Silence: A Series of Conferences Given by a Camaldolese Hermit
1. Forget past sins. (Growth, acceptance, silence within self-awareness)
2. Ease thinking of past injuries. (Maturity, reception, silence within aging)
3. Remember benefits from God.
4. Consider motives for Christian hope. (Eternal life)
Remember benefits received from God, recommends Father Aumann in his Spiritual Theology. The recollection of the immense benefits we have received from God, of the times He has pardoned our faults, of the dangers from which He has preserved us, of the loving care He has exercised over us, is an excellent means of arousing our gratitude toward Him and the desire of corresponding more faithfully with His graces. And if to this we add the remembrance of our disobedience and rebellion, of our ingratitude and resistance to grace, our soul will be filled with humility and confusion. We will experience the need for redoubling vigilance and efforts to be better in the future. As we can see, we should not remember our past sins with all their details, still less nourish our memory with the dalliance of our imagination (fantasizing). It will only expose new temptations and thus new sins. But we should have a deep interior compunction for all sins we ever committed. It would not be an exaggeration to say that we will grow in the spiritual life in proportion to our compunction of heart. We pray in Psalm 50, “A humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn.” (Compunction: feeling of uneasiness or anxiety of the conscience caused by regret for doing wrong or causing pain; contrition; remorse.)
Speaking about memory Father Aumann invites us to consider motives for Christian hope. It is one of the most efficacious means for directing our memory to God and for purifying it of contact with earthly things. St John of the Cross makes our memory the seat of Christian hope. The saint declares growth in the theological virtue of hope effectively purges the memory. The remembrance of an eternity of happiness, which is the central object of Christian hope, is most apt for making us disdain the things of earth and causing us to raise our spirits to God.
In conclusion of what has been said today, I would like to repeat that our memory is a precious gift from our God and should serve for a good purpose. It should help us to become good Christians and to grow in the spiritual life. If our memory does not help us to come closer to God, but rather makes it more difficult, our memory needs purification. Many things should be brought to absolute silence. There exist an active and passive purification of our senses and our spirit. God has His own way of purifying our senses and our minds. He permits dryness and deprives us of all consolation. He permits great temptations against faith, hope, and charity; also, against patience and peace of soul. Little by little, we become detached from ourselves and from earthly pleasures, and come closer to God and are ready for higher contemplation. Please God that we may be strong, generous, and patient during God’s work of purification in ourselves. Please God that we enjoy, with His help, perfect silence in all our senses, both internal and external, but also in our intellectual faculties. Bring to silence all that is not from God or conducive to God. Then we will be ready for greater union with Christ, for greater contemplation, and love of God. Amen.