Make room for the Word through silence

By Christopher Wells

“St Joseph with his silence invites us to make room for the Presence of the Word made flesh, for Jesus,” Pope Francis said at the weekly General Audience.

Silence full of listening

However, the Pope continued, “Joseph’s silence is not muteness,” but is instead “a silence full of listening, an industrious silence, a silence that bring out his great interiority.” Quoting St John of the Cross, the Holy Father explained that God the Father spoke the Word, His Son, in eternal silence “and in silence it must be heard by the soul.”

In his earthly life, Jesus, too, had this experience of silence, “with the daily example of Mary and Joseph.” Pope Francis noted that “He Himself sought spaces of silence… and invited His disciples to have such an experience” as well.

The contemplative dimension of life

The Holy Father emphasized the importance of following St Joseph’s example “in recovering this contemplative dimension of life opened wide by silence,” but noted that it is not easy. Silence, he said, can be frightening, because “it asks us to delve into ourselves and confront the truest part of us.”

Pope Francis invited everyone “to cultivate spaces for silence in which another Word can emerge: that of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.” This will involve being careful of our speech, which if unchecked can become evil, and our words can become “flattery, bragging, lies, backbiting, and slander.”

Learning to cultivate silence

This, the Pope said, “is why we must learn from Joseph to cultivate silence: that space of interiority in our days in which we give the Spirit the opportunity to regenerate us, to console us, to correct us.” And, he concluded, “the benefit to our hearts will also heal our language, our words and above all our choices,” like St Joseph, who combined silence with action.”

Pope Francis concluded the catechesis at Wednesday’s General Audience with a prayer to St Joseph:

Saint Joseph, man of silence,
you who in the Gospel did not utter a single word,
teach us to fast from vain words,
to rediscover the value of words that edify, encourage, console and support.

Be close to those who suffer from words that hurt,
like slander and backbiting,
and help us always to match words with deeds. Amen.

15 December 2021, 08:27

Read all >

Submit a Comment

Please Login to post a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.