That’s right. I’m leaving my car radio OFF on my drive to daily Mass and while driving around town for appointments and errands. That’s my new routine since I returned from a weekend retreat of Silent Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. That weekend was quite a new adventure for this still recent Catholic convert; I never participated in a silent group experience before. It took some getting used to, but then I began to appreciate it. I realized how much I have been missing spiritually by filling up any time slot with some kind of auditory blast and blare!
God speaks in the silence, if we will only listen. "Silence might be a fearful thing to modern man," stated Pope Benedict XVI recently. He encourages us, "Accept interior and exterior silence, so as to be able to hear God's voice, and the voices of our neighbors."
Sometimes God has to calm us down, lay us aside, isolate us, quiet us (yes, shut us up!) even require us to stop praying in order to get our attention. He may already have answered those prayers, but we are too busy buzzing around to be aware of His work in our inner life.
Jesus told us to go into our closet when we pray, to come alone, and shut the door. I don’t think they had clothes closets with doors in Jesus’ day. We need to interpret it in our current cultural milieu. In my case, my closet is my Chrysler and it has four doors. I drive mostly alone. My auto is now my mobile sanctuary and adoration chapel.
It would seem that Jesus meant we should lay aside attachments when we go into our inner chamber where “God sees in secret.” During that silent retreat, I became keenly aware of how many attachments to things of this world and secular life styles and material cares I still hugged to myself even while seeking holiness and spiritual progress. I’m working on specific negative attachments that I seem to cling to or they easily cling to me. We commonly work on such attachments in Lent, but it should be an on-going awareness that draws us to the sacrament of Reconciliation.
One of my attachments was that I always switched on my car radio to a talk news station for the duration of my commute to whatever destination, especially to Mass, a trip that normally takes 15 minutes. The endless raucous news chatter was certainly no preparation for my appointment to meet Jesus in the Eucharist. It had become an attachment bordering on an addiction.
My sacrifice, which really was no sacrifice at all, was simply to open my mobile “closet,” shut my driver’s side door, buckle my seat belt, and not reach over to turn the radio on. This may sound inconsistent with my position as president of a Christian radio station that plays predominately Christian music. Nevertheless, leaving the radio off included not tuning in to our music station either.
How sweet is the silence! The only button I press is to notify God, “Here I am, Lord. Your servant is listening to You.” My ears aren’t bombarded with the cacophony of the world’s concerns, and my heart is not stressed with the calamities of politics or the earth’s catastrophes—at least just for the time being.
Mostly I lift my heart into the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, as the apostle Paul bids us in Ephesians. I simply ask the Lord what is on His mind for me for the day; then I listen. When a personal need or someone’s name or intention drifts into my mind, by mental prayer I merely “mention it” to God. It wings its way into His holy presence and He takes care of it.
“DRIVE IN HEAVENLY PEACE…RIDE IN HEAVENLY PEACE” to conclude my mobile adaptation of the familiar Christmas carol. Try it—you’ll like it! I liked it so well that I have left my car radio off indefinitely.
See my previous post, SEEKING SLICES OF SILENCE March 2010.