Lately in my own writing I've been focusing on the need for silence in our busy, over-scheduled lives. I realized this reality in a serious way when I went on my first silent retreat a couple years back and felt myself finally letting go of so much of the interior and exterior noise that keeps me from listening for -- and to -- God.
On that retreat and in the immediate weeks that followed I began to experience, for the first time, the wonder of the sound of extended silence in terms of prayer and spiritual life. But, all too quickly, life caught up with me, and my efforts to find at least a little silent time every day were swallowed up by all those appointments and responsibilities penciled onto my calendar.
So...when I saw this message from Pope Benedict XVI, as reported by Vatican Information Service (VIS), I knew I had to share it with all of you. Everyone needs to take his words to heart, at least if we want to have any hope of hearing that still, small voice we long for.
Visiting the Italian town of Sulmona, Pope Benedict celebrated the eighth centenary of the birth of the "hermit pope" Celestine V (also known as Pietro da Morrone), who lived alone on a mountain until he was named pope in 1294. Pope Benedict praised the hermit pope's desire to seek out God through both interior and exterior silence, calling on the rest of us to give that often-difficult practice a try.
"We live in a society in which every space, every moment must be 'filled' with initiatives, activities, sounds. Often there is not even time to listen or to converse. Dear brothers and sisters, let us not be afraid to create silence inside and outside ourselves if we wish to be capable not only of hearing the voice of God, but also the voice of those near us, the voice of our fellow man," the pope said, according to VIS.
Pope Benedict also stressed the importance of grace in the hermit pope's life. I don't know about you, but I find grace to be an elusive thing in this world, so any words of explanation and encouragement in this area definitely help me out.
From the pope via VIS:
"God anticipates us always. Each individual life contains good and beautiful things that we can easily recognise as His Grace. ... If we learn to recognise God in His infinite goodness then we will be able to see, with wonder, the signs of God in our lives, just as the saints did." The signs of a God "Who is always close, Who is always good to us, Who says: 'Have faith in me.'"So, today, try to find some silence. Turn off the car radio. Close up the computer. Step away from Facebook. Retreat to a room or a lawn chair or a church all by yourself. And just listen...
Read more about Pope St. Celestine V by clicking HERE.