It is Silence that Kills

Blog by Sr. Janet Schlichting

We’ve been listening to the prophets these past weeks, passages registering God’s passion and pathos— anger, frustration, longing and love for a people who keep falling, repenting and falling again.

Amos spoke scathing words, laying bare the avarice, cheating, exploitation of the poor. And he said words that have stayed with me, describing God’s sending upon the land “a famine of hearing the Word of God.”

Two weeks ago, in an opinion piece in the Sunday Times a pediatrician described the failings of the water system in Flint and the denials of serious corrosion by officials, and the massive exposure of young children to lead poisoning and lifetime damage. In his concluding paragraph he wrote, “One of the lessons of Flint is that science and public health won’t save us….being awake is not enough. We have to be loud.”

Two sentences that have everything to do with us Dominicans of Peace, as we enter into this Assembly titled “Lift Every Voice.”

There is a famine in our land, and that famine is starving people of God’s Truth and Self-giving Love.

And the famine is vast, and has many faces. For some, a famine of hearing the truth, a famine of hearing the Word of love for others, a famine of hope, a famine of peace. We are called to speak, especially for the sake of the ones whose voices are not heard, and to bring the light of Truth into the corresponding glut of misused power and wealth, willful deafness and blindness, of greed, and hubris.

How shall we preach the Gospel? How shall we speak Truth with Love to both oppressers and oppressed. How shall we plead for the earth, its community of life in danger of ruin and extinction? How will we listen to and speak for the hungry, the weeping, the unjustly treated, the despairing?

Remember our Brother Dominic, not given to thundering condemnations, but rather, singing loudly as he traveled the road and pleading loudly in his nights of prayer–not pronouncing wrath and judgment, but listening and conversing, considering and persuading. We call him Preacher of Grace.

We have pledged ourselves to the preaching of the Gospel. We see, we hear, we are awake and aware. We are responsive and responsible.

And now is the moment to speak: because it is not enough to be aware, and it is not Dominican to hoard the Good News in a world of famine. We must also live loudly, educating and advocating, praising and blessing and preaching. Grace abounds. But how shall they hear if there is no one to preach to them?

Posted in News, Weekly Word

12 responses to “It is Silence that Kills

  1. Dear Jan,

    right on, Jan. Catherine of Sienna was never quoted more sincerely. Thank you for your 50 years of words of wisdom.


  2. Thank you Sister Janet,
    Your words are inspiration, balm and solace. I remember you fondly. My time with you at Clarissa Hall lingers in my life all these years later.
    Peace, Valerie Norris

  3. Janet,
    Thank you for your word. I’m preparing a presentation for the Dominican Institute for the Arts on prayer/spirituality,
    justice and the arts; and you have given a most apt summation of what that is all about! The arts are a powerful mode of preaching the living Word–especially a word that, in love, sometimes must be prophetically critical.
    Again, thank you.

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