Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law…”
We need rules. We need discipline. An undisciplined mind leads to an undisciplined life which leads to slavery.
While I was in the seminary, our instructors would often remind us of the value of silence. Whenever the dining hall got too noisy, a superior would come by our table and order us to keep silent for two or three minutes. Of course we did what we were told. There was no arguing, we were in silence.
On certain occasions (and for certain prayers) we were instructed there was absolutely no talking allowed; regardless of whether or not there was an emergency. I still remember a story that circulated while I was in the seminary. The incident happened a few years before I joined. A very pious brother (a seminarian) was accompanying a priest on a road trip when they stopped to put some gas. The brother, who was also a mechanic, noticed that the priest was about to put diesel fuel in their “unleaded only” car, but did not say a word; after all, he was in silence. When their time of silence ended and their car had stalled, the brother immediately blurted out, “I know what the problem is...you put diesel fuel in the car!” Surprised, the priest asked him why he didn’t say anything. The brother responded, “We were in silence, remember?” “Ah”, the priest responded, “another Pharisee has been born!”
At first, we thought this type of silence was harsh and nearly impossible. But what we never imagined was an even tougher and harsher type of silence: Interior Silence. And it was this type of silence our instructors were attempting to achieve in all of us.
If you think it’s hard to keep silent for a day, imagine keeping silent for thirty days! I had to do this prior to my ordination, and it was a piece of cake (at least for the first 15 days!). But what was difficult, nearly impossible, but still doable, was to keep silent internally; that is, to silence my wild thoughts, good or bad past experiences, distractions, imagination and disordered affections.
Let me share with you some examples of what I am talking about. Let’s say you just had a very heated argument with a family member. The most common thing to do is to replay it over and over and over again in your mind. What a waste; and not only a waste of time and energy but a waste of faith.
Or let’s say your boyfriend or girlfriend suddenly breaks up with you. What typically happens next? You leave the scene and replay that moment a million times over in your mind, each time with a new twist or variation in what you could have said and what he would have said.
Or let’s say you have an important decision to make and you end up choosing poorly. You feel bad and play over and over again the mind game “What if…” It's easy to see how ill we can be!
Interior silence is all about interior freedom. Everyone needs discipline, and not just external discipline. In fact, exterior disorder reflects in many ways interior disorder. Interior silence helps us to break some very imaginary chains that have a very physical hold on us!
During Lent, the Lord invites us to start breaking some very powerful chains in our lives. If you find yourself reliving over and over again past pains and past hurts, then now is the time to cut them off before they spread! How? Through taming and disciplining your thoughts. As soon as you find yourself daydreaming about some bad or hurtful experiences, knock them out, cut them off. Do not allow yourself to go any further. Little by little you will train your mind to learn how to move on. And moving on is what we all need to do.
Live the Commandments. If there is some wrong that cannot be changed, then don’t go back; don’t go there. If there is something good that needs to be done, then do it and don’t look back. If you are in need of God’s forgiveness, then seek God’s forgiveness. If you are in need of someone’s forgiveness, then do it and do it once. If there is someone that needs to be forgiven then do it once and let them live.
Christ abolished slavery, not the law.
Interior Silence will help us to live better the commandments and experience God’s redemptive love and re-creating forgiveness.