.- We need to make time for silence in our lives if we are to pray and listen to God, said Pope Benedict XVI in his weekly general audience, August 10.
âSilence is the environment that best promotes recollection, listening to God, meditation,â he told pilgrims gathered at his summer residence in the hilltop town of Castel Gandolfo, 15 miles south of Rome.
âThe very fact that a taste of silence leaves us, so to speak, to âfillâ the silence predisposes us to prayer.â
It is for this reason, noted the Pope, that monks and nuns have traditionally established their communities âin particularly beautiful places, in the countryside, in hills, in mountainous valleys, along lakes or seas, or even on small islands.â
âThese sites combine two very important elements for the contemplative life: the beauty of creation, which refers to that of the Creator, and the silence guaranteed by their remoteness from the cities and highways of communication.â
The Pope charted the history of manâs quest for God â and Godâs quest for man â conducted through silence and prayer.
From the Old Testament, he noted that God spoke to the prophet Elijah on Mount Sinai in âthe gentle breezeâ rather than through wind, earthquake or fire.
He then highlighted the thirteenth-century life of St. Clare of Assisi - whose feast day is tomorrow â observing how she created a community at San Damiano on the outskirts of Assisi, âliving on prayer and small jobs.â
âGod speaks in silence, but you need to know how to listen,â said the Pope. âFor that, monasteries are oases in which God speaks to humanity; in them one finds the cloister, a symbolic place, because it is an enclosed space but open to the sky.â
Hence, when we are âlooking at things from a spiritual perspective,â the spirit of monastic places actually provides the âbackbone of the world!â he said.
Pope Benedict suggested it was âno coincidenceâ that so many people, especially during times of rest, choose to stay for a few days in convents or monasteries, since âthe soul, thank God, has its own needs!â
The Pope then concluded his address by pointing to the Virgin Mary as the person who can best âteach us to love silence and prayer.â He finished the audience by leading pilgrims in the recitation of the Our Father and imparting his apostolic blessing.