Thursday, July 10, 2008

Silence Resources. A Benedictine Oblate blog

This blog is responding to Dave’s comment in which he asked for resources on silence.

My wife (who knows more about silence than I do) said that she recommends the Basil Pennington books on centering prayer, and you might also like "Finding Sanctuary" by Abbot Jamison (which she also read and liked very much). Also check out the books others bought that are linked on the page of the Finding Sanctuary book.

For me, I like to know the history of a monastic topic (like silence) and want to follow a practice back through the early church fathers and then back into the life of Jesus and the books of the Bible, and often back into the practices of the Jews in the Old Testament. There are probably many books written by the early Saints that would be good for my type of interest in silence, but I have not begun to look for them. However, “Saint John Cassian on Prayer,” translated by A.M. Casiday ISBN 9780728301665 helped me because it has a couple of pages, 13 and 41, that let me see how silence fits within the monastic practice of praying without ceasing.

In fact, it was reading the John Cassian on Prayer book through the filter of modern life that caused me to believe that if Cassian had been writing for monks today, the topic of silence would have taken on a far greater portion of his teaching.

As I always write, everyone’s monastic practice as an oblate is very different — even within the same household. When my wife and I talked about Dave’s comment, my wife said that it was important for the silence to be taken inside oneself. But for me, as we were talking, I had the opposite sense — to me, the silence is something I enter. So, you might see silence as coming within yourself as you seek stillness or you may see yourself moving into the silence.

We saw Into Great Silence at the historic Tampa Theatre and I thought the movie was just as much about light as silence. I have been seeing silence from an entirely different aspect and think that — like many Biblical/Church/monastic topics — there is a worldly counterfeit that is only a misleading deception. Silence in the worldly notion of “the absence of all sound” is one of them.

After thinking about silence and remembering my sense after seeing Into Great Silence, for me silence is the window to light. But, Dave said it better and more fully when he quoted from Into Great Silence, "silence is the first language of God." Thank you Dave!

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