Recently I made a silent retreat at St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, MA, home of the Trappist monks. The retreat only lasted a weekend and even now the graces from that retreat are just beginning to be revealed. I am grateful there are physical souvenirs (photos I took and this video) to help me recall the weekend and what God was teaching me.
At first the silence was difficult but for the most unexpected reason. As an introvert I seek solitude and have to remind myself to get out and be with people. At this retreat I had an “excuse” for being anti-social. And as a result, I felt intense loneliness. I knew why – I was not allowing God to enter into my heart. I was conscious of the wall between us, created out of fears, doubts and my sins.
Gradually that wall began to come down as I experienced the blessings of entering into prayer with the monks in the abbey’s magnificent chapel. At first I was overwhelmed by the power of God’s presence. It was oppressive; I could find no other words to describe it. In effect, God had silenced me with Himself.
Later as I walked the grounds, surveying the wide expanse of fields and hills and feeling the gentle breeze, I noticed the grey clouds from the afternoon’s rain parting to reveal the deep blue sky. I knew I was witnessing a picture of my own heart, opening to His grace. He had silenced me in the chapel so that my heart could be humbled and opened.
As you listen to the Gregorian chant of the monks, ask yourself the following:
- Is your heart like a cloudy day, blocking God’s light? What is keeping you from entering into prayer with Him?
- What fears or doubts do you have? What cloud of sin is keeping you away from God?
Copyright 2018 Susan W. Bailey