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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 20, No. 8. June 13, 1957

Elected Silence

Elected Silence

"Some are born silent, some achieve silence, and some have silence thrust upon them—this could well have been the motto of those who took part in the recent annual Retreat of the Anglican Society, at Wallis House. Lower Hutt. Whether any of the [unclear: retrcatants] regarded the silence observed from Friday evening to Sunday midday as being thrust upon them is doubtful, although prior observation in the Vic. cafeteria would have indicated that women students might find silence at least a little irksome. The silence, however, was satisfyingly complete, clear evidence that miracles still happen.

"Why try to achieve silence? you may ask. Short of actual participation in a Retreat, the most effective of explanations, the answer is briefly this: "In order to move closer to God." The word "Retreat sounds negative, yet it covers one of the most positive activities anyone can perform, the determined putting aside of the distractions which beset us in our daily life, and the concentration of the whole being in prayer; not the few moments of hurried prayers most of us snatch early in the morning, or in the lunch hour, or at our bedside in the evening, but sustained meditation, prayer and worship for a day, or two days, or a week if we are lucky, under the guidance of a capable spiritual director.

The rule of silence helps to avoid distractions. There is no special virtue in not talking, but by not chattering we free ourselves to attend to God and we place ourselves completely at his disposal, so that we may come better to know him and ourselves. Our voices are reserved for their highest purpose, that of worship, at the Eucharist and in the seven traditional daily offices of the Church. Peace gradually stilts the mind and leads it into God's presence, there to re-orient and place our everyday activities in their true perspective. "Laborare est orare," "to work is to pray", but only when our devotional life is secure is our daily work likely to take on the character of prayer.

This year the Anglican Society was fortunate in agai having as the conductor of the Retreat its Chaplain, the Reverend Professor G. E. Hughes. He centred the Retreat around the theme of the Eucharist, and the depth of his addresses and his quiet skill in presenting them enriched our mediation and prayer immeasurably. A Retreat is an essentially personal and individual experience, yet "doing the Eucharist" together, meditating upon its meaning, and worshipping together hour by hour is a deeply corporate experience as well, and increased each retrcatants realisation of our unity in the Body of Christ.

Each year increases the Society's conviction that its annual Retreat is the peak of its activities, and this year's Retreat served only to strengthen that coviction. All Anglicans at V.U.C. would do well to attend at least one in the course of their university studies. Accommodation, however, is usually limited, and early application is essential.—P.S.