Bishop Caggiano Reflects on the Challenge of Sitting in Silence and Solitude

BRIDGEPORT— On October 6, we celebrated the feast of Saint Bruno, the founder of the Carthusian religious order. Following Saint Bruno’s example, Carthusian monks and nuns live in a monastic setting, devoting their lives to contemplation, silence and solitude. Their ministry is one of prayer and reflection, serving as spiritual intercessors for the Church.

Today, there are about 320 Carthusian monks and nuns throughout the world. I very much admire the heroic witness of such men and women of faith, in part because I often find it challenging to sit in silence and solitude. Many mornings it is a great struggle for me to sit still, quieting my mind so that I can contemplate the power and beauty of God’s presence in my life. Often, my mind begins to wander, reflecting upon the many demands that I may face that day or the following day.

As often as I try to refocus and quiet my thoughts, it can take a great deal of time sitting in silence to arrive at any real sense of stillness. Yet, when I am able to persevere in seeking such silence before the Lord, I always feel refreshed and reinvigorated. I am also better able to deal with the issues before me, precisely because I took time away to sit in stillness, rather than “doing” anything other than contemplating the Lord’s presence.

I suspect that many others face the same challenge in life. Given the busy lives that we often live, to find time in silence and quiet is a rare commodity. However, Saint Bruno reminds us that we cannot let go of this great gift of silence and stillness. Perhaps you can begin by trying to carve time to be alone, even for a few minutes each day. The purpose of spending such time away from everyone around us is to refocus our attention upon the Lord, who is always at our side. Once alone, you will slowly find ways to calm your mind when your thoughts begin to wander. It is a struggle worth facing each day!

We can never forget that there will always be time later in our day to complete the things that need to be done. First things must come first, and the most important is to spend time contemplating in silence the wonderful love that God has for you and me.