“That people today, often overwhelmed by noise, may rediscover the value of silence and listen to the voice of God and their brothers and sisters.” – Pope Francis
With Spotify and Netflix and texting and tablets, it seems like all the world wants is to make our lives noisy. In our culture, it’s so easy to become overwhelmingly busy, filling all of our free time with things that distract us from the real world. But is this the way God intended us to live? Does God want us to live in an exhausted haze?
I like to think not. God wants our lives to be lived to the fullest. God desires for us to experience true peace and true joy, but it’s a little hard to do that when all we do is veg out on the couch watching How I Met Your Mother marathon-style every chance we get.
Detachment from the world
One of Pope Francis’ intentions for this month is the importance of silence. This is one of my favorite quotes from Mother Teresa:
“The fruit of Silence is prayer. The fruit of Prayer is faith. The fruit of Faith is love. The fruit of Love is service. The fruit of Service is peace.” – Mother Teresa
I really love this quote because it shows the journey we all to have to take in order to have a relationship with God. Love and peace are products of silence, but it’s not just the silence itself that gives us these fruits; it’s in our growing in our relationship with God. It’s when we are completely silent, in both state and in mind, that we are able to hear God’s voice.
Silence detaches us from the world, just for a little bit. We aren’t distracted by work or school or children. In silence, we deny ourselves of the world’s pleasures, like TV and Pandora. The fact of the matter is that nothing in this world can make us truly joyful. Stuff can make us happy, but that happiness is only a reflection of all that God has to offer. By denying ourselves, we can empty out all that is not God and let Him fill our emptiness with all that is good.
So in all of this, I’m not saying to alter your entire lifestyle to emulate that of a Benedictine monk (if you want to, go for it). Instead, I would suggest just some simple changes in your every day life that really make a difference.
1. Turn off the TV
Most of the stuff on television is not worth watching anyway, so why not save a little money on the electricity bill and turn that sucker off? If you’re driving and just can’t seem to find the right song to jam to, turn off the radio. If you feel like your phone is becoming more like an appendage, fast from it for a day. Doing these things just seems to make life a little simpler.
2. “Quiet time” in the home
Set up a certain period of time every day or every week in which everyone in your house is silent. And this doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out period of time, it can be as simple as the 15 minutes after dinner or before bed. Take this time to spend with God, whether it be journaling or saying a rosary. I’m sure you’ll appreciate the silence as much as God does.
3. Practice the St. Ignatius’ “Examination of Conscious”
I know it sounds a little daunting, but I promise it’s really easy and doesn’t take a lot of time, 15-minutes max. The Daily Examen can be done in 5-easy steps:
1. Become aware of God’s presence.
2. Review the day with gratitude.
3. Pay attention to your emotions.
4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
5. Look toward tomorrow.
See? Really simple. Doing this every day before you go to sleep (not while in bed though, you’ll just end up waking up the next morning) is a great way to spend time with God while reflecting on the goodness He’s given you.
So that’s my spiel on silence. Good for the mind, good for the soul. In this crazy world of our’s, a nice period of silence is a great refresher. What do you think? How do you incorporate silence into your day?