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Father Muench Says...

Power of silence: it can be transformative

February 11, 2015

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Today is windy, snowy and cold.  January has rushed into February.  Christmas, with its joy and fun, is gone and forgotten.  Time for Lent.

Lent, developed by our Church as a time of joy and celebration, gives us all an opportunity to draw closer to our friend, Jesus.  Lent is also about reconciliation.  The Church suggests that you and I use Lent as a time to prepare our hearts for Holy Week and the magnificent Triduum – Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter.  This is truly a time to celebrate.

Lent is a gift from God, a unique opportunity for transforming our lives over and over again using special prayer and acts of mortification.  This is accomplished through conversion. Lent is not a time just to suffer.  The idea of Lent is to personally develop special times for mortification to open our hearts and minds to the Lord, Jesus.
Lent is a time to remove from our lives any activity or addiction or sin that has taken over our lives.  So, we are encouraged to consider our own lives.  There have many too many things that have taken over control of our lives.  There are numerous examples and we each have our own – maybe food, alcohol – and I suspect some must admit to drugs – then there may be television – and such.

This year I would like to suggest to you as some Lenten mortification that I believe can be healing and helpful for you and for me.  I am going to suggest silence.  I know that I need some silence in my own life, so, this Lent I plan to add some times of silence into my day.  Lent will be a perfect time for this.  I know honestly this will not be so easy. I have tried this before and have not always done so well.

Why silence?

Silence is definitely a time for God to enter my heart more completely.  Moments of silence can be times to bring peace to my heart and mind.  Silence can be a time for conversion for me to bring control over my life.
What am I talking about?

Silence could give me some minutes for prayer or maybe time for reading Scripture or good spiritual reading.  So, I must turn off the television or the radio and replace them with quiet. Maybe a visit to Church would be good, a time to open my heart to the presence of the Lord. 

Silence may be getting away from the internet – or Facebook. Can you picture no Facebook for all of Lent – that would really give God lots of room.   Or maybe no computer games for all of Lent (I have done that a couple of times.)

Such silence rids our hearts and minds of noise and clutter – noise and clutter that invades who I am.  What a challenge!

This decision for silence can and does bring Christ’s presence into my life.  Such times of silence can be so good for us.  I have personally experienced such times of silent prayer as gift.  They gave me new and stronger control over my own life.

I have learned from many very saintly people the value of silence.  I am not talking about monks – although monks do show us the power of silence.  I do know many people for whom silence has been transformative.  Their lives are changed. They develop a deep peace, a deeper friendship with God.  God has a rare opportunity to catch up with us.
A Blessing Prayer from Father Ed Hayes:
Blessed are you, Lord our God, who gives to us nourishment in times of silence and solitude. These times of quiet heal us, within and without, replenish our spirit with new strength and prepare us to meet the constant struggle of daily life with renewed hope and joy.

Like Your Son, Jesus, who climbed mountains at night, who retreated deep into the desert to find you in stillness, may we, after this silent-solitary communion with You, allow our lives to reveal Your glory and grace. 

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