The Sounds of Silence

Fr. Kevin Dillon is the Pastor of St. Boniface Martyr Parish, Sea Cliff, Long Island, NY.

Yes, the title of the article is also the same as the hit song by Simon and Garfunkel, but it is also much more than that.  Silence is not just the absence of something, namely NOISE and SOUND, but also the presence of something!  It enables us to be in touch and in harmony with our thoughts and hopefully our God. According to a former Roman Catholic Benedictine Monk who spent a little over a year in a cloistered monastery says, “When we are silent we become aware of and are union with the sacred inner self which is always active and at work in us.”   After all, the words of the Hebrew Scriptures give credence to that, BE STILL AND KNOW I AM GOD!  (Psalm 46:10)

A couple of weeks ago, I was at a family gathering with cousins, aunts, uncles and a plethora of other family members totaling 25 in number, so there was lots of good cheer and noise, and of course a number of different conversations going on at once among various groups of people. I can certainly say that I enjoyed seeing everyone and conversing with them; however, as the evening drew on, I found myself wanting to make a quick exit, because I could no longer stand all the noise.  It was actually grating on my nerves.  I suppose this is basically because I live alone.  True, I have Fathers Azuibuike and Perera in the rectory with me, but we all have separate suites (living areas) however, we do share meals together.  Sometimes they are both out and I am the only one home, so like most priests, I have grown accustomed to alone time.  I can say unapologetically that I savor and relish silence.

In a recent article I read regarding spirituality and silence, the author states emphatically that silence is healthy and is NOT DEADLY!  Quite to the contrary, silence is not only beneficial to our spiritual health and well-being but to our physical health as well.  The art of silence is practiced in monasteries and convents around the world by many cloistered religious orders.

Our world is noisy and filled with many distractions.  Everywhere we turn and in every place we frequent people seem to be on phones.  Psychologists and Spiritual Directors alike often claim that people are afraid to be silent and still; perhaps because they are afraid to discover something about themselves or do not want to face some issue that may be confronting them.

Lent is a good time to start the practice of silence, even if for just 5-10 minutes a day.  Find a quiet room in your home; perhaps eat lunch alone once or twice a week rather than with co-workers; spend 10-15 minutes before the Blessed Sacrament or take a walk alone through a park or on a beach.  Silence calms us down; it relieves stress; you may very well feel the presence of God, and in that quiet God may reveal Himself more deeply to you.  When Lent finally passes, you may find yourself practicing this lost art on a daily basis all year long.  It can’t hurt and GOD KNOWS; THE SOUND OF SILENCE IS NOT DEADLY, BUT RATHER LIFE GIVING!

– Fr. Kevin

Fr. Kevin’s letter appears periodically here and in the St. Boniface Parish Bulletin.

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