What We Hear in Silence

In his 2012 message for World Communications Day, Pope Benedict XVI promoted something that seems almost impossible in today’s cacophonous world – silence.

The Holy Father said that in our digital world of websites, applications and social media, we need to make “space for silence and occasions for prayer, meditation or sharing the word of God.”

Silence, he wrote, is key to the New Evangelization, because it involves listening and being open to God’s plan for our lives. “If God speaks to us even in silence, we, in turn, discover in silence the possibility of speaking with God and about God,” Pope Benedict said.

His words seem especially appropriate in this season of Lent, when many of us try to set some special time aside as we seek to draw closer to Jesus.  The importance of getting away from the distractions of everyday life, especially during Lent, can not be overestimated.  We know how distracting it is to get behind the wheel and use hand-held cell phones or send text messages.  By the same token, think about how we can be confused by the noise and worries of the world and not find time each day to pray and listen for the voice of God.

This season of Lent, after all, is modeled in part on the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert before beginning his public ministry.  In these 40 days, we are called to pray and seek God’s plan for our lives, just as Jesus did.

In 1983, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – now our Pope Benedict XVI – led the Lenten retreat for Pope John Paul II and the papal household.  Cardinal Ratzinger said that we, like Jesus, need to have a desert experience, to withdraw to a place of silence and solitude, without the noise and distractions of daily life, and experience God’s grace in a special way.

“In putting aside all preoccupations, we encounter our Creator,” the future pope said.

Lent is a good time for you and me to try to do just that – find a quiet space for the Lord.