Thursday, March 5, 2015

Being Taught An Adoring Silence

Saint Konrad of Parzham, a Capuchin Franciscan, was born at Parzham, Bavaria, Germany. He wrote down a plan for his life which came under eleven different headings. Two of those headings were:

~ I will observe silence exactly and perpetually as far as is possible. I will be very sparse in speech, and this in order to avoid many faults and that I may be able to converse with God so much the better.

~ I will always strive to have a truly intense devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and will truly strive to imitate her virtues.

One might hypothesize that the first resolution would be impossible without the second. Saint Konrad also offered to God very profound words while making a Spiritual Communion:

"I have come to spend a few moments with You, O Jesus, and in spirit I prostrate myself in the dust before Your Holy Tabernacle to adore You, my Lord and God, in deepest humility. Once more a day has come to its close, dear Jesus, another day which brings me nearer to the grave and my beloved heavenly home. Once more, O Jesus, my heart longs for You, the true Bread of Life, which contains all sweetness and relish. O my Jesus, mercifully grant me pardon for the faults and ingratitutde of this day, and come to me to refresh my poor heart which longs for You. As the heart pants for the waters, as the parched earth longs for the dew of heaven, even so does my poor heart long for You, Fount of Life. I love You, O Jesus, I hope in You, I love You, and out of love for You I regret sincerely all my sins. May Your peace and Your benediction be mine now and always and for all eternity. Amen."

Spiritual Communions, adoration of the Divine Indwelling, many saints made them every hour on the hour. In the Apostolic Letter,Orientale Lumen, Saint John Paul II wrote that "the more man grows in the knowledge of God, the more he perceives him as an inaccessible Mystery, Whose essence cannot be grasped." He continued by expressing that "one draws close to this Presence. . . by letting oneself be taught an adoring silence." And we can learn this adoring silence "through the prayerful assimilation of Scripture and the liturgy." And of this adoring silence the Holy Father wrote: "We must confess that we all have need of this silence, filled with the Presence of Him Who is adored. . . that we may never forget that seeing God means coming down the mountain with a face so radiant that we are obliged to cover it with a veil (cf. Exodus 34:33). All. . . need to learn a silence that allows the Other to speak when and how He wishes, and allows us to understand His words."

Saint Elizabeth of Trinity taught that a soul’s degree of glory in heaven would depend on the degree of Union with the Divine Indwelling, at the time of death. Is there anyone who ever walked on planet earth that had more intimacy with the Indwelling of the Most Holy Trinity than our Blessed Mother? There’s a story of a series of messages from our Blessed Lady to Sister Mildred Mary Ephrem Neuzil of the Sisters of the Precious Blood in Dayton, Ohio. In one of the messages, the Mother of God spoke saying: "I am Our Lady of the Divine Indwelling, handmaid of Him Who dwells within." These messages and apparitions have not reached full official canonical approval as yet and are awaiting the final stage which is a formal written statement from the bishop of the diocese of Toledo, Ohio.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, in agreement with Saint John Paul’s assessment that we can learn silence from the liturgy, and which may also explain His Holiness’ call to restore a sense of the sacred in liturgy, wrote in his book, The Spirit of the Liturgy: "We are realizing more and more clearly that silence is part of the liturgy. We respond, by singing and praying, to the God Who addresses us, but the greater mystery, surpassing all words, summons us to silence. It must, of course, be a silence with content, not just the absence of speech and action. We should expect the liturgy to give us a positive stillness that will restore us. Such stillness will not be just a pause, in which a thousand thoughts and desires assault us, but a time of recollection, giving us an inward peace, allowing us to draw breath and rediscover the one thing necessary, which we have forgotten. That is why silence cannot be simply made, organized as if it were one activity among many. It is no accident that on all sides people are seeking techniques of meditation, a spirituality for emptying the mind. One of man’s deepest needs is making its presence felt, a need that is manifestly not being met in our present form of the liturgy. For silence to be fruitful, as we have already said, it must not be just a pause in the action of the liturgy. No, it must be an integral part of the liturgical event."

May we all discover that adoring silence in this season of Lent and forevermore!