7 Most Beautiful Quotes on the Power of Silence
Few people would argue with the statement that our modern society offers little opportunity for silence. Smart phones and mobile devices keep messages, emails, streaming music and video platforms, and social media feeds available to us essentially at all times. You can't even pump gas or take a cab ride without clips of news, entertainment, and advertising before your eyes and ears. There are two realities we need to accept: first, silence is an integral part of the development of our interior lives--we cannot develop one without silence; and second, in the modern world, silence is something we have to actively pursue--it rarely comes to us organically anymore. Here are some quotes to reemphasize the value of silence and why it's worth our time and effort.
What we need most in order to make progress is to be silent before this great God with our appetite and with our tongue, for the language he best hears is silent love.
- St John of the Cross
Sitting silently with Our Lord is often a challenge for us, but, as St. John of the Cross reminds us, it is a necessary practice. Our day-to-day busyness makes our minds over-flowing with distractions and imaginings that are hard to ignore. All we can do is try. Set aside some time today to practice silence. Start small--5 minutes, 10 minutes. Find a quiet place, greet Our Lord, telling Him you want to sit quietly with Him and asking for His help. When you begin, don't be discouraged by distractions--that only makes them more present to your mind. Instead just let them roll past and persevere for the time you established. Once that is complete, thank Our Lord for His grace, and carry on. Like anything, the depth of your silence will improve with practice. Try to make it a daily habit.
A talkative soul lacks both the essential virtues and intimacy with God. A deeper interior life, one of gentle peace and of that silence where the Lord dwells, is quite out of the question. A soul that has never tasted the sweetness of inner silence is a restless spirit which disturbs the silence of others.
- St. Faustina
If we think about the most intimate relationships we have in our lives--our family, our friends, our spouses--we can recognize immediately that the intimacy there is built on years invested in deep and true listening. The depth listening needs to be on another level all together if we want to acheive intimacy. We cannot just silence our tongues (although this is a start). We must silence the dialogue of our own "ego" which makes us deaf to the underlying needs, desires, and pains of those we love. These are often not even communicated in words, but in actions, facial expression, or even in things left unsaid. Deep intimacy requires deep listening in our personal lives and in our spiritual lives. Let us strive to develop this level of intimacy not just with those we have been blessed with in our lives, but with He who has gifted them to us. In truth, the depth of our intimacy with Him makes us all the more capable of loving those around us anyway. So what are we waiting for? Let us strive for that "sweetness of inner silence" and bring the fruits of our "gentle peace" to all those around us.
“The Lord is in His holy temple, let all the earth keep silence before Him.”
- Habakkuk 2:20
Besides building intimacy with God, silence allows us space to adore Him. God is ineffible and our limited human heart cannot begin to comprehend Him. When we sit silently before Him, we surrender to this reality in a unique way, humbly acknowledging the weakness of human understanding and language. We naturally begin to contemplate the infinence of His perfection, love, mercy, justice, glory, being, realizing we add nothing to Him and yet we are invited to be in relationship with Him. It is a profoundly humbling and fruitful experience.
In this oasis of quiet, before the wonderful spectacle of nature, one easily experiences how profitable silence is, a good that today is ever more rare... In reality, only in silence does man succeed in hearing in the depth of his conscience the voice of God, which really makes him free.
- Pope John Paul II
Nature awes us. It silences us. Often when we stand before incredible natural beauty we are rendered "speechless." If we are impacted in this way by nature--if silence immediately strikes us as the appropriate reaction to the experience of immense natural granduer and beauty--how much more appropriate is it for us to sit in silence before the God of nature? When we struggle for silence, remembering that nature can help us acheive silence is important too. Taking time to experience nature and allow it to move you into silence and into deeper adoration of our Creator is a great way to practice silence.
In the silence of the Cross, the uproar of weapons ceases and the language of reconciliation, forgiveness, dialogue and peace is spoken.
- Pope Francis
We see violence and tragedy in the world everyday. The sin of the fallen world and the violence was overcome not by greater strength or a louder voice, but by a silent submission of obedience, a humiliating and unsung execution. Let us sit with Christ on the cross, imitating his silence in suffering to bring deeper peace into our own lives and relationships. This peace, we pray, will radiate out into the world. But it begins within ourselves, in silence, in the presence of Our Lord.
Pay attention, O Job, listen to me; Keep silent, and let me speak...listen to me; Keep silent, and I will teach you wisdom.
- Job 33:31-33
We have so many questions and concerns in our lives. Pains, joys, fears rush through our hearts and our minds at dizzying speeds. God has answers. God has peace. Yes, we must bring all these things to Him, but so often we bring them in an explosion of intentions that requires no response. But Our Lord is a teacher--he needs us to be attentive students. Only then will we recognize the subtlties of the graces and fruits that we are given through all our experiences. Only then will we see the hand of God in every joy and every sorrow. This does not mean we should not pour out our hearts to God, but we receive the answers and understanding we seek--we receive the lessons and the fruits--in moments of silence.
“Retiring into silence and solitude, man, so to speak, is ‘exposed’ to reality in his nakedness”
- Pope Benedict
Often times we have a love-hate relationship with our "busyness." It is a source of anxiety. It makes us feel restless, exhausted, preoccupied, overwhelmed. But, it also makes us feel important, needed, and productive. When we step away from busyness, we can be struck by the littleness of our days and our responsibilities. We can suddenly feel unimportant or insignificant. This is uncomfortable and humbling. On top of that, we feel like we don't know "what to do" in silence. At least when we're busy, we're "in our element" and "successful." We have our tools and our powers. These are all stripped from us in silence--they don't represent an advantage, but are instead a disadvantage. This discomfort is actually a great fruit of silence. It's not a sign that you shouldn't be silent, it's s sign that you're doing it right and that you need more. So don't give up when you feel this challenge. Instead, be encouraged that each time you come to the Lord in silence, you will recognize your value more truly and deeply. This will put all your busyness in perspective and rather than making your life and your activities less important, it will give them a deeper importance--an importance that comes with understanding them as part of your invitation to live out your life in service of our God and our brothers and sisters in our little way.