August 16, 2022, 1:00 PM

Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me, “Now I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant. Jeremiah 1:9-10. 

 

“Say WHAT?  Say that again!”  “You want me to speak up?  Not me.  If I speak up, what would I say?”  Sound familiar?  Christians of all ages have struggled with questions of how to speak up when the culture fails to address situations of not caring for the other person.  The root cause has always been one of not being fully present to Christ.

When we judge ourselves and our inability to speak up, we are focusing inwardly on ourselves.  We fail to acknowledge that Christ has already put the Words of God in our mouths.  Those Words (not ours) have the ability to “pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”  What more could we need? 

In sorting out the question of speaking out, St. Francis discovered the power of silence by retreating into a cave.  It was only after contemplating in silence, that he came forth to recruit others to the work of being a mendicant and rebuilding the church at St. Damiano. 

Likewise, Fr. Thomas Merton, a 20th-century Trappist monk, believed that all speech began in silence.  Merton entered a monastery and learned the power of silence with which he had little experience.  The quietness of his little hermit house allowed his mind to clear so that he could see clearly the issues that were confronting the world around the time of World War II.  He saw the destructive power of the atom bomb and the lack of relationship between people. 

Despite the initial prohibition of his religious order and then wider Roman Catholic Church, Thomas Merton could not help but speak out.  The power of Christ gave him a way to call out for justice.  While his longer writings would be prohibited from being published, he broke up his work into simple, easy to understand short articles that could not be censored by his superiors.  His words easily spoke to the common person.  Later, he would find the ability to speak out verbally around the world.  All his profound statements of truth began in silence and then by waiting in contemplation.

Merton said in one of his final writings1

Contemplation is also the response to a call:

a call from Him Who has no voice,

and yet Who speaks in everything that is,

and Who, most of all,

speaks in the depths of our own being:

for we ourselves are words of His.

 

But we are words that are meant

to respond to Him,

to answer to Him, to echo Him,

and even in some way

to contain Him and signify Him.

Contemplation is this echo.

 

Peace and Blessings,

 

Fr. John Meulendyk

 

 

 

1New Seeds of Contemplation, 2007


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