Be Quiet. Amazing Things Will Happen.

study on the way

Dutch-born theologian Henri Nouwen said that we are all called to be mystics. But, in a busy world with long to-do lists and lots of good Netflix shows to fill our spare time, what is the value in zipping our lips and just being?

Silence has a slew of benefits, from physical to mental. As far as spirituality is concerned, it’s not only useful for slowing down and calming down, but it’s also imperative in learning to listen both to yourself, to God, and to others.

Taking some time each day to just be silent and mindful can help you to focus on what’s weighing on your heart. It can help you to hear God’s voice in your life. And, it can make you a better participant in the areas of your life in which you’re not silent.

As I considered the value of silence, I called on Dominican Sister of Hope Associate and fellow Catholic Janet Corso who works as a Spiritual Director at Mariandale Retreat and Conference Center in New York.

Janet says that, on her retreats, she often encounters women who are initially intimidated by silence, but are soon surprised at how much they unconsciously longed for it.

“The more contemplative you are, the more you’re willing to listen to the movements of God,” Janet says. ‘To be contemplative means you have to befriend stillness and silence. It’s a path to a deeper relationship to God, to be able to listen.”

Quiet time doesn’t necessarily have to be still time. In addition to just being and listening, consider repeating a short prayer word (even a single word works!), practicing mindful tai chi, or engaging in a  devotional prayer.

Once you’ve got the quiet down, try to carry that mindfulness into the rest of the tasks of your day.

Ask yourself today how you can take time to be silent, to listen to Him, to be fully present in the world around you. And then, when noisiness starts back up, carry some of that presence over to the rest of your day, whether it’s through a small prayer word, a breathing technique, or a simple utterance of gratefulness.

Gina Ciliberto is the Digital Media Journalist for the Dominican Sisters of Hope: 160+ Catholic Sisters who live hope in fifteen states and Puerto Rico. More about the Sisters lives and ministries at www.ophope.org

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  • Reply
    Maria Dette
    March 8, 2016 at 1:01 pm

    Just curious…why does your post recommend a mantra? That doesn’t sound like a specifically Catholic idea, though I would say repeating aspirations- short scriptural prayers, such as “Lord I believe, help my unbelief,” or “You must increase, I must decrease” (words of St John the Baptist) or even “Jesus, I trust in You” — in the silence of the heart to draw near the Lord throughout the activities of the day is sound Catholic practice. But why drag New-Age sounding terms like “mantra” from Hinduism into our Catholic minds and hearts? I get that the concept is similar, but to me a mantra sounds like an endorsement of non-Catholic spirituality…

    • Reply
      March 9, 2016 at 1:34 pm

      Hi there! We changed it to “prayer word” — that is essentially what the meaning is. Thank you for pointing this out for us.

      • Reply
        Alyssa Pintar Breen
        March 17, 2016 at 8:33 am

        Interesting conversation going on here; I wanted to pipe in for a brief moment.

        In short, I think we should not be afraid to adopt words that are based in other religions that provide accurate descriptions of the type of prayer we, as Catholics, may wish to adopt to our own beliefs.

        I know many faithful Catholics who are fans of Taize chant as a means of praying, and that also is very repetitive, and mantra-like in form and method. It’s completely fine to take methods (and not necessarily the same goals and beliefs underlying the use of the method!) of prayer from other religions and adopt them to our belief system. To me, to acknowledge this fact is to acknowledge that all humans are similar in ultimate desires for goodness and meaning in their lives (which we Catholics believe to represent the universal desire for God).

        At the same time, if you, Maria, would prefer not to use the word “mantra” to describe this type of prayer because you are uncomfortable with the non-Catholic connotation, I’m not disagreeing with your preference. I am disagreeing with your sense that this author’s use of the term “mantra” is endorsing a non-Catholic spirituality, because “spirituality” connotes a dimension of belief. There’s a difference between endorsing beliefs and methods of spirituality, and I think it’s safe to say that this author was endorsing the method and not the belief of a non-Catholic spirituality.

  • Reply
    March 9, 2016 at 8:12 pm

    Jenna, how do I contact you or the editor of the blog directly?

  • Reply
    March 10, 2016 at 6:22 pm

    This is very true. During Lent last year, I attempted to do my “mini adoration” at home – to simply put away everything for 15 mins, set the timer, and stay silent, think nothing, read nothing, just silent, and focus on breathing, and on Jesus. I have not stopped doing that since, because I love it, and it is true that only in the quietness that we can hear God speak.
    I am still grasping this, it is still not easy being still. But it is worth every second.

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