Be an Amazing Catechist
Seeking Silence (and Summer Books)
Another convert, scholar, and war veteran, Father Keep spent the last several years of his priestly life as chaplain to a community of Visitation Sisters in the picturesque English town of Waldron, in East Sussex. In addition to his duties to the Sisters, for decades he gave a series of monthly retreats that were open to both lay people and religious. Many of his short talks were recorded, and thirty years of written talks were preserved for posterity by his publisher, John Whelan.
About twenty years ago, Father Fink came across an advertisement for tapes of some religious talks that were billed as "positively addictive." He ordered the first set of five tapes, found them excellent, and then ordered another five. They were consistently "marvelous" and indeed habit-forming. He later wrote to Mr. Whelan, wanting to learn more about this wonderful priest and preacher, and was invited to England to meet him, staying a week and befriending both men. The brief retelling of this story is worth reading. In the years that followed, these invaluable resources would be entrusted to Father Fink to share freely with the world.
Totally orthodox in their content, Father Keep's retreat meditations are presented in a quiet simplicity that required a real adjustment of my American sensibilities. I had to yield to the unhurried pace, the gentleness of the big man's voice, the depths of meaning in his brief presentations.
The first recording I listened to confirmed everything I felt God had been trying to say to me all week; I needed to seek Him in silence. Here is an excerpt of the first segment of a recorded retreat called "God's Word," which particularly affected me:
In all eternity, God the Father, whom we love, has only spoken one Word. The Eternal Word is spoken in the silence of God's glory in a stillness like the middle of the night. And those who wish to hear this Word must receive it in deep silence and in a stillness like the middle of the night.
When in time the Word became flesh and dwelt among us He came in silence. It was in the recollected silence of the heart of Mary as she pondered deeply over the things of God; that is how He first came. It was by the silent powerful action of the Holy Spirit, overshadowing the quietness of her soul as she listened, that He came. The Spirit of God speaks the Word of God into our hearts like a still, small interior voice, and it is in the most beautiful language that there is.
I hope you'll take some quiet time and stop by Father Fink's site to listen to one or two of these extraordinary and beautiful talks. The written ones make great, great reading.
And then, I hope you will seek Him in silence, as will I, in the slower months of summer.
With this break in mind, I recommended some of my favorite spiritual books in last week's column; below are a few additional picks from a variety of genres, which I hope you'll enjoy.
God bless you! And have a beautiful summer of refreshment in the Lord. Let us meet here again, in August, ready to Be Amazing Catechists to our students, our kids, and to each other!
Lisa Mladinich is a Catholic wife and mother, catechist and workshop leader, and the author of the popular booklets, "Be An Amazing Catechist: Inspire the Faith of Children," and "Be an Amazing Catechist: Sacramental Preparation" available from Our Sunday Visitor. She is the founder of www.AmazingCatechists.com.