Silence in the Shadow of Speech
Written by Helene Lubienska de Lenval, a French colleague of Maria Montessori’s, and translated from French by Elizabeth MacArthur, this meditation on silence and contemplation for children and adults is a treasure.
$8, ten copies $6 each! A thoughtful gift for catechists, parents, and teachers.
GEMS from the text:
"For, whatever may be the level from which it begins, silence concludes and flowers in God."
"In our time, when the conditions of life are so unfavorable to contemplation, there must be many latent contemplatives. Who then will allow grace to rise to the surface if not the religious educator, expert in the art of preparing an environment where external silence leads to internal silence?"
"Flourishing contemplatives are happier, cause their joy to shine forth on other people, but, an astonishing thing: they bring their joy to God."
5x7, 80 pages
REVIEW by Rebekah Rojcewicz:
"This little book is hidden treasure! I am so glad it has been translated and made available! Those of us who are Montessori guides have known since our first Montessori course that the “silence game” is important and that silence is a joyful discovery for young children. But no one I know of has ever so concretely expanded on the riches and importance of silence for young children as this author does. She enriches our understanding of our call as educators to nurture this capacity for silence especially through the prepared environment, the child’s freedom to choose work, and minimal words and interference on the part of the adult.
But she goes further in underscoring the connection between the capacity for silence with openness to God and, consequently to “obedience” to God’s will, a capacity that will serve us throughout our life. Besides her suggestion of recitation of the psalms with accompanying prayerful gestures, the author also echoes the words of Maria Montessori in proclaiming that “the liturgy is the magnificent teaching tool of the Church”. Even though her focus on the role of the celebrant at Mass is pre-Vatican II, she confirms the child’s capacity for the language of signs and gestures, the powerful, non-verbal language of the Mass.
As a longtime catechist in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, the other, unexpected gift of this book was a further realization of the most particular contribution of Sofia Cavalletti and Gianna Gobbi to this conversation about the power of silence and the young child’s affinity for God that Maria Montessori had brought to the forefront. Their new insight that the fullness of participation in the Mass rests in its being a celebration of a relationship led them to the question: how is this relationship first proclaimed and nurtured? And this question, in turn, brought them to the answer that it is in God’s Word that one hears a “voice” calling one by name into a definitive relationship with Christ. And their additional question, inspired by the vision and understanding of Maria Montessori concerning the development of the human person—what face of God does the child most need to experience in any given developmental period?—was instrumental in their discovery of the best, most essential “objects” of contemplation for the child.
By the end of the book I was simply marveling over the mystery of the One Teacher, the Holy Spirt, who brought Montessori, de Lenval, Cavalletti and Gobbi to “be on the same page” regarding the richness and importance of silence and the child’s tremendous need and capacity for it. Along with gratitude for what de Lenval has “set afire” regarding the cultivation of silence, I am newly grateful for the content of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, the concrete treasures offered for the child’s contemplation of God.