The Common Good
February 2009

Words about Silence

by Ruth Haley Barton | February 2009

Key contemplative spirituality terms.

SOLITUDE
A time when we pull ourselves away from the company of others so that we can give our full and undivided attention to God.

SILENCE
Deepens our experience of solitude; in silence, we also withdraw from our reliance on words, noise, and activity so that we can listen for the still, small voice of God.

CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER
Another way of talking about silence, contemplative prayer is a way of praying that takes us beyond words to a place of rest, openness, and receptivity to God’s presence, much as a very young child rests with her or his mother (Psalm 131).

LECTIO DIVINA
Slow, meditative reading of scripture that involves reading the same short passage multiple times, incorporating a rhythm of silence and word.

FIXED-HOUR PRAYER
The practice of praying at specific times of the day—most often morning (lauds), midday, evening (vespers), and night (compline)—often using written prayers that include scriptures and time for silent reflection.

SPIRITUAL DIRECTION
A one-on-one relationship characterized by a quiet, listening approach to the spiritual life.

—RHB

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