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Thursday, "For God Alone my soul waits in silence..."

"The Magdalen Reading", c.1445, Rogier Van der Weyden

Sister Beckett offers, There are layers of silence. Van der Weyden's Magdalen is deeply silent, but she is reading. Her mind is active, and willed into activity. This, then, is a mitigated silence, since we are only receptive to the thoughts of what we are reading. The Magdalen is obviously reading the Scriptures, and meditating on what she reads, but her silence can only be between passages of reading and will be concerned with those passages., If we do not read with intervals of silent reflection, we will understand only in part what we read. This is a fractured silence, good but imperfect. We all need to read, to keep our spirit alert, to have an inner texture, as it were, that can respond to the absolutes of pure soundlessness, but this chosen, meditative layer is the least significant.


Blessed Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; grant us that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them; that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our savior Jesus Christ.

-collect before reading scripture; Book of Common prayer

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