God’s First Language Is Silence

There are times when I want to escape all the noise, chatter and background music that assails my every waking moment. It seems to get more intense during the Advent season which for many is the build up to Christmas.

I think I will scream if I hear the song “I wish it was Christmas everyday” one more time. Christmas music is belted out in the coffee shops, department stores and here in Canterbury while walking in the Whitefriars.

On Thursday I sought a little silence in Westminster Cathedral in the afternoon. Harry Christopher’s Sixteen were rehearsing Handel’s Messiah, and I sought a quiet place at the Blessed Sacrament chapel; but a man insisted on praying out loud for 15 minutes while he lit his candles and lifted them up to Jesus.

When Pope Benedict visited the Carthusian monastery in the Italian region of Calabria he suggested that the lack of silence in contemporary society is making many people’s lives “more agitated and at times convulsed,”

Some people are no longer able to stay long in silence. On another occasion Pope Benedict said that God’s first language is Silence because he speaks in silence. Retiring into silence and solitude, man, so to speak, is ‘exposed’ to reality in his nakedness,” said Pope Benedict. This allows man to experience “the fullness, the presence of God, of the most real Reality that there is, and that is beyond the dimension of the senses.”

My resolution in the 17 days that remain in this Advent season is to carve out for myself some silence and enjoy stillness and have a attitude of listening. Silence will reveal my true self to myself. Whatever is in my heart gets exposed and magnified in silence. The bishops of England and Wales have dedicated this year to “The God who speaks”. We believe that God speaks not only in the proclamation of Scripture but in our everyday life and in silence. May we all cultivate a listening heart within the silence of our lives.

Canon Father Anthony Charlton
Canon Father Anthony CharltonParish Priest