Silence is golden … Reflections on the Sunday gospel, Mark 1:29-39

father steven labaireI am pleased to present this guest post from Father Steven LaBaire, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Worcester, MA.

In preparation for mass this Sunday:

This coming Sunday’s gospel describes Jesus as very busy, doing a lot of good. He’s bringing healing and relief to lives that are burdened.

In the middle of this whirlwind of activity, we’re told that he went to a quiet, deserted place and prayed.

Recently, I read some articles about how silence is good for the brain.  According to these studies, our brains need a regular doses of silence. Silence not only allows our brains to “calm down,” silence,  it would seem, is  a seedbed for creativity and clear, more focused thinking.  I’m not surprised by these findings. Virtually all the great spiritual writers describe regular doses of silence as essential to the diet of the spiritual life.

We live in the midst of the noisiest generation to ever inhabit the planet.

Peter Lee Chaotic Noise Marching Band 3
Peter Lee Chaotic Noise Marching Band

Some people spend their whole day, from the moment they wake up, distracted by  the clutter of “ noise”  around them. Often I hear people telling me that “peace and quiet” are a ” luxury,” they find difficult to find. More and more I find young people, raised on a diet of noisy gadgets and non-stop entertainment, uncomfortable with extended periods of silence. ( A parent was telling me how she was driving the neighbor’s kids in her car. She had no video or gadgets to “distract” them for the 45 minute ride. The kids “freaked out.” She described the ride as “hell.”  So addicted to noise and being-entertained, they couldn’t tolerate simply talking or quiet for less than an hour.)

Sadly, even our churches have become noisy places …

… where in the name of “hospitality,” the drum of chatter robs our neighbor of even a modicum of peace. (Have you ever noticed people trying to pray before or after  Mass in church and within a stone’s throw, people (including the priest) talking rather loudly? In 2015 it is sometimes impossible to find a quiet, prayerful environment even in church!)

The bottom line is that silence is healing.

Alberto Ortiz Silence
Alberto Ortiz Silence

Silence can get us in touch with the feelings and thoughts inside, that we often don’t pay enough attention to. Quiet calms the spirit. Silence can help us organize our thoughts without distraction.  As a healer, Jesus knew this all so well. Do we know this?

Are we ignoring one of the best non-prescription remedies for body and soul by not clearing away some of the “noise clutter” of our day? Silence really can be “golden.”

Let’s pray for the grace to follow Christ to a peaceful place.

Copyright 2015 Steven M. LaBaire

Art/Photography: Father Stephen LaBaire — Susan Bailey, copyright 2015
Chaotic Noise Marching Band 3, Peter Lee, Flickr Creative Commons; Silence, Alberto Ortiz, Flickr Creative Commons 

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