The phrase, “listen to see,” have been three little words that I have been writing much about in my last few postings of blogs. They hold “power” and “might” for us as we begin our journey through this Advent of 2023.
Let us “listen to see” with this scripture from Wisdom 18:14-16:
“For when gentle silence enveloped all things, and night in its swift course was now half gone, your all-powerful word leaped from heaven, from the royal throne, into the midst of the land that was doomed, a stern warrior carrying the sharp sword of your authentic command, and stood and filled all things with death, and touched heaven while standing on the earth.”
There is a sentence in Isaiah 30:15 that speaks the following to our souls:
“In silence and in hope shall your strength be.”
What does that scripture mean to us as we face “another Advent,” another circling of the Advent wreath – going from week to week in the lighting of the 4 candles?
On the First Sunday of Advent, our Pastor – Fr. Tony Stanganelli spoke of the “same old, same old.” But, it doesn’t have to be the “same old, same old” – this Advent of 2023!
We can make a difference in our Advent and then in the lives of others – can’t we? Catherine Doherty tells us, “with God every moment is the moment of beginning again!” He is giving us that opportunity once again. Yes, “in silence and in hope shall your strength be!”
The Act of True Listening
Catherine goes on to tell us about “true silence.”
“True, silence is sometimes the absence of speech – but it is always the “act of listening.”
Wow….there are the words again – “listen to see!”
She tell us, “the mere absence of noise (which is empty of our listening to the voice of God) is not silence. Yet a day filled with noise and voices can be a day of silence, if the noises become for us the echo of the presence of God, if the voices are, for us, messages and solicitations of God.”
In our present day, our spirits are filled with “noise.” A few blogs back, I wrote about sitting in a waiting room and just hearing the constant blaring of the TV. It surely wasn’t “background noise,” – it was front and center and it was hard to just sit and be at peace as I waited. And so…the “sands of time” move so quickly in the course of our day and we move from one activity to another – one chore after another – one conversation after another – one text after another – one youtube after another!
But are we present – truly present? Do we hear God’s voice to us – do we hear His messages and see His gifts?
Maybe that is what will make this Advent different as we wait.
A week ago today, Fr. Chris from St. Paul’s Greek Orthodox Church spoke about a “miracle” that occurred the evening before in the Church. On the altar of the Church, there are 7 doors with 7 Icons of different Saints – and at the end – one of the doors depict St. Michael the Archangel. Hanging in golden chains above each door is a red glass votive light encased in gold.
Fr. Chris said that the evening before as they processed out the door of St. Michael, the altar server hit the ” hanging votive light” with the Crucifix and it came crashing down 7 feet to the marble floor!
“Listening to see,” one could imagine what that looked like and what it sounded like! Broken glass shattered everywhere on a marble floor with a trembling altar server shaken to his core! But no! That didn’t happen!
Merriam-Webster tells us that a “miracle” is an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs.”
Why I used this as an example was that I was sharing it with a companion and giving him the details of the miraculous story. Our conversation spoke of “being truly present” to the moment and of entering into that divine realm of the “Sacredness of God.”
Fr. Chris would share that he was quite sure that many people that were seated in their pews that evening “missed” or “didn’t see” what happened before them! They missed a huge miracle! They weren’t present to that moment! Maybe they weren’t paying attention or maybe they were intent on their next chore or activity.
Sr. Marie-Aimee de Jesus, OCD tells us the following from her book on “The Twelve Degrees of Silence.”
“There is no other word that singularly summarizes the distinct quality of interior life than silence. To embrace silence is to prepare for holiness. Silence is the company on the path. God, who is eternal, speaks only one Word. It would be desirable to speak in correspondence with God. All our words, directly or indirectly, should express Jesus. How beautiful is the language of silence!”
She tells us that “divine union requires a practice of speaking less to the created and much to the Creator.”
Shutting out the Noise
Sr. Marie-Aimee tells us:
“Not listening to the world and its news allows space to be silent with God, to listen only to God’s voice and the voices of the holiest of souls. It is to be silent as Mary, who was able to hear the voice of the angel.”
What do we do to be as silent as Mary as we begin this Advent waiting with Her?
We Ask for Her Help
We ask “Our Lady of Silence” to come to our aid – to help us “listen to see” as she did.
The following iconic image of “Our Lady of Silence” was commissioned, painted and finished after 9 months of work by the Benedictine nuns of San Giulio d’Orta in the province of Nova, Italy. When I first laid eyes on this image, it captivated me in so many ways. Her “eyes” – her “hands” – her “call to the heart” to stay silent with her.
The following is part of a prayer of a “Consecration to Our Lady of Silence” and seems to call out to us as an invitation to enter into the Advent journey of our walking and spiraling round the Advent wreath. . walking with the Mother of God and waiting in the stance of “listening to see.”
O Mary, Cathedral of Silence,
make this prayer resound in my heart:
Be not afraid, because you are my child,
and you are loved by the Heavenly Father.”
Holy Mary, ark of salvation,
bridge between heaven and earth,
guide me, together with the angels and saints,
to build the kingdom of God on earth,
so that I may live in the constant presence
of the Most Holy Trinity
and desire, for others and for myself,
the eternal peace and joy of the heavenly Jerusalem.”
A New Face
Once again Catherine Doherty tells us “with God every moment is the moment of beginning again!
Yesterday I purchased some beautiful orange roses. When I got home and placed them in water before arranging them – I noticed they had a name. It was “New Face.” It isn’t uncommon for the roses to be “named,” but it was uncommon for this particular name. “New Face!”
Maybe that is what “listening to see” will be all about this Advent! A “change of face!” And a “change of heart!”
Jesus tells Gabrielle in the book – “He and I:”“
Change yourself by patiently beginning over and over again.
Watch and Pray.
That was our exhortation on the First Sunday of Advent from the Gospel of Mark – 13:33-37
“What I say to you,
I say to all
©2023 Anita Guariglia
Photo Credits: Featured Image – Pinterest
Other images – Instagram
Anita Guariglia – home image of Advent wreath
The Twelve Degrees of Silence by Sr. Marie Aimee de Jesus, OCD quotes
Holy Silence by Fr. Basil North, ORC – Quotes for Scripture from Wisdom and
Catherine Doherty quotes
He and I – Gabrielle Bossis – Dec. 13, 1945 passage