From Shyness to Confident Witness
Maria discovers something new happening in her life after she embraces monastic silence.
I was thinking over what you told us about Fr. Carron’s exhortation to be somewhat “monastic” about the next few months, not seeking to fill up the time, but waiting to see what God will give us. I had a teacher in high school who was a young nun, and she was very in love with Jesus. In those years she was preparing to change orders, leaving the Sisters of Mercy of New Jersey for a cloistered Cistercian order in Massachusetts. I have kept loosely in touch with her all these years. Our daughter Maureen is named after her, and over the past forty years I have visited her abbey several times, once spending several days there following the sisters’ schedule, rising at 3:15 a.m. for prayers. In her life at the Abbey, my friend Sister Maureen went on to become Abbess Maureen, and she has been an enormous influence on my life. When Kevin and I made the decision last year that I would retire a bit early at age sixty-four, I realized I would be home alone ALOT. So, I decided to apply some of the things I had experienced at Mother Maureen’s abbey—especially being quiet much of the time. For the past year, I have been turning off the radio at noon and keeping my afternoons in silence until Kevin gets home. I have done the things I would usually do, but in silence. I wondered if God would change me through this bit of “monastic” experience. Lately I have been helping with adult education at the parish, leading both a Lent and an Advent study group there. Plus, Kevin and I were asked to sponsor a married couple coming into the Church this Easter, which means we have been doing RCIA with them. What is more surprising than the involvement, however, is that my shyness in talking about spiritual matters has disappeared, and I can confidently answer peoples’ questions. The Holy Spirit gives me something to say, and I am able to say it. I am also able to “argue” spiritual matters with people without judging them or getting upset or defensive. It’s a big change in me, from shyness to confident witness. The only explanation I have been able to find is that it’s a fruit of my quiet monastic afternoons.
I thought I would share all this with you in light of Fr. Carron’s advice to not fill up the “gaps” of the next few months. I have changed a lot, and I think at least in part it has mysteriously occurred through not filling up the silence.
Maria, Washington, D.C.