January 29th- that means sixteen days until Ash Wednesday, twenty days until the first Sunday of Lent, thirty-four days until Easter Sunday, and it doesn’t end there…. Although it has only been a few weeks from the end of the Christmas season, already my mind jumps to all the feasts and celebrations that we quickly find ourselves in. This might be due to the quick race into the Lenten season this year, but I think that it has more to do with my need to plan. I confess that I am a chronic planner. My room is covered in post it notes, I have multiple color-coded calendars for the different aspects of my life, and I find nothing more satisfying than crossing something off a to-do list. Although this is the reason that I am able to balance everything in my life, it is also the reason I tend to dread stillness and quiet. I can’t plan out stillness, I can’t know when it is going to end, and it usually doesn’t end in me being able to cross something off a list. Yet, it seems as though within silence I am overwhelmed by the presence of God that is made manifest in the solitude.
Although I tried to address the problem on my own, when I brought it up to a good friend of mine he stared at me for a moment then stated simply, “So you have finally decided to start listening to some of our saints?” His wise remark rung true in my heart. I avoid the silence, I avoid the solitude, I avoid listening to the wisdom of those who have gone before me.
Many lips and pens of our Catholic spiritual masters speak and write about this realization of silence. St. Francis de Sales writes, “Never be in a hurry, do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.” Mother Teresa says “we need silence to be alone with God, to speak to him, to listen to him, to ponder his words deep in our hearts. We need to be alone with God in silence to be renewed and transformed. Silence gives us a new outlook on life. In it we are filled with the energy of God himself that makes us do all things with joy.” St Theresa of Lisieux states that if you “settle yourself in solitude…you will come upon Him in yourself.”
While the cold wind howls and the silent darkness comes upon us mid-afternoon, let us take these last few weeks of winter to enter into the stillness. Let us know the wisdom of St. Francis de Sales and not be in a hurry for spring. Let us echo in our hearts the words from Mother Teresa reminding us that in silence we are renewed and transformed through the energy of God. And let us find in silence God residing within ourselves.
In the words of the psalmist, “Be still and know that I am God (Ps 46:10)”
Pam Tremblay is the Blog Editor for the Catholic Apostolate Center.