What is meant by silence? First, you should not speak unless there is a good reason for doing so, such as necessity, courtesy, charity; and then your speaking should be brief and quiet. But that is only half of it. The really important thing is that you should try to observe interior silence by keeping all irrelevant thoughts out of your mind. An analogy will help to make this clear. Imagine yourself in one of the vast old European cathedrals. Its massive walls and ponderous doors keep out the rumor of the restless world. The sunlight filters dimly through the thick stained-glass windows, and high above you stretches the vault of the cathedral. You are there alone; no other living presence is within except Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, and He is as silent as the heavens at midnight. Here you have peace; here you have the feeling that time has ceased to be; here you are almost face to face with God, and grace seems to wrap itself around you. Now you can pray!

Make of your soul a cathedral such as this with God and yourself in holy colloquy. Let no stranger enter there for this is a tryst between God and you alone. Therefore, do not give a thought to what is going on in the world, or to what your friends may be doing; do not let your multitudinous recollections come crowding in, as though your mind were a highway and the traffic were jammed on it. Set all that aside. It will waste your time and make your efforts fruitless. Think only of your soul now, and of God Who should be your one great love; think of your sins, and of the kingdom of heaven unto which you have been called through His mercy.

The silence, then, the keeping of your mind as quiet as a tomb, the forgetting of business, home, the newspaper, the radio, have a purpose: that you may be able to hear the voice of God in your soul. That is the great reason.

If He wills, God can speak to you in a voice that will be heard above the thunder, as He spoke to Saul on the way to Dаmаscus. [...] But this is not the usual way of God. As a rule, He prefers to touch our hearts with the delicacy of a great Artist, and when He is most active in us, moving our wills toward a better life, He is so discreet and silent about it that we might easily overlook Him. Therefore, if your soul is in a clamor with its many useless thoughts, if you constantly run away from the presence of God by chasing after your many distractions, you will not notice His sacred touch, nor hear the whisper of His voice. That is why holy men and women have fled from the world and lived in the vast solitudes of the desert; that is why, even today, men and women shelter themselves in monasteries — to live in silence and hear the voice of God.

(Taken from “Show Me Thy Face!” by Silvano Matulich, O. F. M., Saint Anthony Guild Press, 1948.)