Encountering God in the silence — a reflection on the silent retreat

By Megan Sheehan, communications coordinator, Campus Ministry

“In the silence of the heart God speaks. If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you. Then you will know that you are nothing. It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself. Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.” — Mother Teresa

What keeps us from getting to know God better? What gets in the way of us basking in the reality of God’s love for us?

Last week, 26 members of the Marquette community—undergraduate and graduate students, alumni, faculty and staff—set out to eliminate some of the distractions present in daily life by way of the Silent Directed Retreat. Hosted by Campus Ministry and the Faber Center, the retreat was held at the Jesuit Retreat House in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

I have no doubt that the fruits of this silence were as diverse as the retreat participants. As a spiritual director present for the journey, what I witnessed reinforced the value of taking a step back to trust in the Lord with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). Such a pause allows us to look back at our lives and consider how God has carried us and graced us to get us to the places in our lives today.

What a privilege, what a gift—to retreat in the beautiful surroundings afforded by a trip to this setting in Oshkosh and to pray, reflect and think among community without saying a word. It is blessing that the university offers this opportunity for Marquette community members to find out for themselves that, “in the silence of the heart, God speaks.”

On the cusp of a new semester of literal and figurative noise, may we all pray for each other—that even if we aren’t able to embark on a silent retreat, that we might find ways to make room for God in our daily hustle and bustle. May we find moments to set aside all the significant things that call our attention for intentional encounters with the attention of God.

For reflection: What stands between you and God? How might we invite God into our own efforts to eliminate these obstacles?