The following article originally appeared in Sr. Emmanuel Maillard’s November 2017 monthly report from Medjugorje and was re-printed in Renewal Ministries’ May 2018 newsletter.
Thieves in our midst!
Every day, new means of communication are made available and placed on the market for us to buy. They are touted everywhere: television, radio, mobile phones, Twitter, Internet, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, etc. If these “modes” are supposed to help us communicate, then why have fellowship and relationships between people deteriorated? Why are families increasingly torn apart? Who are these thieves who come to subtly steal away our time of listening to one another, to participate in the joy of fellowship and unity of hearts?
A trap for our relationships with others
Families should be “a place of understanding and kindness,” according to one of our Blessed Mother’s recent messages in Medjugorje. But through television and all of these different devices, too many families have allowed thieves to sneak into their midst. Thieves who steal their time, family conversations, and time that otherwise would have been spent paying attention to one another.
Of course, these technologies are not all bad! They are often very useful and the only means of communication between households that are miles apart. However, our frantic, systematic, and indiscriminate use of them has turned these technologies into real domestic tyrants that control us.
These new forms of communication steal our ability to have a deep inner life and to listen to God and to our neighbor. They steal our ability to adore the Living God, which makes the grandeur of man. They suspend us in a state of distressing superficiality that we are getting used to, and it is a disaster. It is almost like a drug addiction. When we worship God, we become what we truly are in the eyes of the Creator, while these impostors deprive us little by little of our beautiful identity.
Many families are suffering from a critical lack of communion. Where love is not expressed, every person tries to survive his imprisonment by seeking compensation through all-out communication. Oh, if only we knew how much God wants to talk to us! After all, His first commandment begins with “Shema Israel,” “Listen Israel!”
A pitfall in our relationship with God
The Lord said to St. Faustina:
“In a chatty soul, I find no rest.
The incessant turmoil exhausts me, and in this tumult,
the soul cannot hear my voice.”
God indeed speaks to every soul, but only a small number of them hear the murmur of His voice. Today, many people are afraid of silence—afraid of having to face themselves. Noise enables us to forget our inner emptiness by pretending to fill it. What an illusion! Poor heart, it cannot find true joy! Poor heart that does not know that only God can fill it, and which forgets its capacity to be filled!
How can we keep a pure heart?
When we are criticized or hear unkind words, they hit us like a wave hits the shore. It can hit a rock and bounce back with even greater violence: This is what happens when we respond, justify ourselves, or further spread these words around. But the wave can also run aground on the sand, lose its strength, and end up disappearing: This is what happens when we meet criticism, slander, and hatred with silence, as Jesus did during His Passion. Thus, violence runs aground in our silence and simply disappears.
“Never enter into a (combative) discussion,” shared the Mother of God in one of her messages at Medjugorje! For instance, if someone curses God in your presence, pretend not to hear it. Do not respond, do not argue back. But in your heart, bless the Lord with all your heart, say as many praises as you can. Your blessing will cancel out the effect of the blasphemy, and God will be glorified.
The philosopher Socrates gave us some very good advice. When we hear something bad being said, and we want to repeat it to others, let’s first put it to the test of the “three filters”:
1. Is it absolutely true?
2. Is it a good thing to say?
3. Is it useful to say it?
If it is neither true, nor good, nor useful . . . let’s forget it! Let us take the Mother of God as our example. She was silent as she carried Baby Jesus in the quiet of her heart. She did not cry out from the rooftops, “Guess what! I have the best news ever for you!”
St. Faustina: “Silence is a sword in spiritual struggle.”
St. Faustina made the above statement in Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul. She continued,
“A talkative soul will never attain sanctity. The sword of silence will cut off everything that would like to cling to the soul. We are sensitive to words, and quickly want to answer back, without having any regard as to whether it is God’s will that we should speak.”
“A silent soul is strong. If it perseveres in silence, no adversities will harm it. The silent soul is capable of attaining the closest union with God. It lives almost always under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. In a silent soul, God works without hindrance.” (477)
“The Holy Spirit does not speak to the dissipated and talkative soul, but speaks by silent inspiration to the soul that knows how to keep silent. If silence were strictly observed, there would be no murmurs, no bitterness, no slander and gossip. Love of neighbor would not be tarnished. In a word, many flaws would cease to exist. A mouth that keeps silent is pure gold and is a testament to inner holiness.” (145)
Elsewhere, Jesus also said to her:
“Try to live in silent reflection in order to hear my voice, which is a murmur; only souls remaining in silent recollection can hear it” (1779).