Cardinal Robert Sarah brings an authentic witness of a contemplative living in the world. As a priest and later as a young bishop resisting threats against the Church from the Marxist dictatorship in Guinea, Africa, he developed the practice of making monthly retreats of prayer and fasting, uncovering the strength that lies hidden in silence. From his rich experiences in Carthusian monasteries, he wrote the book, The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise.
Silence may appear weak before the strong and powerful forces of the world. But Cardinal Sarah writes that, “a man on his knees is more powerful than the world. … All you who, to the eyes of men, are without power and influence … your mission is great. It is to prevent the world from destroying itself.” Those who engage silence conquer darkness with a love that is stronger than death.
Cardinal Sarah describes the meek and humble of the earth — such as the unborn, the sick, and the elderly — as “magnificent prophets of silence” who point us to the interior world and to the God who speaks in silence. These hidden souls have been entrusted with a mission to proclaim to the world that the meaning of life is not about what we can do or produce, but about love. The vulnerable among us are prophets of love, and they make clear the words of St. John of the Cross who said, “In the evening of life, we will be judged on love alone.”
Here is one beautiful soul among our friends, family, and missions who is a true prophet of silence in our world:
When Charles was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, he quickly declined and became very vulnerable. But his weakness created the space for his family — which had been torn apart by divorce, misunderstandings, and unreconciled hurts — to re-unite and to heal. His vulnerability softened hearts, and for the first time family members who had not spoken in decades were able to be in the same room together and tell each other of their love and forgiveness. His daughter, Mary, related, “It’s very mysterious; it was only in his suffering and weakness that he was able to communicate his real love for us. It was hidden before. It came to the surface because somehow he was more free — there were no more walls. It was his silence and fragility that ultimately taught us to love one another and come together as a family.”
Originally printed in IMPRINT Magazine Winter 2019.