7 September 2020

Silence is the language of God and is the language of love. God creates the world in silence, becomes incarnate in the silent womb of a Woman and redeems man in the silence of a cross. God’s greatest works are done, under the shadow of the Holy Spirit and in silence. The fundamental question of man of all times is this, “Where is God?” God is not in the din, the chaos, the noise, but, as with the prophet Elijah, “in the gentle breeze of the divine wind” (cf. 1 Kings, 19:12). Silence is the womb of the Word of God and is the originating and original “word” of all words. From silence comes speech, writing, art, music, poetry, holiness and all the beauty God has put on earth. Silence is the “vaccine” against the dictatorship of noise in society and the “chattering” that is sometimes the most practiced “sport” even in the Church. It is essential to be silent, to listen to God’s voice within us, and also to ourselves and others. Making silence to “ruminate” the Word of God and give authentic, bright and hope-filled words to others.

The great Pope Paul VI wrote, “The first way to pray is to be silent. We will never have made enough worthy place for silence, for recollection. Silence presents itself to us in a negative form, and that to the exclusion of noise, profane words, false spirituality. It is an asceticism of the spirit that mutilates, that prunes the tree of spiritual life from useless words, and so severely that at times it seems to deprive it of its spontaneity, its vitality, of all curiosity, erudition, conversation, its need to express itself, its need to understand, to meet others, to communicate with others and to feed on the communication of others. […] We must be poor in spirit (Matt. 5:3) that is, silent, and concentrate all spiritual activity in the inner word. We need to learn to be silent, to collect ourselves, to be alone, to worship in silence and to compose inwardly some word worthy of God, to enrapture ourselves at the echo of the Lord’s words, to listen to them, to repeat them, to scan them, to let them settle in the depths of the soul then to decant them from all profanity until they become clear and consoling” (Meditations, Dehoniane. Bologna, 1994, page 67).

Silence is the language of God, the groan of the saints, the colorful pen of artists, the keynote of musicians, the gentle breeze of the wind, the song of nature, the whisper of angels, the throb of the heart, the last cry of the dead. I look at Mary, the Virgin of silence, and I often think of the words of a mystic: “The Virgin’s destiny is to be silent. It is his condition, his way, his life. His is a life of silence that worships the eternal Word. Seeing before her eyes, at her breast, in her arms, this same Word, the substantive Word of the Father, mute and reduced to silence because of the special condition of her childhood, the Virgin is enclosed in a new silence, where she is transformed on the example of the incarnate Word who is her Son, her only love. And his life thus goes from one silence to another, from a silence of adoration to a silence of transformation. Mary is silent, enveloped in the silence of her Son, Jesus. One of the sacred and divine effects of Jesus’ silence is to place his most holy Mother in a life of silence: a humble, profound silence that knows how to adore incarnate wisdom in a holier and more eloquent way than both the words of men and the words of angels can. The silence of the Virgin is not the effect of stuttering and helplessness; it is a silence of light and ecstasy, a silence more eloquent, in praises to Jesus, than eloquence itself… (Pierre de Bérulle, Opuscules de pieté, 39). Mary, Virgin of Silence, teacher and spiritual mother, teach us to welcome the gift of silence to listen to God and keep silent so as not to fall into the temptation of gossiping about others, envy and slander.

By Emiliano Antenucci (Osservatore Romano 03 August 2020)