Espacio: Responding to the 2016 Chapter Call to Create Silence

Suzanne Cooke, RSCJ
Welcome to Musings…a blog intended to explore insights into how to respond to the challenges to which members of the Sacred Heart Family are called.  Advent seems the ideal moment to begin this blog as Advent is the beginning of a new liturgical year.  I will confess it is a favorite time of the year for me.  I love the music of the Advent; its readings are beautiful.
Welcome to Musings…a blog intended to explore insights into how to respond to the challenges to which members of the Sacred Heart Family are called.  Advent seems the ideal moment to begin this blog as Advent is the beginning of a new liturgical year.  I will confess it is a favorite time of the year for me.  I love the music of the Advent; its readings are beautiful.
 
We can easily overlook the uniqueness of Advent because we are so focused on ending academic terms and so distracted by the rush towards Christmas.  Caught up in ensuring that all our preparations, be they prayer services, concerts, presents, preparation or writing Christmas cards, we can be immune to the sheer wonder of “expectancy.”  All the while Advent beckons us to attend to that inner urgency to sit in silence awaiting in a new and deeper way the Word of God in our hearts.

I think sometimes it is difficult for us adults to enjoy Advent as a time of expectation.  We know Christ came on that first Christmas, so what do we await?  Each of us has to answer this question for ourselves.  Given all that surrounds us these days, don’t you long for truth and peace?  I do.  I am welcoming Advent this year with a longing to deepen my own capacity to see hope and meaning.  I see Advent this year as the ideal time for all within the Family of the Sacred Heart to respond to 2016 Chapter Call to embrace, to create silence.  We can use this time during these four weeks… “to deepen our interior life, our capacity to contemplate and to listen to the heartbeat of God in ourselves and in the world, and, in silence, to discern and to welcome the action of the Spirit who transforms us, vitalizes us and impels us to live our prophetic and educational mission.”
 
How do we enhance our capability to be silent and our capacity to embrace silence?  Across our schools many answer this question through the practice of espacio. I am often asked how espacio became an important daily practice.  I first experienced this practice at Chapter 2000.  I was challenged by the simplicity of the practice AND its significant impact on those convened at an international meeting of Religious of the Sacred Heart from around the world gathered to chart the Society’s future. Each time we were called to silence, we emerged more capable of listening and hearing each other, more open to the Holy Spirit and ready to respond.  Engaged in this practice over several weeks, I returned convinced that genuine listening begins in silence and that our very humanity necessitates the development of our capacity to be silent.

How can one know the significance of silence today?  We have no “space” in our lives for silence.  A few years went by until one year at Advent, I invited our school community to try silence and the practice remains part of the fabric of life.  Espacio quite literally means space. As a practice, espacio entails carving space from one’s schedule, one’s use of time and one’s consciousness in order to develop competency as one who can be silent, as one who desires to be in tune with Mystery.  The daily practice of taking time, even as few as five minutes, in silence allows us to nurture our sensibility to the Spirit of God. The fact that espacio has taken hold in so many of our school communities points to the reality that we human beings are wired for transcendence, for mystery.  To be truly ourselves, we need silence.

As members of the Sacred Heart Family, why not embrace silence this Advent.  Let’s pray for one another as we re-attune ourselves to Mystery and discover anew our instinct to be engaged by our God who loves us.  Imagine the depth to one’s joy on Christmas morning having attended to one’s yearning for God in silence!?!



Sr. Suzanne Cooke, RSCJ is the Head of the Conference of Sacred Education.
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Schools of the Sacred Heart share in the educational mission of the Society of the Sacred Heart as articulated in the Goals and Criteria. The structure supporting Sacred Heart education in Canada and the United States includes the Conference of Sacred Heart Education and the Network of Sacred Heart Schools.  Together they provide services and programs to ensure vitality of mission for the member schools sponsored by the Society of the Sacred Heart.