Thursday, March 10, 2011

On solitude and silence (Thomas a Kempis)

More good words from The Imitation of Christ . . .

Seek a convenient time to search your own conscience, meditating on the benefits of God. Restrain curiosity; read only those things that will move you to contrition rather than give you distraction.

If you will withdraw from unnecessary talk and useless running about and listening to the latest gossip, you will find the time to occupy yourself in devout meditation. The greatest Saints avoided the company of worldly people as much as possible, for they preferred to be alone with God.

Unless you like solitude, it is not safe for you to appear in public.

No one can be in the lead who is unwilling to remain in the background, and no one can govern with safety who does not know how to obey. No one is truly happy who is aware of an unclean conscience.

It's possible to take this advice to extreme (Jesus sought solitude away from the crowds, but he also hung out with worldly people), however, I doubt if many of us are in danger of loving solitude and silence too much. Admittedly it's hard to find space for quiet contemplation in our noisy society, but how often do we take advantage of the opportunities we do have to experience the benefits of spending time in silent isolation before God?

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