In today's world we live in a noisy society; we are surrounded by distractions. Life for many of us moves at a very fast pace. Simply observe the number of people in public who cannot seem to detach themselves from electronic devices such as mobile phones, even for a moment. Their eyes are constantly in front of a screen, and their ears are constantly covered by a set of earphones. Now, of course, there is nothing wrong with such devices in themselves - the problem begins when we become too attached to them.
Making room for Silence
I recall reading an article many years ago, written by a person reminiscing about her childhood. This person remembered her father coming home from work in the evenings and relaxing in his armchair, in silence. One time, his daughter asked him what he was doing, and he simply replied that he was "thinking". Yes, thinking in silence. We all need to make time for silence in our life: silence so that we can hear God speak to us.
Speaking or Silence?
There will be occasions in our lives when we will need to exercise the virtue of prudence, so we will know when we should speak, and when we should keep silent. We read in Holy Scripture, in the Book of Proverbs [Prov. X:19], that... ..."he who restrains his lips is prudent." So, when is it prudent to speak and when is it prudent to keep silent? Well, to help us answer that question, let us look to the example of one who practiced prudence - and indeed all the virtues - in the most perfect manner: the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Silent witness of Our Lady
The Gospels record seven instances of the Virgin Mary speaking, and even then her words were brief. Fr. Luigi Lanzoni, I.C. (1836 - 1901), was an Italian Rosminian priest. In his book, The Virtues of Mary [English translation by Fr. Edward Hoare, I.C; published by R. & T. Washbourne, London, 1903], he recounts for us seven times when the Virgin Mary remained silent. Let's take a look at each one: 1. The Silence of Peace... … which conceals from the world Mary's early years, until she receives Gabriel's message.
2. The Silence of Mystery... … namely, the secrecy which Mary observed concerning her divine conception, even with St. Joseph.
3. The Silence of Meditation... … in which Mary gave birth to her Son, and afterwards offered Him in the Temple to God for all mankind.
4. The Silence of Humility...… during the time of exile in Egypt, and afterwards in the humble home at Nazareth, where Mary lived with her divine Son until the commencement of His Public Ministry.
5. The Silence of Constancy... … in which Mary remained during the three years of her Son's preaching.
6. The Heroic Silence... … with which she gazed on Jesus as He went on His way to Calvary, and again whilst she stood beneath the Cross, and finally at His burial.
7. The Blissful Silence... … in which she received with delight, but without making a boast of them before men, the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
We see in these important events in the Gospels how Mary remained silent. They are an example for us. We need to make room for silence in our own lives, so we can hear God speaking to us.
Let's conclude with the words of Fr. Lanzoni: "God treats us, His creatures, with great reverence. Therefore, whilst we speak, He is silent. When we are still, he speaks and raises us to those supernatural thoughts and affections and heavenly colloquies which are granted only in solitude and silence'.