02 July 2014

A Contemplative Moment: On Silence and Solitude

In eremitic spirituality silence does not exclude speaking and does not discount meetings and dialogues. What is aimed at is bringing harmony between the heart and the mind, between the spirit and the body, and eventually between God and man. Silence sets us free from the burden of words that are banal and meaningless, from a humdrum that disturbs the true essence of the word. A human word, when it comes from the deep silence of the heart, causes a creative anxiety in everyone who listens to it. It becomes the word of a prophet, proclaiming eternity.

The rigor of solitude --- the second pillar of eremitic ascesis --- does not mean escaping and isolating oneself, and it is not misanthropy of any kind. The hermit wants to meet and confront himself in solitude in order to identify his heart's deceitfulness and to get rid of it. The choice to live in solitude is surely the choice to leave the humdrum of the worldly marketplace, but the character of such a decision is not negative. The hermit does not aim at running away from the world and its affairs and at finding a safe shelter somewhere there in the wilderness. It is not right to consider him a fearful and frustrated fellow, a runaway who is afraid of confronting his self. Solitude has nothing to do with existential neurosis, but it is rather a creative search for the flame of love that burns in God's heart.

Fr Cornelius Wencel, Er Cam  The Eremitic Life