In my earlier post entitled Redemptive Suffering, I explained how suffering can be used to the greater glory of God and for our own healing. If you have not read the earlier post or if I did not make myself clear, know that I do not endorse suffering for the sake of suffering. I do not believe that a woman's role is to be subservient, meek, or silent. Having said this I must point out that God does meet us in our suffering and speaks to us in the silence. This is not a contradiction because we are God's beloved children. In the silence, He will tell us when to speak softly or with loud voices. In the stillness, He will tell us when to be bold.
In a moment I am going to give a beautiful quote from Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta about the virtue of silence. Why would I place silence in the same post as suffering? One reason is because women, even now, are told that they should suffer in silence. Why? So that their suffering can be ignored by those who wish to perpetuate their inequality. Obviously this is not what Mother Teresa is saying. Mother Teresa changed the world by silently suffering for God! Nobody forced her to do this: not her confessors, not her spiritual directors, not her bishop. She did this because Jesus was calling her and she responded out of love for Him.
I think it is very important: that union with God. You must be full of silence, for in the silence of the heart God speaks. An empty heart God fills. Even Almighty God will not fill a heart that is full-full of pride, bitterness, jealousy-we must give these things up. As long as we are holding these things, God cannot fill it. Silence of the heart, not only of the mouth-that too is necessary-but more, that silence of the mind, silence of the eyes, silence of the touch. Then you can hear Him everywhere: in the closing of the door, in the person who needs you, in the birds that sing, in the flowers, the animals-that silence which is wonder and praise. Why? Because God is everywhere and you can see and hear Him. That crow is praising God-I can hear its sound well-that stupid crow; we can see Him and hear Him in that crow and pray, but we cannot see and hear Him if our heart is not clean. (Where There Is Love There Is God, p. 12.)
Mother Teresa also had a great devotion to Our Lady. This is an enormous help to me because, being the academic that I am, I appreciate it when somebody else does all the hard work for me.
We must pray, we must really bring Our Lady into our life fully because she was the one who taught us how to find Jesus. And how did she find Jesus? By just being the handmaid of the Lord. She was surprised when she was called "full of grace." She didn't understand, but she understood beautifully when she said, "I am the handmaid of the Lord," and she remained like that. She could have gone round [talking], but she did not even tell St. Joseph. Poor St. Joseph did not know till the end. She could't say anything-the handmaid, that silence. Because God speaks in the silence of our hearts. And Our Lady knew that silence and because she knew that silence, she was able to love from the fullness of her heart, and this is what the young people want to see-that silence. Silence is a sign of our oneness with Christ, of our surrender to Him, of our being His totally, and for vocations to grow, we have to teach them that silence. Because...we need that silence to learn to pray...the young people want to learn to pray. Not in noise but they want to pray in the silence of their hearts, to teach them to hear that voice, to hear God in their hearts. And so they want to see what is our silence. They have to learn this silence from seeing us, from being with us and as we know, silence cannot be corrected also. It is so beautiful. I am seeing these young people during our adoration-we have adoration every day for one hour. I've seen these people, these young sisters, these young "come and sees" completely, really one with Jesus...because their hearts have understood "you are precious to Me, you are Mine." (Where There Is Love There Is God, p. 13-14.)
Have you noticed how loud our society is? My mother, God bless her soul, used say that if she didn't make a big deal about something then nobody would know that it was important. Unfortunately, everything became a big deal so her real needs became lost in the noise. Jesus was trying to heal her but she couldn't hear Him. Silence for women has become synonymous with victimhood. But do we listen to those who need us? Do we listen to God within us?
It is easy to brush off the saints. After all, they were saints so they had an 'in' with God. And even if they did struggle, they were religious so their entire lives could be devoted to God. We mothers of young children, on the other hand, do not get silence. We do not get sleep. We do not even get to go to the bathroom by ourselves! What we get are cries that must be answered immediately. We get dirty diapers and dirty kitchens. And we are supposed to find a quiet place with God? And suffer silently, don't we already do that? We could scream our pain at the top of our lungs and it would fall on deaf ears.
Well, Ladies, fear not! I am going to give you some brief prayers that will help you keep your heart untroubled so that God may always enter. And yes, I have tried them. And yes, it works. When things get difficult try repeating one of the following:
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.
My God and my all.
My God, I love you.
Teach me, O Lord, to do your will, for you are my God.
My Jesus, mercy.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, protect our families.
Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in you.
Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I trust you.
Holy Spirit, guide me.
I am the handmaid of the Lord.
These are just a sampling of prayers. It is hard to yell at your kids when you are praying. (I've managed once or twice but mostly it's hard.)
Yes, we suffer. But we suffer a lot less when we make calm, life-giving choices. And when we do suffer it should be because we are bringing forth life, as does God. We are God's beloved daughters, mothers to God's beloved children. God guides us through our most mundane tasks and gives them value. Let others yell and scream and demand attention like spoiled children. In the meantime we will be going about the work of changing the world. Think that such simplicity doesn't work? Look at Mother Teresa's life. She brought God to all she met. She suffered but she could see God working through her.
Let us pray for each other, that by being faithful to God, we may be faithful to ourselves.
No wonder the secular world fears silence. No wonder the secular world fears suffering. The secular world is its own god. Let us transcend it. Let us live fearlessly.
May God Continue to Bless You!