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The Silence of Bethlehem

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Stop what you are doing for a moment, sit down, collect yourself and meditate on a most efficacious and grace-filled phenomenon.  It is called the Silence of Bethlehem.

This most profound silence permeated all of creation on the night of Christ’s birth when, as Sacred Scripture records, “The whole world was at peace.”

All of creation briefly stopped so that it could witness the Holy Birth of our Savior, the infant Jesus.

At this singular moment, Heaven and earth beheld the God of all creation lying helpless in His incarnation.

Ponder the silence that filled that blessed cave, the only place where Joseph could find sanctuary for his little family on that cold winter night. 

Meditate on the silence and peace that enveloped the hearts of Joseph and Mary as they gazed upon the newborn Babe. The whole of creation stood silent and motionless before His innocence, His helplessness, His purity, His holiness, His divinity, His humanity.

Ponder the silence that overwhelmed the shepherds as they approached in awe and adoration.  The words of the Psalmist thus fulfilled, “Be still, and know that I am God.

In our own time, we, too, are called to be silent – called to a personal state of stillness and quietude in thought, word and deed.  For contained in the tranquility of this inner stillness and quiet can be found the whispers of God’s mighty voice.  He speaks to us in this silence.  Down in the deepest, inmost part of our being, in the quiet and silence of our hearts, He is there.

Our society and culture have collectively programmed us to crave noise.  We have been conditioned to feel comfortable living in an environment that surrounds and overwhelms us with an intense and oftentimes painful amount of endless, mind-numbing cacophony.  Lawn mowers, televisions, automobiles, air conditioners, dirt bikes, boom boxes - “Noise, noise, noise!” complained the Grinch.

This is so much so that we have come to feel uncomfortable without noise. 

Watch people during a thunderstorm sometime when the electric power fails and all of the lights go out.  Everything is quiet.  Everything that depends upon electricity to operate ceases to function and grows quiet and still. 

Overwhelmed by the sudden and uninvited silence, people become very uneasy and uncomfortable.  For some reason, we don’t like it.

Funny thing, though, because this kind of silence and stillness was the norm, at least it was before the industrial revolution.

However, satan, through manipulation of our very culture and lifestyle, has conditioned us to feel normal and comfortable in situations where, by our created nature, we should not.  He has trained us to hate the quiet and despise the stillness, simply because he knows all too well who it is we will encounter should we find ourselves in situations of quiet solitude and tranquility.

Why do you think there are televisions, video games and the many variations of gas-guzzling mechanized contrivances, all of which comprise today’s various and sundry forms of mindless (and always very noisy) entertainment? 

With a bit of introspection, it becomes evident that these things are not mere harmless devices innocently conceived for our mere entertainment, rather they are spiritual distractions, barriers placed between ourselves and the presence of God within us. 

These distractions are malevolently and diabolically crafted with the sole purpose of keeping us from hearing that “still, small voice” inside us which is God.

God’s whispers cannot be heard above the din of television, boom box or dirt bike.

Noise, by the way, is not only auditory, it is visual as well.

Signs, signs, everywhere a sign – everyone has something to sell, and what better way to hawk the latest products than to inundate the potential customer with a barrage of noisy, “in-your-face” advertisements.  Internet pop-up ad’s are all about being “in your face,” too. One gets the distinct impression that silence itself has been obliterated – washed clean from the face of the earth.

If you’ve read this far, you are probably asking yourself, “What does this have to do with pornography?”  The answer is – “A great deal”, precisely because pornography is, in and of itself, a significant component of that background noise to which we’ve grown so blindly accustomed.

The point is that one of the best and most effective tools at our disposal for combating an addictive habit is to recover and nurture our natural desire for peace, quiet and solitude.  We do so by reconditioning ourselves to grow accustomed to just such a physical and mental state of calm, quiet, tranquil peace.  In other words, we rediscover the lost art of seeking the peace and silence of Bethlehem.

A word of caution – attaining a condition of calm, quiet solitude isn’t enough by itself.

Remember, a demon driven out will return in search of a place of residence.

If, upon his return, he finds the house cleaned and empty, he will bring back seven other demons, all worse than himself.

When the demon returns, and he always does, make sure that your clean house has been filled with the peace and silence of Bethlehem – that is, with the very presence of God Himself.

Uproot the demon, the bad habit, by seeking first the presence of God in the quiet and solitude of your own heart.

Learn to actively shut out the noise of the world and seek that place within us where the silence of Bethlehem may be experienced over and over again in communion with and in the very presence of God.

This process of seeking spiritual union with God within us is most effective in countering temptations of the mind, since after all, we are temples of the Holy Spirit.

Putting this spiritual and mental exercise into daily practice will help you to overcome the tempter’s suggestions and help clean up your own mind which, as a direct consequence of addiction, has itself become a bad neighborhood.

Focusing on spiritual communion with our Lord is easier than you think.

It only takes a little effort, and is sustained with a little practice.

 

Paul Rasavage

28-Mar-05

 
 
 

 

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