Subiaco (Italy). From 20 to 22 October at San Biagio House of Prayer of Subiaco, Rome, of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians of the Roman Province St. John Bosco (IRO), the first Seminar of Silence was held, open to all.
This is the motivation for the new initiative. “Silence is one of the main elements of our house of prayer. The silence of the mountain guards our community and in the silence of the heart everyone is called to follow the Word of God. Learning to listen to the silence, to silence the mind, and to create the conditions for prayer are the objectives of the seminars we hold in San Biagio.”
It is significant that Pope Francis wanted the synod work to begin precisely with silence. At the “Together” Ecumenical prayer vigil, after listening to the ‘great silence’ created in St. Peter’s Square, he underlined:
“Silence is important; it is powerful. It can express unspeakable pain in the face of misfortunes, but also in moments of joy, a joy that transcends words. For this reason, I would like to briefly reflect with you on its importance in the life of the believer, in the life of the Church, and in the path of Christian unity. The importance of silence. (…) For this reason, brothers and sisters, we ask in common prayer, to learn again to be silent; to listen to the voice of the Father, the call of Jesus, and the groan of the Spirit.”
The organization of the 1st Seminar of Silence was curated by Claudio Del Brocco, by the FMA Sisters, Irene Benìtez and Elzbieta Bartkowska, by Barbara Ghirelli, and Luisa Cappelletti, who presented various interventions during the encounters of these days.
On the afternoon of 21 Saturday, the talk by Fra Emiliano Antenucci, priest of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin and Rector of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Silence in Avezzano (AQ), was particularly interesting and engaging.
The testimony of those who participated in the Seminar:
“At the end of this experience, I can say that they were days of grace bestowed by the Lord and I truly thank Him for this. I must say that at first, I was a little skeptical when it was proposed to me, because I didn’t really know what it was about, but I said to myself, ‘it’s two days of silence, listening, and prayer. It can only do me good’. And it did.
In these days, I felt the loving gaze of God. For much of my life there has been a word that has almost always accompanied me, and it is ‘Judgment’. Judgment towards myself and those around me. I never felt up to the expectations, the thoughts that others had and, above all of God, towards me. It has been a difficult and painful journey, always anxious to prove that I am a beautiful person, worthy of being loved and accepted for who I am. During this period, I made the mistake of thinking that the Lord was also looking at me with my own eyes full of judgment and I had the perception of feeling I was wrong.
This experience helped me so much to remind me that the Lord does not have the same yardstick as I do and the experience of feeling loved and not judged by God was strong. I was helped by the silent prayer and the body and images (icons). I asked the Lord for the grace to let His gaze permeate me. ‘You look at Him; He looks at you’. And not to be afraid, because it is not a look of judgment but of love.” (Anna Maria)
“It may be difficult to listen if we are immersed with our attention focused on the daily task. Because of this, we must calm our body and mind to listen to what may be truly important in our lives. Prayer can and must be practiced at any moment of the day, not only because it is appropriate, but also because it helps us to strengthen ourselves.” (Victor)
Thanks to these testimonies, and others not reported, the Educating Community of San Biagio House of Prayer has planned other encounters to better enter into the experience of Silence and to give more and more space to the Lord on the path towards holiness.