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Father Muench Says...

Finding silence, surrendering to God

February 5, 2020

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

There many weeks when I am at a loss as to what to write to you. However, I believe God is always ready to slip a few ideas into my busy day. The Lord knows what I personally need. And then I get a notion of just what may be something good to share with you.

This week has been busy with many things, not the most important things, but the days have been busy. Today, I stumbled upon a book of poetry by Jessica Powers. I imagine I have told you about her before. Jessica Powers was a Carmelite sister and a poet. Her poetry was published under her given name of Jessica Powers. She died in 1988 in her 80s. I was introduced to her poems at a conference presented by Bishop Robert Morneau, the auxiliary bishop of Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Thumbing through Jessica Powers’ poems, I came upon one that caught my attention. It was entitled, “The House at Rest.” She begins this poem by asking a question, “How does one hush one’s house?” I could not help but think, “Exactly, my question today.” There are many days when my house is so busy during the day and even during the night. There are too many thoughts and concerns jangling around in my brain.

Bishop Morneau, in writing about this poem of Jessica Powers, writes about three important conditions for prayer – silence, solitude and surrender. I know only too well that I live in a very noisy world. Even when I am home alone, the television or radio compete for my attention. Sometimes it is the news. Although I complain about all that is going on, I still want to know what is happening. Of course, there are the ball games and other such as well.

So, when I decide to try find God in a time of prayer, all that other stuff rushes into my mind. I find it rather difficult to “hush my house.” I need to find that blessed silence. My favorite solution is to get outside for a walk, to find a solitary moment of quiet, and usually it becomes a time alone with the Lord. Thank you for this, my God.

Personally, I bury myself in the rosary – the calm repetitive Our Fathers and Hail Marys – as I try to give my heart to the Lord’s presence for the day. There are the other times when I don’t need any words, and I just walk with the Lord quietly and alone.

Bishop Morneau also calls for surrender. I must admit to you that over all these years, the difficult effort has been surrender. My life has often been filled with hopes and dreams. I have constantly looked for opportunities for accomplishing something. There have been many challenges – to write a wonderful homily, to prepare a perfect class, to write a great book, or some such thing as that. All are my personal efforts, but never is the effort one of just letting go and allowing God to act in my life as I simply surrender to the Lord.

I am beginning to learn that the call of prayer does involve surrender – surrender to God’s action in my life. I must learn to simply give myself over my God. A simple morning prayer, “What do you have in store for me today, Lord?” I am also learning that surrender in prayer demands love. I must learn to love God so much that I get out of God’s way. Actually, I remember a wise priest speaking to us back in the seminary, urging us to be good priests, to celebrate Mass well, to be a good preacher, by simply getting out of God’s way and by allowing the Lord to guide us and show us the way.

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