If something’s value increases by how rare it is, then silence should be one of our society’s most prized possessions. With noise and opportunities for distraction all around us, it can be difficult to find a moment to focus, to reflect, to pray. But even in our world filled with noise, we still need silence in order to connect with what really matters.
Recently on Heart to Heart with Mother Miriam, Mother reflected on the importance of contemplative prayer, and the need for silence in order to communicate with God in a truly deep and intimate way. She said:
“Contemplation is not something simply for St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross. It’s for every single one of us. Now, I am not up there myself. I have no idea what my level (so to speak) of prayer is, but I’ll tell you right now that I always feel on the level of beginner. I have no way to judge that, but I have a sense that you cannot grow in prayer if you’re not able to enter into time and silence with God.
I think silence is huge. Even if we look at Martha and Mary, Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and she was silent. She just took Him in the way two lovers do; they don’t need to speak they just need to be in one another’s presence. Sometimes speaking can distance you, sometimes it can be an interruption if you just love being in the presence of that person.
Martha was very, very busy and saying, ‘Lord, tell my sister to help me with all this!’ That doesn’t mean that Martha didn’t love God, but it wasn’t the preparation for a heart that would grow in deep prayer with Him. On the other hand, if I were Mary and I was trying to sit at Jesus’ feet, I would have said, ‘Lord, would you tell Martha to be quiet, I’m trying to pray! I’m trying to sit at Jesus’ feet and she’s running all around the house. Tell her to stop!’ Because I wouldn’t have been in deep prayer with God, I would have been distracted by everything around me. But Mary wasn’t, because she was in prayer with God.
We each need to grow that way, and Mother Teresa of Calcutta speaks about silence and says, ‘We cannot put ourselves directly in the presence of God if we do not practice internal and external silence. In silence, we will find new energy and true unity. Silence gives us a new outlook on everything.’
Now, beloved, this is from the man who is running the firm of $10 million, or the woman who is doing the same, or the woman who is at home with 10 children trying to diaper three of them at once. It’s the same. If we do not practice internal and external silence, we cannot be in the presence of God.
Mother Teresa says, ‘The essential thing is not what we say, but what God says to us and through us. In that silence, He will listen to us. There He will speak to our souls, and there we will hear His voice. Listen in silence because if you’re heart is full of other things, you cannot hear the voice of God.’
I could just imagine Martha running all around serving God, doing good things, and Jesus is speaking, and Martha saying, ‘Well, I didn’t hear you. If I heard you I would stop.’ But, you see, Mary is stopped, so she could hear Him.
Mother says, ‘But when you have listened to God in the stillness of your heart, then your heart is filled with God. The contemplatives and aesthetics of all ages, and the religious, have sought God in the silence and solitude of the desert, the forest, and the mountains. And Jesus Himself spent 40 days in the desert, communing for long hours with the Father in the silence of the night.’
We too, are called to withdraw at certain intervals into deeper silence and aloneness with God, together as a community, as a family, as well as personally.
To be alone with God. Not with our books, not with our thoughts, not with our memories, but completely stripped of everything to dwell lovingly in God’s presence. Silent, empty, expecting, and motionless. We cannot find God in noise or agitation.”
Listen to the full reflection below:
Heart to Heart with Mother Miriam airs weekdays from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. Pacific.