The silence of God is elusive and inaccessible. But the person who prays knows that God hears him in the same way that he understood the last words of Christ on the Cross. Mankind speaks, and God responds by his silence.
— Cardinal Robert Sarah
I’ve finished The Power of Silence and it’s given me a lot to think about. Although few are called to the Carthusian silence which inspired the book, Cardinal Sarah nevertheless calls attention the need for some silence - especially interior - in order that we may better encounter Christ. Indeed, we have as much to learn from the examples of the Lord’s own silence as we do from His words - the long silence of of His hidden life in Nazareth, His solitude in the desert, His moments before His accusers. We want to be like Him, and so we must do like Him, and follow in the paths He trod before us. And how much of our interior noise is driven from the outside? From our own thoughts as we run from amusement to anxiety and back again? As we fill our eyes and ears with a constant drone, noise difficult to escape even when we try? Hell will be noisy for sure, and not the pleasant wholesome noises of field, forest, or hearth.
The search for silence is arguably more important than ever. As I write this, the urge to stay glued to the TV or social media is nearly overpowering. I’m caught in a tension between needing to stay informed and giving to the business of acedia, concerning myself with things I can neither control nor escape. We have not been affected at home nearly as much as others - we homeschool the kids, so they’re around all the time anyway. I’ve worked from home for over a decade, so we’re well equipped for that as well. Our extracurriculars have stopped. There are no public Masses. The weather has been rainy, so we really have been confined for large periods. We have each other, our respective (and largely overlapping) spaces, and moments of friction. Here within the four walls of our domestic cloister, perhaps the Carthusians and Trappists have something to teach us after all.