The Beauty of Silence

Elijah at the cave
Elijah at the cave

"He got up, ate, and drank; then strengthened by that food, he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb. There he came to a cave, where he took shelter. But the word of the LORD came to him: Why are you here, Elijah? He answered: “I have been most zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts, but the Israelites have forsaken your covenant. They have destroyed your altars and murdered your prophets by the sword. I alone remain, and they seek to take my life.”  Then the LORD said: Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will pass by. There was a strong and violent wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD—but the LORD was not in the wind; after the wind, an earthquake—but the LORD was not in the earthquake; after the earthquake, fire—but the LORD was not in the fire; after the fire, a light silent sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. A voice said to him, Why are you here, Elijah?" (1 Kings 19: 8-13)

Last night on April 15th was truly one of most incredible nights I've experienced here at St. Patrick's.

 Our speaker, Sarah Faust, shared her conversion story from a life of false worldy freedom into a relentless seeking of God's love that has led to her entering the Dominican Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist this Fall as a postulant.  Preparing for this night was very difficult.  We usually do praise and worship music at the end of youth nights once a month and this week was scheduled for that.  As I prayed over the song selections, I really didn't feel any peace about a straight session of praise and worship.  The more I prayed, I felt a call to set apart a time for SILENCE.  That's right: long, awkward, striking silence!  We've never done this before and I was nervous about how our group would react.  The scripture of Elijah and the cave (above) came to me and we went for it.  After two songs, we proclaimed the above Scripture from Elijah at the cave and went into a solid 10 minutes of silence.  

After about 7-8 minutes, I realized that the room of 100+ people was completely and utterly silent - it was truly like we broke through into the cave!  I turned around from the front and looked out over the assembly and I saw not awkwardness, boredom, or impatience,but a sea of teens who were deeply rooted in silent prayer.  Every person was sitting or kneeling with eyes closed and just AT PEACE!  It was as if in that silence the dove of the Holy Spirit came down and we received the peace that only God can give.  What is God doing now?  I believe that he wants to move us further into the deep, further into a contemplative spirituality not afraid of silence, into the only place of prayer that we can truly hear his voice.  And as God asked Elijah, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"  so too does he ask all of us in this community "What are you doing here?" I pray that we can respond with the prophet Isaiah "Here I am Lord, I have come to do your will!"

Patrick Reis

Patrick Reis is the Coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Ministry at St. Patrick's Dominican Parish in Columbus, OH.  

Office: 614-240-5925

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