Enjoy the Silence

English: Pope Benedict XVI during general auditionThere are so many events in the news that I could write about in today’s post.  I could continue talking about the Health and Human Services contraception mandate, Proposition 8 being ruled unconstitutional in California, or the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s flip-flop on sending money to Planned Parenthood.  It seems like everywhere I turn, whether it be the internet, television, or radio there is someone talking about these issues and other assaults on religious freedoms.  I feel like it’s a full-time job consuming all this information, signing and promoting petitions, and writing emails and comments.  It is so easy to get lost in the daily “noise” of living in the digital age where we are often “plugged in” 24/7.  But it is important to remember to unplug for a little while to hear what God is saying to us and learn how He wants us to live.

Pope Benedict released his theme for World Communications Day titled “Silence and Word: Path of Evangelization.”  Here is what the Pope had to say in an article from Vatican Radio:

In silence – Benedict explains – we are better able to listen to and understand ourselves. By remaining silent we allow the other person to speak, to express him or herself. We avoid being tied simply to our own words and ideas. In this way,- the Pope points out – space is created for mutual listening, and deeper human relationships become possible.

I believe the Pope’s words are particularly relevant to our relationship with God and His Church.  How many times do we set aside time in our busy lives to talk to God?  More importantly, amongst our prayers and petitions how often do we calm our hearts and minds to listen to God’s response?  I know many times I rush through my prayers and don’t allow any time to actually listen to God.  It’s like I’m conversing with God but I keep cutting Him off when He wants to respond.  How rude of me!  Not listening to God isn’t good because, as the Pope says, we tie ourselves to our own words and ideas.  When we don’t pray or pray hastily, we don’t open our heart to the Holy Spirit‘s influence and learn how God calls us to live.  Instead, we just focus inwardly on how we want to live which may not be in accordance with God’s plan for us.

I echo several of the themes the Pope expressed on my website and in my book on the rosary.  I see the value of silence and praying the rosary as being linked closely together.  I would say 20 minutes is a good average for praying five rosary decades.  That is a perfect amount of time to let your mind settle down and focus on your relationship with God and contemplate who you are.  You can’t have a productive dialog with God if you don’t put enough time into prayer.  Rushing prayer is like trying to take shortcuts in exercise.  You don’t get any stronger if you just periodically do one push up.  You must allow yourself time to get into “the zone.”  In the end, it isn’t God who needs prayers.  His power and glory does not depend on the quantity of prayers He receives.  To think about it another way, God doesn’t need 53 “Hail Marys” and 6 “Our Fathers” from the rosary.  Those prayers are for our benefit.  We need them because they allow sufficient time to warm up, find that meditative state, and become attentive to how God calls us to live in His grace.

I have little doubt that we live in a troubled world where people of faith are finding themselves constantly under attack.  And I’m all for taking proper actions whether it is donating money to legal funds to fight these attacks or signing petitions.  But we must set aside time to listen to God and learn how He wants us to act.  Fighting all these assaults on religious liberty without prayer is like someone rushing on to the field of battle without adequate armor and weapons.  We must first know God’s truth through prayer before we can fight to defend it.

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