Do you have a Good Friday routine? Mine is to get quiet from 12:00-3:00 to contemplate the overwhelming mystery of Jesus’ sacrifice. I offer for your contemplation a painting my husband Fred did of the “Thief Stealing Paradise.”
The air on Calvary was not silent that day, but filled with the shouts and insults hurled at Jesus as He silently forgave them and purchased forgiveness for all time. But for Mary and John, standing at the foot of the bloody Cross, there must have been a silence that drowned out the noise.
Silence is a virtue that helps us receive, like the Good Thief, the powerful, healing mercy unleashed on that first Good Friday.
Below are snippets on the virtue of silence from Learning the Virtues that Lead Us to God by Msgr. Romano Guardini that I pray will help our reflection on the day our Salvation was bought with His blood:
“Silence does not mean no word is spoken and no sound is uttered. Rather, silence is that which takes place when man, after speaking, returns to himself and grows still; or when he who could speak remains still. Only he who can speak can be silent…. Silence means that he who would go forth by speaking remains in inner reserve; it is a knowing, a feeling, a living stillness, a vibrating within itself.
“To be capable of silence is a virtue. He who does not know how to keep silence does the same thing with has life as a man who would wish only to exhale and not to inhale. We need only imagine this to feel terrified. The man who is never silent dissipates his humanity.
“Only in silence is true knowledge attained….Association with others consists largely in giving to them something of oneself: friendliness, helpfulness, one’s presence, and finally the joy of complete communion. But can one give of himself if he does not possess himself? He who is always speaking does not really possess himself, for he always slips away from himself, and what he gives to others, when he should give himself, is nothing but words.
“…only in silence do we attain the presence of God.
“Into this most intimate relation—God and I—we do not come by speaking, but only by silence; when our inmost soul is opened and the sacred presence can manifest itself.
“We must resist the endless chatter and noise that fills the world; we must struggle as an asthmatic person struggles for breath. Otherwise something in us withers and dies.
“But the external noise is only half the problem and perhaps not even the most difficult half. The other is the inner turmoil, the whirl of thoughts, the drive of desire, the restlessness and worries of the mind, the burden of care, and wall of dullness, or whatever it may be that fills our interior world as rubble fills an abandoned well.
“We must be serious about this. A life properly lived includes practice in silence.
“Here there is an interiority, a depth that lies beyond the merely natural, as far beyond the natural depth of soul as the ‘realm’ where God is enthroned, and where our ‘glory to God in the highest’ seeks Him, and is beyond all thoughts and feelings…. This interiority has been given to us by Baptism, and now Christian practice must lift it beyond the natural world of feeling and thinking.
“Let us strive to be silent so that we may learn to be human.”
Artwork: “A Thief Stealing Paradise” by Fred Folsom