Sale on canvas prints! Use code ABCXYZ at checkout for a special discount!
Our Lady of Silence
“When I awake, I am still with thee...” Psalm 139:18
“O God, you are my Lord, my father and mother, Lord of the mountains and valleys.”
Prayer of the Kekchi Indian
“Faith itself is the soul’s true country, and prayer is it’s native language...Suffering often makes people turn to God, or at least wonder about His presence or absence, and a cry amid suffering is among the commonest kinds of prayers. Love, too, in all it’s guises and categories, makes us aware of the inevitability of connection with another and others; this human experience cannot be separated from a sense of the divine...If the silence and hiddenness of God are signs of His presences and the key to understanding the deepest meaning of our lives, then we may listen for God, hear Him in His silence, and find Him as the ultimate real Reality precisely in that silence and hiddenness. In other words, communication with God may not only be possible but also necessary; indeed, it may be actual long before we realize it is as so. Hence the book you are now holding - an inquiry into the meaning, nature, history, quality, types and effects of prayer in human experience.”
From the book “In Silence: Why We Pray.”
By Donald Spoto 2004
O there are so many many many books on Prayer, and Donald Spoto’s is one of my favorites. I’ve read it several times and bought many copies of the paperback to give away. In this book are numerous prayers from every time and region of the world. I am particularly fond of an ancient Zoroastrian prayer of the 6th century BCE . (Zoroaster named God Ahura Mazda...)
“With outstretched arms, open mind and my whole heart, I greet you , Ahura Mazda, in spirit. Turn your countenance toward me, dear Lord, and make my face happy and radiant. My heart yearns for you with a yearning that is never stilled. You are my most precious possession. My joy is in you, my refuge is in you. Let me live before you and with you and in your sight, I humbly pray...Everything that my eyes rest upon reveals your glory...Help me to cultivate the habit of prayer, to know your will, and to conform my impulses to its demands...I will pray to you in silence, for you hear my prayers even in my thought.”
I have longed for God as long as I can remember being conscious. My first experience of God was at age 2 or 3. I keep longing for God especially in this time of quarantine. Throughout my life I have felt his presence and even a couple of truly rare times, heard his voice within me. And there were days, years, without that feeling or comfort. Times I felt my soul and body starving for his love. Yet, I never blamed God. I really felt I had reached a point where my god was too small, ( like the glorious Broadway show, “ Your Arms Are Too Short To Box With God.”) and that I needed to know that God is infinitely beyond he or she, and infinitely beyond my tiny mind’s experience of a part of God. So I have let go and wait. This letting go and waiting has been my life, so far, with God and prayer.
Almost always, when I hear confessions, I ask the person “Who do you pray to?” They will say, always, God the Father, or always Jesus, or ... usually, the Blessed Mother, Mary, and sometimes, not often, I will hear I pray to the Holy Spirit. I believe when we find our own unique way of praying, we fly. For some it’s always with scripture. For others it’s brought on by loving another person, holding a newborn, music, paintings, icons, statues, lives of the saints,the rosary, nature...in the car... in a hospital or on the street, standing helpless beneath the cross of someone’s suffering. One of my most beautiful prayer experiences came in the depths of the New York subway standing beneath the falling light that came from above through the grills. Also seeing the moon enormous and shocking me awake one night outside my Manhattan apartment window. I don’t know why the moon is so so huge and comes down to make these visits in New York City. I’m sure there is an explanation. But it does !
I remember as a child caught into a prayer when I first saw The Seven Falls in the Colorado Springs area. In fact, writing these reflections on an icon, painting or image, is a prayer for me. I will also never forget our Novice Master, Fr O’Flaherty, SJ, telling us he had decided to teach his Mother how to pray and contemplate with scripture ... only to find, (which truly humbled him) that she had been contemplating in the deepest way saying her rosary for years.
Pope Francis has a great devotion to an icon of Our Lady of Silence, and I decided, when I saw the prototype or original, (in this time of natural hermitage-living for all of us) to do my own version to awake, reawaken... once again, that longing for God. Here is a prayer in the pamphlet about Our Lady of Silence: The Devotion of Pope Francis by Fr Emiliano Antenucci.
“O Mary, Our Lady of Silence,
you who were the womb of the eternal Word,
Help your children hear the word of love that flows like
living water from your breast. Give us the gift of an open ear,
open to him who through the touch of his love
transforms our life and history into a work of art,
illuminated and colourful.
O Mary, Our Lady who listens, help us to see the paths of life
and the designs of our Heavenly Father who loves us in a
unique, eternal and unrepeatable way,
O Mary, help us to live as God desires, so that we may live
in eternal joy together with the angels and saints.
Fr Bill McNichols 💮 October 2020