Listening in Silence

How good a listener are you? What makes for a good listener? Listening doesn’t always come naturally. We have to really be present to the other person and not only hear and understand what they are saying but also notice all the non-verbal communication mediated through their posture.

Today in the Gospel, when Peter, James and John were on the mountain with Jesus they experienced him being changed or transfigured and talking with Moses and Elijah. Then a cloud came, covering them in shadow, and the voice from the cloud spoke: This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him. An essential aspect of prayer is listening. The voice of the Father, that spoke to the apostles, is speaking to us today: Listen to my Son, Jesus.

We are now in the second week of Lent. Prayer is one of the three activities that we are encouraged do in Lent. As you know, Pope Francis has asked that this year 2024 be a year of prayer. On Ash Wednesday he said, quoting Saint Anselm of Aosta:

‘Escape from your everyday business for a short while, hide for a moment from your restless thoughts. Break off from your cares and troubles and be less concerned about your tasks and labours. Make a little time for God and rest a while in him. Enter into your mind’s inner chamber. Shut out everything but God and whatever helps you to seek him; and when you have shut the door, look for him. Speak now to God and say with your whole heart, “I seek your face; your face, O Lord, I desire”’ [Proslogion, 1].

This requires that we create silence so we can listen, in prayer, to the voice of the Lord. He is calling us to return to our heart. He is saying to us, “Come and rest awhile and make friends with your own inner reality.”

This Lent, he is calling us to get away from the tumult of activity, to recollect and gather our thoughts. All of us need to recognise the value of silence and to take steps to provide ourselves with more opportunities to be quiet and still. We could fast from social media, not have the radio on all the time, and instead of reaching for the newspaper or a magazine, sit quietly in silence for five or ten minutes. Silence is a source of empowerment; without it we are lost.

Here is a prayer written by Michael Casey OCSO:

Lord Jesus of Christ, Word spoken from the infinite silence of God, inflame our hearts with a desire to go deeper into the reality that you reveal. Give us the ability to sit in silence to await salvation from God, to be still and learn that God is God. For you are our Lord forever and ever. Amen.

Canon Father Anthony Charlton
Canon Father Anthony CharltonParish Priest