The Desert Fathers on “Silence”

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
         Be acceptable in Your sight, 
         O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)

+ “Silence is the loudest cry” HH Pope Shenouda III

+ “Sometimes silence is not indicative of a lack of things to say, but a wise withdrawal until God provides the right opportunity for response.” HG Bishop Angaelos 

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

+ A brother in scetis went to ask for a word from abba Moses and the old man said to him, “Go and sit in your cell and your cell will teach you everything.”

+ Abba Nilus said, “The arrows of the enemy cannot touch one who loves quietness; but he who moves about in a crowd will often be wounded.”

+ “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

+ “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

+ 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.

+ “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

+ 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

+ “If you are silent, you will have peace wherever you live.” Abba Poemen

+ “There are many who live in the mountains and behave as if they were in town, and they are wasting their time. It is possible to be a solitary in one’s mind while living in a crowd, and it is possible for one who is a solitary to live in the crowd of his own thoughts” Amma Syncletica

+ “By remembering one’s falls and mistakes, waiting for an impending death, putting on a beggarly garment, retiring to a quiet spot and acquiring permanent silence. One should avoid crowds, striving to be unknown and unaccounted for. Abiding by himself, hating intimacy and meeting and mixing with people, loathing profits, and barring his mind from blaming or bringing down anyone. He should not have any interaction with anyone, but should be solitary. for all these bring forth humility.” Saint Isaac

Coptic Orthodox Cross


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