By: Department of Adult Faith Formation, Diocese of Brooklyn
Silence is a word that we often find contrary to our society. It is perhaps no longer something that we would define as doing as much as being. How do we accomplish this in a world that is so technologically “noisy”? We are bombarded by texts, social media notifications, and emails at the very least. Yet during this new era of social distancing, a group of parishioners was moved to have a virtual retreat mostly filled with silence. They began the day with a song and followed that with a talk based on the passage of Jesus walking on water from Matthew’s gospel (Mt 14:22-33).
At the beginning of the scriptural text, we know that Jesus “went up into the hills to pray” alone. This is in fact what a retreat does for us – it draws us away from the cares of this world and into the silence of being alone with God. It is an opportunity to be rejuvenated in our relationship with Christ so that we can listen to him speak to each one of us in a still small voice.
In his book on The Power of Silence, Cardinal Sarah reminds us that “In silence, not in the turmoil and noise, God enters into the innermost depths of our being.” (pg. 59) Indeed, how necessary it is for us to spend time with the Lord recollected in silent prayer. The parishioners from Blessed Sacrament Parish in Queens set apart an entire day to accompany one another, support one another and be in prayerful silence together. The pandemic has made some individuals feel confused, depressed, unable to pray, feeling distracted in prayer or simply not feeling anything at all. For others, it has given birth to the creativity in using social media and meeting platforms to reach out to one another. For these parishioners this retreat was born out of the sheer necessity to have an encounter with Christ, to renew the calling for each one of us to love and serve the Lord, and to discern how one can grow in intimacy with Christ.
St. Theresa of Calcutta once said that the “fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service, and the fruit of service is peace.” Thus, everything stems forth from being silent and spending time with God. As we honor the Blessed Virgin Mary in this month of August, let us remember her example to each of us, she who “ponder(ed) all these things in her heart” (Lk 2:51). May we, through her intercession, continue on our spiritual journey with an increased desire to accompany Jesus ‘up into the hills’ in prayer.