“I am so busy, I don’t know how I ever found time to work.” I’ve heard this phrase from many retirees and even said it myself once or twice. Yet as I’ve been able to calm down a bit, having more time and quiet, I’ve been able to think about life …. revisiting some things from my past and pondering the future.
I “finally” finished the Cardinal Sarah book “The Power Of Silence”… a book with many wonderful insights. The Cardinal discusses the constant noise that comes from life in the 21st century… the media, cell phones, meetings, constant chatter….. Dom Dysmas de Lassus, the seventy-fourth Father General of the Carthusian Order, contributed innumerable pearls of wisdom. Here are some snippets from his comments on illnesses that come from noise.
“If there is an illness that comes from noise, I would call it ‘suffocation syndrome’. I notice it thru the experience of candidates who come on retreat. Memories, desires, hurts, and fears of which they are unaware and that lie at the bottom of their souls resurface. In their everyday routine the constant influx of news, meetings, and various activities have ceaselessly covered up these voices in the depths of their being and allowed them no opportunity to reemerge into consciousness. Silence and solitude reveal them. Since discovery is not always pleasant, and the one concerned is rather at a loss, he tries to keep them outside the field of consciousness by maintaining the permanent noise that prevents them from becoming manifest.” Wow, I can relate a bit to that in my life…I want the “noise” to drown out my bad memories. (The Power of Silence, Robert Cardinal Sarah, Chapter V, pg. 228)
He goes on to say that “discernment and renunciation have become more necessary than ever; he says that while I’m not responsible for the war in Syria, and I have nothing to contribute to resolve that tragedy… I am responsible for my neighbor down the hall if I learn he is sick or alone. Every person needs a bit of silence and solitude if he wants to be able to stay in contact with his heart.” (Ibid) In other words, without a time of silence we can easily mix things up and our heart can dwell on the wrong things…getting confused.
A final thought from the Father General. “Finally I wonder whether the voice that the modern world seeks to stifle with incessant noise and movement might not be the one that tells us: “remember that you are dust and that you will return to dust”. It is a well known fact that our society characteristically ignores death. Without God, without eternal life, without Christ, and without eternal redemption, how can anyone bear the thought of death?” (Ibid) Therefore when we don’t face this truth, we can end up with a philosophy of “eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.”
Dom Dysmas de Lassus offers the following major remedy: it is the discovery of God’s love, of his call to eternal life, of Christ’s victory over death, which makes death a friend, a door that opens onto life…. along with Divine Mercy that heals the fear of the evil that we find in ourselves. In a word: hope.” (Ibid)
We can all use noise (distractions and sin) to keep our mind off some unpleasant realities of life….. “I just don’t want to think about it”. Yet when we calm down and allow the Lord to speak to our heart, we learn there is a remedy to these unpleasant realities of life. The remedy is God…. a God who loves us and is offering to help us. Jesus is his name. And this is very good news.