Experiencing God in Silence and Solitude

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46 teaches that we hear God speaking to us when we experience loneliness, poverty, and silence.

At our April Theology on Tap, Philo Lim from the Madonna House Apostolate in Combermere, Ontario, provided us with reflections on the concept of Poustinia, an experience where participants separate themselves from the daily work schedule of the community and commit to solitude, poverty, and prayer in silence for one day. They are secluded in simple cabins deep in the woods or on hillsides overlooking rivers and valleys.

We need not seclude ourselves in the woods to experience the gift of Poustinia; it can be experienced by practising its concepts in daily life or by setting aside some time to make quiet devotion.

By committing to loneliness, we walk with Jesus in the desert and experiences purification.

By committing to poverty, we identify with the poor and experience freedom from restless attachment to material wants.

By committing to silence, we stand still and let God take over our worries and fight our battles.

Philo explained that silence can cause our minds to wander and we may be disturbed by the chattering inside. Prayer and contemplation is important in Poustinia. Philo suggests repeating the Prayer of the Tax Collector: Jesus be merciful to me a sinner. Contemplation of Jesus' life and the lives of the Saints is also important. You will become who you contemplate. A Bible is an important companion during Poustinia.

For more information on Madonna House, including details on free working retreat experiences for men and women, visit www.madonnahouse.org

Reflection by a Theology on Tap volunteer.