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Singer of silence

Julos Beaucarne, a Belgian poet and singer, once wrote something amazingly original which had as title : The Singer of Silence. In this, he told about a performing artist who came on stage and remained silent “before an audience of thousands who had come to be keep quiet with him” and who, two hours later, left the concert hall “filled with his silence”. This performing artist had communicated to them the beauty of collective silence. (Julos Beaucarne, Mon terroir, c'est les galaxies).

The great silent one of the gospels

Through their silence about the person of Joseph and of his personality, the evangelists were in fact faithful to two of Joseph’s character traits : he was a man of silence and a man of contemplation.

Even though Joseph’s name appears 14 times in the Gospel writings, nothing is reported about what he said.

Mary, his spouse, is another silent being though the Gospels do give us a few sentences spoken by her. Her sentences are filled with meaning and with history.
Joseph, on the other hand, never opens his mouth. Everything leads us to think that he was so overcome by the mysteries he was involved in that, like Mary, he kept these in his heart and contemplated them. (Lk 2, 51).

This was his way of grasping the depth of his experience. In no way did this make him inadequate in his roles as spouse and father in the family of Nazareth. Certainly, he must have put his thoughts into words when this was needed.

The fact that the sacred writers presented us with a silent Joseph sheds light on the great extent of his silence in circumstances where others would have spoken.

His silence still disturbs today, because we live in a culture where music, words, and noise are ubiquitous. And Joseph’s silence can teach us so much.

The lesson of Joseph's silence

Joseph’s attitude can teach us the satisfaction and the nobility one feels when keeping a secret. It can teach us to contemplate the internal beauty that is within ourselves. It can teach us the humility that brings us to our knees when gazing at a sleeping baby at the dawn of its life or when seeing an elderly person seated in his armchair and waiting for the new coming Day. It can teach us to open the ears of our hearts to better listen to the quiet murmur of the Spirit waiting there in the depths (Rom. 8, 26). And, let us not hesitate to invoke Joseph using the beautiful name of SINGER OF SILENCE.

Let us ask him to teach us not to stop speaking but rather to be silent in order to better speak of his Son, to better proclaim his Word:

Joseph, singer of silence,
Teach us to gently wait
For the Jesus’ coming in the depths of our nights
And in the desert of our days.
Joseph, singer of silence,
Teach us to murmur the Father's name.
May his grace reach us
In the depths of our loves. Amen

Ghislaine Salvail, sjsh

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