Saturday, March 21, 2009


The sense of panic and abject fear is palpable today. The internet and endless supply of news on cable television, while valuable, can turn TVs and computers into veritable palantiri – never lying, but always leading the merely mortals who see what is to be seen there to misunderstanding.

From this despair and gnawing helplessness, I suggest setting aside time each day for solitude: prayer before the Blessed Sacrament (if feasible), private contemplative prayer, lectio divina, the Rosary, even viewing Into Great Silence; in short, time to "be still and know that I AM God" (Ps 46,10).

The late Henri Nouwen reflects on the utter necessity of such solitude - for sanity, civility, community, and service in the world in his important book, Clowning in Rome.
How can solitude help our world? How can we, by practicing solitude, bring love into the world? In our emergency-oriented society, fear and anger have become powerful forces. Not only do we see ... daily ... people driven together by fear or bound together by anger, but we also start to realize that many of us in our families and communities are plagued by a restlessness tainted by fear and anger. We search to satisfy a growing need for community that offers a sense of belonging, a place where frustrations can be expressed, disappointments shared, and pains healed. We who in the past felt quite secure and self-confident today suffer from self-doubt, and sometimes from a deep sense of powerlessness ...

For this reason we will take a very careful look at the importance of solitude in our lives. It might be that by de-emphasizing solitude in favor of the urgent needs of our world, we have endangered the very basis of our lives as Christian witnesses.

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