(2015/5) Editor(s): Diego Irarrazaval (c), Mile Babic, Andres Torres Quieruga, Felix Wilfred
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Articles of the issue

Table of Contents 2015/5

Editorial: Silence in Theology

Part one: Social and Spiritual Dimensions

Love and Silence – Werner G. Jeanrond

Taking Stock of Silence or the Twilight of a God – Francois Cassingena-Trevedy

The Transforming Power of Contemplative Silence – Sebastian Painadath

Spirituality of Silence – Pierangelo Segueri

Homo Silens – Dzevad Karahasan

Part Two: Silence in Theological Discourse

Silence and God – Michael Amaladoss

A Thirst for Silence: The Taize Experience – Brother John of Taize

Silence: A Sacred Space for listening – Rosa Ramos

‘Mother, I hear Your Heartbeat...’ Silence as Listening to God and His Creation – Jutta Koslowski

Silence in the Bible: A short introduction and Seven Miniatures – Jürgen Ebach

Part Three: Theological Forum

Pope Francis’ Laudato SiMichae J. Schuck

Theology and the University – Jorge Costadoat

Academic Freedom: Theology and the Teaching of the Roman Catholic Church – Peter Hünermann

Love and Silence

Werner G. Jeanrond


This article reflects upon both the need for silence and the need for overcoming silence in the different, but related relationships of love – the love of neighbour, of God, of God’s universe, and of my own emerging self. Discussing each of these relations in turn, the article explores some of the riches of the Christian tradition and attempts to understand when attention to the otherness of the other requires a cultivation of silence or a break of silence.

Taking Stock of Silence or the Twilight of a God

François Cassingena-Trévedy


À parler du silence, ne risque-ton pas de le déflorer ? Et pourtant ce sont nos mots – les mots choisis de la poésie et les sons de la musique – qui lui donnent d’exister. Le silence véritable est un silence « logique », en ce sens qu’il est à la fois la source et l’estuaire d’un langage authentiquement humain. Comme il existe un grand silence « archéologique » dont l’homme entretient inlassablement la nostalgie, il existe un grand silence eschatologique dont il fait l’horizon de sa quête religieuse et de sa béatitude. Entre ces grands silences absolus qui polarisent ses deux désirs les plus fonciers – celui des origines et celui de la fin –, se situent les menus silences « relatifs » de la vie quotidienne : compagnon de la solitude, le silence est en effet surtout l’indispensable sel de toute relation humaine aboutie, dans la mesure où il laisse à l’autre le temps de se manifester dans son altérité et lui cède la parole ; il est l’interstice dans lequel l’autre se tient. C’est ce silence de la « conversation » auquel la culture contemporaine de la communication pulsionnelle et vide fait courir le risque d’une catastrophe écologique.

The Transforming Power of Contemplative Silence

Sebastian Painadath SJ


Interior silence has been upheld by all religions as human discipline and divine grace. Silence deepens the consciousness, tunes it with the mystery dimension of the Divine and resonates with the divine presence in the world. This article explores the stages of the inner process towards the silence of the heart and examines how silence is understood and practiced in the Indic spiritual traditions. The article ends by focusing on three elements for deepening the dimension of contemplative silence in Christian spirituality. 

Spirituality of Silence

Pierangelo Sequeri


Since its beginnings Christianity has viewed the ideal of silent contemplation as the epitome of spirituality (philosophy) and of prayer (meditation). Christianity appreciates the interiority of spiritual worship, but its celebration of the mystery (Eucharist) necessarily in habits a ‘sound scene’. The invention of Christian musical theology (Augustine) was to open the way for a new interpretation of the link between internal silence and vocal prayer (listening and responsorality of faith). The renewal of this hermeneutics in the Christian liturgy, understood as performative silence’, is of interest for the secular age.

Homo Silens

Dzevad Karahasan


The article starts from the position that it is only since the beginning of the 20th Century that literature has started to employ silence with ‘theoretical competence’, that is, to use it with artistic maturity as a structural and expressive device. Brief reflections on the nature of silence and its relationship with speech and discourse lead to the conclusion that silence is an important distinctive feature of human beings as a species, since only human beings can use silence as a means of expression. Perhaps silence is even more a distinctive feature of humans than speech, since many animals speak, or emit sounds and communicate in some sort of language. But no other creature possesses the ability to send messages through silence, to speak through the absence of words. At the end the article comes back to literature, and ends with the question with literature took so long to discover silence, though it does not answer the question.

Silence and God

Michael Amaladoss SJ


God seems to be silent when people like Jesus or Job appeal to him in the midst of suffering. Sometimes people who want to speak about God are obliged to be silent because God is not accessible to the senses and to conceptual reason. The mystics assert that God is beyond all that we say about God. So before God we can only be silent.  The Chinese and Indian traditions also affirm such a epistemological apophatism.  But Buddhism may go a step further and assert even ontological apophatism because there is neither a fixed object about which one can speak nor a fixed subject which can speak. So silence reigns.

A thirst for Silence: The Taizé Experience

Brother John of Taizé


The Taizé Community, an ecumenical monastic community in France, welcomes tens of thousands of young adults each year for week-long meetings of prayer and reflection on the wellsprings of the Christian faith. The experience of silence is an important aspect of these meetings. This article examines the origins and the role of silence in the life of the Taizé brothers, as well as its significance for the young pilgrims who visit them. Contrary to what one might expect, in a world drowning in noise, the younger generations are attracted and challenged by silence experienced in a community setting.

Silence: A Scared Space for Listening

Rosa Ramos


In this article we take the approach of ‘see, judge and act’, much loved by Latin American theology. We describe current western culture showing how it is dazed by a stimulatory excess, including the prostitution of words, and at the same time, the search for the silence of asceticism. According to biblical symbolism, we need the touch of an angel’s burning brand on our lips to be worthy prophets of God. This purifying brand is silence. We go on to consider this from the stance of Rahner’s anthropological theology. We humans are the hearers of the Word, given our innate openness. God never ceases to talk, everything is revealed to those who have developed eyes, ears and touch. It is always the time to follow Elijah’s path of apprenticeship. Silence is God’s sacred place of hearing to where he calls and sends us.

‘Mother, I Hear Your Heartbeat...’ Silence as Listening to God and His Creation

Jutta Koslowski


In this essay, I would like to describe silence as a way of listening – listening to ones own inner voice, to the voice of God and to the heartbeat of mother earth. My own personal experience with various new forms of prayer and monastic life will be reflected (i.e. during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, a stay in a Franciscan monastery, a visit at the community of Iona and the practice in the ecumenical community “Kloster Gnadenthal”, where I live since 2010). Here, we run a “House of Silence” and offer “Silent Weekends” at most times of the year, at which I participate regularly. Silence will be described as a way of life to develop a new sensitivity to the groans of the creation and to the continuous work of the Holy Spirit within all beings (as creatio continua).

Silence in the Bible: A Short Introduction and Seven Miniatures

Jürgen Ebach 


The article examines diverse and also opposed forms of silence in the light of examples from the Old and New Testaments. The key text in the process is Eccles 3.7: ‘There is a time to speak.’ There is the silence of conformity and the silence of resistance. There is communicative silence and crippling silence. Another issue is the attempt to reduce people, especially women, to silence. There can be an accusation of silence, but also silence in the face of accusation. Sometimes the relationship between God and human beings is marked by silence and quiet. Complementing each other but sometimes also interrupting each other; the biblical texts throw light on the question when speech is required and when silence is appropriate.

Theological Forum

Pope Francis’ Laudato Si Michael J. Schuck

Theology and the University – Jorge Costadoat SJ

Academic Freedom: Theology and the Teaching of the Roman Catholic Church – Peter Hünermann

Editorial: Silence in Theology

One can consider silence as a breathing in, and speaking as a breathing out. This occurs amid humanizing dialogues. On the other hand, noise and cacophony overwhelm us.

Understanding silence has spiritual, ecclesial, ethical, emotional, political, and philosophical facets. Postmodern reality is tormented by noises. To the multitudes it offers participation (but they are coopted and silenced). In academia, why do certain conceptual patterns predominate, and why is the wise mysticism of the people of God often marginalized? How do human attitudes of silence before God (for example, in Asia) appreciate the incarnation of the Word? Each reader of this international journal has his/her questions, highlights, and shadows. They are worth sharing.

In the Christian tradition, God’s love is an always present and active communication, and the final word is Jesus the Christ. The meaning of the communication is the ‘loving struggle’ (Jaspers) to overcome human resistance and failure. This explains the history of revelation, with its multiplicity in religions and its highs and lows in each (including the Bible). The ‘silence of God’ may be the result of human finitude that fails to achieve clarity before the infinite divine difference.

This issue of Concilium contains thirteen moments in the contemporary scene. They are windows into the reasonable praxis of silence......