Loyola: Finding God’s Voice in the Silence

About a month into my first-year on the Hilltop, I was already tired: physically, mentally, and spiritually. The new and foreign lifestyle of a college student was overwhelming; from NSO, to the start to classes, to figuring out where to study, I realized that I was falling into a routine without really enjoying it. Sure, I went to Mass every Sunday and sang with the 9:30pm Chapel Choir. But I had been so overwhelmed that I had forgotten why I was doing it and most importantly, who put me there.

I came on the Freshmen Loyola retreat hoping for a break from the chaos of the Hilltop and with the desire to strengthen my relationship with God. Two and a half days30120398586_435e3b676e_k later, I came back with so much more.

For those who have never been to the Calcagnini Contemplative Center, here is a word of warning: the silence is deafening. It was disconcerting at first, especially to ears accustomed to reverberating church bells and the vibrancy of thousands of students hustling and bustling towards separate destinations. On the retreat, I was part of a group of 30 other Catholic freshmen hoping to arrive at one common destination: a place where we have a better understanding of the Ignatian tradition and closer relationship with God. That weekend we put aside our schoolwork and focused on our faith, which had become weakened and forgotten amidst the novelty of our new lives.

My favorite part of this retreat was getting to30120393826_dbebbb9325_k know the other students through the intimate setting of small group talks. These small discussion groups were led by upperclassmen and made of six students each, which fostered a close and intimate environment. This closeness made me feel comfortable enough to share faith-based fears that I never could have imagined would connect me to strangers. I loved that my group leader started our discussion with the reminder that we were in the Holy Presence of God.

I also loved that the silence on this retreat amplified the voice that should be the most important and loudest in my life. On that much quieter hilltop of the Calcagnini Contemplative Center, I felt God’s voice through the thick fog that insulated us and through the silence of the 30164139632_19821341af_omountains overlooking the Shenandoah Valley. I felt God’s voice in the silences that filled our small group talks, and I felt the solemnity of God’s love. I felt God’s voice in the silences during our daily Ignatian Examen, where buried thoughts and feelings could finally be expressed and developed.

At the end of that weekend, I was at peace in mind and body. I felt more comfortable talking about my feelings because somewhere in those words is God’s voice. Upon returning to this Hilltop, I carried the reminder that God’s voice can be found anywhere; all I needed was the patience to listen.

Written by Truc Nguyen, C’20