We Need More Silence, Not More Talking

Recently, I wrote an article about how we need to seek Our Lord in the Tabernacle as a response to a lack of listening on the part of the hierarchy. One of the criticisms was that we have to be able to talk to one another in order to listen and understand. This is true so long as our discussions are the fruit of prayer, otherwise they are counterproductive and even destructive. This is one of the main issues in the Church today. We talk far more often than we pray.

The problem with this argument, which has pervaded so much of a Church paralyzed by the “dictatorship of noise,” is that we must hear God’s voice before we can hear one another. There are many competing ideologies and voices vying for our attention in the Church today. All of this noise makes it impossible to hear the Holy Spirit leading us. This is why we must seek the face of Christ in His Real Presence in the Tabernacle first. 

Cardinal Robert Sarah has warned against the dangers of this incessant din for years. His book The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise is the response to those who want to put the cart before the horse. Too often we want our will, not the will of God, for our lives and the Church. We have our own ideas of how things should be and we never seek the face of God or only do so superficially. We talk incessantly and pray very little.

Seeking the face of Jesus in the Tabernacle or at Adoration is to enter into the silence of the Divine Love poured out for us. He waits for us. We are distracted, anxious, fearful, sinful, and often lost without realizing it. It is before the silence of His Real Presence that the scales slowly fall from our eyes and we begin to see as He sees. We cannot renew the Church or the world until we ourselves fully commit to the path to holiness and a constant conversion of heart.

The silence of Our Lord’s Real Presence leads us to confront our willfulness and waywardness. It is only by coming to see the love of Christ waiting for each one of us in the Tabernacle that we begin to see those areas of our lives where we have become hard-hearted or worldly. Spiritual blindness is a serious problem for all of us, regardless of vocation. Spiritually blind people lead others into blindness, which is why our talk can be destructive if it is not born of prayer in union with the Holy Spirit. 

Any person who spends frequent time in silence before the Blessed Sacrament will come to see that they are a part of the problem. Focusing on the faults of others falls away before the stark reality of our own sinfulness. Until our hearts change, we cannot change the hearts of others. Until we see with the eyes of Christ and love as He loves, which is to love our enemies, then we cannot bring about renewal. We can’t have meaningful discussions that will renew the Church until we are a people of silent prayer before the Tabernacle.

Our souls are restless, confused, and often given over to errors when we seldom come to Christ in His Real Presence and in a life of committed prayer. Cardinal Sarah explains: “All activity must be preceded by an intense life of prayer, contemplation, seeking and listening to God’s will.” Prayer born of silence must be the starting place for all of our actions and discussions.

The repeated conversion we all need can only be found in silence. It is in the silence of our hearts where the Most Holy Trinity dwells. If we do not live in communion within the deepest recesses of our soul, then we will drown out the voice of God by our own ideas and the opinions of others. It is by being a people of silent prayer and communion with God that we can turn in love and openness to others. Cardinal Sarah states:

The silence of everyday life is an indispensable condition for living with others. Without the capacity for silence, man is incapable of hearing, loving, and understanding the people around him. Charity is born of silence. It proceeds from a silent heart that is able to hear, to listen, and to welcome. Silence is a condition for otherness and a necessity if one is to understand himself. Without silence, there is neither rest nor serenity nor interior life. Silence is friendship and love, interior harmony, and peace. Silence and peace have one and the same heartbeat.

We spend our days in incessant noise, busyness, and a technocratic world seeking our constant attention. This is precisely why we accomplish so little in our parish communities and in our evangelization efforts. We continually beat our heads against the wall about what should be done when the answers will never come until we fall into silence before the Blessed Sacrament. We must have hearts that seek God’s will over and above our own. What is He asking of us?

If the Synod on Synodality is about more talk and noise without seeking the silence of God and His will, then it will be doomed to the same fate as the Synods of recent memory, which largely turned into ideologically driven infighting with very little fruit. All anyone seems to remember from them are the heretical ideas being thrown around. It’s understandable—at least on the ground—why expectations are abysmally low for the Synod.

This was the main point of my article on calling people who are frustrated to turn to Christ in the Tabernacle. We must take all the frustrations, concerns, difficulties, affliction, and the state of the Church to Him in His Real Presence. He will ultimately show us what we are supposed to do. People who are not truly seeking Him first will not be able to lead others to the truth found in Christ. Discussions will add more noise in a noisy Church. Cardinal Sarah bluntly states:

Today many people are drunk on speaking, always agitated, incapable of silence or respect for others. They have lost their calm and dignity… Without silence that precedes it, speech runs the great risk of being useless chattering instead: “In quietness and in trust shall be your strength”, Isaiah said (Is 30:15). The prophet rebukes the people of Israel for their idolatrous activism, their turbulent political passions, made up of alliances based on interests or military strategy, sometimes with Egypt, sometimes with Assyria. The people of Israel no longer place their trust in God.

Do we truly trust in God? Only people of silence trust completely in God. It is a silent prayerful people who can wait on God to act, who can seek His will, and enter into deep communion with Him and with others. We are supposed to be seeking communion in this Synod. We cannot live authentic communion if we do not first dwell in communion with the Most Holy Trinity. Prayer before the Blessed Sacrament is the school of silence, communion, and ultimately, of love. Our Lord is the only One who can teach us how to listen with an authentically loving heart.

This is a lesson I learned from Our Lord when the pandemic began in March 2020. I spent two hours a day every single day while public Masses were suspended in my diocese in prayer before the Tabernacle. It was in the silence of Our Lord’s Real Presence that I found peace, calm, love, and His will in a time of exile. It is a lesson I had forgotten in the craziness of the last two years. We can only come to understand ourselves, others, and the mission if we enter into His silence. 

If we truly want to be able to listen to one another and enter into deeper communion with one another, then we must first be people of prayer and silence. We must seek the face of Christ and be entirely open to the working of the Holy Spirit. It cannot be based on our own desires, but the will of the Father. The listening Church must be like St. John resting his head on the breast of Jesus at the Last Supper.

Image by SALVATORE MONETTI from Pixabay


Constance T. Hull is a wife, mother, homeschooler, and a graduate with an M.A. in Theology with an emphasis in philosophy. Her desire is to live the wonder so passionately preached in the works of G.K. Chesterton and to share that with her daughter and others. While you can frequently find her head inside of a great work of theology or philosophy, she considers her husband and daughter to be her greatest teachers. She is passionate about beauty, working towards holiness, the Sacraments, and all things Catholic. She is also published at The Federalist, Public Discourse, and blogs frequently at Swimming the Depths.

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