Classic and contemporary excerpts about prayer, silence, and other topics.

It used to be said that the Victorians of the nineteenth century talked incessantly about death but were silent about sex, whereas today we talk incessantly about sex and are silent about death. … In today's culture we chatter incessantly about both sex and death. … Now there is nothing we cannot talk about in polite company. It is a great liberation. And a great loss, if in fact both sex and death partake of mystery. Mystery is attended by a fitting reticence.
Richard John Neuhaus, First Things

When the counselor prepares himself for speaking, let him bear in mind with what diligent caution he ought to speak, lest, if he is too hurried in speaking, the hearts of hearers be struck with the wound of error.
Gregory the Great, Pastoral Care

The rule in a monastery was not "Do not speak," but "Do not speak unless you can improve on the silence." Might not the same be said of prayer?
Anthony de Mello, Taking Flight

Those who listen carefully to others are in the best position for hearing the Great Other.
David Adam, The Eye of the Eagle

Prayer … really is a silent surrendering of everything to God because it is not quite clear to me how I should pray.
Søren Kierkegaard, Journals

Well-timed silence is the most commanding expression.
Mark Helprin, in "A Word A Day"

Anxiety is the prerequisite to humor. Human beings are not amused by the irrelevant, but by what matters. Through laughter, we diminish the burden of fear, make light of forces we cannot control, and defuse the anguish of despair. Sara is at her most believable when she bursts into laughter at the sound of angel voices.
Don S. Skinner, Passage through Sacred History

What is not possible to us by nature, let ...

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