We have two voices in our souls. One is the voice of foolishness and fear, which seeks diversions. The other is the voice of truth. How can we listen to the right voice?
The first answer is humility. Merton says, in Thoughts on Solitude, that “humility is in all things silent. Even when it speaks, it listens.”
Where do we go for our model of humility? To the Mother of God, the humblest of creatures even though she had the right to be the proudest. She not only models humility for us, she will, by her supremely humble and therefore supremely powerful intercessory prayers, obtain this great grace for us. She is not just a model, she is a mother; not just a “formal cause” but an “efficient cause,” not just a picture but a power. Satan trembles at her.
Look at one of the old masters’ paintings of the Annunciation. Max Picard writes: “In the pictures of the old masters, people seem as though they had just come out of the opening in a wall, as if they had wriggled their way out with difficulty. They seem unsafe and hesitant because they have come out too far and still belong more to silence than to themselves. They stop and wait for another opening to appear in front of them through which they can get back again to the silence.”
We have to fight for this silence today, for the noise is everywhere, inside us as well as outside. We have to demand it of ourselves. We must silence our chattering mind by our deep mind, and our clamoring will by our deep will. When we wake up each morning, a hundred little mental soldiers attack our brain: “Today you must do this and that, you must remember this and that, you must serve this master and that.”
Your first thought every morning must be God, not yourself or your jobs, your fears, your desires, your “stuff.” Begin your day with the word “You,” not the word “I.” Let God speak that sacred word, from the Burning Bush of your heart.