2012-01-24 12:29:47

Silence and Word: Path of Evangelization

On Tuesday morning Pope Benedict XVIth released his annual message for World Communications Day which falls on May 20.

The theme chosen this year is “Silence and Word: Path of Evangelization” and as Benedictexplains, “it concerns the relationship between silence and word: two aspects of communication which need to be kept in balance, to alternate and to be integrated with one another if authentic dialogue and deep closeness between people are to be achieved.”

In her report on the Pope's message, Linda Bordoni says "Silence and word complement each other" giving communication value and meaning.

In silence – Benedict explains - we are better able to listen to and understand ourselves. By remaining silent we allow the other person to speak, to express him or herself. We avoid being tied simply to our own words and ideas. In this way,- the Pope points out - space is created for mutual listening, and deeper human relationships become possible.

And he observes that it is often in silence that we observe the most authentic communication taking place between people who are in love with gestures, facial expressions and body language.

In a time when messages and information are plentiful – the Pope says - silence becomes essential if we are to distinguish what is important from what is insignificant or secondary.

And the Pope reflects on the process of communication which nowadays is largely fuelled by questions in search of answers.

He mentions the role of search engines, social networks and the internet and pointed out that people today are frequently bombarded with answers to questions they have never asked and to needs of which they were unaware.

“If we are to recognize and focus upon the truly important questions” – Benedict says – “then silence is a precious commodity that enables us to exercise proper discernment in the face of the surcharge of stimuli and data that we receive”.

And he says that amid the complexity and diversity of the world of communications many find themselves confronted with the ultimate questions of human existence: Who am I? What can I know? What ought I to do? What may I hope?

It is important – the Pope explains - to affirm those who ask these questions, and to open up the possibility of a profound dialogue, by means of words and interchange, but also through the call to silent reflection, something that is often more eloquent than a hasty answer and permits seekers to reach into the depths of their being and open themselves to the path towards knowledge that God has inscribed in human hearts”.

Men and women – he says - cannot rest content with a superficial and unquestioning exchange of skeptical opinions and experiences of life. We are all in search of truth and we share this profound yearning today more than ever.

So, the Pope points out that attention should be paid to the various types of websites, applications and social networks as well as making space for silence and occasions for prayer, meditation or sharing of the word of God.

And pointing out that the God of biblical revelation speaks also without words, we in turn discover in silence the possibility of speaking with God and about God.

In speaking of God’s grandeur, our language will always prove inadequate and must make space for silent contemplation. And silent contemplation, he says, immerses us in the source of that Love who directs us towards our neighbours 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.

And speaking of the fundamental question of the meaning of human existence, the Pope says it finds in the mystery of Christ an answer capable of bringing peace to the restless human heart.

The Church’s mission springs from this mystery- he says - and it is this mystery which impels Christians to become heralds of hope and salvation, witnesses of that love which promotes human dignity and builds justice and peace.

In conclusion Pope Benedict says “learning to communicate is learning to listen and contemplate as well as speak. This – he points out - is especially important for those engaged in the task of evangelization”.

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