Join the Journey! “Bend your knees, mend your heart, and lend your hands.”
“Be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” James 1: 19
In his weekly Wednesday Audience of December 15, 2021, Pope Francis spoke about the urgent need for deep silence, which is much more than the mere absence of sound. He quoted the French Philosopher Blaise Pascal who observed that “all the unhappiness of people arises from one single fact, that they cannot stay quietly in their own chamber.”
The cultivation of silence is indeed essential for true human happiness because it is in silence that we learn the important skill of listening. It is in silence that we learn how to listen to our own deepest truths and yearnings; to one another’s thoughts and needs; and even for God’s voice. In the same audience, Pope Francis referenced the Book of Wisdom underlining that it was “While gentle silence enveloped all things, your [God’s] all-powerful word leaped from heaven.”
The gift of silence and the virtue of listening go hand in hand, yet sadly both are lost on most of us. We have become uncomfortable with silence, and we have lost the art of listening.
During this First Week of Lent, we invite you to: mend your heart by fasting from noise and needless speech; bend you knees while engaging in Centering Prayer; and lend your hands by listening intently to others.
- Mending our Hearts: Fasting from Noise and Needless Speech
- Our world is filled with constant noise. As individuals and as a society we have become estranged from silence. Worse, it seems we have become fearful of silence as we constantly surround ourselves with sound.
- At the same time, the art of listening has been lost. And the voice that seemingly matters most is not the voice of the one who knows most deeply but rather from the one who speaks most loudly.
- So, during Lent let’s fast from all the noise that surrounds us and let us give up all needless speech.
- Bending our Knees: Engaging in Centering Prayer
- Centering Prayer which is a form of contemplative prayer is a perfect companion to our attempt to fast from noise. Centering Prayer is the prayer of silence. As we reach beyond thoughts, words, and emotions we open our mind, our heart and our soul to the presence of God.
- Lending our Hands: Listening Intently to Others
- Not only have we lost a sense of the importance silence we also have lost the willingness to listen. We have made up our mind on so many things and our willingness to listen to others is limited to those who think like we do. This is the perfect way to keep polarizing and dividing our community and our church.
- We need to reclaim and relearn the art of listening. Only if we listen intently and open ourselves to what others have to say can we properly communicate and interact with one another, which is the basis of civil society.
- Let’s open ourselves this week to the art of listening, deep listening to our own deepest yearnings, intent listening to the needs of others, and intentional listening for the voice of God.
And please remember to be patient with yourself and others and don’t let yourself be overwhelmed. Lent is neither an endurance test nor a time to prove our Christian heroism. Rather, Lent is a time to slow down and ponder what is essential to our faith and thus to our life as Christians. So please pace yourselves. Give yourself and others the necessary space. And above all be patient with yourself and others.
Johan van Parys
Director of Liturgy & Sacred Arts