Maybe that’s not the most engaging way to begin an article! But it is a crucial cornerstone of a robust spiritual life. Silence is the gateway to our interior world, to the inner spiritual landscape where we encounter our Creator at the roots of our own life. Countless spiritual guides across the ages and across cultures have taught us that it is essential to take time apart from the noise, the conversations, the thinking and planning of daily life in order to listen to the Word spoken by the Spirit within.
A sizeable number of parishioners are embarking on an adventure into this realm of alive silence in the coming weeks: the 34 people who are making the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola in various small group formats. They will set aside some sacred time most every day to follow the plan of meditations and Gospel contemplations set out by Ignatius nearly 500 years ago. They will also meet regularly in their groups, where trained spiritual guides will help them reflect on and integrate what they are experiencing. Ignatius clearly intends these exercises to be a pathway to encounter the mystery of God, especially in the mystery of the Risen Jesus present today. But participants often first experience these exercises as a way of meeting the mystery of themselves anew; some say it is when they have been most able to be themselves, when they could grow in freedom to be their most authentic selves. The wonder is that such experience of the Self leads simultaneously to finding God’s presence and voice and love within ourselves… and leads at the same time to finding God in all things and all people around us.
I hope that everyone in the parish can someday have this experience. These 34 people will pave the way for others by bringing back their own spiritual stories to inspire and invite us in. Let’s pray for them, as they will surely pray for us and our parish.
Because these Spiritual Exercises are the foundation of Jesuit life, we Jesuits have the inviolable custom of spending a week in silent retreat each year, to renew our experience of the Exercises. I will be leaving to make my own annual retreat next week, my own movement into the silence of the Presence. I will certainly pray for the 34 beginning their trek through the Spiritual Exercises, as well as for all our parishioners. Please pray for me in return, that I may continue to grow in fidelity to following Jesus as he leads me to love and to serve.
Then November arrives with the feasts of All Saints and All Souls (Nov. 1 and 2). We remember those who have gone before us and who oriented their own lives to the following of Jesus. Of course we do more than merely remember them: these feasts call us to awaken more deeply to our union with them in the Life we share. November 5th is the feast of All Jesuit Saints – and the day of the next edition of this e-newsletter. Until then… enjoy the Silence!