Home > Books on Spiritual Formation, Spirituality > More public ministry demands more withdrawal into silence and solitude

More public ministry demands more withdrawal into silence and solitude


Following are my own reflection about Pathways of Spiritual Living by Susan Muto.

This small book provides an excellent summary of some of the basics needed by anyone seeking to pursue holiness through spiritual self-direction. “The call to holiness beckons us to return to the basics, that is, to those conditions for fostering single-hearted, awe-filled, grateful abandonment to God’s will, revealed in the midst of our life in the everyday world.” 31 In particular, she addresses silence, listening, reflection, prayer and contemplation.

Since I am at the point of transition and moving from a ministry which involved public recognition to one that seems to be more hidden, her words on page 47 spoke to me. “Perhaps it is God’s will for us to remain in a service that is hidden, but it may also happen that we have to bear, as Christ did, the burden of public recognition and the consequent envy and jealousy it might arouse in others, to say nothing of the pride it could breed in us.” I have only of late discovered that the more the public ministry the more the need to withdraw into silence and solitude.

Silence has been a significant part of my own healing from burnout and so Muto’s encouragement to silence encourages me. Rather than seeing silence as an escape, I can see it as an opportunity for God to be at work, it becomes a place in which I can develop an intimacy with God. Indeed God has used silence to rebuild my fragmented soul. Muto says that everyone needs silence. “To neglect this need is to risk living a tense, fragmented, spiritless life. . . .If we do not nourish our souls, they atrophy as do bodies without food.” 58 However, since many people with which I work find it difficult to get away for longer periods of silence, I need to work with them to see how they can creatively build silence into the structure of their existing lives.

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  1. Wayne Cone
    March 22, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    Henri Nouwen says that often the presence f God is a “hidden presence.” Maybe that is our role in being God prepresentative, a “hidden presence.”

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