Category Archives: Spiritual

God, Friend of Silence and Solitude

“But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.”

~ Habakkuk 2:20

“We need to find God and God cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence.”

~ Mother Teresa         

“There are times when solitude is better than society, and silence is wiser than speech.”

~ Charles Spurgeon

SACRED SCRIPTURE is one of the main sources of God’s revelation to mankind. And we can also discover revelation that silence and solitude may bring.

Apparently, to know the revelation that the Scripture offers, we must expose ourselves to Scripture. Similarly, to know the revelation that silence and solitude offer, we must first attain the same.

Interestingly, in the Old Testament, there were instances of revelation from God in silence and solitude to His prophets or servants; who are mostly ordinary and sinners too, like all of us. As the Scripture affirmed, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

At-a-glance, let us reflect on two – of the many – servants of God, who deeply observed silence and solitude; thereby received respective revelations to accomplish their mission.

Moses met God, who spoke to him face to face, in silence and solitude

Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the “tent of meeting.” As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the Lord speak with Moses. The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. ~ (Exodus 33:7, 9, 11)

 Elijah met God, who also spoke to him, in silence and solitude

He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire ‘a sound of sheer silence.’ When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts.” ~ (1 Kings 19:11-14 NRSV)

Jesus Prayed in Silence and Solitude

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone.”

~ Psalm 62:5

As we all knew, in the New testament, Jesus is the paragon of prayer. Let us review few Scriptural passages provided herein below:

  1. “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” ~ (Luke 5:16)
  2. “Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.” ~ (John 6:15)
  3. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” ~ (Mark 1:35)
  4. Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. ~ (Luke6:12)
  5. When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.” ~ (Matthew 14:13)
  6. “At once the Spirit sent [Jesus] out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan.” ~ (Mark 1:12-13)
  7. “One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples. ~ (Luke 11:1)

Jesus’ Disciples Joined Him in Silence and Solitude

“Be still and know that I am God.”

~  Psalm 46:10)

  1.  “Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.” 

~ (Matthew 17:1-2)

  1. “Because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.”

~ (Mark 6:31-32)

Jesus’ Disciples Prayed in Silence and Solitude

 “You can get help from teachers, but you have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room.”

~ Dr. Seuss

At-a-glance, let us also reflect on two of the trusted disciples of Jesus, namely, Peter and John; who prayed – in silence and solitude – to accomplish their mission respectively.

  1. “About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray.” ~ (Acts 10:9)
  2.  “I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet.” ~ (Revelation 1:9-10)

Everyone Is Also Invited to Silence and Solitude

 “Silence is the great revelation.”  

~ Lao-Tse

“Listen to silence. It has so much to say.”

 ~ Rumi

Human beings, crowned by God with glory and honor (Psalm 8:5), are God’s masterpiece. (in progress?) Ephesians 2:10 (NLT). If so, everyone is also invited to silence and solitude. God, however, has given us the freedom if we will respond to His invitation.

In harmony, a spiritual book entitled, Sadhana (A Way to God), Anthony de Mello SJ revealed that – on Awareness – “Riches of Silence” is the number 1, among 47 spiritual exercises; that can be cultivated by everyone.

Generally, the experience of people who attempt exercise on silence is infinitely varied. Most people discover that it is something they are not accustomed to; and seems a deafening, burdensome, boring or frightening moment. Hence, they withdraw sooner.

Conversely, what is encouraging is the awareness of revelation brought by silence. Mental wandering, for instance, is a revelation that one has a small degree of silence. It is normal. Hence, just “observe” whatever arises from your thought. Do not try to suppress, avoid or escape from it. The important thing is that you become aware of this revelation.

As silence grows, it will reveal to you more and more about yourself. That is its first revelation : your “self.” And you will experience change. You will also discover that revelation is not knowledge, but a mysterious power that brings transformation. As Lao Tzu aptly said, “Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment.”

Mystery Revealed in Silence and Solitude

“We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and private: and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.”

~ C.S. Lewis

Continually, one has to cultivate the so-called “inner” silence and solitude; to harvest rare spiritual benefits. For instance, eventually there will be no difference wherever we may be; whether in a quiet or crowded place.

Daily, then, have a prime time and conducive place. Take a comfortable posture and close your eyes.  You may start from 10 minutes to, eventually, maximum of 30 minutes.

You may utilize one of your physical senses to prepare your mind in a relax or silent mode; for flash or inspiration may be revealed. But don’t seek for anything sensational. Using your mind will pressure or strain your thought. Otherwise, it may lead you to fantasy.

Be aware. Listen to every sound you hear.  Or, observe your breath as you inhale and exhale.  Or, feel your clothes touching your body; your thighs, buttocks and back pressing against the chair and its back, and your feet touching the shoes. Just do it repeatedly. 

Ultimately, the apex of solitude – in spiritual realm – is to be alone with God completed by silence. And the most defining moment is doing nothing in the presence of God. Or, just listening to and being with God, as what Mary did in the presence of Jesus. The Scripture provides, “Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said.” (Luke 10:39)

The same solitude temporarily prevents us from human interaction, and with other creatures. So that, freed from all, we can truly enjoy the glory of being alone – with God.

Paul Tilt declared, “Language has created the word ‘loneliness’ to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word ‘solitude’ to express the glory of being alone.”

Thomas Edison complemented, “The best thinking has been done in solitude. Albert Einstein expounded, “The monotony and solitude of a quiet life, stimulates the creative mind.”

An unknown thinker interjected, “Inner solitude – in a mystical journey – is the diadem of spirituality, wherever we may be.”

Paul attested, “Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly.”  (Ephesians 3:2~3)

Finally, Baltasar Gracian S.J. revealed a – scarcely thinkable – mystery, “He that can live alone resembles the brute beast in nothing, the sage in much, and God in everything.”

The Unseen Hand Of God

 “I am a little pencil in God’s hands. He does the thinking. He does the writing. He does everything and sometimes it is really hard because it is a broken pencil and He has to sharpen it a little more .”

~ Mother Teresa

“Does it ever bring you joy to see the fruits of your endeavors?” The Master replied, “How much joy does it give a tool to see what the hand has done?”

~ Anthony de Mello, S. J. (Awakening, Conversation with the Master)

THE ABOVE-QUOTED LINES unveiled the so-called spiritual inertia of two devout persons namely, Mother Teresa and Anthony de Mello as the implied unknown Master?

Interestingly, their exemplary thoughts revealed the depth of their spirituality – through modest expression or declaration.

In other words, they proclaim that the hand of God has done great and mighty things to humanity; by using them, simple as they are.

No wonder that – because of their total submission – God catapulted them for a higher purpose; yet, they attributed the glory to God, rather than taking the credit.

We can learn essential lessons from two paragons of humility and selflessness; as they consider themselves mere instruments (pencil and tool) in the hand of God.

Many people, however, are insensitive to the workings of the hand of God in their lives. In fact, most are even blind to the astounding beauty that surrounds them every day. As Confucius, aptly remarked, “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it. “

Sad to say, man thinks that success is his own making; and would – knowingly or unknowingly – merit himself to be called a self–made man?

The truth is, as the Scripture says, “We are God’s masterpiece.” (in – progress)  ~ Ephesians 2:10 (NLT).

And, definitely, all good things come to us not as a matter of luck or coincidence, but because of the “unseen” hand of God; orchestrating things behind the scenes – in our favor.

Man Proposes But God Disposes

An essential line written by – a German-born spiritual master – Thomas Kempis says:

“The resolution of good men depends more on the grace of God than on their own wisdom, and they put their whole trust in Him in all their undertakings. Man proposes but God disposes, and man’s destiny is not in his own hands.” (The Imitation of Christ, Book 1, Chapter 19).

Because of the deep spirituality of the author, the foregoing remarkable insight seemed an offspring of his reflection from some related Scriptural passages herein–below:

1. “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”  ~ Proverbs 16:9

2. “Many plans are in a person’s mind, but the Lord’s purpose will succeed.” ~ Proverbs 19:21

3. “A horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord.”  ~ Proverbs 21:31

4. “I know, O Lord that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps.”  ~ Jeremiah 10:23

5. “Jesus looked at them and said, with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” ~ Matthew 19:26

6. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” ~ John 15:5

7. “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”  ~ John 14:12

Interestingly, William Shakespeare – conformably – said, ” There is a divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will.”
Pride Hinders the Hand of God

The origin of pride was brought about by the rebellion – against God – of a dragon or serpent (also called the devil or Satan), who was thrown from heaven into the earth.

Let us review and ponder on the Scriptural highlight of the story (Revelations 12:7–9):

“Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.”

Dethroned from heaven, the devil – together with his rebel troops – seduced humankind through deception, which is his usual tactic; so that people will also disobey God, as they did.

 The fall of Adam and Eve

Adam and Eve were the first people deceived by the devil.  Let us review and ponder on the short story (Genesis 3:1 ~ 13, KJV,Public Domain):

1Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” 4“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman.  5“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.  7Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. 8Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”10He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” 11And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”12The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”  13Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

The devil’s usual deception to humanity – of no longer needing God – was disclosed. But, sad to say, many people are still unaware and succumb to this snare or trap; eventually, they became victims of pride.

The Tower Of Babel

At–a–glance, we may also recall that – during ancient times – Babylon was one of the richest cities in the world. But when pride came, as they haughtily built the tower of Babel to reach heaven so that they could be known, God scattered them over all the earth.

Let us review and ponder on the highlight of the story (Genesis 11:4 – 9):

Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel – because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

The Scripture seriously reminds, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” ~ Proverbs 16:18

Have A Grateful Attitude

“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is ‘thank you,’ it will be enough.”

~ Meister Eckhart

An implication of a grateful attitude is simply to acknowledge God, as the primary Source of all goodness; channeling the same through various resources such as, people, things, circumstances and the like.

Please be reminded that God has brought us this far – of better living; and to where we are going. We should, therefore, recognize the goodness of God; and give Him the glory, instead of taking the same.

Man was not created to contain the glory that belongs to God. If we take it, He may let us control our lives. But if we give the glory to God, He will – surely – increase our blessing.

G. K. Chesterton once remarked, “Gratitude is the mother of all the virtues.” Marcus Tullius Cicero complemented, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.”

The Scripture sustained, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” ~ Proverbs 3:5 – 6

May the “unseen” hand of God also use us to be simple instruments; as we constantly ponder on the ever-influencing prayer of the renowned Francis of Assisi:

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

A Truly Loving God

“Though our feelings come and go, God’s love for us does not.”
~ C.S. Lewis

“He causes His sun to rise on evil and good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
~ Matthew 5:45

“How much less to Him who shows no partiality to princes and does not favor the rich over the poor, for they are all the work of his hands.”
~ Job 34:19

IT’S JUST NORMAL that many, if not most, people have a hard time understanding that God can truly love – imperfect, unworthy or sinful – human beings.

They think that God will only love those – selected few ones – who are good and do great things for Him. Their mindset, then, is to do something good and great things for God; expecting that – in return – the latter will love them even more.

Conversely, in its truest sense, God’s love for all people is unconditional and constant.

The Scripture provides, “But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” – Psalm 86:15

In a word, God truly loves humanity – righteous and sinners alike.

In fact, God seems to love sinners more than the righteous. The Scripture sustained, “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” ~ Luke 5:32.

Interestingly, Meister Eckhart, German theologian, philosopher and mystic seems to prove how magnanimous and truly loving God is – as he once remarked, “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”

Moreover, there are many relevant stories in the Scripture that proved an exceptional nature of a truly loving God.

In the Old Testament, for instance, at-a-glance, the Book of Hosea had exemplified the ever-unique love story of Hosea, a prophet of God, and Gomer, his unfaithful wife.

Despite of the latter’s continuing infidelity to her husband, the former still continue to – truly – love his wife.

God, eventually, revealed to prophet Hosea that – similarly – despite of the unfaithfulness of humanity, still, He unconditionally and constantly love them.

In the New Testament, the Scripture has concretely proven – to Christians, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Purification Process

“My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, as a father the son he delights in.”
~ Proverbs 3:11-12

Despite of the foregoing Scriptural affirmations, of a truly loving God, many would still contend why, then, God allowed bad things happen to good people?

The foregoing contention, especially for those who have been encountering adversities of life, is understandable and considerable.

Please be reminded, however, that it is – sometimes – a special way how God would discipline those He truly loves; as a father would do to the son whom he delights in.

In other words, God seems to bring out the best in you and me. Or, better yet, to gradually restore His original image in us; as destroyed by the disobedience of – our first parents – Adam and Eve.

On a serious note, everyone would seem a “masterpiece–in–progress” of a truly loving God. Whatever experiences – good and bad – then, we should undergo, would seem the way God wanted it to be; but always for our own betterment.

As the Scripture aptly said, “All things (good and bad) work together for good, to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.” ~ Romans 8:28

Whenever gold is purified by fire, its originality or newness is being restored.

Similarly, the moment a person is purified – by fiery testings of faith – through sufferings, tribulations, trials and the like – he will be, eventually, restored to the original image of God, his Creator.

The Scripture provides, “So God created man in His own image, the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”~ Genesis 1:27

Needless to say, the aforesaid purification process is painful. A person may, in particular, experience being abandoned, rejected, ridiculed, alone, or isolated – just to mention a few.

For so long, however, that man will not succumb or surrender to trials and challenges of life, he will attain its gradual restoration of himself towards aforesaid original image of God; and will experience the freedom to enjoy life with his Creator.

Whenever we encounter, then, seemingly adverse experiences or sufferings, we should not lose hope; but, rather, visualize that something good is going to happen. And the glory that will be revealed in us – sooner than later –is incomparable.

As Paul aptly put it, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” ~ Romans 8:18.

A Hopeful Future!

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
~ Jeremiah 29:11.

If we consider the foregoing affirmative insights, it would seem to imply that we should always look beyond our sufferings – which is a hopeful future!

Also, if we put our fate unto the hand of a truly loving God, it must be coupled with a continuing gratefulness. The Scripture reminds us, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; His love endures forever.” ~ 1 Chronicles 16:34.

In fact, God revealed a tremendous expression of His love to each one of us. The Scripture again provides, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me. ~ Isaiah 49:15-16

Perhaps God has been expressing His unconditional love for us so that we – too – may reciprocate to His love. And, likewise, extend the same to our fellowmen; which seems to remind us that our love is only dependent upon Him. As the Scripture sustained, “We love because God first loved us.” ~ I John 4:19.

Moreover, the fact that our Creator is a truly loving God, there’s no doubt that His plan for us is always for our best. Many people, however, cannot see how He – sometimes silently – operates in their lives. As Confucius once remarked, “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”

Conversely, the truth is, there would seem a miracle always – for those who believe – even in the midst of aforesaid adversities. As Albert Einstein once said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

Harmoniously, the book entitled : Man’s Search For Meaning, the author – Victor Frankl, a neurologist and psychiatrist, revealed an inspiring true story how he and some prisoners of war – in concentration camps – surpassed enormous adversities or sufferings, by summoning up thoughts of “a hopeful future!”

He was imprisoned at war camp in 1942 at age 37, liberated at age 40. He, eventually, wrote books, gave lectures and helped many people to search for meaning of their lives – while, at the same time, living a meaningful life – and died at age 92.

Victor Frankl is known for his self–invented theory called: Logotheraphy, which is less retrospective and less introspective but rather focuses on “a hopeful future;” and always strive to find meaning in one’s life – which is the primary, most powerful motivating and driving force of human beings.

As Friedrich Nietzsche succinctly remarked, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”

Even Death Is A Blessing From God

“Death may be the greatest of all human blessings.”
~ Socrates

Human creature cannot – by any stretch of the imagination – enter eternity in any other ways except through death as its door; to happily join the Creator forever. This time, no more tears, trials, hardships, sufferings, sicknesses and the like.

To enable us to understand profoundly as regards the aforesaid exceptional nature of a truly loving God, let us recall, at-a-glance,  the so-called “salvation history:”

As we all knew, when Adam and Eve – our first parents – obeyed God’s command, they can not be found wanting of anything in their lives.

In other words, they were “free” to eat all fruits from any tree, except the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

The Scripture provides, “And the Lord God commanded the man,You are ‘free’ to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” ~ Genesis 2:16

However, when they disobeyed God, repercussions followed. They were driven out of the garden of Eden; and, at this juncture – for them to live – they have to toil or labor.

Many people opined that when they were driven out of the aforesaid garden of Eden – to toil, suffer hardships and, ultimately, die – is a curse from God.

Conversely, if we try to reflect deeply, we will understand that death is – still – part of God’s plan for human beings. Or, better yet, even death is a blessing from God.

To sustain the foregoing insight, what do you think will happen if God did not allow human beings to die, after committing sin of disobedience?; and, as a consequence, continue to suffer hunger, hardships, illnesses and the like; even retaliation or rebellion from some animals – who became wild and untamed – after our first parents, Adam and Eve, disobeyed God.

Is it correct to say, that all human beings may experience the so-called “life–lasting sufferings” here on earth; for a simple reason that God’s “plan A” (man’s freedom to enjoy fullness of life on earth) was destroyed.

A truly loving God, therefore, has to create “plan B.” This time, however, mortals need to die in order to save them from the aforesaid life–lasting sufferings, then ascend to eternity (immortality); and, finally, enjoy eternal life at the bosom of the Creator.

In other words, death is only a door God has chosen, so that human beings can colonize heaven – their ultimate destination. If so, believers of a truly loving God shall triumphantly live with Him – in eternity – forever and ever!