Reverential Silence

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Reverential Silence

By | 2017-12-16T23:36:57+00:00 December 19, 2017|Advent, Prayer|

There’s no silence quite like that of a boisterous crowd of Catholics being called to prayer before a meal. By the time the sign of the cross has been finished to open the prayer, everyone is silent, and the air is filled only with a prayer to God. This silence anticipates and embraces each word of the prayer. It is not the lack of sound in the room, but instead the receptive listening of each individual.

Through the silence, we show our reverence for the words being spoken, for the gift being asked. This silence does not exist for its own sake but is a role in a conversation where we receive the words of another. True listening require silence on our part, for through our silence, we show honor to the one who is speaking. A truly reverential silence is a silence where we listen to God as He speaks his Word to us. Recall for a moment the second verse of the song Silent Night:

Silent night, holy night!

Shepherds quake at the sight.

Glories stream from heaven afar

Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia,

Christ the Savior is born!

Christ the Savior is born!

Notice how the songs of the heavenly hosts do not disturb the silence. Rather, the songs are the focus of the shepherds’ silence as they receive the glories streaming from heaven. The verse ends proclaiming the birth of Christ the Savior. The pregnant silence prepares for the birth of a Word.

In the silence of Christmas Eve, we wait for God to speak this Word to us in the Incarnation. The Word through whom all of creation came to be now enters into His very creation. The Word is made flesh—a flesh that can be seen and touched. It is the flesh later given us to sacramentally eat in that greatest of meals, the Eucharist. What profound silence there is in between the prayers of the priest, as the faithful gaze upon the Word made flesh coming to us on the altar! Our silence prepares us to receive the abundant graces poured out through the Eucharist into our souls.

While this reverential silence comes most naturally in these times of prayer, God is continually speaking His word to us. At any time, a man can pause to listen and acknowledge his creator. The graces we receive in the Eucharist remain in us for longer than the short period of time we are at Mass. In fact, by the grace of our baptism, Jesus Christ, the Word of God, spiritually dwells in us. He is a Word ever ready to be heard by those who listen.

Image: Govert Flinck, Angels Announcing Christ’s Birth to the Shepherds

About this Brother:

Br. Bartholomew Calvano, O.P.
Br. Bartholomew Calvano received a B.A. in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry/Mathematics/Computer Science from Rutgers. He worked for two years with The Brotherhood of Hope, helping out with campus ministry at Northeastern University in Boston, before entering the Order of Preachers in 2015. On