Contemplative Prayer and Silence
How can you cultivate external silence? Order in your homes and order in your personal life is the first step
External silence is easy. Internal silence is hard to maintain.We live in a very noisy world.
Resound? Not here, there is not enough silence." - T.S. Elliot
In our last reflection we considered how essential it is for us to be open to God in order to receive the gift of contemplative prayer.
Another essential ingredient is silence.
Blessed Mother Theresa once said, "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."
There are two types of silence: outward silence and inner silence.
We live in a very noisy world.
Traffic, honking horns, machines, slamming doors, boisterous people, blaring television sets and booming music are all frantic aspects of daily life for many people.
A number of years ago, as I made a visit to the Blessed Sacrament chapel at New York's Saint Patrick's Cathedral, a young business man came in from a noisy Fifth Avenue to make a visit as well.
I recall watching him as he devoutly knelt before the tabernacle, placing his briefcase next to the pew. I sigh of relief, as if he was cherishing the profound silence of the moment, could be heard.
His visit was brief, but he found rest in the silence.
How can you cultivate external silence? Order in your homes and order in your personal life is the first step.
Silence will be difficult without a daily schedule and knowing where things are kept. How many times we become frantic just looking for car keys or a cell phone?
Turn off the television. Why waste so much time listening to the radio in the car? Cultivate silence by keeping long moments of silence at home and in the car.
Insist that there be periods of silence at home. At a certain time each night the television needs to be turned off. In the morning, there should be silence until everyone has had breakfast.
Think of your home as a small monastery where everyone follows a family schedule and moments of silence are kept by the entire family.
External silence is easy. Internal silence is hard to maintain.
There is so much noise going on in our heads. We worry about everything and the noise of our own uncertainties can drown out the presence of God in our souls.
Gaining interior silence is not any easy task. It requires great discipline and a lot of patience.
During the day, if your mind is flooded with racing thoughts, go back to the sacred word that you use during your time of centering prayer. Repeat the sacred word once.
Trust that the same Jesus that calmed the wind and the waves will also calm your mind as well.
Father James Farfaglia is a contributing writer for Catholic Online and author of Get Serious! - A Survival Guide for Serious Catholics. You can visit him on the web at www.fatherjames.org.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: contemplative prayer, centering prayer, christian prayer, openness to God, father james farfaglia, catholic spirituality, year of faith, silence
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