NGUYEN: Quarantined in silence, fullness of presence

May 12, 2020

None of us is ignorant of what has taken place around the world since February. There are constant reports and updates on news and social media regarding the same catastrophe, COVID-19 pandemic. The havoc is inconceivable: hundreds of thousands of deaths; restrictive enforcement everywhere, e.g., the quarantine and social distancing; and much more. It’s been a dreadful and haunting experience for every family in the whole wide world.

This article is not another follow-up post adding to the vortex of this horrifying pestilence; rather, it is an insight, an “ah-ha” moment that emerged from silence. Indeed, God speaks. St. Teresa of Calcutta affirms, “In the silence of the bosom God speaks.”

Certainly, God discloses himself “in a gentle breeze” (cf. 1 Kings 19:13).

I recall it vividly. It was on Good Friday at twilight, a breezy, silent evening amidst the COVID-19 crisis, as I was pacing up and down our field and reflecting, my heart became stuck adrift. I suppose you know the reason. It was the time when everyone was in the same boat, adhering to the order of quarantine at home and social distancing.

Although we were socially disconnected, we were able to work from home and communicate with others via our devices. However, things were not the same.

As I was walking and pondering, the feeling of emptiness and disconnectedness encircled me. My mind was a bit muddled, and I thought to myself: “My life journey is ahead of me, and I have to walk alone. No one is going to accompany me. People have their own journeys to walk and their own problems to solve.” The thoughts were scary and distressing as I was trying to read the sign of the time.

Suddenly, the image of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus popped up in my mind, then came a whisper.

“I, God, will be your companion. I will accompany you, just like how I did with two disciples on their way to Emmaus. I am your ultimate companion. Although human companionship is good and helpful, the divine One is supreme and indispensable. You will be safe and satisfied if you walk with Me, for I am the true companion, the One that you are seeking for.”

Immediately, I felt so relieved, and peace filled my heart because I know that I am not alone. God will be my enduring companion. The “Ah-ha” moment!

Living in this busy and chatty lifestyle, it could be a challenge for one to find 15 minutes sitting in quiet with God to gain inner peace and insights. People prefer to have their headphones on and settle for the worldly knowledge, rather than that of God. Truly, “God speaks… yet no one notices” (Jobs 33:14).

St. John Paul II also stated, “Only in silence does man succeed in hearing in the depth of his conscience the voice of God, which really makes him free.” Let us take the opportunity of silence to be in touch with the Divine.

Let us take advantage of these times of uncertainty, quarantine and social distancing to embrace silence as part of our lifestyle and be comfortable with it. God is omnipresent as He promised to be with us until the end of time (Mt. 28:20). Let us once again remind ourselves to hold tight to God’s enduring accompaniment through these truths:

The Eucharist
God’s fount of inspiration and transformation. St. Thomas Aquinas and Fulton Sheen, the venerable, often remark that all their ability to write, to teach and to preach come from spending time in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Let us take advantage of being “son-tan” under the “Son’s rays”; however, not now, but when things are back to normal. In solidarity with the fact that we all have been deprived of the Eucharist over the last months, our longing for the Eucharist escalates all the more. At present, Spiritual Communion and Spiritual Adoration are sufficient.

The Scripture
God’s love letter to humankind. This love letter is God’s word and inspired by the Holy Spirit (Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 9). Practicing Lectio Divina, the ancient practice of praying with Scripture, is the best way to transform our prayer life and to grow in intimacy with God.

The Guardian Angel
God’s evidence of heavenly protection and intercession. The Catechism of the Catholic Church proclaims that from infancy to death, human life is accompanied and surrounded by their [guardian angels’] watchful care and intercession (CCC, par. 336). Praying the Guardian Angel prayer, at least once a day in the morning, is a good way to remind ourselves of their accompaniment.

The Patron Saint
God’s evidence of heavenly protection and intercession. As early as in the fourth century, Christians were already being named after the Apostles and the Martyrs. It became popular among Christians since the Middle Ages. The fact of taking on a saint name at Baptism and/or Confirmation and model after their virtues is the assurance of the patron saint’s intercessory prayer for us.

Obviously, God is our forever and loving companion who longs to be in communion with us. Once more, the wisdom of St. Teresa of Calcutta declares, “God is a friend of silence. We need silence to connect, to speak, to listen to, and to ponder God’s words deep in our hearts. We need to be alone with God in silence to be renewed and to be transformed, for silence can give us a new outlook in life. In it, we are filled with grace, and then God, which makes us do all things with joy.”

Sister Maria Goretti Nguyen, OP, is an associate director with the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis.