February 16, 2018

Worship and Evangelization Outreach / Mary Schaffner

Encountering God in the silence

Mary SchaffnerDo you feel drawn to silence, yet resist it at the same time? This seems to be a common theme when the subject of silence in the spiritual life comes up. And yet, is it even about the silence?

When we find our way to silence—in prayer, for a retreat, for a walk in nature—what is it that we are truly seeking? The well-known words from St. Augustine can offer insight: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

Each of us has an inherent desire for God. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we hear, “The desire for God is written in the human heart, because [we] are created by God and for God” (# 27).

In fact, we might say that we are more than in relationship with God, but that we are relationship with God in our very being. Nurturing in prayer what is so naturally a part of us puts us in touch with our inner beauty and dignity, and silence is crucial to a deepening life of prayer.

Pope Francis says that silence “is really the ‘cloud’ that covers the mystery of our relationship with the Lord. … We cannot explain this mystery, but where there is no silence in our lives, the mystery is lost, it goes away. Guard the mystery with silence!” (Homily on Dec. 20, 2013).

As a spiritual director, I am always humbled and struck by the grace and fruitfulness of those who have taken time to enter into the mystery of relationship with God in silence. God’s love, mercy and healing touch become so very real and alive.

If you are looking for an opportunity to experience a deepening relationship with God through silence, a list of retreat centers in the archdiocese and throughout the Midwest can be found at www.archindy.org/fatima/midwest.html.

Here at Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House in Indianapolis, we have the following opportunities scheduled for 2018:

  • Silent Self-Guided Days of Reflection run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and include a room for the day, continental breakfast, lunch and the use of the common areas and grounds. Mass is celebrated at 11:30 a.m.
  • Holy Week Silent Days and Nights begins at 4 p.m. on March 25, and runs daily through March 29.
  • Other monthly opportunities will take place on April 18, May 4, June 25, July 26, Aug. 14, Sept. 25, Oct. 19 and Nov. 26.
  • Advent Silent Days will take place from Dec. 18-21.
  • A Summer Silent Directed Retreat will be held on July 13-20. Rates vary depending on length of stay.

The primary purpose of a silent directed retreat is to foster an atmosphere in which retreatants may be led to a personal encounter with God. In meeting with a spiritual director once a day and through the use of Scripture and their own story, retreatants are offered the opportunity to deepen their relationship with God and grow in an awareness of the Holy Spirit working in their life.

For more information, visit www.archindy.org/fatima/calendar. Plan ahead and give yourself the greatest of gifts!

(Mary Schaffner is associate director of spirituality at Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House in Indianapolis.)

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