI reminds us

In Wednesday’s edition of L’Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict told the listeners of the Wednesday General Audience that the monastic life is an essential value for humanity and for the Church, today. The Pope’s emphasis on beauty and silence helps us to appreciate and to listen God’s promptings of the desires of the heart is important. Let’s pay attention to what the Pope has to say. You may also want to watch the Rome Reports news video.

The editor writes, “Monasteries are true and proper oases of the spirit in which God speaks to humanity. The Pope said this to faithful at the General Audience of Wednesday, 10 August, that was held in the courtyard of the Papal Residence at Castel Gandolfo.”

Dear Brothers and Sisters! In every age, men and women who have consecrated their lives to God in prayer – like monks and nuns – have established their communities in particularly beautiful places: in the countryside, on hilltops, in valleys, on the shores of lakes or the sea, or even on little islands. These places unite two elements which are very important for contemplative life: the beauty of creation, which recalls that of the Creator, and silence, which is guaranteed by living far from cities and the great means of communication. Silence is the environmental condition that most favors contemplation, listening to God and meditation. The very fact of experiencing silence and allowing ourselves to be “filled,” so to speak, with silence, disposes us to prayer. The great prophet, Elijah, on Mount Horeb – that is, Sinai – experienced strong winds, then an earthquake, and finally flashes of fire, but he did not recognize the voice of God in them; instead, he recognized it in a light breeze (cfr. 1 Rev 19:11-13). God speaks in silence, but we need to know how to listen. This is why monasteries are oases in which God speaks to humanity; and there we find the courtyard, a symbolic place because it is a closed space, but open toward the sky.

Tomorrow, dear friends, we will celebrate the memory of St. Clare of Assisi. So I would like to recall one of these “oases” of the spirit which is particularly dear to the Franciscan family and to all Christians: the little convent of San Damiano, situated just beneath the city of Assisi, among the olive groves that slope towards Santa Maria degli Angeli. In that little church, which Francis restored after his conversion, Chiara and her first companions established their community, living off prayer and little works. They were called the “Poor Sisters,” and their “form of life” was the same as the Frati Minori: “To observe the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rule of St. Clare, I, 2), conserving the union of reciprocal charity (cfr ivi, X, 7) and observing in particular the poverty and humility of Jesus and his Most Holy Mother (cfr, ivi, XII, 13).

Benedict XVI at the General Audience stresses the value of monastic spirituality God speaks in silence Benedict XVI at the General Audience stresses the value of monastic spirituality God speaks in silence and beauty of the place in which the monastic community lives – simple and austere beauty – are like a reflection of the spiritual harmony which the community itself attempts to create. The world is filled with these oases of the spirit, some very ancient, particularly in Europe; others are more recent, while still others have been restored by new communities. Looking at things from a spiritual perspective, these places of the spirit are a load-bearing structure of the world! It is no accident that many people, especially in times of rest, visit these places and stop there for some days: even the soul, thanks be to God, has its needs!  The Pope continues:

Let us remember, therefore, St. Clare. But let you also remember other Saints who remind us of the importance of turning our gaze to the “things of heaven,” like St. Edith Stein, Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Carmelite, co-patron of Europe, whom we celebrated yesterday. And today, August 10, we cannot forget St. Lawrence, deacon and martyr, with a special wish for Romans who have always venerated him as one of their patrons. Finally, let us turn our gaze to the Virgin Mary, that she may teach us to love silence and prayer.

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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