Robert Cardinal Sarah
52. Silence of the heart consists of quieting little by little our miserable human sentiments so as to become capable of having the same sentiments as those of Jesus. Silence of the heart is the silence of the passions. It is necessary to die to self in order to join the Son of God in silence. Saint Paul says: “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:4–5).
In No Greater Love, Mother Teresa wrote:
“ Jesus taught us how to pray, and He also told us to learn from Him to be meek and humble of heart. Neither of these can we do unless we know what silence is. Both humility and prayer grow from an ear, mind, and tongue that have lived in silence with God, for in the silence of the heart God speaks.”
By differentiating between exterior silence and interior silence, we see that although exterior silence promotes interior silence, silence of speech, gesture, or activity finds its full meaning in the search for God. This search is truly possible only in a silent heart.
53. Mother Teresa had an intimate knowledge of silence. She had had the hard experience of God’s silence, like Saint Teresa of Avila, Saint John of the Cross, and Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. She was a woman of silence because she was a woman of prayer, constantly with God. She wanted to remain in the silence of God. This nun did not like to speak and fled the storms of worldly noise. Mother Teresa enjoyed incredible esteem all over the world, and yet she preserved a childlike spirit. She imitated Christ in his silence, humility, poverty, meekness, and charity. She loved to remain in silence for hours at a time before Jesus present in the Eucharist. For her, to pray was to love with the power of silence all her heart, with all her soul, and with all her strength; it was to give her whole being and all her time to the Lord. The most beautiful offering that she wanted to make of herself, and of all her activities on behalf of the poor, was to devote long intervals in her day to a heart-to-heart conversation with God, so that those moments of intimacy might allow her heart to swell with an unconditional love. Like Jesus, her heart always thirsted for love. Jesus’ cry “I thirst” is inscribed in all the sisters’ chapels of the Missionaries of Charity.
54. For my part, I know that all the great moments of my day are found in the incomparable hours that I spend on my knees in darkness before the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. I am, so to speak, swallowed up in God and surrounded on all sides by his presence. I would like to belong now to God alone and to plunge into the purity of his love. And yet, I can tell how poor I am, how far from loving the Lord as he loved me to the point of giving himself up for me.
Prayer of St. Benedict
Gracious and holy Father,
grant us the intellect to understand you,
reason to discern you, diligence to seek you,
wisdom to find you, a spirit to know you,
a heart to meditate upon you.
May our ears hear you, may our eyes behold you,
and may our tongues proclaim you.
Give us grace that our way of life may be pleasing to you,
that we may have the patience to wait for you
and the perseverance to look for you.
Grant us a perfect end--your holy presence,
a blessed resurrection and life everlasting.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Excerpted from “The Power of Silence” by Cardinal Robert Sarah with Nicolas Diat