Discrimination regarding who or what we allow to have room in our minds, to preoccupy us, can only be achieved if we regularly empty our minds of our preoccupations. Emptiness, stillness, silence, each of these words is an attempt to pin-point the condition in which God is known. In a daring passage the author of the letter to the Philippians proposes Jesus as the model from whom we have to learn this self-emptying: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus who, though he was God, did not cling on to his equality with God but emptied himself and took upon himself the form of a servant.”
And if our whole lives have to be made subject to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, if we desire to make all his words as far as possible our guide in the circumstances of our life, this will only be possible if we make creating silence an integral part of our life.
Silence is an indispensable condition for keeping things and pondering them in one’s heart. Profundity of thought can only develop in a climate of silence. Too much chatter exhausts our inner strength; it dissipates everything of any value in our heart, which becomes like a bottle of perfume left open for a long time: only water remains, with a slight touch of its former fragrance. This double silence, interior and exterior, is expressed in a word often used in spiritual books, the word recollection. Without recollection, there can be no interior life.
~ Father Federico Suarez, quoted by Katie Morroni in “A Guide to the Interior Life”
For Secular Franciscans, conversion is the singular character of the Order, which is supported by the initial and ongoing processes of formation in the life of the fraternity. In the end, conversion is shot through with mystery. While personal stories, biblical insights, the sacraments of initiation, theological reflections and psychological categories are helpful to understand and explain the experience, the Christian tradition in the end must stand before the grace of God in silence and wonder.
~ Ron Pihokker, OFS, “Penitence and Conversion: Spirituality of Conversion” (Chapter 17 of the FUN Manual)
Consequently,no one can demand that religion should be relegated to the inner sanctum of personal life, without influence on societal and national life, without concern for the soundness of civil institutions, without a right to offer an opinion on events affecting society. Who would claim to lock up in a church and silence the message of Saint Francis of Assisi or Blessed Teresa of Calcutta? They themselves would have found this unacceptable. An authentic faith – which is never comfortable or completely personal – always involves a deep desire to change the world, to transmit values, to leave this earth somehow better that we found it.
~ Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium
I think we need to create a culture of emptiness more than Francis did, as modern life is so filled with busyness, so cluttered with unfiltered information tirelessly generated by the media and the internet, so over-stimulated by a dizzying array of electronic gadgets, so pressured by the allure of nonstop advertising, and so driven by productiveness, we are almost incapable of stillness and can’t tolerate silence. It was in stillness and silence that Francis forged his inner cloister of emptiness and flamed his desire for God.
~ Gerry Straub, A Culture of Emptiness.
In a country in which the vast majority of people believe in God, it amazes me how we have been so seduced by the power of entertainment that we no longer have the will to simply turn it off. Day in and day out we are drenched by a torrent of words. Words, words, words…but little silence for the Word to reside. We must be still in order to move into a greater union with Christ. We must give Christ our time regularly, day in, day out, coming before Him just as we are, wounded and weak. Without silence there is a deep level of our being which is not contributing to our wholeness. We are incomplete without the fruit of silence and solitude. But withdrawal from the endless possibilities for stimulation modern life offers is painful. It takes faith and hope to give God time.
Gerry Straub, “Glorifying Banality”, Gerry Straub’s Blog
We need silence to be alone with God, to speak to him, to listen to him, to ponder his words deep in our hearts. We need to be alone with God in silence to be renewed and transformed. Silence gives us a new outlook on life. In it we are filled with the energy of God himself that makes us do all things with joy.
~Mother Teresa via The Catholic Apostolate Center
Every year God offers us this great season of humility as a chance to remember who we are as believers, reflect soberly on our actions and refocus ourselves on the source of our hope, the only real hope of a bloody and despairing world: Jesus Christ. We do this through prayer, silence, the sacrament of penance, seeking out and reconciling with those whom we’ve hurt, forgiving those who’ve hurt us, generosity to the poor, and fasting, not just from food, but from all those many things that distract us from the God who made and loves us.
~Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M.Cap., Preparing for the journey of Lent, 2013 via Catholic Philly