Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Only in silence can the Word run out in God's infinity

"'It is better,' writes Ignatius of Antioch (died c 110 AD), 'to be one who keeps quiet and is something than one who talks and isn't something. It is a good thing to teach if those who talk also act. One is The Teacher who spoke and it happened. WHat he did in silence is worthy of the Father. Those who really have Jesus' word can also hear his silence. In this way, he becomes perfected, acts through what he says, and is recognized through silence.'

One who lives in close association with God's word can also listen to God's silence. The words lead him into an ocean of silence; God is greater than what human speech can say about him. One who reads Scripture in the spirit in which it was written, in the Holy Spirit, has a growing need of silent prayer, contemplation, worship. One there, in silence, can the Word run out into God's infinity. THere is a time when the Word (and the word) says to us as to Mary Magdalen: 'Do not hold on to me' (Jn 20:17), release your grip, drown in God's measureless sea.

In Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity's (1880-1906) known prayers, we encounter both word and silence, to listen to God's word and drown in his silence. She writes: 'O eternal Word, my God's Word, I will spend my life in listening to you. I will be an ideal ear for you so that I learn all of you.' But she also writes: 'O my all, my blessedness, endless Loneliness, the Immeasurable where I lose myself; as an exchange, I give myself over to you. Hide yourself in me, so that I become hidden in you.'

Silence is both a preparation for and a consequence of God's presence. 'Let all the earth keep silence before him! says Habakkuk (2:20). And Zephaniah: 'Be silent before the Lord God! For the day of the Lord is at hand' (1:7). The silence which is a preparation for God's visit is something we should crate ourselves. But it is quite different when the silence is created by God! What he does has really another weight.

It is about this silence the Book of Revelation speaks when it describes how the Lamb in heaven opens the scroll, breaks its seal, and reveals God's secret counsel: 'When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour' (8:1).

One can read in the mystics about this silence. The silence doesn't deny  the word; it shows instead the power of the word. Like a rocket fires off a spaceship and propels it outside the earth's field of gravitation into endless space, so the word can propel people out of the human world's narrow limitations into God's endlessness."

-- Nourished by the Word: Reading the Bible Contemplatively by Fr Wilfrid Stinissen, ocd

1 comment:

Anne said...

Powerful. Thank you.