“Part of being young is desiring something beyond everyday life and a secure job, a yearning for something really truly greater. Is this simply an empty dream that fades away as we become older? No! Men and women were created for something great, for infinity. Nothing else will ever be enough. Saint Augustine was right when he said: “Our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.” The desire for a more meaningful life is a sign that God created us and that we bear his imprint.” – Pope Benedict XVI

On Friday, November 11th, ASU Students came to Our Lady of Solitude to make a day of prayer, led by Fr. John Muir and Fr. Paul Sullivan.  The day consisted of Mass, the recitation of Divine Office, times of personal prayer, opportunities for the sacrament of reconciliation, brief spiritual talks, and fellowship over a shared meal. The day concluded with a Eucharistic Holy Hour/Healing Service with Benediction.  Outside of lunch, the day was wrapped in silence and stillness.  
For my part, I felt like a bit of a Martha – running around here and there, getting everything ready, making lunch, doing this and that and the other thing!  What struck me, while in the throes of my own Martha-like frenzy, was the silence and reflection and contemplative attitude of a large group of college students.  Some students walked the grounds, in silence.  Others plopped down here or there to read or pray, in silence.  Many found their place in the chapel, adoring the Lord,…in silence.
And, accompanying the silence, there was a tangible sense of hope.
This brings to mind a quote from Josef Pieper, one of my favorite philosphers: 

“A particular form of nonsilence has always been regarded as a kin of despair: talkativeness, babble, the unquenchable frenzy of idle talk.  When, however, talk of this kind, which one encounters truly everywhere in the workplace and the marketplace as a constant temptation, when such deafening talk, literally bent on thwarting listening, appears to be connected to HOPELESSNESS – it is to be asked, then, should there not be in silence, in listening silence, necessarily a drop of HOPE?”

Pieper further asserts that in keeping the silence, we are exercising hope.
Sadly, in our day, we sometimes find – among the young and the not so young – many subtle forms of despair.  And accompanying despair, we find deafening, maddening, consistent noise.  But on Friday, in the faraway desert solitude of Tonopah AZ, there was a lot of silence…and a lot of hope.  
Being with young people, especially the kind of young people we encountered here on Friday, brings a wave of hope to the heart.  At the conclusion of the Holy Hour/Healing Service, Fr. Muir brought the Blessed Sacrament to each person.  Each of us had his/her moment with the Lord.  Seeing the young people approach the Lord, FILLED WITH HOPE, was a sight for sore eyes.  It was proof that the words of Pope Benedict are 100% correct: “Part of being young is desiring something beyond everyday life and a secure job, a yearning for something really truly greater.” 
Perhaps these college students were indeed exercising their hope by this day of silence.  And, by the power of their witness, the Lord was exercising my hope as well.  
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

 “The world reveals itself to the silent listener and only to him; the more silently he listens, the more purely he is able to perceive reality.” – Pieper

“Just as he once encountered the young Paul, Jesus also wants to encounter each one of you, my dear young people. Indeed, even before we desire it, such an encounter is ardently desired by Jesus Christ.” – Pope Benedict XVI


“Following in the footsteps of the people of hope – composed of prophets and saints of every age – we continue to advance toward the fulfillment of the Kingdom, and on this spiritual path we are accompanied by the Virgin Mary, Mother of Hope.”

– Pope Benedict XVI
ASU Students at the conclusion of their Day of Prayer at Our Lady of Solitude