It will come as no great surprise to anyone that we live in a world full of noise, noise that both assaults our ears and noise which can assault the rest of our senses. Our modern world seems to be devoid of silence, because of modern machinery and technology and the fast-paced motion of our society it seems as if silence is something that remains an unattainable dream. This lack of silence, this preponderance of noise has deep ramifications for our spiritual life and our encounter with God, as Cardinal Sarah writes, “in silence, not in turmoil and noise, God enters into the innermost depths of our being.” This book not only lays out what has happened to our society which has caused such constant noise and chattering and activity, but he also points out how this affects our relationship with God and what it has done to us as human beings and reminds us of the great gift that is silence.
Cardinal Sarah, in this book, encourages people of faith to “join a sort of resistance movement. What will become of our world if it does not look for intervals of silence? Interior rest and harmony can flow only from silence. Without it, life does not exist. The greatest mysteries of the world are born and unfold in silence. How does nature develop? In the greatest silence. A tree grows in silence, and springs of water flow at first in the silence of the ground. The sun that rises over the earth in its splendor and grandeur warms us in silence. What is extraordinary is always silent.” For Cardinal Sarah, silence is not an end in itself, it is the means to an end – it is an opening of a door to God who so often remains silent and allows for Him to speak to us in the silence.
I have often thought of summer as being the Sabbath of the year. Just as a week has its Sabbath day of rest, so too does the year as a whole – it is summer. On this Memorial Day weekend we traditionally kick off the summer season as the weather (hopefully!) warms up, as school winds down and as summer vacations begin. Part of the Sabbath is quiet reflection and communication with God and it seems to me that summer should encourage us to do that over the course of these warm months – of creating space and time for silence, of stepping back from words and noise and activity to break the dictatorship of noise, in order to enter more fully into the silence so as to encounter God more completely and fully.