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“Breaking the Silence on the Silence” is a day of study, testimony and prayer, scheduled at Sant’Anselmo for 7 December 2019 to present the first Italian Catholic network dedicated to the promotion of silent prayer. In fact, there have been many Catholic organizations in Italy that promote the practice of silent prayer independently, in the form of meditation or contemplation. Although it is a practice that has deep roots in the monastic tradition and Christian mysticism, this practice does not find sufficient space today at the institutional level. The thirst for silence is increasingly widespread, but in the ecclesial sphere this path has almost formally disappeared and the Church is struggling to give immediate answers to those in search of silence to find dialogue with God. Precisely with the intention of highlighting these paradoxes and spreading the knowledge of silent prayer, the “Network on the Path of Silence” was born in February 2018 in Rome. The Primaziale Badia di Sant’Anselmo wanted to organize the first public meeting of the network on the Aventine Hill to highlight a fragmented but increasingly growing ecclesial reality and re-launch monasticism as a contemporary model for the Christian life.

For some time there have existed in Italy numerous Catholic organizations that autonomously promote the practice of silent prayer in the form of meditation, contemplative or interior prayer. They are experiences of Christian life based on the certainty that silence, experienced not as a simple absence of speech but as a mystical experience of abandonment to the Holy Spirit – decentralization, openness, listening, overcoming one’s ego, entrustment, reunification with the divine principle – is an important way to cultivate one’s spirituality and live faith in Christ.

And yet this silent practice, which has deep roots in the monastic and mystical tradition of Western and Eastern Christianity, is still considered in the ecclesial sphere an elitist or eccentric custom, the result of syncretic tendencies or the result of a superficial falling in love with Eastern philosophies.

There is a clear paradox between the diffusion of these experiences in the ecclesial territory and the absence of their public and institutional recognition that would allow a widening of the possibilities of access to this form of silent prayer. The need for a silent prayerful approach is underlined by the recent papal magisterium, the thirst for silence is increasingly widespread even at the cultural level, but in the ecclesial sphere this path has formally almost disappeared and the Church is struggling to give practical and accessible answers to those who are in search of silence to find God. There seems to be a gap to be bridged between doctrinal teaching and pastoral practices, on the one hand, and the thirst for silence expressed with ever-greater urgency by the People of God on the other.

Precisely with the intention of highlighting these paradoxes and spreading the knowledge of silent prayer, in February 2018 in Rome the “Network on the Path of Silence” was born. It is a spontaneous ecclesial initiative that brings together people and groups who have been practicing prayer and silent meditation for some time, even in different ways. The purpose of the network is not to standardize these experiences but to encourage sharing and increase mutual knowledge and to develop ways and opportunities to deepen a spiritual reflection on the mystical dimension of faith.

The Pontifical Abbey of Sant’Anselmo, consistent with its vocation, wanted to organize on the Aventine Hill the first public meeting of the “Network on the Path of Silence” to highlight a fragmented but increasingly growing ecclesial reality and revive monasticism as a contemporary model of Christian life. The event was supported and encouraged by Fr. Laurence Freeman, a Benedictine and spiritual guide of the World Community of Christian Meditation, WCCM.

Among the main inspirers / founders of the network are Antonella Lumini, a city hermit in Florence; the Piedmontese priest Don Paolo Scquizzato, former director of the “Mater Unitatis” House in Druento; and Marco Guzzi, poet and philosopher, founder in Rome of the spiritual formation group “Darsi pace” and Juri Nervo of the Hermitage of the Silence of Turin. For info: fcolagrande@yahoo.it