St. Paul links fragrance to holiness: “For we are the aroma of Christ . . . . (2 Cor 2:14-16). Mahatma Gandhi too compares the fragrance of a rose with living the Gospel:
“Let your life speak to us even as the rose needs no speech but simply spreads its perfume. Even the blind who do not see the rose perceive its fragrance. That is the secret of the rose. But the Gospel that Jesus preached is much more subtle and fragrant than the Gospel of the rose. If the rose needs no agent, much less does the Gospel of Christ need any agent” (SK George, “Gandhi and the Church”).
One positive result of the encounter with non-Christian forms of meditation, especially Buddhism and Hinduism, has been to experience their respect for silence. It is regrettable, however, that today Catholics, largely ignorant of their own mystical traditions, have abandoned Catholicism, and even Christianity itself, to join other sects.
The Silence of Charity
The Christian teaching on love is all too familiar. Reciprocated love makes life easy. At times, the silence of charity is the best response to malice. In his darkest hours, Jesus prayed for his persecutors; he said they didn’t know what they were doing. It was their attitudes and actions he condemned. At the very end, he remained silent.
Recently, Pope Francis spoke up, and harshly so, about maligning others, rash judging and back-biting them. Gossip destroys a person’s character. We can never know what is really going on inside another person, and unless all the facts are known, the Gospel mandate is our best guide: “Judge not, and you will not be judged,” for there go I but for the grace of God. How will our youth learn this lesson?
The Silence of Suffering
Holy Week rivets the Church’s focus on the days that changed the world. There is no more fruitful way to celebrate and relive our redemption than through the liturgy. For the homebound, Catholic television makes for a worthy substitute. The liturgies at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. are unrivaled in beauty.
Pope St. Leo the Great notes that “true reverence for the Lord’s passion means fixing the eyes of our heart on Jesus crucified and recognizing in him our own humanity” (5th century).
A young Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. penned these words during his own personal crisis: “The Christian is not asked to swoon in the shadow, but to climb in the light of the Cross” (The Divine Milieu, 102ff).