Posted by: Thomas Richard | August 26, 2010

Potency and Silence; Sterility and Noise

There is much fear and avoidance of silence in our very noisy culture.  Silence and solitude seem to threaten the souls of those who most urgently need them!  Yes, the soul needs the potency of silence and the embrace of solitude, as contradictory as that may sound.  In the openness of silence, in the receptivity of solitude, the soul can finally meet and embrace God the Lover of our souls.

Pope Benedict recently spoke of his closest “travel companions” on the spiritual journey of life – some of whom are among the saints in heaven.  (On the Saints, Companions on the Journey)  He recounted a significant story of St. Augustine:

He and his mother are in Ostia, in an inn, and from the window they see the sky and the sea, and they transcend sky and sea, and for a moment touch the heart of God in the silence of creatures. And here a fundamental idea appears in the journey toward Truth: creatures must be silent so that there will be a silence in which God can speak. This is also true in our time: Sometimes there is a sort of fear of silence, of recollection, of reflecting on one’s acts, on the profound meaning of one’s life. Often preferred is living the fleeting moment, hoping that it will bring lasting happiness. One prefers to live, because it seems easier, with superficiality, without thinking; there is fear of seeking the Truth, or perhaps there is fear that the Truth will find us, will grip us and change our life, as happened to St. Augustine. ‘

Dear brothers and sisters, I would like to say to all, also to those in a difficult moment in their faith journey, those who do not participate much in the life of the Church, or those who live “as if God did not exist” that they not be afraid of the Truth, that they never interrupt their journey toward it, that they never cease to seek the profound truth about themselves and about things with the internal eyes of the heart.

In this culture, so frantic with business and so saturated with noise, the poor and fearful soul can hide from the One who alone can lead us to life.  One can avoid that dreaded meeting with Truth, instead seeking to fill time with entertainment, with fiction, with busyness.  Adam and Eve sought to hide from God, after they sinned against Him (Gen 3).  How foolish we can be!

(Isaiah Ch 55, NAB)

1  All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; Come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk!

2  Why spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for what fails to satisfy? Heed me, and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare.

3  Come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life.


6  Seek the LORD while he may be found, call him while he is near.

7  Let the scoundrel forsake his way, and the wicked man his thoughts; Let him turn to the LORD for mercy; to our God, who is generous in forgiving.

8  For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.

9  As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts.

10  For just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down And do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, Giving seed to him who sows and bread to him who eats,

11  So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; It shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.

12  Yes, in joy you shall depart, in peace you shall be brought back; Mountains and hills shall break out in song before you, and all the trees of the countryside shall clap their hands.

13  In place of the thornbush, the cypress shall grow, instead of nettles, the myrtle. This shall be to the LORD’S renown, an everlasting imperishable sign.



  1. Dear Thomas,

    Thanks for your post including the excerpt from Pope Benedict and the beautiful words from Isaiah. May we appreciate, in a deeper way, the prayerful silence we all need.

    “…they see the sky and the sea, and they transcend sky and sea, and for a moment touch the heart of God in the silence of creatures. ” – Pope Benedict’s image of Monica and Augustine invites us into both exterior and interior silence.

    Each person, by God’s Word and by His Grace, is invited to seek the Lord in the silence of his or her own heart, transcending all His Gifts to find Him Who is our Way, our Truth, and our Life. Let us seek Him while He may be found! (Is. 55:6)

    May we, like St. Augustine and St. Monica and all the saints, learn to treasure silent moments — that we too may touch Him Whose Heart is pierced for Love of us.

  2. Thomas,

    Thank you for reminding us of the potency of silence. I am also reminded of the rewarding benefits of silence in Adoration, for it is there where one can be silent and hear God’s word in scripture and in prayer. I pray we all can find a place of solitude and reflect on God’s goodness, even if it means we have to reflect on some painful times in our lives while reflecting.

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