Three Reasons It’s Hard to Be Still

We have been conditioned to feel guilty whenever we are not “productive.” Stillness, even for the purpose of rest or prayer, can feel like wasted time to someone who lives in a world that values wealth, competition, high productivity, full schedules, and general self-importance. If we stare off into space for half an hour—and fail even to take notes on the thoughts that come to mind—that’s half an hour lost. The writer must always be […]

Before Incarnation Comes the Silence

We associate the Christ Child’s arrival with angelic pronouncements and nighttime fanfare: the heavenly hosts singing and sending brilliant disturbance into the lives of shepherds, townspeople, and even great kings. However, as we approach our celebration of the great event, let us consider its silent aspect. Before holy announcement opened the skies, the darkness sparkled quietly with distant stars. Shepherds could hear the normal sounds of wind moving across the landscape and creatures sleeping or […]

Time in Silence

For the past several months, I have been building in one monthly retreat day into my calendar, on the advice of a spiritual director. I had been complaining that although I try to set aside an hour to pray in silence in the morning, I often long for the longer spaces of silence a time of retreat provides. Time in silence is nourishing and grounding. Silence gives the space to hear God speak, whether through […]

Quiet for Three Minutes

I whisper that we are going to be quiet for three minutes and listen. I set the timer on my phone and let my younger son push the start button. My sons might wiggle. They might giggle. And with my eyes closed, I feel my younger son gently touching my fingernail. But if I ignore the movement and model stillness, they follow. I open my eyes to see my older son, his eyes closed, with […]

Five Easy Ways to Build Prayer into Your Day

Too busy to pray? Here are five easy ways to build a little prayer into the day. Try a “mini Examen” just before lunch, dinner, or going to sleep. Pause to thank God for good gifts from the day, and notice where God was present. Gratitude is at the heart of prayer. (And the full Examen doesn’t take that long, either!) Slow down and take a walk. On the way to an appointment? Instead of […]

Shhh . . . God Is in the Silence

Loyola Press has just published the children’s book, Shhh . . . God Is in the Silence, by Fiona Basile and illustrated by Alice Mount. It is designed to help children stop and listen for God’s voice in their hearts. When they do, they hear phrases such as: “You are precious.” “There is no one else like you.” “I created you.” “You are my child.” The subtitle of the book is “A story for all […]

Forced Stillness

Jesuit Volunteer Grace Ogihara was forced into stillness because of neck and back pain one weekend. She writes: Though I otherwise would’ve been outside traipsing about Minnesota wilderness, I recognized my weekend being injured as sacred and precious time I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I’m counting it as a blessing after the fact. It was like God was literally making me be still, so that I might know Him better, just like the verse, “Be […]

More Stillness

What if, instead of more action, what we need is more stillness? What if, instead of more speech, we need more silence? What if all of our words—whether spoken, in an article, blog post, or group message—will make more sense if understood by attending to the Word underneath all words, the Word that gives rise to language itself? Could it be that paying more attention to silence might actually make us more attentive to one […]

Business Article Encourages Quiet Time

The title of a recent Harvard Business Review article says much: “The Busier You Are, the More You Need Quiet Time.” While this is hardly a new idea, it’s one that seems to need repeating in our tech-driven, overscheduled age. When we’re constantly fixated on the verbal agenda—what to say next, what to write next, what to tweet next—it’s tough to make room for truly different perspectives or radically new ideas. It’s hard to drop […]

Three Ways to Cultivate a Retreat State of Mind

Every year, when autumn rolls around, I want to go on retreat. Maybe it’s the smell of the autumn leaves clothed in brilliance, dancing down to earth, or maybe it’s the crisp air and waning light. Autumn is a feast for the senses, and God’s handiwork is apparent everywhere. Yet, every year without fail, autumn proves a time too busy to get away, even for a weekend. School has just begun, sports are in full […]

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