“Without the capacity for silence, man is incapable of hearing, loving, and understanding the people around him” (Robert Cardinal Sarah).
Podcasts and blogs across the web tout the importance of infusing meditation into our day. Popular hosts like Tim Ferris or the Art of Manliness founder Brett McKay often feature guests on their shows who spread the life hack that silence is good for us. Increased productivity, focus and direction are all healthy byproducts of carving out times of silence in our day. It is also a great hack for treating anxiety, depression or a lack of motivation.
It is interesting that these highly successful individuals who people flock to for advice on how to become happy, interesting and well…more human; have stumbled across a truth that has been around since the beginning. Matter of fact, our desire and need for silence has been placed in us for a purpose by the One who created us.
I wanted to share with you my morning routine of silence so that you can see how other men pray and hopefully uncover the life hack that God has placed in your heart which has been there all along.
I found that the mornings are the best time for me to find this time for silence. If I wait until the evening I am usually too tired to give it the necessary attention and I just end up dosing off. By becoming intentional about getting up early and giving God the first fruits of my day, it sets the tempo and lays the foundation for my often hectic life.
Even on weekends I ensure that I wake up first before anyone else. During my work week I am up at 4am. This allows me to enter into this necessary silence before the demands of work and family life begin.
After brewing a cup of joe, I get down on my knees in front of an image of Our Crucified Lord and pray. I adore Him and thank Him for the many blessings He has given me and ask for the strength to be His instrument in the day that is beginning. Next I plop down in the most comfortable chair in the house. The chair is situated in a place in my home that is set apart and adorned with sacred art. It doesn’t need to be anything extravagant, but dedicating a place to this important part of your day will help motivate you to get up and add purpose to your time of silence.
I don’t treat this time as a method for emptying myself of thought, but rather it is meant to be a time to open up the Sacred Scriptures and listen to what God has to tell me. I typically begin with the Psalms and will read and reflect on one of them. The Psalms are great training tips on how to communicate and encounter God through the various circumstances and stirrings of the heart that arise in the human person.
I will then flip to the Gospels and read about the life of Christ and His band of brothers who spread the truth of Christianity which they witnessed even at the cost of their own lives. I usually just bite off a small part each day to chew on and listen for what God is trying to tell me through His word. Recently I have begun to write down what I hear. This is an effective tool for reflection and a good reminder throughout the day of what God wants to convey to you…by name.
After reading the Bible I pick up the Office of Readings for the day. These are often ancient texts from early Christians and it shows me how they thought and understood God’s word and lived it out. Just like reading about and getting to know how our modern day sports heroes operate so that we can know how they do what they do; reading about the lives of the Saints helps us to understand their motivations and how they lived radically for Christ and changed the world in the time and place when they were alive. I don’t rush through these readings, but sit with them and see where they fit into my journey and how I can live a more heroic Christian life.
The last thing that I read is a small part of a spiritual book that I work through. I am currently reading a book by Venerable Fulton Sheen titled “The Life of Christ”. I usually choose books about Saints or read current authors who can convey the truth of the Christian Faith in extraordinary ways. This time of silence typically takes between 30 and 45 minutes and has grown over the years to the point where I am now. If I miss a day then I find myself discontent and am usually chasing my proverbial tail with no hopes of ever catching it. On the other hand, when I spend time in silence with Him, my days are filled with peace and purpose.
“But this noise is a dangerous, deceptive medicine, a diabolic lie that helps men avoid confronting himself in his interior emptiness. The awakening will necessarily be brutal” (Robert Cardinal Sarah).
Beginning this habit and dampening the noise in our lives will necessarily be brutal…but it is worth it! Take the challenge and commit to 10 days in a row of waking up early and offering the first fruits of your day to God…and be silent.
“Put on the Armor of God” (Eph 6:11)