Many lay people do not know how to create silence. They carry noise around them and wear it like a coat.
I have been with families that watch DVDs in the car as soon as the kids are in the van, before and after school. There is no discussion or conversation concerning the day.
I have been in houses when the television is on most of the day, or at least half of the day. I have been in cars where the individuals have to listen to the radio or tapes or CDs, not realizing that such a time could be one of silence.
And when you are praying, speak not much, as the heathens. For they think that in their much speaking they may be heard. Matthew 6:7
Silence is destroyed by talking as well. I visited a community of lay people years ago and one of the things which struck me was the peaceful silence of the houses. The married couples said as little as possible, and the children were peacefully quiet. Meal times were times for conversation about the day, and the children left the rooms in quiet and peace to do their homework. This was in an Anabaptist community. Silence during dishes was like that of the nuns in France, who do not speak when working together. They do not need to do so and therefore, open their minds and hearts to God.
Ecclesiastes 5:2 Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.
Part of the silence was created by scheduling. A lack of schedule makes one tense and without the ability to have times of silence. For example, a man coming home from work can ask his wife and family for a time of silence before dinner, for his own prayer time and unwinding from the day.
Pray more from the heart and mind and less from the mouth.
I have seen this in families and it creates a good atmosphere. The wife should not pile problems onto the husband as he walks through the door.
The parents should give each other time for prayer, either in the morning or in the evening.
Family prayer is separate. The family rosary and night prayers together do not need to take that long. A half-hour or so is enough and that could leave time for each parent to help the other in private prayer time.
Scheduling orders one's life and if one can think this "How does my life revolve around silence?", instead of "How do I fit silence into my busy day?", an attitude change can occur.
Talking about problems is only part of solving things. Prayer is the way to solve problems as well as activity. I have Montessori training. I had a Montessori school for a while. The instructor, the directoress, always uses a quiet voice, The children are shown the exercises in silence.
There is nothing so wonderful as the low hum of children, even pre-schoolers, working in a large room. Their concentration and happiness as working creates silence, only broken by the small hum of activity. To see this, is to glimpse into the way life was a long time ago, when silence was part of all of our lives, not just the monks.
Problems demand talking and silence in order to be solved. Thinking cannot happen without silence. Love cannot grow without silence as well as communication.
And, not all problems can be solved. Some things must be endured and silence puts all those trials and stresses into perspective. Not all love can be spoken. Love can be shared in silence.
This Lent, give up noise so that you can hear God.