Les Femmes

E-mail from heaven: Is your computer on?

We live in a world of incredible noise.From the minute we get up in the morning we’re assaulted by it.. Often,we greet the day, not with prayer and praising God, but worshiping the idol - TV. And the din goes on and on: talk radio, continuous conversation, the ubiquitous cell phone. Well, you get the picture. Spring encompasses the month of Mary, she who “pondered all things in her heart.” It’s a good time to reflect on silence which draws us to the well of grace. Editor

C.S. Lewis: Sometimes a negative explains better than a positive; so our study of silence begins with Screwtape’s passionate defense of noise, during which he turns into a centipede. What a graphic picture of the impact noise has on the spirit! Satan wants to drown out the voice of conscience as Screwtape makes clear. "Music and silence - how I detest them both! How thankful we should be that ever since Our Father entered Hell…no square inch of infernal space and no moment of infernal time has been surrendered to either of those abominable forces, but all has been occupied by Noise - Noise, the grand dynamism, the audible expression of all that is exultant, ruthless and virile - Noise which alone defends us from silly qualms, despairing scruples and impossible desires. We will make the whole universe a noise in the end. We have already made great strides in this direction as regards the Earth. The melodies and silences of Heaven will be shouted down in the end. But I admit we are not yet loud enough, or anything like it.

Abba Isidore of Pelusia: The desert fathers lived for years in silence. While we are not monks and are not called to their lives of severe asceticism, we ought to pray and reflect as much as we speak. A constant life of inane chatter is comparable to a steady diet of junk food. It makes you sick. “To live without speaking is better than to speak without living. For the former who lives rightly does good even by his silence but the latter does no good even when he speaks. When words and life correspond to one another they are together the whole of philosophy.”

St Francis de Sales was known for his meekness and affability rising from a spirit of quiet recollection. Let’s imitate him by continuously monitoring the use of our tongues. “One of the things that keep us at a distance from perfection is, without doubt, our tongue. For when one has gone so far as to commit no faults in speaking, the Holy Spirit Himself assures us he is perfect. And since the worst way of speaking is to speak too much, speak little and well, little and gently, little and simply, little and charitable, little and amiably.” On another occasion Francis said, “Believe me that the mortification of the senses in seeing, hearing, and speaking, is worth much more than wearing chains or haircloth.”

St. Thomas Aquinas: Not only is our culture noisy, but it is crass and vulgar. Silence and mildness are an antidote we would do well to take daily. The servants of God, remaining always quiet and peaceable, though provoked by words or acts, manifest a perfect loftiness of soul superior to all rudeness.

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta: “We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon, and the sun, how they move in silence….The more we receive in silent prayer, the more we can give in our active life. We need silence to be able to touch souls. The essential thing is not what we say, but what God says to us and through us. All our words will be useless unless they come from within; words that do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness.”

Table of Contents