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Silence is crucial to prayer, Pope tells Wednesday audience

Catholic World News - March 07, 2012

Silence is essential to prayer, Pope Benedict XVI told his Wednesday public audience on March 7.

Speaking to about 10,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the Holy Father reflected on the alternation between words and silence in the prayer life of Jesus. His talk concluded a series of weekly meditations on Christ’s prayers.

Prayer, the Pope said, means listening to the Word of God. “Interior and exterior silence are necessary in order to hear that Word,” he said. Not only in private prayer, but also in the liturgy of the Church, the Pope said, periods of silence are necessary to allow for reflection and “authentic listening.”

Silence is often difficult to obtain in today’s world, the Pope remarked. Many people, he said, “are afraid to detach themselves, even for an instant, from the spate of words and images which mark and fill our days.” But that detachment is crucial to prayer. The Pontiff reminded his audience that Jesus would often withdraw to a quiet place to pray. The Church fathers, he added, believed that “the mysteries of Christ are linked to silence.”

There is another sort of silence that often occurs in prayer, the Pope observed; “we often find ourselves facing the silence of God.” Jesus, too, encountered that silence in his prayer life, and the example of Christ should ensure the faithful that in this case the silence of God does not indicate absence.

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  • Posted by: kmbold - Mar. 07, 2012 7:40 PM ET USA

    A similar proposal emerged in an editorial from the director of the Holy See Press Office this week. I forwarded it to my pastor, who said he would once again remind the choir and piano pounder to leave time for silence. (I think if my pastor told me once it would be sufficient.) I'm callinf for an Ex Corde Ecclesiae for choirs and music directors. But wait, why bother?

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