Sunday, July 1, 2007

Moments of Silence

1. Such is the speed of modern life that many people forget God and do not even pause to think about themselves. Action is everything. There is no time for reflection, no time for prayer. Life has become mechanical and superficial, for nobody has the time nor the inclination to think about spiritual matters.

What is the result? Since men are not machines but living beings composed of soul and body, and are capable of feeling and of passion, their lower inclinations break loose and insist on being satisfied. In the absence of prayer and of all effort to lead a good life, grace is lacking to inspire the mind, to strengthen the will and to keep the heart pure. Rapid materialistic progress has accustomed men to accept as inevitable the most shameful falls. The absence of any kind of contact with God makes the soul the slave of sin.

Examine yourself. Perhaps you have not yet sunk to this low level of spirituality and are still capable of feeling remorse and the urge to do good. But you must listen for God's voice, and a certain amount of silence is necessary if His voice is not to be drowned in the tumult of the world. We are in real need of solitude, recollection and prayer.

2. Even though the Apostles lived in times which were very different from ours, they were asked by our divine Master to spend a little time in solitude and recollection. They had been sent by Jesus to preach in the villages of Palestine and had been successful in their mission. When they returned they told our divine Redeemer with some satisfaction what they had accomplished in His name and with His grace. They may have been inclined to boast a little, and it is quite certain that they had become spiritually dissipated as a result of their work. So Jesus said to them: Come apart into a desert place and rest a while. (Mark 6:21; Mt. 14:13; Luke9:10; John 6:1)

We must take this advice also, for a certain amount of silence and recollection is absolutely essential. We should go on retreat every year and set aside one day every month for the same purpose. We need to spend at least a quarter of an hour every day in meditation, if possible a quarter of an hour in conversation with Jesus in the Blessed Eucharist or, if we cannot do any better, an interval of prayer in some other secluded place. If we have not been doing at least this much, let us make sure to do so in future.

3. Solitude and recollection will make our lives more peaceful and more purposeful and will enable us to co-operate with God's grace by striving to become more perfect. Be renewed in the spirit of your mind, says St. Paul, and put on the new man, which has been created according to God injustice and in holiness. (Eph. 4:23-24)

The turmoil of a purely external life leads to hardness of heart, tepidity and sin. Recollection and prayer place us in contact with God, Who will give us the grace to lead holy lives.