For the Joys of Prayerful Silence

Guest Post by Warren Jewell
The general quiet and often hushed silence of my solitude is a remedy, consolation, comfort, and luxury, like an unspoken call to prayer a hundred times a day. My effective muezzin is my own heartbeat, you see. I have forsworn TV all my adult life; I own no radio; I long ago gave away my sound equipment. Life can sound so much like the crash and the fury and the cry. And, when my littlest grandchild has Mommy call Grandpa to ‘talk,’ her gentle gurgles and attempts to convey her blossoming feelings can mean something to one more and more acculturated to hear God in every little natural sound. As yet, no words: just an angel’s innocence.

If I sometimes suffer in loneliness, and I do, in the course of my daily rounds I more often thank God for the silence that speaks of that loneliness in softest terms; and I can hear God come closer to my side. “Silence, son, and know that I am your God, and your Best-Beloved.” I live in a carpeted chapel within an out-of-the-way cloister.

In our noisy modern times, we just don’t get enough hush, or quiet, and even less, silence. I have found my secret place, time, life era, etc., to have those nearly from God’s own hand. In just my writing about it, you may hear the blessing of it.

I don’t urge such conditions on another. A big aspect of it, and heart of the loneliness present, is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy: widowhood from my best friend, my late wife, Sharon. However, all things work to the good of those who take to trusting God about it all, and He is goodness and love personified, and who needs much else? In the silence one can find that God, so full of Good News, just can’t hold His tongue for ten minutes in a row. The soft speech He gifts me with can make me wish the silence, on human and earthly parts, would go on forever.

We all need such times so that God’s messages can come through. At Mass, the Church helps by affixing the messages common for the day, and that is wonderful. But God has personal messages for each of us, and we must find the silence to give our ears, and souls, spirits, wills, minds and hearts, to Him. So find your own little chapel. Make some time and place your cloister. Closing your eyes and having the simple white noise of an electric fan might help. However, do get yourself so alone in silence that God can’t resist getting so close He whispers sweet everythings to you.

Oh, it won’t happen every time. But to have it even once from out of a myriad of silences lets you know that your Redeemer lives, and He lives that He can love and bless you, He can comfort and console you, He can give you Himself in His own intimate way just for you.

It really isn’t such a privilege to you or to me. Remember, you are His child. It is He Who makes the event special, and He Who privileges Himself to have you so intimately open to Him.

I suppose that I could go on and on about this, for much of God’s gifts of peace, joy, assurance, guidance and other wonderful things come out of prayerful silence for me. Even of paradox the ascending descent into humility grows within me. To finish, may God find His glory shine in silent love with you.

Be so kind, O Lord, to frequently remind me that I am always in Your Holy Presence, and You are in my humble presence.  In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

  • Athos

    Warren, your words remind me how necessary is silence. Without the silence and space between words, they'd be mere cacophony ('rap' comes to mind, perhaps unfairly). I admire your forswearing TV and radio; it shows us how we can be more monastical in the world (but not of it).I have to wrench myself away once or twice a year for a silent retreat at my beloved (Our Lady of the) Holy Cross Abbey beside the Shenandoah River; my reservation for next weekend is already calming me into God's lap (Ps. 131).Thank you for your silent witness and words about Our Lord, the Word.

  • patricia

    I will be at a retreat this coming weekend where I will have the privilege of praying with eleven other women before the Blessed Sacrament all weekend. Our ministry all weekend is to be in intercessory prayer for sixty seven other women who will be attending this retreat. We twelve will be in silence except for the times we use vocal prayer. We are called the desert team-" I will lead her into the desert and speak to her heart."-Hosea 2:16 We at times need to go into the silence to be able to hear what God is trying to tell us. It seems difficult to be silent, but oh what a blessing when we hear the Lord speak in the silence of our heart. It was good to read your post this morning, reaffirming the need for silence. May God continue to speak to you and bless you in your faithfulness to Him.

  • Julie Cragon

    Thank you for this reminder to stop and listen for His whispers of sweet everythings. Your words come across as gently as their message.

  • Patricia

    Warren, I didn't actually thank you for sharing your thoughts with all of us, so I do want to do that now. I sent this to the rest of the women on our "Desert Team" and as I reread your words several times I felt that they were certainly inspired by the Holy Spirit and I thank you so much for building up the Body of Christ by sharing them with us. Your words were beautiful and inspirational, thanks for heeding God's call by sharing with the rest of us. Again, God bless you for your faithfulness to Him.

  • Allison

    @Patricia: Your retreat really intrigues me. Is this a parish group? A group of women religious? It sounds like something I would love to participate in. If you don't mind can you tell us more? Thank you.

  • Warren Jewell

    Patricia, do let all of us know more about your group retreat, if you have details and especially your hopes about it. And, ma’am, my faithfulness is among His gifts, a blessing unique but meant to be so common to all of us. For, He cares for us as each of us, and has His own unique gifts to match His so beloved child. Of the Spirit – I don't know so much about 'inspiration' as just telling me what to say, to write, to pray. I do know that there are not enough guest blog spots here to cover all my communications with and in the Spirit. He is at my beck-n-call, as He is for you, and you, and you. For Him, to be with you is like practice for having you in heaven with Him some day. That is one thing He tells me over and over: “Don’t miss out on heaven! I would SO miss you.” Inferred, too, is His exhortation that I tell anyone who will hear me to give glory to Our Father, follow His Son and call for the great loving graces of Our Holy Spirit. It is the jovial and warm Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ Who points me to the Crucifix, and tells me that my burden is so light, it is not at all like giving up all my blood for any other, as Christ did for me, “and for all, that sins may be forgiven”. “There”, saith our Spirit, “there is your heavy burden carried away.” In effect, He notes that I must look to obedience of Commandment and conforming to Beatitude, as the revelation from our most holy Trinity has them for me. And, I must never forget Their Church, which is open every day for Mass, Sacraments, a pastor in care and so much more. “We have made you not only who you are and all you can think, say and do, for Our glory. We have also made you, oh, so fortunate to be such a one of Ours.”And, “it is My intent to have you Home, and tell you ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’, and hold you to Myself.” My memory of that notice that it is His will to guide me Home is one of the most precious I own. He nearly addresses me as ‘Saint’! Nothing can so drive me to my knees, either, in humble gratitude as the memory that He so wants me to be with Him forever. The Spirit comes at my call – but, I call from out of silence. It all works together, as God promises.

  • Patricia

    Allison and Warren, "The retreat is an ACTS retreat which came to birth from the Cursillo Movement through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, in the Archdiocese of San Antonio… and has gradually become a parish Weekend Retreat patterned after the description of the early Church in the Acts of the Apostles(Acts 2:42-47); breaking bread together, worshiping together, receiving instruction together, sharing in common and reaching out in loving service… The acronym of ACTS came to mean Adoration,Community, Theology, and Service. After the weekend, participants are encouraged to reach out to parish activities. ACTS does not want to be thought of as a "Group", but as parishioners that have been on a special retreat and now have a greater interest in parish ministry involvement. Acts Missions was founded to take the ACTS Retreat to new parishes all over the world so that the ACTS Community would be alive in all parishes." I went on my first retreat in the Fall of 2006 and have since helped on several retreats to bring it to other women. The retreat I will be helping on this weekend is a Mission Retreat, where women from three different parishes in our local area will be taking it to some women at another parish about 100 miles away from our area. It is a privilege and a blessing for me to able to do this and I ask that you pray for all the team and all of the new retreatants that will be attending. Thanks and God Bless all of you.

  • EPG

    Warren wrote, in part: " I have forsworn TV all my adult life; I own no radio; I long ago gave away my sound equipment. Life can sound so much like the crash and the fury and the cry. "Admirable — and here my wife and I thought we were pretty cutting edge simple becuase we did not have cable. I've gone on and on about listening for the small, still voice of God. But it's hard to do when the radio's on, or if a TV is flickering in the background. Even the ordinary noises of our modern life — the internal combustion engine, the hum of the refridgerator compressor in the kitchen, the humming of tires on the metal deck drawbridge a mile from my house, all contribute to a far noisier world than the one our ancestors lived in, which may make it harder to listen for the small still voice.

  • Warren Jewell

    @EPG – one grand aspect of course is nearly uninterrupted human conversations between family members. You really got to know each other.One glorious aspect was that we did not seem to stop honeymooning. We seemed to trip on into little new romances, my late wife and I, and could look like mooning school kids until she died. We became more and more each other's best friend. We'd even received the Eucharist hand-in-hand, side-by-side. If we both looked up and at the other, we'd grin as if just remembered something wonderful about each other. I could regale you with stories about Sharon until you shot me to shut me up. Suffice it to say that I learned to make space for silence in the life we shared. But, then, too, so much can be said lover to lover just gazing into each other's eyes, as if we had uncountable treasure right there in front of us.


    Warren: I have tried without success, to comment on this magnificant post of yours. I attempted more than ten times — to no avail. I pray this comment is 'taken into the blogosphere' this time. Your post is not only personal, painful, poetic but also prophetic!! I too live a 'monastic life' in the world. It is lonely and at times unbearable. However, I have two young children and a busy medical practice, so the voices of my children and the din of the beeper rarely give me a sense of my true solitude. I think that there are MANY, many monastics living outside of monasteries and convents. It is a vocation often 'chosen' by default, but it has so many blessings. I thank you for sharing, and I would ask that you keep writing. Your wisdom and spirituality are uplifting. Pax Christi.