A certain brother went to Abbot Moses in Scete and asked him for a good word. And the elder said to him: Go, sit in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything.
Reading: Luke 18:15-17
15 People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
The Camaldolese are a contemplative order, which means they devote a goodly portion of each day to rest – in other words, to sitting in silence in their cells, in the unlit rotunda of the church, or out in nature. Their founder, Romuald of Ravenna, says in his Brief Rule,
Sit in your cell as in a paradise. Put the whole world behind you and forget it. Watch your thoughts like a good fisherman watching for fish. . . . Empty yourself completely and sit waiting, content with the grace of God, like the chick who tastes nothing and eats nothing but what his mother brings him.
This is classic desert spirituality.
What does silence accomplish in us? The discipline of sitting in silence slowly calms our bodily urge to be up and doing something "useful." It swings our spiritual gyroscope back to home point. It teaches us to recollect our anxious minds, to surrender our need for absolute control, and to expand our narrow vision.
People who are comfortable with silence have had to let go of numerous impediments along the way: by the time they close their eyes they understand that silence in the presence of God renews and refreshes their spirits and gives them the ability to give generously in return.
As someone once said: Only in the hands of those who’ve mastered the art of silence is the Gospel truly safe from abuse at the hands of the self-righteous.
Action and Prayer
Today I’ll sit for fifteen minutes in total silence. I’ll not think about my problems, my to-do list, my friends and family, those who are in need, or the circumstances of the world. I’ll not even think about God. I’ll simply sit waiting for whatever God might offer next.