An Advent of Silence

By Melissa Novak

How many times have you thought, “I need to relax?” So you sit down with your phone and play games, scroll through social media, or browse online stores.

How many times have you laid down to go to bed but thought, “Oh, let me just check one more thing on my phone?” Thirty minutes later, your eyes are burning because you’re tired and you’ve been staring at your screen in the dark.

Our phones are distractions from reality; an escape. They don’t help us relax—if anything they might cause more anxiety (especially when you get into debates with people via social media).

In regards to technology, Andrew Sullivan said, “This new epidemic of distraction is our civilization’s specific weakness. And its threat is not so much to our minds, even as they shape shift to the pressure, but to our souls. At this rate if the noise does not relent, we might even forget we have any [soul].”

The visual noise that we see on the screen is detrimental to our souls because, instead of reflecting on our joys and hardships, processing our emotions, or praying, we easily binge on Netflix or distract ourselves on our phone. Instead of feeling re-energized from a day off, we feel just as tried as the day before because we didn’t actually do anything to relax; we just filled our time with noise.

Mother Theresa said, “We need to find God and He cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence.” Connecting with God in the silence (or through any type of prayer really) is what will help us feel re-energized after a long day.

God is always speaking to us. We just don’t always hear him over the noise in our lives. He is always calling us closer to Himself, giving direction, answering our prayers, or communicating how much He loves us. But if we don’t take the time to sit in his presence and listen, we miss it.

How can you decrease your noise consumption this Advent? Try one or two of these to practice silence:

  1. Fast from social media, games, or all apps on your phone on Sundays.
  2. Don’t go on your phone for anything other than texting/calling after 6:00 p.m. daily.
  3. Remove the temptation to distract yourself by deleting social media or gaming apps from your phone.
  4. When others are in the room with you, make it a point not to even look at your phone.
  5. Come to Eucharistic Adoration on Wednesdays in the Chapel. Stop in and spend a few minutes with Jesus anytime between 8:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.
  6. Forego music in the car and drive in silence.
  7. Instead of winding down with a TV show, pick one night a week to forego TV and read Scripture, Catholic books, or pray the Holy Rosary instead.
  8. When in public, do not pull out your phone. Just be aware of and even pray for the people around you.

Catholic song writer and musician Audrey Assad has a beautiful song titled, “You Speak.” Some of the lyrics are:

“You liberate me from my own noise and my own chaos

From the chains of a lesser law

You set me free

In the silence of the heart You speak

In the silence of the heart You speak

And it is there that I will know You

And You will know me”

This Advent, let go of the noise. Let go of the distractions. Put down the phone and be present. Be aware of God’s presence. Embrace the silence, and you will be filled with the peace and love of Christ.

Melissa Novak is the Director of Faith Formation at Saint Mary Parish in Mokena.

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