Many of us tend to assimilate silence and peace with being alone in the countryside. Yeah, these conditions can really give us stimulation not only of relaxation of the body but lead the soul towards thoughts about God and the contemplation of our existence. There’s no doubt that the auditory silence we experience provides clarity and acts as a precursor to more superior silence.
However, this kind of silence is not long-lasting and will soon fade away. Everyone must come down from the mountain and return to the same old world they’re accustomed to. The anxiety, the stress, the depression and conflict in our relationships with others are a noise that clouds the perception of our souls to a greater silence.
Yeah, I could go up to the mountain right now which I often do to get me some silence. If I stand at its peak I’ll experience some level of comfort and silence. However, what if I’m full of anxiety, depression, unhappiness and filled with vengeful anger towards my brother? It is this noise that means true silence is not being achieved.
The first kind of external silence we experience is like the man who knocks on Christ’s door. If he keeps knocking it eventually the Lord will answer and lead him on towards the superior silence. Silence is the contemplation of God in obedience to Him. Silence comes from the frequent use of the Sacraments especially those of the Holy Eucharist and Confession. Silence is obtained from practising the virtues according to what one can afford to give the Lord.
What I mean by this is that the Lord gives the same wage to the spiritually perfect monk as much as He does the imperfect married or single layman. He takes note of the effort of each and gives both the same wage according to what pleases Him. The reason for this is because He’s not a mean God and can see the poor layman can only afford to give him so much virtue because circumstances are very different to that of the contemplative Monk.
Inner peace and superior silence are not only to be found in the caves of the desert but that of your living room. When this true silence is obtained man empties himself of all the passions that afflict his soul. All egoism, self-love, anger, greed and the list goes on are replaced by their virtuous opposites.
Men will approach you with insults and not only will you be externally silent to their mockery but are silent on the inside holding no grudge. In your old way of doing things you would react with anger, your blood pressure would go through the roof and you’d be shaking with anxiety for hours following any confrontation. However, now that your soul is at peace and filled with Grace you’re unable to react in this manner.
This silence is very hard to achieve and takes an incredible amount of prayer, but why let that scare you? There are people who have obtained it, and then through the negligence of personal sin lost it again. You’re not alone. I’m one of those people, we are all this person. The writings of the Cave dwellers are only possible because they too struggled to obtain this superior silence and were not wholly perfect in such pursuits. It’s the reason why they’re capable of writing and showing the next soldier where all the little spiritual mines are that they might avoid making the same mistake so that the journey will be easier for them.
Obtaining it even for one day is beneficial. Keep knocking on the door to union with God with your external silence and prayer. Eventually, the Lord will open the door to you. When he does, whether you be on a quiet mountain, by the ocean or in a busy marketplace, you’ll always experience silence and be at peace.
Don’t be worried about losing your peace for this is necessary and is God training you the reasons for which we won’t go into here for fear of overwhelming. Yes, as the Sun must go down we experience some darkness, be sure to get plenty of sun while it’s still available. The memory of its glory and the happiness is brought you will help you in the darkness. While living in such darkness you will be eager to see the Sun again and learn to appreciate it even more, see? God is training you.
While the peace is available to you, grab as much of it as you can. Then, in the darkness of your moments of depression when you lose the light of this silence you’ve something to look forward to at the end of it. Remembrance of the inner silence will spur you on to grab it once again only be patient and the rays of Gods Grace will shine on your heart again and flood it with peace.
Give to the Lord what you can afford. Trust in His mercy and ability to see your spiritual situation and respond accordingly.
For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.2 Corinthians 8:12