Closing and Opening

But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.  And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. (Mt 6:6)

“This is, therefore, the real meaning of every real penitential commitment:  to withdraw from the current of exterior things, to silence the advancing hubbub of so many human voices, in order to return into oneself, into one’s deepest inner life; because it is in the silence of conscience that God waits for us.

When, in fact, Jesus says:  Go into your room and shut the door, he does not call to an isolation that is an end in itself.  That shutting the door corresponds to the one decisive opening of the human heart:  the opening to God.”

[Pope John Paul II:  Excerpted from a talk in Rome to students and their teachers, February 28, 1979, as reprinted in the Madonna House Newsletter of February 2008.] 

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Direct to YouTube for this video is here.


13 thoughts on “Closing and Opening

  1. I’ve just come here straight from the Mercy blog where Mike has linked to this timely post.
    It can be so hard to detatch ourselves even for a little while, and yet we must, if we are sincere in our approach to prayer. Thanks, Gabrielle.

  2. Making space, getting rid of inner clutter, so I can go out and deal with what is ‘out there’ in a ‘Beatitude kind of way’.
    Prepared to face reality..
    Making space, getting rid of clutter…part of my Lenten rule.

  3. Good Morning, wow this is so true – I am blessed this week-end I will be going to a near by retreat center for the entire week-end.

    The whole week-end to spend with the bible, mass in the most beautiful chapel and just quiet time….

    I will keep you in my prayers.. Mary

  4. it is so critical for me to find those places where i can close the door on the chaos of the world and be still and listen. sometimes it requires me to be behind a “closed door” and other times i can quiet the chaos in the beauty of nature. being still in the midst of the storm is one of my greatest desires.

  5. The workplace can be a barrel of noise and activity. At times it called for taking a ‘mini retreat’..going deep within where God the center, blocking all around me out for a few moments and finding the quiet there. It is a habit I had to learn to develop, but it is ‘going into my room and shutting the door’ in a different and intimate kind of way in this busy world.
    Great when riding the subway!

  6. Ah, you all have reminded me of Bro. Lawrence’s practicing the presence of God. Few of us live a monastic existence (and those who do sometimes climb the walls from too much of all the quiet we ourselves would trade so much for, yet it’s not the world they hunger for, but the kingdom). It’s crucial to be able to get away to God in some way.. sometimes I have thought that it’s when we are faced with one more thing that must distract us from even an intended penitential rendezvous with the Lord, when we feel we have under-closed/under-opened even in Lent, that God Himself is also breathing in our sigh, but breathing on others who live His Lent only more vicariously than do we. That is why praying the Rosary daily is so crucial. Whatever we cannot seem to do or give or give up or improve or heal, she will place it in Christ, and the holy gaps shall be Fleshed out with hope and peace, and theophany.

  7. Ann, thanks. I went over to visit Mike too. I’m getting the sense from many blogger-friends that this Lent is particularly difficult, for many and varied reasons. That in itself is something to reflect on, isn’t it. All these exterior and interior obstacles to the way in which we would wish to practise, or enter into the spirit of Lent. This too can be transformed into an imitation of Christ’s exterior and interior pain and sorrow. Could a “horrible” Lent not be a most wonderful gift?

    teresa, your posts at the beginning of Lent re making space and uncluttering were very helpful and inspirational to me. And I agree with your other comment too, regarding the work and/or commuting environment. Going inside is something that has to be practised, a habit to be developed, as you say.

    Mary, I saw your post about your upcoming retreat, but I want to wish you again a beautiful retreat-weekend. Thank you so much for your prayers – I’m so happy you’re going to get away for some quiet time!

    Lucy, your ability to be still in the midst of a storm is reflected over and over again on your blog; there’s (usually) always a peacefulness at your place that calms and refreshes my spirit. (But I wonder how much “stillness” you’ll have in Paris?) 😉

    JustMe, I agree entirely about being reminded of Brother Lawrence in these comments. What I was saying to Ann re experiencing a difficult Lent I think is what you’re expressing too, offering all this up – I was thinking in imitation of Christ, and you are also reminding us to turn it over to Mary who will place it in Christ. Many thanks. (This is a terrible admission, but I had to look up theophany). Just checking. 😉

  8. Gabrielle,
    I’m wondering if the gift of solitude and silence is really a gift these days. For me, I am constantly on guard not to be, as my wife points out, Just hiding from the real world. You see, I feel that the real world is in seeking God. This is causing problems in a marriage that is already in trouble. I am often critizised for not being “present”. Usually while the tv is on, or while ingaged in a conversation about trivial nothings or other peoples business. I would much rather contemplate God at these times. Sorry, I am complaining. I love and respect my wife, and I want no other. Sometimes I feel completely mis understood though.
    Thanks for the great musical treat!

  9. Sean, I understand, and I know you’re not complaining. It can all be very confusing. We know that contemplation is a gift from the Lord, and we know it’s because He desires a greater union, and we want so much to enter into it fully. But then we drive ourselves crazy for years wondering why He doesn’t give us the corresponding silence and solitude we think it requires. Or we think, if only I had a different lifestyle, or a different job, etc. I don’t think there are any pat answers or easy solutions; none that I have found, anyway. Sometimes I think the Lord, for His own reasons, has given lay contemplatives with spouses/families the most difficult spiritual work of all. After many years, one of the only conclusions I have come to is that maybe it’s in order for us to develop the interior silence more quickly, since we have no exterior silence to speak of. Or maybe it’s a lifelong test in obedience to our state in life, or a thorough course in abandonment. If it is of any solace, I have found that after many years, my contemplative-self and my family-self is in much greater harmony than it was before, so I hope you will give it all the time it takes…

  10. Well, this isn’t related except in memory of old discussions, but I asked daughter to pick up “The Fire Within” when she went to Barnes & Noble for grandson’s new Thomas series train –and of course they didn’t have it, as my library doesn’t (we don’t *do* religion here in the Northeast), but they’ve ordered one for me. I look forward to it.

  11. Oh, I’m sure you’ll be extremely pleased with it, JustMe. It’s like my little “bible” re contemplation, that and “Christian Perfection and Contemplation” by Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange. You don’t have any Catholic book stores in your area? Could be a little business idea? (except inventory would do anybody in).

  12. Gabrielle,
    Thank you for such a compassionate response. I do feel better having vented that.
    In the end, I know that I am right where I am supposed be.
    Thanks again

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