The Ministry of Silence, revisited

Today I wanted to revisit a post from several weeks ago, entitled “The Ministry of Silence” (here), where I talked about the desperate need, in this noise-saturated culture, for the Church to bring from her treasury the spiritual riches of silence that she has been entrusted with by God. Only in sacred silence can God be heard.

After that post, I received two remarkable things that have deepened my insight. The first was an email from a friend of this blog, Chandra, and the other was an email from a high school religion teacher.

The high school teacher sent me an excerpt from an essay one of her students wrote on her own faith journey. With that student’s permission, gratefully, I have posted a portion of her reflection above. I was blown away by the elegance of her writing and the depth of her unexpected experience. It reveals, in such a startling way, that the real depth of the human soul, open to God, is discovered in the surrender to stillness and silent solitude — to be alone with the Alone.

The email from Chandra deals with a unique and transformative ministry to the incarcerated, and refers to the sharing of a prayer form — Centering Prayer — that facilitates the cultivation of exterior and interior silence. Chandra said:

Thank you for this!  Providential timing (so often the case with your posts)…  I’ve got a new prayer this week, thanks to your post:  there is already an active “crazy lady” in my mind (or several), but I’m asking God to direct her wicked fierceness only and always in ways that protect and revere the life-giving Silence.

One other thought to share:  if any of your readers have an interest in finding ways to share this Silence with folks affected by incarceration, I’d love to have you put them in touch with me.  Not only do we now have an active Prison Outreach Service Team as part of Contemplative Outreach (supporting Centering Prayer practitioners who are currently or formerly incarcerated as well as volunteers who go inside), but there’s also an exciting new initiative just getting off the ground that is looking for ways to partner with that Team and other organizations to seek ways we might dismantle some of the barriers that make it hard to carry contemplative practices from inside the walls to outside.  As the title of Bo Lozoff’s book puts it, “We’re All Doing Time”… learning to freely choose/cultivate/protect Silence in the midst of all the internal and external noise is no small feat, particularly during a transition like that one.  

Guardians of the Silence unite!

Feel free to share my ministry email address:

I am grateful to this high school student and to Chandra for sharing their own taste of the power of silence to unlock the mystery of God.

2 comments on “The Ministry of Silence, revisited

  1. Jennifer says:

    Tom, these are two wonderful refractions on your original post! Thank you for sharing. I wonder if you would take a moment to address the seemingly controversial idea of “centering prayer’. i really don’t know what to make of it -‘ some are dead set against it, warning if it as dangerous, whereas clearly it is helpful and meaningful way to pray for many, especially in light of difficult external conditions. Would it be in your wheelhouse ti explain, if there are dangers what they are, and how to avoid them, or if you think it is a midunderstanding altigether? i tru add t your educated opinion!

    • Jennifer!
      Thanks for the question — I am so grateful you asked. When I have time to give a worthy, helpful and educated response, I will. I received my first spiritual formation from Trappists back in the late 1980’s — and as it was a handful of Trappist monks who largely developed and promoted this method of recollection, I am quite familiar with it. As with so many things these days, approaches to these kinds of questions tend to be extreme, all or nothing. So I will strive think about it through that eminently catholic approach, somewhere between extremes. 🙂 God bless you for taking my blog seriously!

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