Often these days I have conversations with others about the necessity of living in the present moment and doing our best to carve out some silence on a regular basis. This is not a new concept. I think of my first years in the convent when we spent the major part of every day in silence and wonder about how different life would be for me today if the Second Vatican Council had not achieved an aggiornamento (updating) that clarified the differences in monasticism and apostolic religious life. In addition to the understanding of the differences, however, there remains significant overlap in the various forms of such a call and the element of silence in each cannot be overstated.
Antony of Egypt, (ca. 251-356), celebrated today in the Christian Church and revered as a primary example of the eremitic life, spent his days in the desert from the age of 20 into an old age remarkable even today! I found a telling comment in David Keller’s book, Oasis of Wisdom: the Worlds of the Desert Fathers and Mothers. In speaking about “Abba Antony”, Keller remarks: “Even in his need for extreme solitude, he influenced other monks through their visits or decisions to live near his two places of refuge.” The second half of that statement says something very key, I think, to the power of silence not only as an example to be followed but also as an agent of communal transformation. Sitting in silence alone is a deepening experience and sitting in silence with another or many others with intention has an increased capacity for raising the energy of loving consciousness.
Today, then, let us be mindful of – and grateful for – the efficacious work of those who spend their days in the silence of contemplation and let us make our own effort toward peace and harmony in our hearts for the good of the world.