"Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would go onward; but if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not go onward till the day that it was taken up. For throughout all their journeys the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel." (Ex 40:36-38).
Sunday, 22 December 2013
Saint Joseph & One's Interior Cloud of Silence
Recently (2013) Pope Francis said in a Homily: “This cloud in us, in our lives is called silence: the silence is exactly the cloud that covers the mystery of our relationship with the Lord, of our holiness and of our sins. This mystery that we cannot explain. But when there is no silence in our lives, the mystery is lost, it goes away. Guarding the mystery with silence! That is the cloud, that is the power of God for us, that is the strength of the Holy Spirit.”
Father Andrew Doze, teacher of theology and chaplain of Lourdes, in his excellent book: 'St. Joseph: 'Shadow of the Father', speaks of this cloud as a mystical symbol of God's Paternity and of St. Joseph. Countless times throughout the scriptures this cloud appears at ordained periods of time. He goes on to write: "This cloud manifests the secret of the Father's love, a merciful love, a maternal love, as Hosea, Isaiah and other prophets understood so well: "The Most High...will love you more than does your mother" (Si 4:10)."
This relates so well to the hidden depths the Holy Spirit through Pope Francis is alluding to when he speaks of this interior cloud of silence within us. For Saint Joseph, known as the hidden saint, lived a life in the shadows of God the Father's Love, working quietly and humbly, for the betterment of Jesus and Mary whom he so loved. If it were not for Saint Joseph's discretion and 'fiat' to the Will of God, Mary's conception from the Holy Spirit would have been made publicly known, and this indeed, when adultery was punishable by stoning to death, would have been the end of Mary and of Jesus, and of the entire Redemption of all humanity!
Like Saint Joseph, who is a model of one who lived in the Cloud of Silence, we are called to be hidden in the Merciful and Maternal Love of God the Father; and we can do this by living lives of interior silence; lives of deep prayer grounded in Eucharistic Adoration. For in the Cloud of this love our sins, as Pope Francis mentions, are hidden from God who looks not at ours sins but upon His own Son Jesus Christ who lives in us and us in Him. It is easy to keep busy and preoccupied with the tasks of Martha, yet we must remember that "only one thing is necessary" to Adore in the silence of our heart. It is well and good to pray prayers of dialogue and meditation, yet we should always spend time to "be still" and know that our God is God indeed.
The cloud of God's gentle Fatherly love is not outside of us, it is always present within the sky of our soul. If we run from silence we are running from the maternal love of God the Father; and it is then that we shall begin to form within our hearts little stones of hardness, stones which make us think of God as harsh, severe and legalistic. This error we experience in occasions of scrupulosity, and in the way in which we judge others harshly.
At the same time, this cloud commands as an exacting and demanding Father would so. It must be obeyed both night and day. As he sums up his thought, the author of Exodus concludes his work by contemplating this wonder one last time..."
Be watchful in the sky of your soul, for countless times throughout the day you will see with the eyes of your soul the interior cloud of silence moving over that secret tabernacle, calling you to adore the Lord in the quiet cell of your heart.