The Treasure of Silence

Emily - interior

One perfect Word, and a world full of noise; one perfect proof of love, yet millions of lonely-hearted souls; one perfect God, and a bewildering number of imposters adored —this is the world in which we live, sorely in need of silence, love, and truth.

The chatter never ceases, in spite of the eternally perfect speech. Everyone has something to say — some in words, some in music, some in writing. Voices and music blast from iPods and headphones, from stereos and CD players. Speakers in stores and gas stations and shopping malls fill every available second with auditory stimuli. Television, via cable and satellite, brings a mind-boggling supply of noise, too — music and unmusic, art and unart, edifying and damning digital entertainment, provided in every imaginable form all day and all night. Some of these things are not fit to wake the dead, let alone entertain the living.

What is this continuous supply of noise? What is this apparent entity? Who is in control of such a universally-scaled assault upon our silence? By whose consent did we slip into such a noisy existence? What purpose does it serve? Are men more intelligent, more informed, more well-versed? Or are we simply starved for silence, hungrily snapping up any input regardless of whether it’s the input we need most? Do the hearts of men reflect a steady calm and peace amidst the turmoil of the ever-changing world? Or do they reverberate the crazy syncopation of vain pursuits, constant busyness, and perpetual unhappiness?

Ways in which we communicate are vast and widely described and defined: conversations, monologues, diatribes, lectures, infomercials, exposes, discussions, arguments, fights, quarrels, quibbles, squabbles, gossip, slander, calumny, cries, commands; beggings, betrayals, pleas, orders, instructions, memos, writings, printings, emails, texts, phone calls, CB radios, short-wave radios, telegraphs, Braille — the list goes on and on.

The bottom line is, we give great importance to what men are saying, how they are saying it, and to whom they are saying it. It’s of equal importance, then, that we listen to what is said, how it is said, keeping in mind to whom it is said.  In order to listen, we must begin with a rare and valuable asset: silence.

More often than not, obtaining this silence proves nearly impossible on the exterior plane, for all the causes listed above.  There comes with discipline, however, a beautiful habit of interior silence which enables us to listen at will despite exterior noise.  This silence paves smooth the way of prayer, which draws one ever closer to God.

There is only one purpose for which we were created, one perfect love that has been spoken into our hearts, one Word which feeds and fulfills and saves us from ourselves.  Life, love, and the truest liberty — eternal happiness forever in heaven with the God Who created us — these are the real things, the true things, found through silence and through prayer.

Unless we embrace silence as completely necessary, and use that time to listen to the most perfect Word, we shall forever greet His tender callings as annoyances.  It will seem annoying to have our continuous state of noise bombardment interrupted by something as “troublesome” and “unproductive” as listening — especially when we are so accustomed to listening for exterior noise that we have forgotten how to hear the quiet voice within our hearts.

I urge all readers to seriously consider the habit of noise in daily life, and imagine what goods silence can bring both materially and spiritually.  Remember that we were created to know God, love God, and serve God, so that we may be happy with Him forever in heaven.  If you do not know Him now, will you know Him at the moment of your death? If you cannot hear His voice in your heart now, will you hear Him call you at life’s end? If you cannot be joyful at His gentle calling now, will you be happy to see Him when your days are done?

These rhetorical questions are intended to encourage you towards greater silence with the beginning of Lent.  May you discover — or remember — how great a treasure is the virtue of silence.

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8 thoughts on “The Treasure of Silence”

  1. Pingback: Fourth Sunday of Lent | St. John

  2. A friend of mine was advised to consider before speaking “Is what I have to say so valuable that it is worth breaking the silence in which the listener (and I) might be able to hear God speak?”

  3. A great article Susan Anne! We do need to be quiet more often. Even Christian music can sometimes be a distraction.

  4. Actually did this today re 1st 15 minutes-didn’t get stigmata or any sign-but it was the most peaceful morn beginning in a long time. Guy

  5. Very wise article. First thing in the morning I go in my ‘prayer’ room (in a corner of the basement), say a prayer of devotion and a request for the blessing of the Holy Spirit, get out my missal to meditate on the Mass readings, say my morning prayers and off to the rat races. I spend at least an hour. It is wonderful. Sometime I will be praying and it is like I am connected to God, no words or thoughts needed.

    Sadly, at most parishes in my diocese, I don’t have the opportunity to even connect with God prior to Holy Mass, so much talk, talk, talk in the nave. Then after Mass, the same thing, no ability to thank God for his mercy of giving me his very flesh to eat, that I may have the grace to carry me through the coming week. I wish so that they would talk in the Narthex so the rest of us can speak to God, who we are there for. Thankfully I found a parish in a neighboring city with a ‘low’ (silent) and ‘high’ (sung) Latin Mass where there is no talk, talk, talk, but only silence and beautiful chant. Yes, we get a fine sermon and we follow the Mass, but the silence is so wonderful.


  7. “Be still and know that I am God,” Psalm 46:10. Thank you, Susan Anne, for an inspriring article. One survey says 80% of people are on their smartphone or computer within 15 minutes of waking each morning. That means that they are not consciously in the presence of God. Perhaps we should give those first 15 minutes to God in silence. Guy Mcclung, San Antonio

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