If this site provides value to you and your practice, please consider donating a small amount to help with the hosting fees.
Welcome, Guest
Username: Password: Remember me

TOPIC: silence

silence 02 Jul 2019 13:13 #111358

I ran across an odd little book a couple weeks ago that I thought might be interesting for some. It's sort of a 'map' of the progress of silence in prayer. I have just given it a quick read but it seems to me an interesting summary of one person's experience, perhaps broadly/loosely applicable to other people, and perhaps somewhat useful as encouragement if one spots things relevant to ones own difficulties. The author was a Carmelite nun in the mid 1800s. I thought her divisions of mental activity into different categories were interesting. I'd never seen them divided up like that. Nor have I ever seen a practice guide that uses silence as the central principal.

A brief summary of the stages she outlines:

1) Silence about worldly things, silence about news, following the Rule (practice precepts) of the order one has joined, studying Scripture. "Speak little with the world, speak much with God."

2) Silence in work and movement: let movement be deliberate, walking quietly, the gaze quiet, keeping away from distractions of noise and busy-ness.

3) Silence in the imagination: disturbing imaginings, wander thoughts, emotional imaginings.

4) Silence in memory: forgetting the world, remembering God's mercy. Thanksgiving in silence.

5) Silence of interior conversations with or about other people/things.

6) When the tongue stops talking the senses become calm, as do the imagination and memory. Now one must silence affections, antipathies, indiscretions, desires, fervor, and sighs of impatience.

The silence of love is love in silence. Unforced. A virginal heart. Like the silence of the tabernacle lamp or incense rising.

7) Silence of meekness and humility: Silence in praise, in suffering, in fasting and vigils, in sickness or health, in tiredness, cold or heat. True spiritual poverty and penance.

eight) Silence of the spirit: silence in useless thoughts. Useless thoughts perturb, but they cannot cease to exist. God is enough. Silence of intention, silencing of curiosity, silencing of pride. Retreat into simplicity. Looking always upon God's face.

9) Silence of judgement: Silence, no opinion, before people and things. As if you had no opinion. Charity and prudence in silence. The silence of spiritual infancy. The silence of the angels. The silence of the Incarnate Word.

10) Silence of the will: Silence in the shadows/darkness. Not even asking for light. Silence in anguish and pain of soul. Not even saying "why?" or "how long?" Silence at the weight of the Divine Hand. The silence of Christ's Passion.

11) Silence with yourself. No interior monologue. Remain alone with God. Many get stuck here.

12) Silence before God.

The book is The Twelve Degrees of Silence, by Sr. Marie Aimeé de Jésus [1839-1874].
Last Edit: 02 Jul 2019 13:13 by Ona Kiser.
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Tom Otvos, shargrol, Kacchapa, Laurel Carrington, Philip

silence 02 Jul 2019 13:37 #111359

It's amazing how much these kinds of maps tend to resemble each other across different people, locations, cultures, spiritual traditions, and across time.

EDIT: So immediately after I pressed the "enter" key to post this I realized that OF COURSE these maps seem similar - they're coming from the human mind and psyche, which no matter where and who you are, and what traditions you adhere to, works similarly within certain boundaries. So NOT so amazing, maybe.

Who knows?
Last Edit: 02 Jul 2019 13:40 by Chris Marti.
The administrator has disabled public write access.

silence 03 Jul 2019 23:10 #111364

Not directly relevant to silence, but I remember early on in my investigations being intrigued by "contemplative prayer", and how it related (or didn't) to meditation. Now, as I type this to look up the name of the person tied to this (Fr. Thomas Keating), I see it is now called "centering prayer", and is somewhat controversial:

en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centering_prayer

So in your experience, Ona, how much of the contemplative/meditative aspects of these practices (including your silence one above) inform the practice and lives of the priests and nuns you know? And Chris, I am still amazed, notwithstanding your EDIT.
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Ona Kiser

silence 04 Jul 2019 07:41 #111365

Tom Otvos wrote:
Not directly relevant to silence, but I remember early on in my investigations being intrigued by "contemplative prayer", and how it related (or didn't) to meditation. Now, as I type this to look up the name of the person tied to this (Fr. Thomas Keating), I see it is now called "centering prayer", and is somewhat controversial:

en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centering_prayer

So in your experience, Ona, how much of the contemplative/meditative aspects of these practices (including your silence one above) inform the practice and lives of the priests and nuns you know? And Chris, I am still amazed, notwithstanding your EDIT.

Contemplation and meditation have nearly opposite definitions in Christian practice from in common usage. Meditation means ruminating on a reading or image, chewing on a bit of text you've studied. It's a kind of 'contemplative study'. Contemplation means principally the self-arising/God-given grace of interior silent prayer (which cannot be made to happen by effort, but arises more commonly in those who prepare the vessel, so to speak).

The general idea is that ones practice follows the following sequence: First, abide by the exterior/behavioral/moral precepts, by following the commandments and participating in the sacraments (confession and eucharist). This begins to form the person, calm the mind, and calm the life context of the person and acts as a integral way of demonstrating intention.
--> Since many Christians are brought up in the Church, rather than converting into it, many of them are 'culturally' Christian (the way many Jews are ethnically Jewish but may not even believe in God or follow any of the teachings of Judaism, except maybe major holidays with the family). So a good number may show up in church but don't actually do the basic practice, so they are highly unlikely to develop a contemplative life, unless via some trauma (accident leads to near death experience, loss of a child leads to a crisis, etc. that then leads them to an inner conversion).

The deeper changes in ones life that here might be called paths or progress of insight are called 'conversions'. So if a person then for whatever reason becomes more engaged in actually practicing (which has to come from God's call in their heart, via something in a sermon striking their ears or a book or friend leading them to think about prayer for the first time, etc.) they will then fall into seeking advice about prayer, reading more devotional books, asking their confessor for guidance, etc. People often go through phases of more zealous engagement and falling away and coming back again. What 'causes' that is God's work and the mystery of life. You can't 'make' people pray, not even if you terrify them with threats of hell, nor even if you demonstrate deep loving kindness and enthusiastic cheerful example. It just isn't mechanistic that way.

So lay people who are more engaged will then begin going to confession more regularly, which develops into spiritual direction; and/or join one of the various groups at church that meets weekly for deeper talks, readings and prayer; or join one of the groups affiliated with a monastery which provides participation in monastic/convent activities for interested lay people, including silent retreats (usually during the holidays when people have time off, or on holiday weekends.

Some monastic orders are specifically focused on silent (contemplative) prayer (such as Benedictines, Carmelites). But others have a special focus on working with the sick or homeless or other charitable work. It's considered normal that although contemplative monastic life is an ideal context for the arising of a deep contemplative life it doesn't even always happen there! And it has in many cases arisen in lay life, or in the working monastic orders. God decides, we respond. Of the priests and nuns I know personally, a good number are somewhere along the way, working out their journeys. A few times I have encountered very, very holy priests or nuns (I can think of four specific encounters in the last 8 years, where it was distinct enough that it left a permanent memory of the joy and amazement of that meeting). One certainly runs into people both lay and clergy and religious sisters, etc who are not really doing a very good job of things at the moment, but one never knows how that will turn out. Sometimes one needs a crisis to grow further or shake one out of bad habits. Sometimes one is in a dull period and falls into worldliness (too much time of the phone, too much concern for angling for praise or trying to be special, not listening to the advice of ones director or superiors, etc.). Then that passes and things deepen. I was talking to my friend who is a deacon yesterday, whose spiritual director I am now seeing (the director is nearly 90 years old). It's a whole different flavor of direction than dealing with a 30 or 40 year old director. The elderly clergy and monastics are a treasure, with both long life experience and long practice experience, and are much more likely to know the ins and outs of the things that make younger people fret and fuss. He apparently told my friend "your main problem is that you are still young. You will grow out of most of these problems."

So that's the general idea. The problem I've found with the more 'novel' approaches from the post-60s like Centering Prayer and it's frenemy "Christian Meditation" is that they downplay the classical Christian tradition and bring in a lot of concepts from other religions, principally Buddhism and Hinduism. When I went to a couple retreats of those groups the people attending were largely not Catholic, even though the events took place at monasteries and were led by monks (I walked into the chapel one afternoon to find a self-proclaimed Sufi chanting Hindu mantras in front of the Blessed Sacrament). Since God had called me to a specific tradition (after many years of mixing together whatever I felt like doing) I wanted to honor that by practicing it in its classical form. I'm rigorous about that even today.
Last Edit: 04 Jul 2019 07:45 by Ona Kiser.
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Kacchapa, Laurel Carrington, Benjie OK
Time to create page: 0.214 seconds
Powered by Kunena Forum