Compared to the cacophony of the world, silence keeps catching us off guard – inviting wonder at being so loved by God.
Thank you for your interest in visiting us here at the Society of Saint John the Evangelist. There are many ways for you to join us as we pray our lives, including stopping by the chapel at our monastery in Cambridge for some blessed stillness and silence, or participating in one our daily worship services. For those looking for a little more, we also offer occasional Saturday morning workshops, and book groups. And for an even more immersive experience, we offer silent retreats both at our monastery in Cambridge and our monastery at Emery House. So take a look at the list below, and we hope to see you soon!
Your Visit and the Gift of Silence
One of the most defining aspects of our monastic hospitatliy is the silence which permeates our lives, and when you visit us we offer you the opportunity to be immersed in this silence. “Are you a silent order?” is one of the questions we get asked most frequently as monks, and it’s a difficult one to answer. We don’t take a vow of silence and we do talk quite often,but silence is a central part of our monastic life. Guests sometimes ask us, “Is being silent some sort of penance?” No, we love silence.
In fact, we believe that silence is the greatest gift we have to offer those who come on retreat in our guesthouses. As a culture, we are simply saturated with noise, whether it’s literal – radio, TV, podcasts, and car horns – or figurative, in the barrage of information that comes at us through the Internet, our email and smart phones, or even in our own inner voices. How can we possibly hear God through all that noise?
The monastic tradition bears witness to the quietness of God’s voice. It is only when we listen deeply that we can hear another voice speaking, the voice of God. God’s voice is heard not in “earthquake, wind or fire,” but in stillness, in “sheer silence,” as the First Book of Kings has it. So the sixteenth-century Spanish mystic Saint John of the Cross famously said, “God’s first language is silence. Everything else is a poor translation.”
Where do you weave silence into the fabric of your daily life? When silence comes, do you rush to fill it? If God seems distant or uncommunicative these days, maybe you’re simply not listening enough. God doesn’t shout.
The great mystery is that God in Christ dwells in the very depths of our souls. When we practice the presence of God, becoming inwardly quiet and listening with deep attention, then we too may hear in the sheer silence the creative Word that gives us life. We’d love to share the silence we so love with you. Come for a visit. What might you hear?