Listen to the silence in your lives, pope says

VATICAN CITY Tue Jan 24, 2012 11:28am EST

Pope Benedict XVI waves as he arrives to lead the Angelus prayer from the windows of his private apartment in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican January 22, 2012. REUTERS/Max Rossi

Pope Benedict XVI waves as he arrives to lead the Angelus prayer from the windows of his private apartment in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican January 22, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Max Rossi

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict is asking people to stop amid the noise and haste and listen to the sounds of silence in life.

Benedict dedicated the theme of his message for the Catholic Church's World Day of Communication to the relationship between silence and words.

"Silence is an integral element of communication; in its absence, words rich in content cannot exist," he said in the message.

"In silence, we are better able to listen to and understand ourselves; ideas come to birth and acquire depth; we understand with greater clarity what it is we want to say and what we expect from others; and we choose how to express ourselves," he said.

Benedict, who is a shy and quiet man himself, said that today "silence is a precious commodity" in a world with a "surcharge of stimuli and data."

"It is often in silence, for example, that we observe the most authentic communication taking place between people who are in love: gestures, facial expressions and body language are signs by which they reveal themselves to each other," he said.

Joy, anxiety, and suffering can all be communicated in silence, sometimes more powerfully than with words and silence often gives people a chance to listen -- to God, to themselves and to others.

In short, the pope is asking everyone to turn down the noise, reflect, evaluate and analyze.

"For this to happen, it is necessary to develop an appropriate environment, a kind of 'eco-system' that maintains a just equilibrium between silence, words, images and sounds," he said.

But he said the world of social communications was not always the problem and could also be part of the solution.

Benedict said there were "various types of websites, applications and social networks" which can help people find time for reflection and authentic questioning.

The Roman Catholic Church's World Day of Communications is marked on May 20. The message is intended for parishes around the world to prepare for the best way to celebrate it locally.

(Reporting By Philip Pullella, editing by Paul Casciato)

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