Sunday, 27 September 2015

Thoughts from The Past

While in the monastery in 2013, I lived with the nuns in the silence of the day. I have tried to cooperate with grace and cultivate an interior silence outside the convent. Some of the great Benedictine writers have distilled Benedictine's writings. The great saint is very strict on silence. Here are some points.

1) Silence involves a "radical renunciation", as one is renouncing self and others in order to be silent.

2) Noise is "rebellion" and the author of noise is the evil one. Noise is rebellion because one is filling up the void in one's spirit which is necessary for God to fill. Noise does not merely distract one from God, but actually makes one closed to God's working in one's spirit.

3) There is virtue in refraining from giving one's opinion. There is virtue is listening to opinions. Not all knowledge is equal in value and, in fact, most of our knowledge is not necessary to our salvation. Reality shows on television, for example, merely clog our time and our ability to hear God speak in the quietness of our hearts.

4) St. Benedict states that even excellent conversation about spiritual things should be avoided, if possible. One can get too much information and input without processing this information in the heart and mind and soul.

5) Silence allows for this processing and for healing. Without silence, the deep parts of our spirit cannot be reached and we go through life unnecessarily burdened with the past.

When I was in Ireland, I was burdened by the number of people who live in the past. One attractive lady told me that she would never marry an Irishman who lived in the past, and that so many do. Why? Too much talking and too much activity stops healing.

6) When we talk, say the Benedictines, we lose focus. How true. Focussing on God takes energy. When we talk, we dissipate that energy. We lose ground in our journey towards God.

7) And, this is so important--we need to feel and sense the VOID in us. Many people keep too active and too noisy in order to fill up the voids in themselves. The opposite must be true in order to gain heaven. We must face all the voids and let God enter into those holes in our lives. Firstly, only He can satisfy the longings of our hearts and, secondly, only He can heal those causes of the voids, some of which are sins.

8) Lay people ask me frequently, how can I have more silence? Here are the answers: a) do less, simplify your lives; b) do not have a television or a radio, or if you do, keep them only for emergencies;  remember St. Elizabeth Ann Seton's vision of the streets being vacant in the villages and families being inside staring at black boxes, as if mesmerized. Remember what Thomas Merton said, which I have quoted here before on this blog that television is the opposite of contemplation. And that the very energies of passivity which most men use in watching television are the very energies which God gave us for contemplation. Watching television, simply, is idolatry.

and thanks to my Benedictine mentors for these thoughts..........

1 comment:

  1. I particularly like number 3. Self-opinionated could possibly be another type of idolatry - but an inward facing type.


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