The Gift of Silence

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God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer. 

 Saint Teresa of Kolkata

 Silence is a gift; it is important and necessary means of listening to and responding to God. With this purpose in

mind, there is a practice, discovered quite by accident, called the Lesson in Silence. This Lesson in Silence is the greatest help in becoming aware of and mastering our own actions. Silence is something we can do at home with the whole family.

 

It Can be Done in the Following Ways:

  • Invite everyone in your family to find a comfortable position and call to attention your own stillness. Invite your child(ren) to try and imitate you.

  • As your child(ren) become more able to achieve their own silence, whisper a few brief suggestions to help them become aware of their own bodies. “Is even our breathing quiet?”

  • When all are relatively silent, invite an awareness of sounds around you. (birds, traffic, water dripping, etc.) The suggestion might be given to close our eyes and listen for a particular sound that is deliberately made (ringing a bell, snapping fingers)

  • As the silence is more complete, a psalm verse might be repeated, or a song might be very quietly sung.

  • If you have young children, the exercise may be completed by going just outside the sight of the children and whispering each child’s name to come to you. The child who is called gets up and moves as silently as possible to where you are, while the others wait with amazing patience and great anticipation for their names to be called.

 

Silence needs to become a habit of being, for prayer, understood as dialogue, requires silence.

 

Possible Scripture Verses that Could be Used

  • The Lord is in His holy temple, let all the earth be silent before Him. (Hab 2:20)

  • Be still before the Lord. (Ps 37:7)

  • Be still and know that I am God. (Ps 46:10)

  • Be still before the Lord, all mankind. (Zec 2:13)

  • The voice of the Lord was not in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire, but in a gentle whisper. (1 Ki 19:11 - 12)

  • The Good Shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. (Jn. 14:3)

 

Some Things to Remember to Enjoy the Gift of Silence at Home:

  • Unplug. Our world is full of noise. Try to turn off the TV, the computer and unplug from all your devices. As unnatural as if may seem at first, remember that silence is essential for the soul!

  • Notice your speaking voice and allow for time to speak to your children in a quiet manner. Even if your child responds in a loud voice, simply make your own voice quieter. Your child will eventually realize the volume of your voice. We must model for them how to be silent.

  • Invite the children to be still. Young children may not be able to exercise control of movement right away. Make sure he or she has had an opportunity for movement prior to offering this time of quiet and stillness.

  • After you have had an opportunity for silence, discuss with the children: What sounds did you hear in the room? What sounds did you hear in nature? In your own body?

  • The older children may want to find a place where they can sit in silence, and later write, draw, or journal about what they noticed. What gifts of God did they find in the silence? Maybe he or she has a small notebook that he or she may write in or draw in about their experience of silence often.

 

Resources from: The United States Association of The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, Inc. 2020