In the noise and distractions of the past weeks, someone has slipped in quietly. He has found his nook, made his home in the silence he calls a friend. Called to a duty he knows well. Watching. Praying. Waiting for me to turn my back resolutely on the chatter that disturbs.
Waiting to take my hand to navigate the coming twists of path the lie ahead.
I think about him, and the little I know. My memory traces the stories of old. His immense love for those placed in his heart. His determined protection of the vulnerable. He was a man blessed with an unexpected and special fatherhood. Tenderly guided by the voice of an angel, he immediately embraced the sacredness of the calling. I never knew a father like that, but thankfully, my children have such a daddy – one who has cradled and loved and nurtured them, just like the father of his Lord did before him. Having seen my husband give his heart and soul to our children, loving them even in his pain, I know that the biblical narratives about the silent and resolute heroism of the Holy Spouse of Mary are goldpearls of truth; such a father did, and does exist.
They call him the Silent Saint. Often, his is a ministry of love beribboned in quietness. Whether it is to build a staircase for nuns, or to help the desperate find employment or shelter, he finds little need of words, but in love, sets to work on the task to ease the ache of need. I think of the noise that surrounds me, and which makes itself king over my waking hours. I think of my own contribution to the babel, every frivolous word uttered, every shuddering hyena-cackle, and I wonder if those minutes could not have been put to better use, for every second of every minute, someone is in a pain we can help to alleviate. I know I am not called to perpetual solemnness or sepulchral tones. But, what if, just a couple of times, I could have retreated from empty mirth, and gone instead to a place of need, and prayed for a soul not known to me? How hard could that have been? St Faustina once prayed for the grace of interior and exterior silence, so Jesus may have a place to rest His head. My prayer these days is that I too know the grace of interior and exterior silence so I remember to press aching souls into St Joseph’s heart. I will need the gift of silence to discern silent pain and need, and he knows how necessary that is because he truly lived that call on earth. In a world where the currency of empty speech is gaining value and respect, he has led the way first to show us the power and value of silence, and that it has its place of worth in every pilgrim soul.
I believe it was in the carefully cultivated silence of this saint’s soul, that the angel made his visitations. And it was in this blessed and holy quiet that this gentle man pondered the message of the dreams, and discerned his Master’s voice. As the world’s vain braying reaches a crescendo, and the clamour competes for my attention, I fear that I would no longer be able to hear the Shepherd’s gentle call. To tell it apart from other spikes of cacophony. To understand what He says, what I am called to do.
I sense an urgency to seek silence till it embraces me. I need silence to love, and to persevere to love – whether through prayer or deed. I cannot care as much as I am called to if I am pulled in a hundred directions, lulled to the dangers of noise in my spirit, for this noise is the brittle grit that clogs up charity.
Now, more than ever, in the racket of worldly preoccupations and empty pursuits, I need the silence of St Joseph’s soul to know where the abyss of indifference lies, because I sometimes sense its open mouth lies much closer than I think.