Prayerful silence and the Prince of Peace in our world today

by Bishop Michael Olson

North Texas Catholic

December 18, 2017


Just as silence enables prayer; noise provokes violence. It should not be surprising that so much of what passes currently for conversation in political discourse and in news reporting has become harsh and incendiary, a reflection of the violence that dominates us in our contemporary world.

The conversation that we have with God in silence prompts us to become alert to His loving and selfless priorities for us that soon become, through a change of heart in us, our own priorities for our loved ones, who may agree or disagree with us. If we have cultivated a prayerful habit of silence for meditation on the “Word made flesh,” we cannot help but be free of violent thoughts and actions against our neighbor. As Robert Cardinal Sarah notes, “God’s first language is silence. Everything else is a poor translation. In order to understand this language, we must learn to be silent and to rest in God.”

The word “peace” is mentioned in abundance in the Scriptures. “Peace” or “shalom” in Hebrew is more than the absence of war. Peace is a sense of fulfillment or completion that can be found only in harmonious and right relationship with God — external peace among people and nations, and an internal peace within each human person.

At this time of Christmas, when we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace, we can remind each other that we can be confident and not afraid of the violence and fear that surround us. This peaceful confidence should sustain us in our conversation about important political matters and remind us that we can refrain from mean and disrespectful discourse. We must be part of a solution and not contribute to the problem when we first encounter the Christ Child in the silence of the manger of each of our souls.

Bishop Michael Olson

When we see violence rampant in our society and communities, why is that? Again, because, intentionally or unintentionally, we have no room for Him; we ignore His word and become distracted by noise. We can lose trust in Him and wrongly prefer being enslaved to noise and discord.

In a few short days in our liturgical calendar, the Word will become flesh again, Emmanuel will again be born in our hearts, “eternity in time; omnipotence in bonds; God in the form of man,” as the Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen once put it. There in the silence of the manger is no better reminder that the Lord wants nothing more than to be with us, to give us peace, to give us hope, to give us Himself in vulnerability for our love, to give us eternal life with Him and the Father in Heaven. He comes to us in the quiet darkness of the manger as our light, not in the blare of the city as an argument to which we must capitulate.

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us, the Word became Flesh for “us men and for our salvation,” to be “our model of holiness,” and to show God’s boundless love for us.  If we believe, we cannot help but share this love with others, beginning with our prayer, flowing through our speech, and culminating in our actions.

Just as silence enables prayer; noise provokes violence. It should not be surprising that so much of what passes currently for conversation in political discourse and in news reporting has become harsh and incendiary, a reflection of the violence that dominates us in our contemporary world.

Published (until 12/18/2032)
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