Silence!

Yesterday in Rome, before his op-ed hit the Financial Times, Pope Benedict XVI alluded again to silence and contemplation at perhaps the busiest time of year. Cliff! Family arrangements! Lines! (And don’t forget to thank the delivery men!). During his Wednesday audience B16 reflected on that woman who said yes and pondered the Incarnation of our Lord and all of its power and glory and responsibilities and sorrows in her heart:

As part of our catechesis for this Year of Faith, it is fitting, during these last days of Advent, to consider the faith of Mary, the Virgin Mother of Christ. At the Annunciation, the angel Gabriel greets Mary with an invitation to rejoice because the Lord is with her. This joy is that of the messianic hope of God’s people, the daughter of Zion, now being fulfilled in her. It is also the fruit of the grace which fills Mary’s heart and shapes her obedience to God’s word. Mary’s faith, like that of Abraham, combines complete trust in the Lord’s promises with a certain “unknowing”. In her life Mary knew, as we do, that God’s will can seem at times obscure and far from our expectations; it involves embracing the mystery of the Cross. It is significant that at the Annunciation Mary ponders in her heart the meaning of the Angel’s message. Her example reminds us that faith, while fully obedient to the Lord’s will, also must seek daily to discern, understand and accept that will. In this holy season, may Our Lady’s prayers help us to grow in a humble, trusting faith which will open the door to God’s grace in our hearts and in our world.

In my syndicated column this week – in which I call the Holy Father the Slowest Tweeter (I suspect he won’t mind) — I talk to a Vatican official about silence as a communications strategy. It’s all a wee bit countercultural — particularly in its full engagement!


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