“One of the challenges for young people today is silence. In the Vincentian Family and in the Vincentian Marian Youth we have an extraordinary example of how to live and practice silence — Saint Catherine Laboure. Silence is different than being quiet (for example, being quiet because we are angry … at such times being quiet is a time when in reality we are actually saying more). Silence is a state of interior peace, humble listening, love, forgiveness, patience. It is the attitude of those who are alive with God, those who are aware of the fact that God lives in them and therefore are willing to live in God. This was the experience of Saint Catherine, our model of silence. Her experience is or can be our experience.
Thus begins a reflection on the power and challenge of silence in the Vincentian Family as found on the Vincentian Marian Youth international website. The reflection continues….
“In the life of Saint Catherine we immediately discover that her silence was the fruit of her humility and at the same time protected her great humility. She never spoke in order to attract attention to herself or because she wanted to be admired by others. She also never spoke about the extraordinary graces that she had received from the Lord.
Silence enables us to listen. Thus silence prepares us to hear and listen to God and also to hear and listen to our brothers and sisters in need. We can be sure that the two hours that Saint Catherine spent in conversation with Mary prepared her for that important ministry of listening. It was at that time that she learned the value of silence, the value of listening, the value of the word in living a life of holiness …. and above all else it was at that time that she learned the value of humility and charity toward the neighbor, especially toward the elderly whom she cared for. All of this can only be explained by a life that was profoundly rooted in God.
Silence prepares one to speak at the proper time and in an appropriate manner. Thoughts that are pondered in silence give depth and greater value to the spoken word. Saint Catherine was very aware of Saint Vincent’s teaching on this matter: silence draws down many graces and blessings, both on Communities and on individuals, especially since keeping silence is nothing other than listening to God (CCD:XI:84).
You and I, are we afraid of silence? Perhaps not, but each one of us must be aware of the many different noises that vie for our attention: internet, mobile phones, music, television, radio, … the accelerated rhythm of our life (studies, work, meetings, time with family and friends) gives even greater importance to the invitation that Jesus extended to his disciples, the invitation to go to a quiet place to rest and to find oneself and to find God.
Silence helps us to hear better. In other words, silence helps us to be more considerate of others and enables us to live those moments of encounter with God in a deeper and more authentic manner. The calm and silent life of Saint Catherine is a school of respect: respect for creation, for the dignity of the human person, for the mystery of life. It is urgent that we learn how to be silent and to listen.
Listen to your heart and your conscience in order to understand and give meaning to your life. Listen to the cries of the poor in order to love them more deeply; listen also to the voice of God, the voices that invite you to share your gifts, to give yourself to others and to do all of this in the same way that Saint Catherine lived her life.
Ahn Thu Nguyen Thi
International Councilor VMY
F0r your convenience you can download the PDF it via this link Bulletin Oct2012 ENG.