GuerricOf all the human weaknesses or injuries which God deigned to bear for us, the first in time and, one might say, the greatest in humility, was, I think, that the majesty which knows no bounds allowed itself to be conceived in the womb and to be confined in the womb for the space of nine months.

Where else did he so empty himself out, or when was he seen so completely eclipsed?

For so long a time Wisdom says nothing, Power works nothing that can be discerned.

The majesty which lies hidden and enclosed is not betrayed by any visible sign. He was not seen so weak on the Cross.

What was weak in him immediately appeared stronger than all men, when he glorified the thief as he died and with his last breath breathed faith into the centurion.

The sorrow of the hour of his passion not only made the elements of creation suffer with him but also subjected the opposing powers to a passion of timeless sorrow.

On the other hand in the womb he is as if he were not. Almighty power lies idle as if it could do nothing. The eternal Word constrains himself to silence.

But to you, brethren, to you that silence of the Word speaks, to you it cries out, to you to be sure it recommends the discipline of silence.

For in silence and hope shall be your strength as Isaiah promises, a man who defined the pursuit of justice as silence.

As that Child in the womb advanced towards birth in a long, deep silence, so does the discipline of silence nourish, form and strengthen a man’s spirit, and produce growth which is the safer and more wholesome for being the more hidden.

Mere man with his natural gifts, who does not take in the thoughts of God’s Spirit, does not know the way of the Spirit and how bones are built up in the womb of a woman with child.

But my body was not hidden from you, the Holy Man tells God, the body you made for me in the mind’s hidden depth under the pall of silence.

Neither from you is this mystery hidden, my brethren.

You have shared your experience with me and have told me how a quiet and dis­ciplined spirit is strengthened, grows fat and flourishes in silence, and how on the contrary by speaking it is broken up and dislocated as if by paralysis, grows thin and withers and dries up.

If there was not strength in silence Solomon would not have said: Like an open city without any encompassing walls, so is the man who cannot restrain his spirit from speaking.

Guerric of Igny (c.1070/80-1157): Third Sermon for the Annunciation, from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Monday in 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Year 1.

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