Fr. Lazar Arasu SDB
Silence is essential for prayer, interior lives and personal sanctification. External silence is a powerful manifestation of a person’s serenity, calmness, tranquility and peacefulness. A person who enjoys and keeps silence is a revered person and pleasant to deal with. A “silent person” will be courteous, gentle, polite and generally well-mannered. He commands respect and admiration. Church celebrates the period of Lent by remembering Jesus’ forty days of prayer and mortification in the wilderness away from the hustle and bustle of the world. For Him, it was a period of immediate preparation for His messianic mission—the proclamation of the Kingdom of God.
In silence, we can discern our call and mission. In noise and without silence, our mind and heart will be crowded with distracting ideas and desires that often make us deviate from our mission and choice of vocation. It is only when we can find silence that we can be more attuned to our inner voice and the prompting of God that is speaking within us, guiding us. It teaches us that simplicity and joy are close companions and helps us become creative and realize our potentiality. Gospels tell us that during the period of silence in the wilderness, Jesus was tempted. It was noise, it was distraction, it was pollution of the mind.
Through noise, the evil one overtakes our mind and heart, often in a dictatorial way. In noise, we become weak in our body, mind and soul. Cardinal Robert Sarah in his compelling book, “The Power of Silence” calls the forcefulness of noise dictatorship—forceful, manipulative, devious and oppressive. Noise is enslaving and yoking, it strips us of peace of mind, tranquility and stillness of body, mind and soul. Noise makes us addicted to it leaving us helpless and craving for more noise.
Have you ever noticed how we run from silence and how enthusiastic we are for noise? We have got used to the noise created by cars, industries, entertainment and communication gadgets. Our homes, streets and towns are filled with noise. We have built apathy for the situation. Noise seems to be the price we pay for being modern and sophisticated. One has to make a decisive effort to keep silence which is not always easy. Silence can be created and maintained only by a collective effort of the community—people who share our life and environ. It is also the paramount duty of the state and local governing bodies and security agencies to maintain silence and enforce the existing laws on noise pollution. In almost every town in Uganda music is played throughout the night and no one seems to care, or everyone has got used to it. Yet the governing bodies seem to turn a blind eye.
We are left to wonder: What has happened to rules and regulations on noise pollution? Is it in order to play loud music and make noisy announcements and advertisements in moving vehicles? Do we respect areas surrounding hospitals, schools and residential areas? What about churches that preach charity becoming uncharitable and a nuisance with overnight noisy prayers? Can we apply the famous rule of Idle and Disorderly on those who make excessive and polluting noises?
Silence ought to be enjoyed rather than forced upon. It is a matter of self-discipline, maturity and courteousness. It is the highest state of education to realize that silence is beautiful, powerful and healing; a moment of introspection and healing. Silence is the medicine for modern maladies created by pollution of all types, both internal and external.
Noise alienates us from our own self. We fail to find the comfort zones where we can rest our body, mind and soul, we lose our identity and a sense of self. Silence can enable us reach within ourselves to find a remedy for stress and anxiety. We can easily relax if things are quiet and remove ourselves from the confusion, chaos of the world and discover many things in our lives for which we can be grateful and find a sense of fulfilment.
Let this period of Lent teach us to keep silence. Let the example of Jesus’ own silence and contemplation in the wilderness give us example and courage to keep silence.
Let the grace of Lent help liberate us from the slavery of noise the distractions of body, mind and soul.
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