Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers

silence

39 Entries

1. Compel yourselves in silence, the mother of all godly virtues. Keep silent, in order to say the Prayer [of Jesus]; for, when someone speaks, how is he able to escape idle talk, from which comes every evil word, which weighs the soul down by the responsibility for it. REF:Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"



At your work, flee conversation; only measured words in case of need. The hands should work for the needs of the body, and the mind should say the sweetest name of Christ, so that the need of the soul, which we must not forget even for moment, also will be provided for. REF:Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"

The first divine fruit of silence is mourning -- grief according to God -- joy-grief. Afterward come luminous thoughts, which bring the holy flow of tears streaming with life, from which also comes the second baptism and the soul is purified and shines and becomes like the angels. REF:Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"

Where shall I place, child of Jesus, the spiritual intuitions springing from silence! How the eyes of understanding are opened and see Jesus in sweetness greater than that of honey! What new wonder is worked from legitimate silence and attentive understanding! You know these things, therefore compel yourself. A little has been revealed to you; struggle and you will find yet greater. I have you in prayer just as I promised you; I wonder if you were prepared? REF:Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"

3. My child, do not speak unnecessary words, for these chill your souls divine zeal. Love silence, which gives birth to all virtues and fences in the soul so that the evil of the devil does not touch her. REF:Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"

"Better to fall from a height than by the tongue." The tongue does the greatest evil to men. REF:Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"

5. Keep silent -- silence is the greatest virtue. Flee idle words and laughter if you want your prayer to have boldness through tears and grace! REF:Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"

6. When one keeps silent, he is given time and freedom for prayer and gathering; when, however, he passes his hours heedlessly, he does not have time for prayer, and from his heedless speech he also derives different sins. For this reason the holy Fathers placed the virtue of silence at the head of the virtues, for without this no virtue is able to stand in the soul of man. REF:Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"

Therefore silence, prayer, obedience; when you practice these virtues with the help of God, then you will know the light of Christ is within your soul. REF:Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"

If silence is not kept, this is not a good sign for the future of the soul, as long as whatever it gathers, it scatters; for a monk who is free with his mouth is unstable in everything. REF:Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"

When we keep silent, we have the time for interior prayer which brings full assurance and for luminous thoughts which fill the understanding and the heart with light. REF:Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"

... silence is the fastest path to virtue ... Nikitas Stithatos (The Philokalia Vol. 4 pg. 84)

...about things you know for certain to be true or false, or self-evident, speak with conviction, saying that they are true, or false, or evident. About doubtful things better say nothing, but when necessary, say that they are doubtful and reserve your judgment. Of what you know nothing, say nothing. Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare: Chapter 25)

...he who is silent for a good end nourishes friendship and goes on his way rejoicing, for he has received the enlightenment which dispels darkness. St. Maximos the Confessor (First Century on Theology no. 26)

...we have five forms or modes of speech: the vocative, when we invoke someone; the interrogative, when we ask a question; the desiring or soliciting form, when we express a desire or request; the defining, when we express a decisive opinion on something; the commanding, when masterfully and authoritatively we express a command. Of these five, use the first three freely; the fourth, as rarely as possible; the fifth, not at all. Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare: Chapter 25)

A brother who shared a lodging with other brothers asked Abba Bessarion, "What should I do?" The old man replied, "Keep silence and do not compare yourself with others." Venerable Bessarion the Egyptian, commemorated 6 June

A characteristic of those who are still progressing in blessed mourning is temperance and silence of the lips; and of those who have made progress – freedom from anger and patient endurance of injuries; and of the perfect – humility, thirst for dishonors, voluntary craving for involuntary afflictions, non- condemnation of sinners, compassion even beyond one’s strength. The first are acceptable, the second laudable; but blessed are those who hunger for hardship and thirst for dishonor, for they shall be filled with the food whereof there can be no satiety. St. John Climacus, “The Ladder of Divine Ascent,” (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), Step 7: On Joy-Making Mourning

A man may seem to be silent, but if his heart is condemning others, he is babbling ceaselessly. But there may be another who talks from morning till night and yet he is truly silent, that is, he says nothing that is not profitable. Abba Pimen

A man may seem to be silent, but if his heart is condemning others, he is babbling ceaselessly. But there may be another who talks from morning till night and yet he is truly silent, that is, he says nothing that is not profitable. Abba Poimen

A man may seem to be silent, but if his heart is condemning others, he is babbling ceaselessly. But there may be another who talks from morning till night and yet he is truly silent, that is, he says nothing that is not profitable. St. Cyprian

Abba Joseph said to Abba Nisterus, "What should I do about my tongue, for I cannot control it?" The old man said to him, "When you speak, do you find peace?" He replied, "No." The old man said, "If you do not find peace, why do you speak? Be silent and when a conversation takes place, it is better to listen than to speak." Sr. Benedicta Ward, "The Sayings of the Desert Fathers," (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 1975), pp. 153-155

Abba Poemen said: If we remembered that it is written, "By your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned," we would choose to remain silent. The Desert Fathers

Even if thy soul should suffer somewhat from an offense, keep the sorrow within thyself. For it is said: "Within me my heart is troubled" (Psalm 142:4), that is, the passion has not come out, but has been humbled like a wave that has broken up on the shore. Calm thy raging heart. Let thy passions be ashamed at the presence of reason in thee, as playful children are ashamed before a man commanding respect. St. Basil the Great

For God is silence, and in silence is He sung by means of that psalmody which is worthy of Him. I am not speaking of the silence of the tongue, for if someone merely keeps his tongue silent, without knowing how to sing in mind and spirit, then he is simply unoccupied and becomes filled with evil thoughts: ... There is a silence of the tongue, there is a silence of the whole body, there is a silence of the soul, there is the silence of the mind, and there is the silence of the spirit. John the Solitary in On Prayer

For God is silence, and in silence is he sung by means of that psalmody which is worthy of Him. I am not speaking of the silence of the tongue, for if someone merely keeps his tongue silent, without knowing how to sing in mind and spirit, then he is simply unoccupied and becomes filled with evil thoughts: ... There is a silence of the tongue, there is a silence of the whole body, there is a silence of the soul, there is the silence of the mind, and there is the silence of the spirit. John the Solitary, On Prayer

From much speaking proceeds the destruction of the virtues, the laying waste of silence, and other dishonorable passions. He who is silent is fearful to demons, because they do not see the secrets of the heart among those who are perfect when they do not speak with the lips. But he who loves much talking will not escape sin. If one were to place on one side of the scale all the works of sinful life and on the other side silence, we will find that silence outweighs them. St. Paisius Velichkovsky, Little Russian Philokalia, Vol. IV

He who has become aware of his sins has controlled his tongue, but a talkative person has not yet come to know himself as he should. St. John Climacus, “The Ladder of Divine Ascent,” (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), Step 11: On Talkativeness and Silence

If thou, being offended by anything, dost sense that grief and wrath have seized thee, preserve silence, and say naught until unceasing prayer pacifies thine heart. Venerable Ammon of Nitria

If you are praised, be silent. If you are scolded, be silent. If you incur losses, be silent. If you receive profit, be silent. If you are satiated, be silent. If you are hungry, also be silent. And do not be afraid that there will be no fruit when all dies down; there will be! Not everything will die down. Energy will appear; and what energy! St. Symeon the New Theologian

If you feel that hatred has overwhelmed you, remain silent. Say nothing until, by ceaseless prayer and self-recrimination, you have calmed your heart. Counsels of Venerable St. Hilarion (Ponomarev) of Optina

Intelligent silence is the mother of prayer, a recall from captivity, preservation of fire, an overseer of thoughts, a watch against enemies, a prison of mourning, a friend of tears, effective remembrance of death, a depicter of punishment, a delver into judgment, a minister of sorrow, an enemy of freedom of speech, a companion of stillness, an opponent of desire to teach, increase of knowledge, a creator of divine vision, unseen progress, secret ascent. St. John Climacus, “The Ladder of Divine Ascent,” (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), Step 11: On Talkativeness and Silence

Let us love silence till the world is made to die in our hearts. Let us always remember death, and in this thought draw near to God in our heart -- and the pleasures of this world will have our scorn. St. Isaac of Syria

Silence is a great power in our unseen warfare and a sure hope of gaining victory. Silence is much beloved of him, who does not rely on himself but trusts in God alone. It is the guardian of holy prayer and a miraculous helper in the practice of virtues; it is also a sign of spiritual wisdom. Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare: Chapter 25)

Silence of lips is better and more wonderful than any edifying conversation.Strive to acquire humility and submissiveness. Never insist that anything should be according to your will, for this gives birth to anger. Do not judge or humiliate anyone, for this gives birth to anger. Do not judge or humiliate anyone, for this exhausts the heart and blinds the mind, and thereon leads to negligence and makes the heart unfeeling. St.Barsanuphius and St.John

Speak of God with all homage, especially of His love and goodness; at the same time be fearful lest you commit a sin by speaking wrongly, confusing the simple hearts of the listeners. Therefore, listen rather to others on the subject, collecting their words in the inner treasure-house of your heart. Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare: Chapter 25)

The constant welcome expectation of death should be a necessary practice of silence. A man who embraces silence without this thought cannot endure what we have to bear and suffer at all costs. the Monks Callistus and Ignatius (Directions to Hesychasts no. 16g, Writings from the Philokalia on Prayer of the Heart; Faber and Faber pg. 187)

The divine Arsenius strictly preserved the rule - never to write to anyone and never to receive letters, and in general to say practically nothing - not because he could not (...) but through the habit of much silence and in order to avoid vanity, that is, display. And in church gatherings, for the same reason, he made every effort to stand where he could not see others nor be seen by anyone; he never mixed with the crowd of brethren but hid away somewhere. Such was the care he took to keep attention within himself and to hold his mind collected inwardly in order to raise himself with less hindrance to God. Such is the example left to us by that divine man and earthly angel. Nicephorus the Solitary

When you have to speak, before expressing what has entered your heart and letting it pass to your tongue, examine it carefully; and you will find many things that are better not let past your lips. Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare: Chapter 25)

From solitude and silence are born tender contrition, and meekness; the activity of this latter in the human heart may be compared to that quiet water of Siloe, which flows without noise or sound, as the Prophet Isaiah speaks of it: 'the waters of Siloe that go softly' (Is. 8:6). St. Seraphim of Sarov, Little Russian Philokalia, Vol. 1





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