Silence of Body
Silence of Body
We know well by now what the silences are: practical means that allow us to live virtue. In this way, living the silences prepares us to attain self-mastery, cooperating with grace to complete the divine Plan.
Silence of body consists in placing my body, and its language, under the control of my will, thus restoring its original purpose. By language are understood any gesture or exterior movement with which we express our thoughts, feelings and actions. Silence of body is, then, an ascetic path that allows me to comprehend and govern my body and its language, directing them under the action of grace and the guide of my will, in the proper fulfillment of the divine Plan. Through the will, we dominate and transform unnecessary or disordered movements to steer them rightly. By prudence, we regulate their occasion and effective use.
Living silence of body presupposes a positive vision of our corporal reality. The Tradition of the Church, faithful to Revelation, has always affirmed the proper appreciation of the body as an integral part of the person. This is the foundation of silence of body’s positive approach. It is not a matter of punishing the body or repressing its manifestations, but of reordering, and of educating our body language to attain corporal harmony and self-mastery.
Educating the Will
Silence of body, as is the case with the other silences, strengthens my will because it requires me to be aware, in this case, of my body and its language. Through free acts of my will, it permits me to steer them in the correct direction. In this way, my will is not submitted to the disorder found in the law of my likes and dislikes, to a lack of awareness, nor to automated responses of any type, but rather acts freely according to the Plan of God.
The Human Being, an Integral Being
The human being is, by nature, a bio-psycho-spiritual unity. There exists, therefore, a relationship between the exterior and the interior dimensions of man such that the exterior impacts the interior, and vice versa. Thus, there are attitudes and postures that favor interior dispositions and, at the same time, interior dispositions that are reflected in exterior comportment. Correcting my body language and gestures by exercising silence, I acquire exterior harmony, which will definitely have repercussions in my inner reality. For this reason, silence of body is an excellent means to achieve harmony and inner depth, as well as spiritual strength.
Man, a Being for Encounter
Communication is a fundamental aspect of human life. Man, in as much as he is a being for encounter, is a being for communication. By communication, we are referring to a total communication goes beyond the verbal aspect. While this is without a doubt its most important dimension, the human being communicates with his entire being, including his body, its gestures and the whole of body language. Many times, a gesture can be more expressive than words. Who hasn’t experienced a moment when words fell short, while a gesture, a look or a smile, turn out be much more eloquent. For that reason, silence of body plays an essential part in attaining fuller relationships with others. It facilitates comprehension of my personal reality, my capacity for communications with others as well as with God. The person who succeeds in silencing, in this sense, his body language definitely enhances his capacity of communication and expression.
Silence of Body and the Apostolate
Living silence is something that has clear implications in the apostolate. Our calling as Catholics to be a transforming presence in the world requires serious personal work so that we may increasingly adhere ourselves to He who is the model of humanity in its fullest, the Lord Jesus. This configuring dynamism is not individualistic because it is, by its very nature, oriented toward self-mastery, understood in view of our openness to God and other human beings.
Along these lines, silence of body is an excellent means for the apostolate. When not duly reordered, our body and its language can become real obstacles for others to welcome the Gospel. Clumsy and inappropriate gestures and bad habits can be truly bothersome to others, thus creating unnecessary barriers for them to grow closer to Christ. By silencing our body language, we can achieve the naturalness and inner freedom so necessary for us to faithfully transmit the Lord.
Vigilance over the Senses
The senses are the “doorway” through which reality enters our interior. Consequently, we must place importance on maintaining a vigilant attitude with respect to our senses. This positive exercise carries special importance in our times, given the primacy lent to the search for sensations – which are exacerbated to the point of exhaustion by mass media - over and above our true inner values. The practice of being vigilant over our senses is fundamental for living freely, which is consistant with the authentic nature of man.
Living Silence of the Body
Living silence of the body presupposes a will that is decided on change and growth, on undergoing serious personal work, and on living openness and docility to the action of grace.
The practice of silence of body passes through two dimensions. The first consists in getting to know our disordered gestures and body language, as well as our bad corporal habits, thus the need for constant, personal vigilance, as well as openness to fraternal correction. The second consists in an act of the will by which we replace disordered body language with one that is more appropriate. We ought to remember that many of our disordered corporal manifestations are habits that have been deeply rooted by custom over time. For that reason, exercising silence of body requires great faithfulness and perseverance.
The Dignity of our Body: 1Cor 6:15a,19-20; 1Thes 4:4; 5:23; Gal 6:17.
The Body, Instrument to Complete God’s Plan: Rm 12:1; Phil 1:19-20; Col 1:24.
Silence of Body in our Apostolate: Lk 1:39-42; Rm 6:12-13; 2Cor 11:23-29.
Vigilance over the Senses: Mt 5:28-29; 6:22-23; 18:9.