We tend to associate our Catholic churches with the celebration of Mass and with other religious services. At those times, they are generally fairly busy and whilst there, our tendency is to be active, in the sense that we are ‘taking part’ in what is happening around us. We know when to stand, sit or kneel. We know what will be said and we know what to say in response and when to say it. We are there as individuals, but as one amongst many – we are part of the crowd. We know for how long we will be there and when we will leave.
But have you ever just gone and sat in an empty Church, outwith Mass or any other service? In those moments, the Church becomes a place of stillness and silence, a place of refuge; a sanctuary.
At such times, I find it very easy simply to be rather than to do – to be absolutely still before the Tabernacle, in the divine presence. It is in those moments that I experience the very real sense of listening rather than speaking; of awareness rather than distraction; of peace.
For many years now, I have loved to go to our little parish Church on Saturday afternoons. For the first few of those years, I would share the place with a man called Dennis, who did much the same thing, sitting quietly and listening to the Lord as he read from his Bible. Dennis is gone now, though I think of him very often, and so I am alone there for the most part. And for me, these are very precious moments indeed.
It is in those moments that I can almost hear the Lord, saying – “Come to Me, all you who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Mt.11:28)
So often, we listen to the words of the Lord in the Gospels and we tend to think of them as lovely but not really applying to us – they were said in that particular moment for the souls fortunate enough to have been near to the Lord. And yet, His words are directed equally to us, for we are also near to the Lord – albeit in a different way and in a later moment of time. But He speaks to us as much and as directly as He did to those listening to Him as He walked the earth.
Are you burdened? Do you feel weary with life? Do you seek rest?
Do as the Lord invites you to do – go to Him. Sit with Him, experience that silence in His presence and just be.
Let Him speak to you.