When the then-Cardinal Bergoglio wore the white vestments for the first time, and came out to a world waiting for their new Pope, the first thing he asked was SILENCE. And then he bowed down and prayed quietly.

This silence that marked the beginning of Pope Francis’ papacy wasn’t just for show. It is the silence that St. Ignatius asked of all his men: the silence of a contemplative-in-action. It is a silence that understands that before action is done, reflection is needed. And that after every civil action, we need to quiet ourselves, look inward, and put things in perspective.

But do not be fooled by that seemingly passive silence.

It is what led to John de Brebeuf’s death in the hands of Native American chieftains who ate his heart to honour his bravery, it is what led to a deep understanding of liberation theology in the Pope’s own Argentina, or Fr. Rutillo Grande’s death that changed Archbishop Romero’s life. It is the silence of Mandela that gave him the moral authority to lead his country after years of apartheid. It is the silence of Ninoy Aquino when he was in solitary confinement in Laur that stripped him of his ambitions and made him a martyr for his country. It is the silence that led to the indictment of the Marcos regime after the snap elections of ’84. It is the bloody, sweaty silence in Gethsemane, the night before Calvary.

It is the calm before the storm.

It is that silence at the beginning of his papacy that is changing our world today.

Today, just spend your time of prayer in silence. Go against the temptation of thinking that for prayer to be real, you have to do something. You do not have to. You can remain silent, and it will be as worthwhile a prayer as the one with a lot of reflections written on your journal. Decide on a period of time to be silent (it could be 5 minutes, 10 or 15), and keep at it. Be still and know that God is with you.

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