The Happiness in Stillness

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by Fr. Fiel Pareja

There are many noises in our day-to-day lives. On social media, there’s a lot of noise, especially with the national elections coming up in the Philippines. There is also noise in the busyness of work, family life, and community service. But the worst kind of noise we can experience is the noise from within.

Noise is a kind of sound pollution that can make us deaf to one another. Being deaf and insensitive to what’s happening around us is not healthy for us. While the ideal scenario is a dialogue—where there is a speaker, a listener, and an exchange between them—what actually happens, especially on social media, is a monologue. People want to be heard, but no one wants to listen.

These unnecessary noises give us anxiety, discomfort, and even loneliness. Sometimes, we also pressure ourselves and that creates an unhealthy noise deep down us.

Life can be difficult to live if we are not at peace and if we are worried and confused. Imagine carrying a heavy weight not just on your back, but in your heart and your mind. It makes it impossible for you to move forward and fulfill your dreams with ease.

We Are Made for Happiness

Man is not destined to be alone and confused. We are made for glory and joy. Sometimes, we make decisions based on our insight and understanding that makes us experience loneliness, sadness, and even sin as consequences. But God’s original plan is for us to experience joy and glory, a life where He provides everything we need—spiritual, mental, emotional, practical, and even financial.

So, how can we now reclaim joy here on earth? How can we live a joyful and meaningful life even with all the problems we face? How can we experience happiness amidst the sin and the noise the world offers us?

Perhaps we need to reflect on this question too: How can I remain faithful to Jesus and not be distracted by external affairs? We want to be joyful so we choose whatever will make us happy. But at the same time, we have to remain focused on and faithful to Jesus as we do all these things.

Stillness Is God’s Work

There’s a beautiful Gospel passage I turn to when I experience life’s worries and difficulties.

On that day, when evening had gone, (Jesus) said to them, “Let us go across to the other
side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern asleep, on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” (Mark 4:35-39)

From this Gospel, we need to acknowledge that the calming and stilling process is not ours to do. It is God’s work. We cannot calm or still ourselves genuinely. We can, but it’s not a lasting peace. No matter how we try to calm ourselves, it will not last because this is for God to do in us.

Jesus offers this great calm for those who face life’s turmoil or even in the mere busyness of daily life. He wants your strong winds to be dead calm. There may be heavy burdens and storms that come into our lives, but let us see these as things that can challenge our faith. Will we hold on and remain faithful to the Lord who is there to offer great calm? Or will we allow life’s problems and worries distract us?

We may be like the Apostles who asked, “Are You not concerned about us, Lord? We’re going to die!” We are easily carried away and distracted by our life’s concerns that we can’t see or feel God’s presence. But He is here, always with us. Great storms are opportunities to experience the great calmness that the Lord gives.

Our Lord Jesus sometimes allows us to experience powerful storms so we can realize that no matter what happens, His divine presence is there to save us.

In the Gospel, Jesus slept soundly as their boat was being tossed by the great windstorm. We, too, can sleep in the midst of our situation because He is in our boat.

Negative Views on Silence

No one loves silence unless you are a monk or contemplative. People say to me, “Father, I’m not a Poor Clare, monk, priest, or nun. Why do you teach us to be silent?”

Some people think silence is useless and they can’t get anything from it. When they go to church, they can hold the posture of prayer and silence for two to three minutes, but after five minutes, their eyes begin to wander. They’re already distracted by other happenings inside the church.

When people pray before sleeping or after waking up, they get distracted when their smartphones ring or receive messages. They immediately check and their prayer time is interrupted.

For some, silence can be dreadful and even boring. Silence can cause you to go back to yourself and your memories. You can think of your present problem, your past traumatic experiences, the monsters that haunt you, or your concerns for tomorrow.

Some say they could have accomplished a lot instead of sitting in silence—finish assignments, work tasks, or household chores. It seems to be a waste of time. We can fall into the trap that being in silence is doing nothing or useless. The truth is, we achieve more when we are at peace.

The Gifts of Stillness and Silence

We receive many benefits when we give time for silence. Here are some of them:

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*This excerpt is taken from “Feast Magazine March 2022″

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