Father Thomas Leitner, OSB, Administrator of St. Benedictine Center in Schuyler, Nebraska shared these reflections in their Spring 2019 Newsletter. It is a good reminder of our need to “go apart and rest.”
The Danish philosopher of religion Søren Kierkegaard write: “As my prayer became more and more devout and interior, there was less and less I had to say. Finally I became completely still. I became–this is perhaps an even greater contrast to talking–I became a listener.”
We can train ourselves in everyday life to take this stance of listening in prayer, for instance, by relating the thoughts and emotions that rise within us in the course of our day to God time and again. The next step is to receive from God, in a stance of openness and listening, what God wants to tell us. We also need times, on a daily basis, that are completely set aside for God, especially in the morning and in the evening. Every day during my quiet morning time I read a passage from Holy Scripture and ask God to speak to me through it. It is good to have special places for our personal prayer, a room or a prayer corner in our home, for instance. A regular Holy Hour in church can be an excellent time for becoming still and a listener of God. And sometimes it is really helpful to go on retreat.
Rabbi Kuk used to tell his disciples, “God is everywhere; and God is the same everywhere.” When work became too much for him thought, he withdrew into the desert for prayer. His disciples were astonished about this One day they asked him, “Rabbi, you said that God is everywhere, and God is the same everywhere. Why do you go to the desert to pray if God is everywhere?” “You are right,” Rabbi Kuk responded. “God is everywhere; and God is the same everywhere. However, I am not the same everywhere. That’s why I go to the desert to pray.” Rabbi Kuk had experienced that in stillness, in being alone at a place of retreat, he could sense God’s presence in a special way.
A retreat can be that time of discovering God’s presence in a new and special way.