Mother Teresa was a friend of silence. As author Kerry Weber writes, "The reason silence was so important to her is because it offers us the opportunity to begin shedding false understandings of ourselves and the world. It clears a space for the recognition that converts. Silence and prayer become the wombs in which we’re reborn. They 'enlarge the heart until it is capable of containing God’s gift of himself.'"
The following words are from Mother Teresa herself.
The Grand Silence
Silence can never be corrected. Very often, I have the answer but I don’t give it, I wait, and I am grateful to God for giving me the opportunity because silence can never be corrected. Let us make a resolution to control our tongues. If we are to love Jesus with undivided love in our brothers and sisters and in the poor, then our tongues must be clean. Each day, Jesus comes on our tongues in the Eucharist. When I was a child, my mother told me in preparation for first Holy Communion that if I told a lie my tongue would turn black. One day, I told a lie and ran to the looking glass to see! It might have been my imagination, but I am sure I saw that my tongue was black. And I went and told my mother about the lie. I must take care that my tongue does not get dirty because Jesus will rest there as he rested in the womb of his mother, Mary.
A Full Heart
If your heart is full of worldly things, you cannot hear the voice of God. But when you have listened to his voice in the silence of your heart, then your heart is filled. Then, from the fullness of the heart the mouth will speak. You may be writing, then the fullness of your heart may come to your hand also. Your heart may speak through writing. Your heart may speak through your eyes also. When you look at people, they must be able to see God in your eyes. The fullness of the heart is expressed in our eyes, in our touch, in what we write, in what we say, the way we walk, the way we receive, the way we need. That is the fullness of the heart expressing itself in many different ways.
Quieting the Spirit
Jesus wants us to love each other as the Father has loved him. There is no greater love than the love for one another in our families, but there is so much hurt instead of love, so much bitterness instead of sweetness, so much noise instead of silence. If there is no love in our home, first let us examine our prayer life. Is it faithful, is it true, is it constant, is it full, is it so real that in the silence of our hearts we can hear him speak? If we only knew the art, the joy, the fruitfulness of silence, our homes would become the sunshine of God’s love, the burning flame of God’s love in action.
We must cultivate that sacred silence which makes people remember the words of Jesus: See how they love one another. How often we find ourselves speaking of the faults of another. How often our conversation is about someone who is not present. Yet see the compassion of Christ toward Judas, the man who received so much love yet betrayed his own master. But the master kept the sacred silence and did not betray Judas. Jesus could have easily spoken in public— as we often do—telling the hidden intentions and deeds of Judas to others. But he didn’t. Instead, he showed mercy and charity. Rather than condemning Judas, he called him his friend.
We must improve our prayer and, flowing from that, our charity toward others. It can be difficult to pray when we don’t know how, but we can help ourselves through the use of silence. Souls of prayer are souls of great silence. This silence takes a lot of sacrifice, but if we really want to pray, we must be ready to take that step now. Without this first step toward silence, we will not be able to reach our goal, which is union with God.
We forget that in the silence of the heart God speaks, and from the fullness of the heart we speak. Only when we have heard him in the silence of our hearts, only when we have learned to listen to God in the silence of our hearts, only then can we say: I pray. There is no either/or about prayer and love. We can’t say we have either prayer or love: There is no prayer without love and no love without prayer.
The fruit of silence is prayer. The fruit of prayer is faith. The fruit of faith is love. The fruit of love is service. The fruit of service is peace.
Let us provide each other an atmosphere of peace and quiet which will facilitate prayer, work, study, and rest.