27 September 2010

And even more on the Silence of Solitude (#4)

[[Dear Sister, are you saying then that external silence or "aloneness" is unnecessary to the silence of solitude? Does the silence of solitude depend on physical or external silence? Does it lead to it? I think you meant this but it was not clear.]]

Thanks. No, neither external silence or aloneness are unnecessary to the "silence of solitude" but neither of themselves (nor added together) do they equal this canonical element. The "silence of solitude" calls for these two realities. It needs them to a very large extent because communion with God and contemplative life requires them and will further call for their deepening and extension. However, just building in some external silence (or even nothing but silence) or external aloneness is not the same as the eremitical silence of solitude the Canon speaks of. These do not need to be functions of communion with God or with his creation. Instead they may, of themselves, be signs of a fundamental alienation and estrangement from God and all that he loves and delights in.

So yes, the silence OF solitude leads to physical or external silence and aloneness (just as it did in Jesus' life) but it will also lead to ministry in most cases. For the hermit though, I have spoken of always remaining open to the possibility that God is calling us to greater reclusion (or at least to periods of reclusion) and this is what I meant, namely, our relationship with God (characterized by or even as the silence of solitude) sometimes calls us to ever greater degrees of external or physical silence and/or solitude (as well as to an ever deepening silence of solitude). Alternately, when I have written about the contemplative (or even the eremitical) life spilling over into limited ministry I had in mind the silence of solitude leading naturally to some active ministry (as it ALSO did in Jesus' life).

Does this help?