Week Six: Praying Silence
Practicing silence is paradoxical: it is something we do by not doing anything at all. Silence is always available within us, yet it requires intentional practice because our culture pulls us so hard in the opposite direction. Since we are unused to silence, some of us can feel uncomfortable (even fearful) in its presence. Yet silence at heart is about relationship; it opens us to the mystery of God’s loving presence. As the SSJE Rule of Life explains, “The gift of silence we seek to cherish is chiefly the silence of adoring love for the mystery of God which words cannot express.” This week we invite you to listen for the still, small voice of God in silence.
Commit to a practice of silence this week for a short, set time – say ten minutes a day. As far as you can, drop all expectations about this time of silence. Let your intention be simply to rest in God’s loving presence. Trust that all you need to do is show up. God will do the rest.
Silence allows for both mystery and revelation, and both are essential to our relationship with God. Br. Nicholas describes silence as “a conversation between the mystery of God and the mystery of our own selves.” Imagine your silent prayer this week as a wordless conversation. Listen for the mystery of God. Listen for the mystery of your own heart.
How does silence play a role in your life already? Do you crave silence or resist it? If your relationship with silence is one of longing, consider what might be behind that desire: what is your soul seeking? If you avoid silence, consider what fears your resistance might contain or express.
Br. Keith describes his experience of unexpectedly encountering the mystery of God: “silence, this language of God, suddenly arrests us and enfolds us.” Has this happened to you? Recall your experience. How might you open yourself to receiving this sort of experience again – maybe even today?
Silent Prayer before the Blessed Sacrament | Join the Brothers for a shared time of silent prayer on Thursday, from 5:15-5:45pm EST. Catch the live-stream at SSJE.org/chapel or on the Friends of SSJE Facebook page.
Centering Prayer Teaching | For those wishing for a more sustained experience of and teaching on centering prayer, Br. Nicholas Bartoli offers this online teaching. Join him for a short teaching and twenty minutes of silence >
Facebook Live | Join Br. Jim Woodrum on Facebook each Thursday at 7:15pm EST for a live conversation on the week's topic with a special guest. We hope to see you there!
Download a one-page summary sheet on praying Silence, which you can place on your fridge, prayer corner, or desk.
Thank you for this — reminding me of my early encounters with self and God via the influence of Theophan the Recluse, Thomas Merton and Teilhard de Chardin. Thank you for your companionship on the journey of life in God.