Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Silence makes you think

"One rarely enters a monastery bearing with him the infused gift of silence: it, as all other monastery habits, must be acquired. All of us had to learn how and when to keep out mouths shut. But, with silence all over the house, prevailing like the wind, we had no reason for not being able to fall in step with the life around us. Training in silence was the order of the day, every day, through the months of novitiate. We were happy to have an opportunity to speak to one another each day at recreation periods, but we were also satisfied to keep the silence when we were supposed to because of the good that was bound to come of it.

And although it would hardly seem possible, when Lent came that first year, there was an even greater than ordinary silence pervading the halls of Carmel. Or seemed to be. The clicking of rosary beads was softened. Disturbing squeaks were routed from sandals. Voices were hushed. Even the telephone did not ring as stridently as usual, or the doorbell. And the cook did not seem to bang the pots and pans as loudly as was his wont. Life within the monastery had become a giant in soft shoes, aggravating its own silence, not because of any special regulations, but only because Lent at the novitiate seemed to spawn an even greater and more profound silence. That year, for the first time in our lives, we let the cloak of quiet fall about our shoulders completely. For the first time we were able to think even deeper thoughts about the Man who went by with a cross. Silence can do that.

But the virtues of this quiet are all so incomprehensible to many people. I do not think that we are far wrong in saying that, on the whole, men are not too appreciative of the virtue of silence. Living today is a chaotic struggle at high speed. The faster people go, the more noise they make; and the more noise they make, the better they feel. For they are afraid of silence. Silence makes them think, and they do not want to think, because when they do, their thought processes gradually sweep them before the unwavering eyes of a just God. they do not like that at all. It hurts; it frightens. Like little boys they whistle themselves past a cemetery pretending it is not there."

-- Men in Sandals by Fr. Richard Madden, ocd

1 comment:

carmelitemom said...

What a beautiful reflection on this most crucial virtue needed for the interior life! I am posting a similar one this week and hope to actually put it into practice ; )