This is What Silence of the Heart Means

It often takes someone outside of your daily life to see what God has done, and is doing, in your soul.

During a routine doctor’s appointment, the nurse taking my vitals was surprised by my low pulse rate. “You must work out a lot?” she questioned. Not this mom. Not enough time. “Then you must pray a lot?” she prompted again. I try to, but as any parent of four little kids knows, it’s more like calls to God for help and a few intentional prayers sprinkled throughout the day.

She explained that they have done studies on 80-year-old monks comparing their heart rate to triathletes. Fascinating! People who are deeply contemplative and people who are used to strenuous exercise have very efficient hearts. Their hearts have a calm steady beat and are able to pump more blood than the average person in a single beat. “You have a heart rate of an 80-year-old monk or a triathlete.” she exclaimed. That’s funny, because I’m neither.

Since that doctor’s appointment, I’ve been thinking about what she said. Recently, I was invited to give a talk on prayer (video embedded above) with the retreat master Fr. Michael Champagne. I was going to speak on the practical, and he was going to speak on the theological. He discussed the three forms of silence and how each was harder than the other. The first form of silence was just the actual absence of noise. The next was the silence of the mind — being able to calm your thoughts and focus when praying or thinking about a single topic. The third form and hardest by far is silence of the heart. This is to be at peace and to exude that peace. He mentioned people like Mother Teresa and John Paul II, people who were fully present to the person they were talking to. You could feel in your bones their love and God‘s love through them.

Silence of the heart means that your heart is not constantly longing for things it doesn’t have, but that it rejoices in what it is, what it does have, and in the purpose that God has put in that heart. It’s a heart like that of Saint Augustine when he cries, “I am restless until I rest in you, Oh my God! In God is my soul at rest.”

I have struggled my whole life, it seems, with worry, fear, anger, impatience and struggles in prayer — and I’m now struggling with being a spouse and parenting, teaching kids, and running an international ministry. I finally realized that now, somehow, the flight to give my heart to God has finally begun to take effect.

It often takes someone outside of our daily life to see what God has done and is doing. That is why we have the gift of friends, spiritual directors, parents, and all those who encourage us. While I have a long way to go, it’s a huge encouragement to know that after years of seeking Christ and His peace, the struggle is finally beginning to bear fruit. This is fuel for the fire. Lord I seek only your face!