Last Sunday, in His message for Communications Day, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the relationship between silence and word.  He said that all dialogue is based on the right balance between silence and word.

If there is only silence between two persons, then the relationship starts to turn cold and, if it is never broken, it dies.  But the relationship will be at a great risk of breaking if there are only words spoken between two persons, without anyone of them really listening.

Human dialogue is a based on a balance between silence and word.  One person speaks while the other needs to keep silent in order to listen.  There needs to be a time when roles are exchanged and, whoever was speaking needs to stop and listen, while the other person who previously was silently listening starts to speak.

Recently, the current Pope is frequently drawing the attention of man for silence.  In the last decades, man has made a great and rapid progress in developing so many different means of communication.  What started as the privilege and the monopoly of the few, now is becoming ever more social.  Today we speak of the social media.  The digital world has broken the limits of transmission.  There no limits for the number of radio and television stations.  They transmit twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.  Discussions are on the air all the time.  Sometimes that is the way their owners make money.  However, it is possible for anyone and from anywhere to phone and has his say.  On the internet, this is even cheaper and maybe easier.

We started with the audio, but soon we moved to the visual.  I do not know whether we can say that we use more the visual than the audio.  But the fact is that everybody is speaking, speaking without ceasing, speaking loudly, and speaking even globally.  We speak a lot with words;  but yes, maybe today we speak even more with images.

The question is:  And who is listening?  Is there any space for silence?  Because there can be no true listening without silence.  One may ask himself, or herself:  how much time during the day do I have the radio, the TV, the computer and the mobile… all of them switched off simultaneously (and I am awake)?

It seems that many are afraid of silence.  Yes, because external silence is just on condition for listening.  Or should I now say for hearing?  Because, the fact that there is external silence does not guarantee that one can listen.  Very often people are afraid of external silence, because they do not want to listen to the noise there is deep within them.  But even that noise has to be silenced.  Otherwise, whatever you hear will always be filtered even by that noise.  No wonder we almost always hear what we want to hear!  No wonder there is so much misunderstandings and quarrels between us.

If this is true with all human communication, how much does it apply to our dialogue with God.  As Christians, we believe in a God who speaks.  God has a Word to say, or else to share with us.  It is the same Word, whom He sent and took flesh to dwell amongst us.  God has made all He can do to make His Word, heard, listened to, known, experienced, encountered.  Inner silence is the essential condition in order to come in touch with God’s Word.

During this year, 2012, we are concentrating on Jesus’ strategy of asking questions.  He has a question to ask you.  It is the most challenging question you can ever be asked.  It is a question that can lead you towards the discovery of Truth in your life, “the truth that sets you free”.  Almost half this year has already passed.  It is about time to be silent… not to miss this moment of grace.  The Holy Spirit is so gentle;  it is so easy for you to miss Him when He breathes on you.

Fr Paul Fenech

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