external silence
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48: The Power of Silence: External Silence

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We are surrounded by noise:  music, podcasts, internet chatter, social media, digital noise.

Sometimes we forget how important silence is. The Church Fathers knew that silence is extremely important. In fact, some of them left society to go live in the desert. Of course we are not all called to be hermits. However, there are ways that we can reduce the noise in our environment today.

Today, we’re going to discuss exterior silence and tomorrow we’re going to discuss interior silence.

I tend to listen to podcasts as I do my work and I don’t just listen to one podcast. I listen to tons of podcasts, especially political podcasts. I just love those. And it does occur to me that I should spend some time listening to nothing or maybe some music, but not necessarily the noise of chatter.

What else is external noise? The tongue could be used for meaningless chatter, which is just pure noise. Today, we’re going to be reading from two books. The Power of Silence by Cardinal Robert Sarah. Also, we’ll be reading from the Introduction to the Devout Life.

According to the power of silence, silence, enables the soul to be recollected. It protects the soul against the loss of its identity. It predisposes a soul to resist the temptation, to turn away from itself, to attend to things outside, far from God.

I found the part about the loss of identity interesting. How can you really get to know yourself if all you’re listening to is noise, whether it’s noise from people or programs?

How do you have time to think about yourself, to think about what you need to improve, to think about your place in the world, or to think about your relationship with God? You don’t have time to do that.

This Lent, why don’t we cut off all meaningless chatter? Let’s agree to only speak if we need to say something – not just babble for the sake of speaking.

Sometimes we talk a lot because we feel uncomfortable with ourselves, or we’re not comfortable with silence. Now, this is not to say that we shouldn’t have holy friends and that we shouldn’t engage in conversation or talk to our spouses. In fact, in an Introduction to the Devout Life, by St. Francis de Sales, St. Francis addresses this in a chapter called “Of Conversation and Solitude.

It says, “There are some unprofitable conversations held merely to recreate and divert us from our serious occupations to which we must not be too addicted, although we may allow them to occupy the leisure, destined for recreation. Other conversations have civility for their object. As in the case of mutual visits and certain assemblies made to do honor to our neighbor.  With respect to these, as we ought not to be superstitious in the practice of them, so neither must we be uncivil in condemning them, but modestly comply that duty in their regard so that we may equally avoid both ill breeding and levity.”

It also says, “It remains for us to speak of a profitable conversation of devout and virtuous persons to convert frequently with such persons will be to you of the utmost benefit as a vine that is planted amongst olive trees produces oily grapes, which have the taste of olives, so the soul, which is often in the company of virtuous people cannot. but partake of their qualities. As drones cannot make money without the assistance of the bees, so is a great advantage to us in the exercise of devotion, to converse with those that are devout.”

So, as you can see, it’s perfectly wonderful to speak to holy people who will help you to grow, especially in your spiritual life, or even to speak to people who will help you in terms of living your vocation as a married wife or husband.  That’s perfectly okay. But we all know when we just talk for no reason. We all know when we go on Facebook and we just “yap” without saying anything of consequence. We just want to be heard. We all know that. So, let’s try to reduce that.

Look for opportunities to observe silence. And that silence could be in the form of the noise around on you, or that silence could involve you holding your tongue in certain conversations where you really have nothing of consequence to say.

“I’m going to read from the “Power of Silence” again. This reading is from the chapter, “Silence vs the World’s Noise.”  Now, remember tomorrow we will be addressing interior silence, which is a little bit more difficult.

“God’s silence is a consuming fire for the man who approaches him through this divine silence. Man becomes a bit strange from this world. He is separated from the earth and from himself. Silence impels us toward an unknown land. That is God. And this land becomes our true homeland through silence. We return to a heavenly origin where there is nothing but calm peace. We pose silent contemplation in adoration of the radiant face of God.”

Have a blessed day!


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