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A Quiet Place to Keep the Darkness at Bay

And what is most marvelous to behold is that, in this prayerful, quiet, pre-modern atmosphere, even with the threat of imminent death constantly looming, a generous and mutually self-sacrificing family flourishes. The parents care for and protect their children, and the remaining brother and sister are solicitous toward one another and toward their parents. The young girl even regularly risks her life to pay silent tribute to her fallen brother at the spot where he was killed.

Monsters and beasts in the more reflective horror movies are evocative of those things that frighten us the most: illness, failure, our own wickedness, death itself. How wonderful that a Hollywood movie would suggest that what is needed to keep the darkness at bay in our time is silence, simplicity, a return to the earth, prayer, and care for one another.

—from the online article by The most unexpectedly religious film of the year by Bishop Robert Barron

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If Man Wants to Imitate Christ

196 Christ’s public life is rooted in and supported by the silent prayer of his hidden life….

If man wants to imitate Christ, it is enough for him to observe his silences.

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The virtue of silence does not mean that we must never speak. It invites us to remain mute when there are no good reasons to speak up. Ecclesiastes says: “There is…a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.” (Eccles 3:7). Referring to these words, Saint Gregory of Nyssa remarks: “The time to keep silence is mentioned first, because by silence we learn the art of speaking well.” When, therefore, should a Christian who desires to become holy be silent, and when should he speak? He should be silent when it is not necessary to speak, and he should speak when necessity or charity requires it. Saint Chrysostom gives the following rule: “Speak only when it is more useful to speak than to be silent.”

Saint Arsenius acknowledges that he often regretted having spoken, but never regretted having kept silence. Saint Ephrem says: “Speak much with God but little with men.”

—from The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise by Robert Cardinal Sarah (from Pt. 2: God Does Not Speak, But His Voice is Quite Clear and Conclusion, p. 239)

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Crux, Hostia, et Virgo

There is nothing littler, meeker, or more silent than Christ present in the Host. This little piece of bread embodies the humility and perfect silence of God, his tenderness and his love for us. If we want to grow and to be filled with the love of God, it is necessary to plant our family on the great realities: the Cross, the Host, and the Virgin: crux, hostia, et virgo…. These are three mysteries that God gave to the world in order to structure, fructify, and sanctify our interior life and lead us to Jesus. These three mysteries are to be contemplated in silence.

—from The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise by Robert Cardinal Sarah, Pt. 1: Silence Versus the World’s Noise

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Silence is the love of the one Word.

135. In The Way of the Heart, Henri Nouwen…writes:

… Sometimes it seems that our many words are more an expression of our doubt than of our faith. It is as if we are not sure that God’s Spirit can touch the hearts of people: we have to help him out and, with many words, convince other of his power. But it is this wordy unbelief that quenches the fire…

As ministers our greatest temptation is toward too many words. The weaken our faith and make us lukewarm. Silence is a sacred discipline, a guard of the Holy Spirit.

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140. Silence is not the exile of speech. It is the love of the one Word. Conversely, the abundance of words is the symptom of doubt. Incredulity is always talkative.

141. We often forget that Christ loved to be silent. He set out for the desert, not to go into exile, but to encounter God. And at the most crucial moment in his life, when there was screaming on all sides, covering him with all sorts of lies and calumnies, when the high priest asked him: “Have you no answer to make?” Jesus preferred silence.

It is a case of true amnesia: Catholics no longer know that silence is sacred because it is God’s dwelling place. How can we rediscover the sense of silence as the manifestation of God? This is the tragedy of the modern world: man separates himself from God because he no longer believes in the value of silence.

—from The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise by Robert Cardinal Sarah, Pt. 1: Silence Versus the World’s Noise

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Mother Teresa, Prayer, and Acts of Charity

55. I remember the strong, distressing words of Mother Teresa to a young priest, Angelo Comastri, who today is a cardinal archpriest of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. In his book Dio scrive dritto, there are magnificent passages. Here is his account of that upsetting encounter with the saint…

The Sister went away for a few moments and came back in the company of Mother Teresa….

Then she gave me a Miraculous Medal, put it in my hand, and asked me, “For how much time do you pray each day?” I was astonished and a little embarrassed. Then, I gathering my thoughts, I replied, “Mother, I celebrate Holy Mass each day, I pray the Breviary each day… I pray the rosary each day also…”  …Then she fixed on me her eyes, which were filled with light and love, and said: “That is not enough, my son! That is not enough, because love demands the maximum!” I did not understand Mother Teresa’s words right away, and, as though to justify myself, I replied, “Mother, I expected from you instead this question: What acts of charity do you do?” Suddenly Mother Teresa’s face became very serious again, and she said in a stern tone of voice: “Do you think that I could practice charity if I did not ask Jesus every day to fill my heart with his love? Do you think that I could go through the streets looking for the poor if Jesus did not communicate the fire of his charily to my heart?” I then felt very small…

Enunciating each word, she added: “Read the Gospel attentively, and you will see that Jesus sacrificed even charity for prayer. And do you know why? To teach us that, without God, we are too poor to help the poor!” At that time we saw so many priest and religious abandoning prayer in order to immerse themselves—as they said—in social work. Mother Teresa’s words seemed to me like a ray of sunshine, and I repeated slowly in my heart of hearts: “Without God, we are too poor to be able to help the poor!”

—from The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise by Robert Cardinal Sarah, Pt. 1: Silence Versus the World’s Noise

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On Miracles and “Miracles”

In this sense, “the miracle of childbirth” is not a miracle. Finding peace is not a miracle. Finding a job is not a miracle. It jars with our sense of piety, but the Catholic Encyclopedia makes the point rather clear: even “the justification of the sinner, the Eucharistic Presence, the sacramental effects, are not miracles for two reasons: they are beyond the grasp of the senses and they have place in the ordinary course of God’s supernatural Providence.”

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To refuse to call the beauty of a sunset a “miracle” reminds us that it is ordinary for “the heavens to reflect the glory of their Maker” in a universe that dwells in intimate communion with its Creator and Sustainer. To give up calling the presence of Christ in the Eucharist a “miracle” could be scandalous but it could also represent the first moment of faith in the Real Presence, understood as the ordinary means through which God has chosen to remain incarnate among his people.

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We feel safe asking for safe “miracles” — like healing for cancer patients, the cause of which is obscure. We do not ask for miracles in the strict sense, wondrous without qualification, the causes of which are hidden from all men — like a regrown foot. Sure, we claim to “see God in the little things,” but this hides a perverse doubt that has given up on God acting in any of the big things. We have sentimentalized the miracle because we have accepted the basic sadness of modernity: The world seems to plod along without God. We don’t expect him to act in any apparent way. We call the ordinary “extraordinary” because we have ceased to believe in the extraordinary.

—from the blog post Keep Miracles Miraculous by Marc Barnes at Bad Catholic

 

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One Remedy For All the Ills of the Modern World

134. Days of solitude, silence, and fasting, nourished by the Word of God alone, allow man to base his life on what is essential.

—from The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise by Robert Cardinal Sarah, Pt. 1: Silence Versus the World’s Noise

 

But we need to hear that silence. We need it more than anything else in the world. Kierkegaard wrote, “If I could prescribe just one remedy for all the ills of the modern world, I would prescribe silence. For even if the word of God were proclaimed in the modern world, no one would hear it; there is too much noise. Therefore create silence.”

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When we pray, who does most of the talking? Is it the most important party to the conversation or the least important one? If we had the opportunity to converse with some great person, like Mother Teresa or Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, would we want to do most of the talking, or would be want to listen most of the time? Why do we talk so much to God that we have no time to listen?

—from Three Philosophies of Life by Peter Kreeft (p. 31 and p. 82)