September 14, 2010

The sound of silence

By Robert Burkett *

Silence—it is something that is hard to come by these days, especially as we begin a new year of college.  There are friends to meet, books to buy and classes to attend.  Upon returning it seems as though life has switched gears from the slow-moving dog days of summer to the frantic pace of the college lifestyle.

At times, this hectic pace can distract us from what truly matters.  While sitting down to pray, I immediately grow restless and uncomfortable, as though I am going to miss out on something fun or important by spending time with God.

This is especially true when attempting to sit in silence, listening for God through prayer.
Listening is often an overlooked part of our conversations with God.  While it is supposed to be a two-way dialogue – involving both talking and listening – I always struggle with restlessness and impatience as I strive to listen, particularly during the busier times of my life.

However, it is during these busy times that I know it is the most necessary for us to pray.

The associate pastor of my church once said that we should pray 30 minutes on a normal day, and twice as long on days when we are busy. We need to recognize that God is in control and God is there to help us with our daily struggles, all we need to do is bring them to Him.  Though we may not feel as if we are getting anything out of it, there is a lot God can and will do if we open ourselves up to Him in silence.  Simply sitting in silence allows one to reflect on and process the many things that took place throughout the day; it gives us time to examine our consciences and bring the uneasiness of our souls to the forefront of our minds.

Through this silent reflection, we can become at peace with ourselves, a feeling which we seek but cannot find in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives.

I believe that Mother Teresa summed up the necessity of silent reflection best:

“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass - grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls.”

Through silent reflection, God touches our soul and subsequently grants us the ability to go out and touch the souls of others.  I would like to encourage each of you to take five minutes of your day and set it aside to listen for God, examine your conscience and reflect on your strengths and shortcomings as a follower of Christ.  He is truly the Prince of Peace, and we can follow in his footsteps if only we are willing to listen to the sound of silence.

Robert Burkett is a sophomore anthropology major at the University of Notre Dame.

* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.


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