do not be anxious

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Sometimes the best homilies are the simplest. Truth is presented with clarity and practicality. Words are spoken from the heart. Most importantly, you remember what was said. Today was one of those homilies, given by one of my favourite priests. I hope he doesn’t mind if I paraphrase it below.

Do not be anxious!

How easy it is to worry. Life gives us solid material each day – some big, some small. If we have the good sense to take our worries to prayer, we often begin by listing off our intentions. We name our worries. We name loved ones and friends. We name crises and disasters both near and far. We give words to our fears and ask God to answer our prayers.

AMEN!

And our prayer is ended. But, is it?

Prayer is a conversation. Too often, we do all the talking then end our conversation with AMEN! But, did we allow God time to answer? Did we meditate?

This was, perhaps, one of the best definitions I’ve heard for meditation.

Meditation is giving God time to answer us!

We need to stop talking and sit in the stillness.

We need to Listen.

We need to be still and know that God is God, ready to speak to us in the quiet of our hearts, even if our hearts are not quiet.

Silence is even more important if our hearts are restless or screaming with anxiety and worry. I find meditation the hardest during these dark moments. I want to turn my brain off. Turn away from the worries that haunt my days, and keep me up at nights. I’m afraid of what I will face if I sit in the stillness.

Meditation is giving God time to answer us.

A simple message. Why do we make it so hard to do?

 

 

 

the big silence

big silence
The Big Silence cast

Many of the world’s religions believe that there is one simple path that leads us to God. This same path takes us to the very center of who we are. It has been at the core of the Catholic mystical tradition for centuries. But, outside of religious settings it has all but disappeared. It’s called SILENCE. (taken from the introduction to The Big Silence)

There is little silence in the world of church news today. Yet, amid the clamorous head-lines surrounding the papal resignation…Lent begins.

I’ve shared many times about my lack of self-discipline. I suck at giving things up, sticking to diets, or keeping resolutions. Therefore, I’m going to go small this Lent – as opposed to going big and failing. I’m going to try and carve out a wee bit of intentional silence each day.

Last week I came across a link to an intriguing British reality show, available on YouTube, called The Big Silence. The series is about five volunteers who are invited to leave their hectic lives behind to enter into silence. The first experience is a weekend in a Benedictine community in Worth Abbey, after which they are invited to seek some silent time in their day to day lives. The biggest challenge follows; eight days of silence in a Jesuit retreat centre in North Wales. The last part of the series follows them as they re-enter into their ‘normal’ lives. For some, it was a life-changing experience. Some struggled to make sense of what happened in those eight days. For all, there is the challenge to make silence part of their daily living outside of a structured retreat experience.

The group comprises a diversity of religious and spiritual back-grounds. Some have a faith life, some don’t.  This makes it all the more fascinating to watch as they voluntarily enter into two very Catholic settings; a Benedictine monastery and a Jesuit retreat center. Conversion to a specific belief is not the purpose of the quest. The purpose is to enter into silence. In the process, God may or may not be found.

As with most reality shows, there is a sense of voyeurism as we listen to them share their experiences for the camera and with their spiritual guides. The gift of this show, and the gift offered by these volunteers, is a wee window into the soul of five regular women and men. They are not saints or even intentional seekers of a spiritual life. Yet, the spiritual life seems to tweak each and every one of them.

Watching this show has nudged me into my Lenten resolution. I’m going to put aside the ‘noise’ of iPads, iPhones, computers and TV’s for a tiny chunk of time each day; perhaps 15 minutes to begin. Turning off gadgets will be easy. Turning off my mind will be the challenge!

(The three hour series has been divided into twelve, 15 minute episodes for YouTube viewing. Just search The Big Silence and the episode number you want to watch. A companion web-site, Growing into Silence provides many resources for the journey.)

and yet another thought on silence…

Attention should be paid to the various types of websites, applications and social networks which can help people today to find time for reflection and authentic questioning, as well as making space for silence and occasions for prayer, meditation or sharing of the word of God. In concise phrases, often no longer than a verse from the Bible, profound thoughts can be communicated, as long as those taking part in the conversation do not neglect to cultivate their own inner lives….

 BENEDICT XVI Silence and Word: Path of Evangelization

I still can’t get the knack of Twitter. I have an account, @catholicdiaolog. I basically use it to alert others to a new blog post. It’s been interesting to see the list of followers increase – many I’m sure just want me to reciprocate the favor. And, I usually do. It’s been a way to link up to other religious news and views sites. But, I really don’t think anyone is interested in every thought that comes out of my brain. Or, what I am eating at the moment. Or what TV show I’m watching…

On the other hand, I’m fascinated with a social media that intentionally puts a word limit on your thoughts. Few words, well chosen, can have more power than a rambling rant.

Several years ago, during a creative writing class, I fell in love with the process of poetry writing. I struggled with writing because I felt the need to record every thought. Letter writing was especially brutal. I waited too long to respond to a letter, Then, I felt burdened by all the news I needed to catch up on.

But poetry! Ah…it was a blessed relief. I relished finding the right word or phrase that nudges you to an inner depth and layers of meaning. Poetry, for me, was practicing silence in the writing. I fell in love with words…With the way they looked on the page. With the way they sounded. With the images they reflected.

Reading and pondering a few words is at the heart of Lectio Divina. My Benedictine friend, Sr. Grace, modelled for me how to mine the voice of God in a simple Psalm image. Meanwhile, I was getting bogged down in a confusing gospel passage or theological conundrums.

Grace taught me that God really does speak in gentle whispers and few words. What if God had a Twitter account?! 😉

See also

lectio divina – a dialogue with God

lectio divina – a dialogue with a prayer partner

lectio divina – a dialogue in community