The cultivation of silence is both the result of and the path to fraternal charity. It is only by continually striving to live with God, to “listen to him with the ears of our heart”, sincerely praying for each one of our brothers and sisters, that we are transformed by divine Love and enabled to love others truly. Just as St. Paul reminds us that we do not know how to pray as we ought; so should we remind ourselves that we do not know how to love as we ought. This is perhaps what lies behind St. Benedict’s somewhat puzzling advice “that there are times when good words are to be left unsaid out of esteem for silence.” Even our best intentioned words may not accomplish the good we hope for. On our own, we do not know how to love others, we do not always know what to do or say to help, comfort, or correct them. This is something we can learn only in the silence of the heart.
The summit and the great model of holy silence is Our Lady, for she welcomed the Word of God into her womb and contemplated him, truly present in the silence of her heart. After nine months she brought forth the Love of God into the world, and accompanied his saving mission to the end, always “keeping these things in her heart”. Silence is Mary’s gift to us.
May we rejoice in it, cherish it and grow together in it.
Reflection by Father William.