Carmelite Conversations

The Role of Silence in Prayer

June 13, 2016

Here Mark and Frances reintroduce a topic they believe does not get enough attention in our discussion of contemplative prayer or even in conversations about the spiritual journey. The topic is the important role of silence in our daily prayer and in our daily lives. Mark and Frances begin by explaining that the spiritual definition of silence goes well beyond the simple absence of noise, and they readily admit that our human language always falls short when trying to adequately explain what is meant by true silence. Indeed, they contend it is something that can only be experienced by the individual soul; it is really a gift of the Holy Spirit and really the most we can hope to do it dispose ourselves to receive this gift. None the less, in this two part series, Mark and Frances do attempt to provide some explanation of what is meant by this gift if silence, and more importantly they hope that by offering what descriptions they can, the listener will be in a better position to seek after this intimate encounter of silence in prayer. In this conversation they begin by explaining the twelve degrees of silence that are offered from the writings of the Desert Fathers. These include some of the more obvious elements of quieting our imagination, our feelings or emotions and our self love. But the list also includes the less obvious elements of needing to quiet our intelligence, judgement and will. This program is a very good introduction to the critically important role of silence in our prayer life and in the daily circumstances of our spiritual journey.