The silence of communication

As is customary on today’s feast of St. Francis de Sales, the Holy See publishes Pope Benedict’s annual Message for World Communications Day (here with a link to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications’ new website). This time around, the Holy Father once again speaks about social media and communications, but with the main emphasis on silence. A scarce commodity in modern society, to be sure, silence is here presented is one of two essential elements of communication, next to the word. Where words are spoken, someone else usually listens. Silence also allows for reflection;

“in its absence, words rich in content cannot exist. In silence, we are better able to listen to and understand ourselves; ideas come to birth and acquire depth; we understand with greater clarity what it is we want to say and what we expect from others; and we choose how to express ourselves. By remaining silent we allow the other person to speak, to express him or herself; and we avoid being tied simply to our own words and ideas without them being adequately tested. In this way, space is created for mutual listening, and deeper human relationships become possible.”

Equally important, God also speaks to us in silence. The Holy Father beautifully describes this in the following passage:

“The eloquence of God’s love, lived to the point of the supreme gift, speaks in the silence of the Cross. After Christ’s death there is a great silence over the earth, and on Holy Saturday, when “the King sleeps … and God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages” (Office of Readings, Holy Saturday), God’s voice resounds, filled with love for humanity.”

In social media circles, much has been made about the pope’s clear reference to things like Twitter and Facebook status updates: “In concise phrases, often no longer than a verse from the Bible, profound thoughts can be communicated, as long as those taking part in the conversation do not neglect to cultivate their own inner lives.”

All in all, a worthwhile read (also in Dutch), offering proper food for thought for all of us. We all communicate, after all.

Shhh... take some time to listen and reflect

St. Francis de Sales, patron of the Catholic press, pray for us

Today is the feast day of Saint Francis de Sales, the Renaissance bishop, author and Doctor of the Church who is also patron saint of the Catholic press, writers and journalists. A good prayer intention for today would be for unbiased and complete media reporting, free from ignorance, and full of honesty, charity and love for the neighbour.

St. Francis, ora pro nobis!