Empty yourself of all but God

In Psalm 46, the Lord says “Be still and know that I am God.” It is important to note that God doesn’t tell us to “be silent” but quite emphatically commands us to “be still” and there is an enormous difference. ‘Silence’ is defined as the forbearance from speech or noise, the absence of sound or noise while ‘Stillness’ is described as a state of tranquility or an instance of being quiet or calm, the absence of sound or noise, or the absence of motion or disturbance.

We can be silent midst tumult and turmoil, but it is impossible for one to “be still” with a tormented mind, a tortured heart, or a disordered soul. What must be sought and attained is stillness within, an inward state of tranquility and peace that opens one’s heart, mind, and soul to God. “In our stillness,” E’yen A. Gardner writes “we acknowledge God’s greatness and we are at peace in our life. Stillness saturates us in the Presence of God.” He also points out that “Being still does not mean don’t move. It means move in peace.”

Aldous Huxley wrote “If a man would travel far along the mystic road, he must learn to desire God intensely but in stillness, passively and yet with all his heart and mind and strength.”

While we can earnestly search for and find solitude and silence, we may find that peace of mind, a quiet stillness from our thoughts and feelings, to be elusive. To “be still” means we must empty ourselves, be at peace, and keep the world at bay. To “be still” requires that we empty our mind of all distracting thoughts, focusing only on conversing with God. We must rid our heart of all painful and negative feelings; feelings of anger, doubt, guilt, worry, frustration and fear, and fill our heart with love, hope, joy, peace, and compassion. And we must cleanse our soul of all sin, corruption, and temptation, and create a spotless sanctuary for God.

There can be no question that stillness is far more difficult to achieve than either silence or solitude for we have been conditioned to quite the opposite. In our overactive, multi-tasking, impatient, competitive world stillness is to be avoided at all costs, for being still—what we often describe as doing nothing—is considered wasting precious time. In our minds we remember the old English proverb: “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop” and so we crowd every second of our lives with busyness.

While stillness may be socially and culturally problematic, it is only because we have misconstrued its meaning and made it anathema within our daily lives.  The reality is that we need a certain amount of stillness in much the same way as we need to close our eyes and sleep each day. To never “be still” only serves to wear us out faster and sooner, but most importantly, it prevents us from having an intimate relationship with God.

To be silent, all one must do is close one’s mouth and hold one’s tongue; to find solitude, one must isolate one’s self from all distractions, withdraw to a place of aloneness, but to “be still,” to find tranquility and peace, requires one to empty the mind, heart, and soul of all but God.

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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