Today, we live in a busy, fast-paced, restless… and noisy world. That noise not only affects us physically, but most of all it affects us on a spiritual level. Contrary to what people may think, our body has an influence on our soul, and noise is also heard in our soul.
Silence is therefore divided into two types: exterior silence and interior silence. Many say that they don’t need exterior silence and that they possess an interior silence, which they easily attain, and that they are always ready to listen to the Lord. But it is hard to run a marathon when you have never gotten up out of the armchair that you have been sitting in your whole life. We try to convince ourselves that we know better than all of the past generations, but soon realize that the wise are called so for a reason. Jesus Himself would go to the desert to pray, far away from the crowds.
That is why it is important to discover silence. For someone who has never tried it, it can be an intense and even unpleasant experience at the beginning. It is like finding a dirty and disorderly house, one which has been abandoned for too long and is falling apart.
To have a healthy and fruitful spiritual life, it is necessary step back, to keep exterior silence so that you can interiorize it. At first it is irritating. Exterior silence becomes a scream that resounds in our ears. It is like stopping after driving a long time on the highway or the daze after a hard punch.
In this situation, the Evil One always attacks in the same way: he makes us feel uncomfortable. We ask ourselves why we are here. We think that this isn’t the place for us and that we should be somewhere else. This isn’t for us. We feel melancholy and alienation. We feel far from the situation that we are in. If you experience this attack, it means you are on the right track, and if you overcome it with prayer, you will acquire the capacity of silence.
What then happens is that it seems like you are screaming. In the middle of all the noise, we can’t hear our soul agonizing, and this is the scariest part. When we have nothing else to look at, our eyes turn in towards ourselves. If we think about our life, we quickly realize that it doesn’t seem to have as much meaning as we thought it did. Questions start to come to our mind, and we know the answers, but we don’t want to accept them. This is a big part of interior silence: accepting God’s answers to our questions. This is when we run away on many occasions. We don’t want the cancer that has taken root in our soul to be removed.
We don’t always face this situation in an unpleasant way. We can feel consolations from the Lord that help us to continue onward. We see our sin very clearly in comparison with God’s greatness and holiness. We have to use this knowledge, this new light granted to us to look deeper into ourselves, and most of all, to do what He is asking of us.
The difference between silence and other situations is that we look at ourselves. If we can’t be alone with ourselves, we can’t live. We can’t be united to something that is repulsive to us, living in a disorderly house, because sooner or later we wouldn’t be able to put up with it anymore. Once a priest told me that he measured people according to their capacity to be in silence. The person who can look at himself without running away is a pure person. In silence, we hear God speak in our conscience. If we can’t deal with His words of love and correction, we are not living a holy life.
What comes out of us is also connected to that. It seems absurd to say this, but it is crucial. “It is not what enters one’s mouth that defiles that person; but what comes out of the mouth is what defiles one” (Mt. 15:11). We don’t realize what power words have. Heaven or Hell can come out of our mouth, and if we don’t stop to think about what we say, concupiscence will overcome us. When we are silent, we continue to talk in our mind, but those words cannot go outside of us and they stay floating around in our head. Sooner or later, we will pick them up again and contemplate. That is when we will realize how many things we shouldn’t have ever said. The soul sees those thoughts much more clearly and with much more insight. Once, during Holy Week, I was attending some missions with a group of friends. The night before Good Friday, we were talking about what we could do the next day. I suggested remaining in silence. They didn’t like that idea. The next day, no one spoke. It was a solemn day, which was enough to make many changes.
Another advantage of silence is that is calls out to our reason. Even prayer with music is an impediment to completely enter into ourselves. Instead of “feeling” so much, we could know more. We can contemplate our spirit face to face and not through an opaque glass. We can use the faculties that God has given us so that He can tell our understanding what we have to do.
Continuing on the path and purifying itself, the soul becomes more sensitive. Prayer much is easier and one can maintain his spirit more and more alert. Silence gives the Holy Spirit the possibility to pronounce “words of eternal life” in us.
You can’t fix a car while the motor is running. We have to take time in silence every once in a while so that the Lord can put us in our place.
To pray is to elevate your soul to God. It is talking, speaking. The greatest saints, even Our Lord, looked for silence. Jesus “remained in silence” during thirty years. He prepared Himself for His mission, because a great work comes from the great task of meditation and silence. The world’s noise is the battle ground against the evil around us. Silence is the fight within us.
“Be still and know that I am God!” (Psalm 46, 11).
We are Fernando, Eduardo and Joaquín,
three brothers born in 1991, 1990 and 1998,
friends of the Home of the Mother.