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Posted February 13, 2008

Book: The Sound of Silence: Listening to the Word of God with Elijah the Prophet
Author: Joseph Chalmers, O.Carm
St. Albert’s Press. Faversham, Kent. United Kingdom. 2007. Pp. 157

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

In the Bible we read that God’s words of love were proclaimed zealously by the prophets of the Old Testament, and foremost among God’s messengers was Elijah.

Elijah, the prophet of Carmel, was a man of prayer and action who experienced God’s word in the sound of silence.

In his own son, Jesus Christ, God spoke in a new way. Many people who encountered Jesus were struck by how he reminded them of Elijah.

In this beautiful set of reflections the prophet Elijah is presented to us in the light of Christian faith by Father Joseph Chalmers. As Prior General of the Carmelites (1995-2007), a religious order which draws particular inspiration from Elijah, Father Joseph has shared with people across the world his experience of how God speaks words of love today.

Drawing on the ancient traditions underlying the practice of Lectio Divina (holy reading) and Centering Prayer (prayer in secret), Father Joseph shares with us how to listen contemplatively to God’s word in the Bible and in the silence of our hearts.

An Excerpt from the Book:

Contemplation is a gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus. “I look at him and he looks at me”: this is what a certain peasant of Ars used to say to his holy cure about his prayer before the tabernacle. This focus on Jesus is a renunciation of self. His gaze purifies our heart; the light of the countenance of Jesus illumines the eyes of our heart and teaches us to see everything in the light of his truth and his compassoin for all men.

Contemplative prayer is hearing the Word of God. Far from being passive, such attentiveness is the obedience of faith, the unconditional acceptance of a servant, and the loving commitment of a child. It participates in the “Yes” of the Son become servant and the Fiat of God’s lowly handmaid.

Contemplative prayer is silence, the “symbol of the world to come” or “silent love.” Words in this kind of prayer are not speeches; they are like kindling that feeds the fire of love. In this silence, unbearable to the “outer” man, the Father speaks to us his incarnate Word, who suffered, died, and rose; in this silence the Spirit of adoption enables us to share in the prayer of Jesus.

Table of Contents:

What is Lectio Divina?


The prophet Elijah

At Zarephath

Resurrection of the widow’s son

The meeting between Elijah and Obadiah

Elijah and Ahab

The challenge of Mount Carmel

The challenge of Mount Carmel II

The end of the drought

Elijah on the way to Mount Horeb

The meeting with God

Vocation of Elisha

Naboth’s vineyard

Illness of king Acaziah

The attempt to capture Elijah

The prophet Elijah returns to God

Appendix I Prayer in Secret (Centering Prayer)

Appendix II Texts in the Old and New Testament that mention Elijah

The Carmelite Family in Britain

Carmel on the web