Inner silence meditation

 

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Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation

From the Center for Action and Contemplation

Image credit: The Angelus (detail), Jean-François Millet, 1857–1859, Musee d'Orsay, Paris, France.
 

Week One

 

Action and Contemplation:
Part One

 
 
 

Inner Silence
Wednesday, January 8, 2020

 

Silence is not the absence of being; it is a kind of being itself. It is not something distant, obtuse, or obscure of which only ascetics and hermits are capable. Most likely we have already experienced deep silence, and now we must feed and free it and allow it to become light within us. We do not hear silence; rather, it is that by which we hear. We cannot capture silence; it must enthrall us. Silence undergirds our very being as ceaseless, primary prayer.

Silence is a kind of thinking that is not thinking. It is a kind of thinking which truly sees (from the Latin contemplata meaning “to see”). Silence, then, is truly an alternative consciousness. It is a form of intelligence, a form of knowing beyond reacting, which is what we normally call emotion. It is a form of knowing beyond mental analysis, which is what we usually call thinking. Philosopher René Descartes (1596–1650) was not wrong when he said, “I think, therefore I am.” He was accurately describing the Western person. Most of us believe that we are what we think, but we are so much more than our thoughts about things.

At their higher levels, all of the great world religions teach that this tyrannical mode of thinking has to be relativized and limited or it takes over—and rather completely takes over—to the loss of primal being. Pretty soon, words mean less and less; they mean whatever the ego wants them to mean. Witness our political discourse today! But this leads to more and more cynicism and suspicion about all words, even our own.

The ego uses words to get what it wants. When we are in an argument with our family, friends, or colleagues, that is what we do. We pull out the words that give us power, make us look right or superior, and help us win the argument. But words at that level are rather useless and even dishonest and destructive.

The soul does not use words. It surrounds words with space, and that is what I mean by silence. Silence is a kind of wholeness. It can absorb contraries, paradoxes, and contradictions. Maybe that is why we do not like silence. There is nothing to argue about in true inner silence, and the mind likes to argue. It gives us something to do. The ego loves something it can take sides on. Yet true interior silence does not allow you to take sides. That is one reason contemplation is so liberating and calming. There are no sides to take and only a wholeness to rest in—which frees us to act on behalf of love.

 

Gateway to Action & Contemplation:
What word or phrase resonates with or challenges me? What sensations do I notice in my body? What is mine to do?

Prayer for Our Community:
O Great Love, thank you for living and loving in us and through us. May all that we do flow from our deep connection with you and all beings. Help us become a community that vulnerably shares each other’s burdens and the weight of glory. Listen to our hearts’ longings for the healing of our world. [Please add your own intentions.] . . . Knowing you are hearing us better than we are speaking, we offer these prayers in all the holy names of God, amen.

Listen to Fr. Richard read the prayer.

 
 

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Silent Compassion: Finding God in Contemplation(Franciscan Media: 2014), 4-7.

Image credit: The Angelus (detail), Jean-François Millet, 1857–1859, Musee d'Orsay, Paris, France.

 
 
 

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News from the CAC

 

The Franciscan Way Online Course

Financial assistance is available!
Explore Richard Rohr’s teachings on St. Francis of Assisi with a passionate and diverse group of online learners, February 5-March 24, 2020. Applications for financial assistance are due January 22.

 

CONSPIRE 2020 Online

CONSPIRE 2020 unites Richard Rohr’s seven themes of alternative orthodoxy into a way of life rooted in radical openness to God’s loving presence. Join us for the live webcast or the replay. Learn more at cac.org/conspire-2020.

 
 
 

Action & Contemplation

 
 

2020 Daily Meditations Theme

What does God ask of us? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God. —Micah 6:8

Franciscan Richard Rohr founded the Center for Action and Contemplation in 1987 because he saw a deep need for the integration of both action and contemplation. If we pray but don’t act justly, our faith won’t bear fruit. And without contemplation, activists burn out and even well-intended actions can cause more harm than good. In today’s religious, environmental, and political climate our compassionate engagement is urgent and vital.

 

In this year’s Daily Meditations, Father Richard helps us learn the dance of action and contemplation. Each week builds on previous topics, but you can join at any time! Click the video to learn more about the theme and to find reflections you may have missed.

 
 
An image of Richard Rohr speaking in his chair about the 2020 Daily Meditation Theme. The image links to a video.
 

Click here to learn about contemplative prayer and other forms of meditation. For frequently asked questions—such as what versions of the Bible Father Richard recommends or how to ensure you receive every meditation—please see our email FAQ. Visit cac.org to explore other ways to connect with the Center for Action and Contemplation.

 
 
 
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Inspiration for this week's banner image: We tend to presume that one must create silent spaces for contemplation. It is as if we have drawn the spiritual veil around contemplative activity, seeking to distance prayerful and reflective practices from the noise of the world. —Barbara Holmes

 
 
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Today’s meditation on silence
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