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The power of silence: Against the dictatorship of noise by Robert Cardinal Sarah


Silence has been an abundant resource since time immemorial. It was the same for the total darkness at night or the pure air that one could breathe with full lungs. The fresh drinking water that was generously distributed by nature has become as rare as the birds in the sky of the cities. Access to these resources, which seemed to be a given not so long ago, has now become increasingly rare, to the point of becoming a consumer good in its own right. The technological upheaval, the excessive consumption, the exponential increase of the population have made of these common goods precious commodities that are sometimes snatched at a high price, in an increasingly irrational logic (e.g.: bottled water from melting icebergs).
Silence does not escape this phenomenon, to access it, one must move away from the cities and go far away, which is not within the reach of everyone. However, there is a time, very early in the morning or very late in the evening when you can reconnect with silence to reconnect with God. Cardinal Sarah reminds us in his book of the properties of silence for all those who wish to maintain and grow in their faith.

If one sentence could sum up this book, it would be this:

Man has only one choice: God or nothing, silence or noise.

Another interesting section:

Without silence, God disappears into noise. And this noise becomes all the more obsessive when God is absent. If the world does not rediscover silence, it is lost. The earth then rushes into nothingness

It is not possible to listen to God if one is constantly kept in the noise, whether it is by chatter, incessant music, the noise of car engines etc. Today’s civilization has rid itself of silence. In doing so, it takes away our ability to connect with God.

God does not speak but his voice is clear to those who deign to listen.

Along with noise, modernity has progressively put to rest a practice that is thousands of years old and yet so important, namely prayer. Without silence, it is difficult to find the peace of mind to connect with God. It seems today that everything is done to prevent us from having a spiritual connection.

Silence as a way to create intimacy

Proximity is not created in noise or commotion. Rather, these are forms of aggression that neglect our sensitive and divine nature. To be able to create closeness or even intimacy with someone, one must be able to create silence. This silence is spiritual in nature. When we can be at ease in silence with another person, it means that we are enveloped in a divine veil that establishes a non-verbal communication. Noise becomes superfluous, we begin to know each other in depth without the need to speak. Our presence alone is enough, it establishes a dialogue without words that is blessed by God. It is especially in silence that we can create sacredness between human beings.

Silence in the face of evil

Silence is not passive. It is a subtle struggle against less enlightened beings. Through prayer one can face evil. By the internal struggle that we lead, by the prayers that we address to God, we contribute on our scale to push back the evil, the first one being the one that we cultivate in ourselves. If we manage to diminish the voice of evil that whispers in our head, we can more easily fight against threatening external forces. Inner peace creates outer peace. It is by maintaining a mental balance and the divine presence in our heart through silence that we are best equipped to face the malevolence that is present everywhere around us.

Silence is an essential ingredient of human life

Every human being aspires to some form of silence, even if everything seems to point to the contrary. It is in the inability to find silence that many give in to the temptation of noise. Silence is an incredible companion that will help you in the most difficult moments of your life. Silence teaches us the most beautiful virtues of the heart: patience, temperance, forgiveness, kindness and humility.
To be comfortable with silence, one must also befriend solitude. These are two important companions of the spiritual quest. When we strengthen our friendship with God, we are able to find peace with ourselves and thus know ourselves better.

Silence is not easy to find

Learning silence is difficult because it exposes our anxieties, our fears, our inner demons, etc. This is also why many people take refuge in noise, it is the best way to escape from what we are. To be truly accomplished, we must resolve to fight the evils that trouble our soul. The learning process is long but it is worth it. Our heart is like a temple that needs to be dusted and rid of its unwanted beings (our own demons). When we have made this effort of regular cleaning through prayer and silence, we are more at ease to come back to this celestial space. Of course, if we don’t take the time to clean up a place, we rarely want to stay there.

The first language of God is silence.

It is proper to speak only when it is necessary or charitable to do so. It is proper to speak only if our words are stronger than silence.

Concluding sentence from the book:

God drapes Himself in silence and reveals Himself only within our hearts.

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