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An inner core of silence

We just finished conducting the Silence & Action workshop of the Pathways of Grace series. It was a wonderful morning.

An inner core of silence

Kenneth Leech was the conductor for the Order of the Ascension’s retreat in 1988. We gathered for five days. In one of Fr. Leech’s addresses he said this --

Any authentic priesthood must derive from an inner core of silence, a life hid with Christ in God ...Only those who are at home with silence and darkness will be able to survive in, and minister to, the perplexity and confusion of the modern world. Let us seek that dark silence out of which an authentic ministry and a renewed theology can grow and flourish.

In those days all the Professed Members were priests. Obviously, his wisdom applies to all the baptized. To live as we are called to live, to share in the Divine Life, we need an inner silence.

That silence is certainly related to popular ideas about being centered, grounded, and having a capacity for mindfulness. But it’s more. It has a content not just a process. It is informed silence. Silence and stillness rooted in our life hid with Christ.

Daily Office & Spiritual Reading

In the workshop we explored the resources of our tradition, the spiritual practices, that we may engage to place ourselves in the pathways of grace.  Our review of a number of Anglican guides for the spiritual life drew us to focus on two practices – the Daily office and spiritual reading. Both disciplines that would have us grow in our adoration and wonder by attending to the Word. We did Morning Prayer and a spiritual reading from Aelred’s Spiritual Friendship. With each we offered a bit of coaching centered on the practice’s usefulness in developing “an inner core of silence” and after doing the Office and the reading we reflected on their impact upon us.

Parish development

If you seek to deepen the spiritual life of the parish, and to develop a healthy parish culture, one starting place might be to offer short workshops training and coaching members in these two practices. To be effective the workshops need to be repeated every year. In a large parish they might be done twice each year. They are done if 15 people sign up or 2 people sign up. The goal is that after 8 years you may have 20% of the congregation engaging these practices and in so doing, not only enriching their own spiritual life, but shaping the parish in pathways of grace.


Michelle Heyne, OA & Robert Gallagher, OA

The Feast of Aelred of Rievaulx, 2019