As a child, I was terrified of Good Friday and Holy Saturday. I dreaded those hours of “time out of time” that stretched between 3 p.m. on Friday when Jesus officially died on the cross and Jesus’ resurrection, with a clap of alleluias, on Easter morning. It was in those in-between hours that God was dead—and we were alone in the world.
Suddenly, there was no spiritual safety net. Chaos ruled the world and we were defenseless against it. The isolation was nearly unbearable. As an adult, I learned theological mind-tricks to protect me from this fear of God’s ultimate abandonment. But I confess, sometimes when I wake at 3 a.m., all I hear in the universe is emptiness.
Recently, a priest friend said that in all his 70-plus years of prayerful discernment, he’s rarely had a heavenly answer. “God’s mostly silent,” he said. I don’t think he meant absent per se; just not prone to conversation or helpful hints on the best next step. God is just very, very quiet.
This is a man who’s given his whole life—every moment—to God for more than 50 years. He’s done tremendous work among the poor. He’s made genuine sacrifices in his personal life. He prays every morning and every night (unless there’s a baseball game on). How come God doesn’t talk to him? Why is God silent?