It has been said that silence is the gateway to the soul— and the soul is the gateway to God.
During the Liturgical season of Lent it is my desire to be drawn closer to God; nothing quite draws in the soul as much as silence. This truth has inspired me to live in silence for the Lenten season.
It is in silence that we discover secrets about ourselves and about God. In our every day noisy lives it is often the distractions that keep us from knowing ourselves, knowing our sins, and knowing God.
Of course, it is practical and wise to set aside time daily in order to pray and reflect with our Father. This should be a priority for every Christian. However, I have chosen a more extreme path during Lent as it is a time of more intense repentance, prayer, and fasting.
For the next forty days I will be completely silent. I will speak during Mass, prolife work that requires my leadership or input, at absolutely necessary times (such as ordering food at a restaurant), and on Sundays which are not included in the 40 days. It is my desire to speak as little as possible. I have arranged with my professors to be exempt from speaking during class as well. For some this may seem extreme, yet this is where I felt God leading me this Lenten season.
Lent is truly a time to reflect on what sin(s) keep us most separated from God. It is doubtful that chocolate or soda is the sin that keeps us farthest from God. While I am sure God takes into account the sacrifices we attempt on His behalf, it is crucial to think about why we are giving up something to begin with. As we are hopefully trying to draw closer to God, we must ask ourselves what it is that most keeps us from God.
Honestly, I am not sure a candy bar has ever kept me away from Jesus. Now, the exercise of self-control it takes me not to eat a candy bar certainly influences the increase of self- control I have when tempted to sin. But why not go straight for the sin itself that I wish to have more self-control towards? This was my thought when deciding my Lenten sacrifice.
Saint Faustina’s diary is a favorite of mine. God enabled her to see Hell at particular times and her recollections are rather profound. She speaks of seeing good souls sent to Hell by way of their tongue. Though a person be good and even dare-say holy, his inability to control his tongue can cause irreparable damage that results in being separated from God for all eternity.
I took this particular message in her diary to heart as my temperament is one in which I think while I speak instead of before I speak. This certainly has its advantages, especially because those who have this characteristic tend to be rather genuine people who rarely hide their motivations. However, it has its disadvantages too, especially for a melancholic-choleric like me. Negativity seeps out before one realizes what he is saying, one says much more than one ought to have, one speaks ill of another easily without thinking of the ramifications.
So, this brings me to the most important aspect of silence: it brings about purity of heart. It is only by a pure heart that we may see God.
And, I don’t know about you, but I want to see God. And, if I want to see God, I must have a heart that is continually seeking purification.
But, I do not want these high spiritual ideals to romanticize me into delusion. Purity of heart is not gained solely through refreshing silence and time frolicking with Jesus. No, it is brought about through painful sufferings of the soul as it quiets itself long enough to see its own dirtiness, to fully feel its ignored wounds, to wholeheartedly face its imperfections.
For forty days this is the land I will freely venture into: just my soul and God on the journey. There will be times when I am forced to deal with my soul’s dirty laundry. I can tell you right now that it will not be enjoyable.
Yet, because God is truly a God of surprises, there is no way for me to begin to predict what might come about during this great silence. Tears? Peace? Joy? Suffering? I will find out.
I plan to blog about my experience on a daily basis as to share part of this journey with you. In some way I hope this time of silence will encourage me and you to make more time in our lives for silence.