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  • Writer's pictureDr. Anthony Lilles

Silences Filled with Meaning

Prayer that waits for Christ's coming in glory opens to silences filled with meaning. The silences that live in the shared gaze of lovers or at the bedside of a dying family member are filled with meanings too deep for words. The depths of these silences approach prayer because they reach down to what is truly sacred in life. Prayer, however, plunges even deeper than these tenderest moments - it knows the tenderness of the King who comes.


Prayer knows an abyss deeper than the depths of eros and death. In that silent depth, prayer discerns the exquisite melodies that the unaided heart cannot hear - but aches to know. This abyss down into which prayer descends is bottomless and the silences there are pregnant with meanings too much for space and time to contain.


Every human love and every misery are circumscribed in the meaningful silence that prayer explores. In the depths of this contemplative prayer, earthly friendships are purified and vindicated because they are re-established in deeper truths than space and duration can bind. Betrayal, denial and abandonment do not define the heart that pours itself out in this way. Instead prayer unlocks mysteries more powerful than every human frailty. Death itself ceases to be the last word about one's existence, for this prayer accesses new life.


Fear of death is an absence of faith but prayer under the shadow of the Cross triumphs over death. This prayer under the darkness of Christ's last wordless cry conquers disintegration. Prayer re-establishes and heals bonds between the body and its powers, between body and soul, between one's own soul and souls of one's neighbors, between the soul and God. Prayer unleashes the courage to love where love seems most absent. Prayer gives birth to hope when all seems most lost. In the face of hardness of heart, prayer draws down the power to forgive and to seek forgiveness. The prayer of faith, the prayer that lives in the Church, the prayer of the Church, this prayer brings back to life.


This kind of prayer is a baptism into the life and death of the Lord Jesus Christ. Prayer knows that His Cross establishes such new silences in the heart that even after so many centuries we have hardly explored their breadth and length, height and depth. Prayer sees His radiance as it illumines all human loves and fears, even in the darkest night. Prayer find rest even in suffering because His peace conquers rancor in the heart even as the world falls down around us.

By prayer, His truth dispels lies even when the exigency of the moment attempts to limit our freedom. Prayer is convinced that the bottomlessness of his mercy is deeper than the abyss of any misery. Prayer holds fast His imminent return and instills that conviction that His justice swift even when evil seems to be winning the day. When the sorrow of death stings in the moment, prayer discovers that His consolation is forever. When the heart feels most empty, prayer is filled with Him.

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