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Joy in Contemplative Community - I FIND JOY IN THE DEPTHS OF SHEER SILENCE

by General Commission for Evangelization and Mission

Silence in the heart, silence in prayer, silence where we live, silence in a noisy world…

Listening to the Scriptures

The building of the Temple was done with quarry - dressed stone; no sound of hammer or pick or any iron tool was to be heard in the Temple while it was being built. (1 Kings 6: 7)

He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a

great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:11-13)


Listening to the Carmelite tradition:

The Rule invites us to remain in solitude in our cells, which “give warmth to the children of grace as to the fruit of their own wombs, nourishing them, embracing them and bringing them to the fullness of perfection, making them worthy of intimacy with God.” The cell is not merely an external structure; we must build it at the heart of our inner selves; therein dwells God, who invites us to enter and seek the One who is. (RIVC, 35)

The decision for redemption was conceived in the eternal silence of the inner divine life. The power of the Holy Spirit came over the Virgin praying alone in the hidden, silent room in Nazareth and brought about the incarnation of the Saviour. Congregated around the silently praying Virgin, the emerging Church awaited the promised new outpouring of the Spirit that was to quicken it into inner clarity and fruitful outer effectiveness. […] The Virgin, who kept every word from God in her heart, in the model for such attentive souls in whom Jesus’ high priestly prayer comes to life again and again.  (Edith Stein, The Hidden life, pp. 11-13)

Listening to the Church Tradition.

In the desert, we rediscover the value of what is essential for living; thus in today’s world there are innumerable signs, often expressed implicitly or negatively, of the thirst for God, for the ultimate meaning of life. And in the desert people of faith are needed who, by the example of their own lives, point out the way to the Promised Land and keep hope alive”. In these situations, we are called to be living sources of water from which others can drink. At times, this becomes a heavy cross, but it was from the cross, from his pierced side, that our Lord gave himself to us as a source of living water. Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of hope! (Evangelii Gaudium, 86)

For pondering:

What does the silence means to me? How has silence been fruitful in my life?

Psalmody (from psalm 37)

Trust in the Lord, and do good;

    so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.

Take delight in the Lord,

    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;

    trust in him, and he will act.

Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him…

A prayer.

God our Father, teach us how to cultivate a deeper silence, prompt our hearts to seek constantly your face. Enlighten us by the contemplation of your beloved Son, may we be transformed by the vision of his glory. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.


“(May) Christ dwell in your hearts through faith that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3:17-19)

As Carmelites We live our life of allegiance to Jesus Christ and to serve Him faithfully with a pure heart and a clear conscience through a commitment to seek the face of the living God (the contemplative dimension of life), through prayer, through fraternity, and through service (diakonia). These three fundamental elements of the charism are not distinct and unrelated values, but closely interwoven. 

All of these we live under the protection, inspiration and guidance of Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, whom we honor as "our Mother and sister."