The Gift of Silence III

The Gift of Silence (III) From the time of Elijah through the period of classical prophecy, God continued to reveal Himself through His Word of blessing and judgment. At the same time, silence was increasingly perceived as something negative: the absence of God’s voice and thus of His presence. “The land of silence” became synonymous with Sheol, the place of the dead where, by definition, the life-giving God is not to be found (Ps 88:11-13;

The Gift of Silence (II)

The Gift of Silence (II) There is an obvious and deep irony in any attempt to talk about silence. It’s like trying to describe the ineffable or depict the invisible. The task itself is inherently impossible. Silence can only speak for itself: not through words, but through experience. The best way to begin, therefore, is not by any definition or analysis, but by a story. There is a familiar little account in the alphabetical collection

Silence as Sacrament

“For God alone my soul waits in silence.” (Ps. 61:1) “When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.” (Rev. 8:1) “Silence is the sacrament of the world to come.” (St. Isaac the Syrian) Silence is not just the absence of ambient noise. Nor does it mean the lack of laughter or music or shared reflection. Silence is a state of mind and heart, a condition of

To You, Whoever You May Be

Whoever you are, whatever you may be, says the Lord of Love, my hand is resting upon you at this very moment. By this gesture, I am letting you know that I love you and that I call you for my own. I have never ceased loving you, speaking to you, or calling you. Sometimes it was in silence and solitude. Sometimes it was there, where others were gathered in my name. Often you did

Wednesday of the First Week of Great Lent: One Route but so Many By-Ways. The Spiritual Pilgrim’s Guidebook.

One Route but so Many By-Ways Jerome said: ‘There are many virtues which lead those who practice them to the kingdom of heaven. There is only one route but there are many by-ways. ‘Whoever is anxious to make progress, even if he reaches a certain degree of perfection, can always find some need for improvement and become more proficient day by day. ‘No one can enjoy a good reputation both for virtue and for a

Stillness and Silence: The Practical Dimensions of Silence

Abba Gregory Nazianzus, the theologian, said, “These three things God requires of all the baptized: right faith in the heart, truth on the tongue, temperance in the body.”42 The desert elders taught that there must be a direct flow from purity of heart to speech and action. When words have their origin in the silence of purity of heart they will be congruent with the monk’s behavior. The common vocation of all Christians is to

Stillness and Silence: Silence and Purity of Heart. The Silent Power of the Heart

Silence and Purity of Heart The disciples of Abba Pachomius learned that silence is not simply the absence of sound. It is a unique form of human consciousness. In the silence of their teacher they were drawn beyond themselves into a transpersonal form of listening, seeing and learning. They witnessed the presence of God in Pachomius in such a way that the judgments of their egos were released. They were lured beyond the boundaries of

Stillness and Silence: Speaking of Silence (Part II)

The elders knew that words have great power to harm and distract or to give life and edify. Since human speech affects the lives of others in such profound ways the abbas and ammas valued silence as a steward of both hearing and speech. They took the power of words very seriously and, as illustrated in the incident about Abba Ammoes and his disciple, guided the patterns of their relationships to ensure appropriate use of

Stillness and Silence: Speaking of Silence (Part I)

Abba Poemen said, “In Abba Pambo we see three bodily activities; abstinence from food until the evening every day, silence, and much manual work.”26 A brother asked Abba Poemen, “Is it better to speak or to be silent?” The old man said to him, “The man who speaks for God’s sake does well; but he who is silent for God’s sake also does well.”27 Stillness provides an environment for silence. Abba Poemen understands silence as

Stillness and Silence: Wonder, Gratitude and Generosity Flow from the Well of Stillness

One day Abba Arsenius consulted an old Egyptian monk about his own thoughts. Someone noticed this and said to him, “Abba Arsenius, how is it that you, with such a good Latin and Greek education, ask this peasant about your thoughts?” He replied, “I have indeed been taught Latin and Greek, but I do not know even the alphabet of this peasant.”21 Stillness opens the heart of the monk to a sense of wonder. When