Silence Your Heart

(Homily for New Year)

Message: Silence your heart - you have the intercession and example of Mary.

One time I was in foul mood. People had let me down. Filled with anger, justified anger, I imagined they had done it on purpose. I thought, "Well, I will just have to do it myself, but I want them to see the extra burden they caused me."

My pity party continued with full steam when I picked up a small booklet. It had a meditation by Blessed Mother Teresa. She spoke about getting rid of "destructive thoughts, rash judgments, false suspicions and vengeful thoughts." She used the example of the woman we heard about today, how Mary "pondered the marvels of the Lord" and practiced "silence of the heart."

You know, sometimes I have to say to my voluble self, "Shut up. Be quiet." Mother Teresa says that when we do that we can hear "words of comfort" and in turn, "comfort Jesus in the distressing guise of the poor." The poor might not be in far-off Calcutta, but that person - or persons - causing so much distress.

As we begin the New Year, I ask you to make one resolution. If you make this one resolution, you will be able to keep the others: to exercise, eat right, get your finances in order, contact that old friend, build your family, attend weekly Mass, read the Bible and other Catholic books. You will do those things and more if you keep this one resolution: Set aside a time each day to silence your heart. Maybe 20 minutes in the morning or an hour in the evening (like Pope Francis) - or at least one intentional moment when you kneel before a cross. Silence your heart - and all the rest will come to you.

Drawing close to Mary can help a person silence his heart. To help you do this I would like propose a beautiful image of her: Mary Undoer of Knots. It goes back to 1615 when a man named Wolfgang Langenmantel faced a crisis: His marriage was falling apart. Langenmantel went to a priest and brought his wife, Sofia, with him. The priest asked for their wedding ribbon (at that time they joined the hands of bride and groom with a long ribbon). As you can imagine, the ribbon was all tangled. Praying with the couple before an image of Our Lady, the priest began untying the knots. When he finished, the ribbon became brilliant white. Wolfang and Sofia reconciled and began rebuilding their marriage and family. Their grandson, Hieronymus, became a priest and commissioned a painting for his church. He told the artist the story of his grandparents and it inspired the painting: Mary Undoer of Knots.

For three centuries the painting inspired local devotion, but remained obscure. In the 80's a priest from South America discovered the painting and thought of all the people he knew whose lives were in knots. He took the devotion back home. You have probably heard of the priest: an Argentine Jesuit named Fr. Jorge Mario Bergoglio! This devotion could not come at a better time. Our world is in knots, as are many of our families and parishes. Mary can help untie them.

More about Mary, Undoer Knots, during this month of January. For now, let's join her in prayer. Silence your heart. You have the intercession and example of Mary. She "kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart." Amen.


*Here are fuller quotes:

"To make possible true inner silence, practice:

Silence of the eyes, by seeking always the beauty and goodness of God everywhere, and closing them to the faults of others and to all that is sinful and disturbing to the soul.

Silence of the ears, by listening always to the voice of God and to the cry of the poor and the needy, and closing them to all the other voices that come from fallen human nature, such as gossip, tale bearing, and uncharitable words.

Silence of the tongue, by praising God and speaking the life-giving Word of God that is the truth, that enlightens and inspires, brings peace, hope, and joy and by refraining from self-defense and every word that causes darkness, turmoil, pain, and death.

Silence of the mind, by opening it to the truth and knowledge of God in prayer and contemplation, like Mary who pondered the marvels of the Lord in her heart, and by closing it to all untruths, distractions, destructive thoughts, rash judgments, false suspicions of others, vengeful thoughts, and desires.

Silence of the heart, by loving God with our heart, soul, mind, and strength, loving one another as God loves; and avoiding all selfishness, hatred, envy, jealousy, and greed."

From Thy Hand Hath Provided

"We cannot find God in noise or agitation. Nature: trees, flowers, and grass grow in silence. The stars, moon, and the sun move in silence. What is essential is not what we say but what God tells us and what He tells others through us. In silence He listens to us; in silence He speaks to our souls. In silence we are granted the privilege of listening to His voice.

Silence of our eyes.
Silence of our ears.
Silence of our mouths. the silence of the heart
God will speak.

Silence of the heart is necessary so you can hear God everywhere - in the closing of the door, in the person who needs you, in the birds that sing, in the flowers, in the animals.

If we are careful of silence it will be easy to pray. There is so much talk, so much repetition, so much carrying on of tales in words and in writing. Our prayer life suffers so much because our hearts are not silent.

I shall keep the silence of my heart with greater care, so that in the silence of my heart I hear His words of comfort and from the fullness of my heart I comfort Jesus in the distressing disguise of the poor."

From: Community of Catholic Bloggers

Spanish Version

From the archives (Holy Family Sunday, Year A):

From Archives:

New Years 2013: Our Debt to Mary
2012: The Power of a Blessing
2009: Three Lessons for the New Year
2006: The Lord Bless You
2005: Keep Out of His Way
2004: Signs of Hope Among Teenagers
2003: A Tradition Worth Fighting For
2002: No Justice Without Forgiveness

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

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Podcasts of homilies (website of my niece, Sara)

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MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru