Thursday, December 31, 2015

Out of the Silence

During this year's Advent season, I decided to take a break from posting on Blogger, as well as penning new articles for Catholic365.  It wasn't so much that I had no ideas, as it seems I constantly have new ideas running a race around the track of my mind.  No, it was more that I felt this deep need for silence.

The season began with a hectic rush of "go here, run there, do this, fix that" in a crazy pace of non-stop action.  I came down with a painful, energy-robbing sinus infection.  Advent was not starting off well.

The second Sunday of Advent, though, brought me to the silence.  We attended the annual evening of "Lessons and Carols" at our diocesan seminary.  It was deep, beautiful nourishment for my soul.  In the midst of the words of Scripture--promising our Lord's birth--and the lyrics and melodies of the carols and instrumental harmonies...God brought a sweet, holy silence into my heart.  The night began in quiet darkness.  Then, slowly but methodically, the candles in the room were lit.  The prophecy of Isaiah 9, being fulfilled in Matthew 4, came to my mind:

"that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

'The land of Zeb′ulun and the land of Naph′tali,
toward the sea, across the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people who sat in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death
light has dawned.' ”  Matthew 4:14-16

I couldn't shake the feeling that these concepts were meant to be the theme of my own Advent meditations:  silence, darkness, and then, the great Light.

Imagine that quiet night on the hillsides outside Bethlehem.  It seemed a night like every other:  shepherds watching sheep, taking turns guarding the flock, and preparing for the next day's task of herding.  The silence suddenly exploding with light and sound, as angels appeared and announced the birth of the long-awaited Messiah.  

Though a night filled with the noisy sounds of a busy town (overcrowded with pilgrims due to the census), a stable filled with the silence, with only the occasional bleating of a sheep, the lowing of a cow, the crunch of an animal chewing its late-night meal...then the cries of a young mother-to-be in the throes of labor.  The voice of a newborn trying out His new lungs.  A true Light in the quiet of a darkened barn.

As we walk into the new year, may the moments that changed history on that night so long ago, change your history as well.  Let the silence reign, then listen to the voice of the Child, crying out and making the darkness a new place of light.

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