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"Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart." – Luke 2:19 (RSV)

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silence

Personal accompaniment & silence

There were 2 sets of quotes that really touched me heart today because I have experienced what both talk about in my life.

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Personal accompaniment in processes of growth…

“art of accompaniment” which teaches us to remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other (cf. Ex 3:5). The pace of this accompaniment must be steady and reassuring, reflecting our closeness and our compassionate gaze which also heals, liberates and encourages growth in the Christian life.

Although it sounds obvious, spiritual accompaniment must lead others ever closer to God, in whom we attain true freedom. Some people think they are free if they can avoid God; they fail to see that they remain existentially orphaned, helpless, homeless. They cease being pilgrims and become drifters, flitting around themselves and never getting anywhere. To accompany them would be counterproductive if it became a sort of therapy supporting their self-absorption and ceased to be a pilgrimage with Christ to the Father…

We need to practice the art of listening, which is more than simply hearing. Listening, in communication, is an openness of heart which makes possible that closeness without which genuine spiritual encounter cannot occur. Listening helps us to find the right gesture and word which shows that we are more than simply bystanders. Only through such respectful and compassionate listening can we enter on the paths of true growth and awaken a yearning for the Christian ideal: the desire to respond fully to God’s love and to bring to fruition what he has sown in our lives…

One who accompanies others has to realize that each person’s situation before God and their life in grace are mysteries which no one can fully know from without. The Gospel tells us to correct others and to help them to grow on the basis of a recognition of the objective evil of their actions (cf. Mt 18:15), but without making judgments about their responsibility and culpability (cf. Mt 7:1; Lk 6:37). Someone good at such accompaniment does not give in to frustrations or fears. He or she invites others to let themselves be healed, to take up their mat, embrace the cross, leave all behind and go forth ever anew to proclaim the Gospel. Our personal experience of being accompanied and assisted, and of openness to those who accompany us, will teach us to be patient and compassionate with others, and to find the right way to gain their trust, their openness and their readiness to grow.

– Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium 169-172

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In the silence of the heart God speaks. If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you. Then you will know that you are nothing. It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself. Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.

Mother Teresa

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Silence; a means to many ends

I have been reading a few article on silence. I have come across 4 articles so far that I like, however, one in particular by Sister Mary Clare really helped me focus on how silence is a means to many ends.

Sister Mary Clare wrote a long article that takes its readers on a beautiful scenic route. In the end though, I needed to summarise for myself what she says are the 4 ends of God-centered silence.

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1. To experience God’s love for us

[Silence] is a form of prayer – a prayer of listening, waiting, and receptivity. It is a prayer that anticipates and expects intimate communion; it believes in the possibility and holds in high esteem the value of being in relationship with God.

– Sister Mary Clare, O.C.D.
Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles

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2. To respond to God’s love for us 

Silence must eventually be sought in the first place as an expression of our total gift of self back to God. It becomes a response of love and an attitude of reverence for the One who has taken the initiative to love us and give Himself to us first.

– Sister Mary Clare

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3. To truly listen 

in order to truly listen [to God and to our neighbour], we must be silent. Do we have the ability to listen in authentic silence without interference from our own prejudice and self interest? Or can I be totally present to the other…totally aware and receptive of what they are bringing to me?

– Sister Mary Clare

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4. To transform our speech

What is in the very depths of our hearts is what forms the words on our lips…

If we are to be true imitators of God, faithful to our proper goal of union with Him, we must imitate Him in our words: holy purified and free from sin, free from selfishness, arrogance, vanity, competition and gossip…

How will this transformation of our speech come about? Through silence. In silence, we commune with the One Whose first language is silence. And when we have sufficiently learned this language, we will have facility of speech.

We will no longer speak words that distract, create noise, or vanquish good. Our words will contain in them something of the power of God. They will be words that truly influence others and participate in bringing to completion their redemption and our own. They will be words of healing, growth and love. And they will be spoken at the right moment.

– Sister Mary Clare

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Restless

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You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.

– St. Augustine of Hippo

Recently I have wondered about my restlessness. When I am contemplating God by praying the Rosary, in Adoration, in Mass, I feel at peace, tranquil. When I take my eyes off God, in excessive pursuit of earthly pleasures such as human approval and validation, I lose my peace and become restless.

I have had a growing desire for silence over the past weeks. This desire is of course scary to me because it would require me to sacrifice the earthly pleasures that I so desperately cling on to as substitutes for God. Usually, I’d be able to dismiss this desire quite easily and get on with my day. However, yesterday, my craving and desire for silence became so strong it was uncomfortable and persistent.

I could not put it out of my mind. So I began googling of course. Where else could I go to find preliminary information about this ‘Holy silence’ that kept bugging me? I instinctively named my desire as the desire for ‘Holy silence’ which of course would help with the terms I needed to put into google. The more I read about it, the more certain I was that this is what my heart seemed to be pulled towards. I gave in a little and experimented with entering into the silence. I was blown away with the peace and joy that I found in God’s company while retreating into silence.

I have been discussing with my husband how he would like me to enter into the silence. The permissions that I would have around this approach to life. The discussion is not at its end yet and no decision has been made. So I wait patiently for my husband’s verdict.

Today I entered into the silence under my husband’s command. I remained in silence for 6 hours. It was so intensely joyful and peaceful. Even more than I could ever imagine. I also learnt how much my husband’s dominance over this area of my life meant to me. Sure I could try to enter into the silence on my own but since I am married, I also need the full approval and support of my husband to fully immerse myself in the silence. There is only so far I can immerse myself in silence before I am disobedient to my husband. So I will be patient and wait for my husband’s decision about the protocol regarding silence.

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