Pope Benedict XVI - Teachings on Silence





Message of Pope Benedict XVI

For the 46th World Communication Day

January 24, 2012


“When word and silence become mutually exclusive, communication breaks down, either because it gives rise to confusion or because, on the contrary, it creates an atmosphere of coldness; when they compliment one another, however, communication acquires value and meaning.”

“Silence is an integral element in communication; it 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.”

“It is often in silence that we observe the most authentic communication taking place between people who are in love: gestures, facial expressions, and body language are signs by which they reveal themselves to each other.”

“When messages and information are plentiful, silence becomes essential if we are to distinguish what is important from what is insignificant or secondary.”

“It is hardly surprising that different religious traditions consider solitude and silence as privileged states which help people to rediscover themselves and that Truth which gives meaning to all things.”

The Silence of God

“The God of biblical revelation speaks also without words: “as the Cross of Christ demonstrates. God also speaks by His silence. The silence of God, the experience of the distance of the almighty Father, is a decisive stage int the earthly journey of the Son of God, the incarnate Word . . . God's silence prolongs his earlier words. In these moments of darkness, he speaks through the mystery of his silence.”

“The eloquence of God's love, lived to the point of the supreme gift, speaks in the silence of the Cross. After Christs 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, God's voice resounds, filled with love for humanity.”

“In speaking of God's grandeur, our language will always prove inadequate and must make space for silent contemplation. Out of such contemplation springs forth, with all its inner power, the urgent sense of mission, the compelling obligation “to communicate that which we have seen and heard” so that all may be in communion with God. Silent contemplation immerses us in the source of that Love who directs us towards our neighbors so that we may feel their suffering and offer them the light of Christ, his message of life and his saving gift of the fullness of love.”

“Word and silence: learning to communicate is learning to listen and contemplate as well as speak. This is especially important for those engaged in the task of evangelization: both silence and word are essential elements, integral to the Church's work of communication for the sake of a renewed proclamation of Christ in today's world.”

“To Mary, whose silence “listens to the Word and causes it to blossom” I entrust all the work of evangelization which the Church undertakes through the means of social communication.


Catechesis Given at an August 13, 2011 General Audience at Castel Gandolfo.

Concerning Silence:

“In every age, men and women who have consecrated their lives to God in prayer -- such as monks and nuns -- have established their communities in places of particular beauty: in the countryside, upon the hills, in mountain valleys, by the lakeside or on the seashore, or even on little islands. These places unite two very important elements for the contemplative life: the beauty of creation, which points to that of the Creator, and silence, which is guaranteed by their remoteness from cities and the great means of communication.”

“Silence is the environmental condition that most favors contemplation, listening to God and meditation. The very fact of experiencing silence, of allowing ourselves to be "filled," so to speak, with silence, disposes us to prayer.”

“ The great prophet Elijah, on Mount Horeb -- that is, Sinai -- witnessed a great and strong wind, then an earthquake, and finally flashes of fire, but in none of these did he recognize the voice of God; instead, he recognized it in a still small breeze (cf. 1 Kings 19:11-13).

“God speaks in the silence, but we need to know how to listen for Him. That is why monasteries are oases where God speaks to man; and in them there is the cloister, which is a symbolic place, for it is a space that is enclosed yet opened to heaven.”

“The silence and beauty of the place where the monastic community lives -- a simple and an austere beauty -- serve as a reflection of the spiritual harmony that the community itself seeks to realize. The world is studded with these spiritual oases, some very ancient, particularly in Europe, others more recent, while still others have been restored by new communities.”

“Looking at things from a spiritual perspective, these places of the spirit, (monasteries), are a supporting structure for the world! And is it not the case that many people, especially in times of quiet and rest, visit these places and stay for a few days: even the soul, thanks be to God, has its needs!”

“Let us remember those saintly figures who remind us of the importance of turning our gaze to the "things of heaven"; for example, St. Edith Stein -- Teresa Benedicta of the Cross -- Carmelite and Patroness of Europe, whose feast we celebrated yesterday. And today, Aug. 10, we cannot forget St. Lawrence, deacon and martyr, with a special wish offered to the people of Rome, who have always venerated him as one of their patrons. And lastly, let us turn our gaze to the Virgin Mary, that she might teach us to love silence and prayer.”

On The Beauty of the Contemplative Life

The Vocation of John the Apostle: From a General Audience, Wednesday July 5, 2006

In Byzantine iconography, John is often shown as very elderly – according to tradition, he died under the Emperor Trajan – in the process of intense contemplation, in the attitude, as it were, of those asking for silence. Indeed, without sufficient recollection it is impossible to approach the supreme mystery of God and of his revelation. This explains why, years ago, Athenagoras, Patriarch of Constantinople said: “John is the origin of our loftiest spirituality. Like him, “the silent ones experience that mysterious exchange of hearts, pray for John's presence, and their hearts are set on fire!”



(Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation “Verbum Domini” of the Holy Father Benedict XVI to the Bishops and Clergy, consecrated persons and the lay faithful on the Word of God in the life and Mission of the Church)

The word, in fact, can only be spoken and heard in silence, outward and inward.”

Ours is not an age which fosters recollection. At times one has the impression that people are afraid of detaching themselves, even for a moment, from the mass media.”

Rediscovering the centrality of God’s word in the life of the Church also means rediscovering a sense of recollection and inner repose.”

The great patristic tradition teaches us that the mysteries of Christ all involve silence.”

Only in silence can the word of God find a home in us, as it did in Mary, woman of the word and, inseparably, woman of silence.”


Theme by Danetsoft and Danang Probo Sayekti inspired by Maksimer