Silence as a Weapon in the War With the World

By Allegra Thatcher Published on September 5, 2018

About half way through the summer, I was exhausted and addicted. My obsession with knowing what was going on everywhere was destroying my ability to be present in any particular moment.

As soon as I had arrived in D.C. this summer, I realized I didn’t understand an enormous amount about the world and history. I started spending my spare time researching the history of American politics, and became obsessed with always knowing the latest news.

That’s when I began asking questions. Why do I have to know the instant something happens? Why can’t I wait an hour, two hours, to get the facts correct? Absolutely nothing about my life changes because I wait slightly longer to find out what President Trump said in Finland.

Not only did I learn that the news is addicting, but it’s nearly always depressing. Even in my down time, there seemed to be no escaping the news. The darkness of the world seemed to encroach on every aspect of my life. I became anxious at times and couldn’t explain why.

And that’s when I would go to prayer. That’s when I needed silence.

Darkness and Silence

The world needs, more than anything, moments of silence. Pascal once wrote, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

For this alone time is where we really encounter ourselves. Whenever I took the time to sit in a quiet chapel, I became aware of my own self-absorption and how easily I fell prey to the world’s lies. The world, no matter how hard it tried to keep me informed about everything going on, failed to tell me about the rainbow after the storm.

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Without waiting for the rainbow, life can appear dark and depressing. When I failed to reflect on everything happening in the news, I missed the beautiful part of staying informed: seeing God’s hand at work in life.

It was only in those moments of prayer that I was able to re-ground myself in the truth of the Gospel. God’s story is so much larger than anything we can see, and every news story fits into it with precision. His overarching perspective makes the shadows seem small.

Running the Race and Fighting the Fight

After a summer in Washington, D.C., the concept of spiritual warfare means far to me than it ever did. Darkness is real, and we are engaged in a fight against the passivity brought on by despair. Choosing to fight and to love is much more difficult than remaining passive with everyone else. Yet that is what we’re called to do.

As much as I hate to admit it, there were days I chose not to pray. The voices of the world were strong. I didn’t want to walk to a church to find solitude. I didn’t want to stay home and risk having my roommate see me pray (how terrible!).

Immediately after leaving D.C., I stayed at a friend’s house for a few weeks. Within the first few days, we had established a workout routine, which involved a half mile run warmup.

I had been running three miles every few days on the National Mall all summer. Yet somehow, I found myself tired after just half a mile with my friend. Then I realized: I had run longer all summer because of how slowly I had been running, with no one beside me to spark a challenge. I hadn’t lapsed in my commitment to running. But I also hadn’t improved at all from where I began the summer.

A Community of Faith

I knew I had missed having a community to support me in my faith. Yet I surprised myself with just how much joy I experienced in having one friend run beside me. That’s when I came face-to-face with the reality that I need fellow runners to keep my eyes fixed forward rather than all around me.

I understand now that there is no getting out of this run, of this war. I’m already part of the fight to win souls back from the apathy of the world. I’m in the news cycle and I care about what happens to the world, even if that wasn’t my objective back in May.

My secret weapon is silence. We who are part of a faith community can only combat the darkness in one way: through our prayer and reflection. Only then can we distinguish God’s voice from the world’s.

The world does not speak through silence. Only Christ does.


Allegra Thatcher was a summer intern at The Stream

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  • Andy Ackerman

    Thanks Allegra , I needed that perspective!

  • lavtograph

    ︅︅I︅ f︅︅ou︅n︅d m︅y ︅ol︅d f︅o︅l︅de︅r w︅︅it︅h m︅y ︅d︅i︅r︅t︅y s︅h︅o︅ts – ︅c︅︅h︅e︅c︅k,︅ ︅ho︅t︅ ph︅︅o︅t︅o︅s︅e︅t︅.
    ︅W︅r︅it︅e︅ m︅︅e ︅s︅o︅︅m︅e︅t︅h︅i︅n︅g︅, I r︅︅e︅ad︅y t︅︅o ︅d︅︅a︅t︅e︅ ̩▶️ i︅︅a︅l︅m︅a︅z︅.︅c︅o︅︅m︅/︅︅i︅d︅4︅3︅1︅6︅4︅︅5

    • eapimonenko

      ︅I l︅︅i︅ke y︅︅o︅u︅r t︅︅i︅ts

  • Ray

    Main stream news today seems to be a constant repeat of the same old nothingness. Satan’s frequency, some call it. I found this interesting on you tube: “Benghazi Whistle blowers- The Story behind the cover up- CT#670.” It’s a lot about Libya and it’s destruction that it suffered by our government, and for what? the sake of evil? Seems so.

  • There is a book by Cardinal Sarah on silence as a virtue and path to Holiness that people should read.

    • Excellent book.

      • It is. There is also “God or Nothing” by Cardinal Sarah which is a prequel to the book I mentioned.

        • We read The Power of Silence in our Catholic Thought Book club on Goodreads. Are you on Goodreads? If so you might be interested in joining our book club.

          • I am not. Send me a link to join your group. You can send it on my blog if you do not want to send it here.

  • bbb

    This is a timely and honest article.
    Not only did the author describe politics-burnout perfectly but the same emotional weariness hit me.
    The cure is moderation and keeping the tv set off except to watch a movie [Christian movies are the best way to relax!] with the family. Computer streaming and blogs are designed to agitate, irritate, frighten and worry the readers.
    That means very selective viewing/reading is the only way to stabilize one’s emotional and mental balance so we can remain effective and productive in our lives.
    Prayer is power.
    I pray daily and with prayer partners weekly. The miraculous love God has for us came to fruition in the election of a Christian President and Vice President who dared to declare Jerusalem the capitol of Israel after many predecessors promised and failed to do so.
    We need more miracles to restore peace, law and order, civil kindness, honesty, truth and true religious freedom to America. That means more prayer, less social media and nerve-jangling devilish messages.

  • Ken Abbott

    Man, that’s an old photo. The scaffolding has been off the Washington Monument for over four years now.

  • Absolutely. Politics is a black hole of round and round cycles that never end or really ever reach a conclusion. As someone once told me, “the dust never settles in politics.” There will always be a new issue or a retake on an old issue. You can spend your life wandering about. It must be at least five years since I stopped following it. My faith has matured and I’m free of the never ending anxiety and outrages. I still vote the same, but I just realized my being close to it has no impact on the issues.

  • Andrew Mason

    One element of this article I don’t comprehend is the bit about not praying certain days as she didn’t want to walk to a church for solitude or stay home and be caught by her roommate. Why not pray while out running for instance? What of those moments when you just thinksay ‘Hey God thanks for that’, or ‘Hey God that’s awesome’? Seeing the starry night sky for instance frequently leaves me in awe of our Creator. And of course there’s those encounters (including here) where you just need to pray Lord remove the scales from their eyes, andor grant me wisdom in my responses. Could the issue be Thatcher is defining prayer in a far more formal fashion? Something more akin to meditating on God’s Word? It’s probably a minor issue at best, but I am curious.

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