Blessed is the life of those who dwell in the desert, winged as they are by divine eros. (The Hymns of Ascent, 1st Antiphon)
Stillness is a fresh spring quenching our inner thirst for love of God.
Abba Moses said to Abba Macarius at Scetis, ‘I should like to
live in quiet prayer and the brethren do not let me.’ Abba Macarius
said to him, ‘I see that you are a sensitive man and incapable of
sending a brother away. Well, if you want to live in peace, go to
the interior desert, to Petra, and there you will be at peace.’ And so
he found peace.
A brother in scetis went to ask for a word from abba Moses and the old man quietness; but he who moves about in a crowd will often be wounded.”
“A brother came to Scetis to visit Abba Moses and asked him for a word. The old man said to him, ‘Go, sit in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything.’”
Having withdrawn from the palace to the solitary life, abba Arsenius prayed and heard a voice saying to him, “Arsenius, flee, be silent, pray always, for these are the source of sinlessness.”
Fr. John Breck say: Through the voice of the prophets, including the prophet John of the Book of Revelation, God calls us to silence as well. He invites us to go into our room, our chosen sacred space, and there to shut the door and pray to our Father who is in secret, assured that our Father who is in secret will answer our prayer (Mt 6:6). In that silence we contemplate the mystery of God’s creative and saving work, together with the promise of our eternal salvation. It is in that silence that we can listen to God, hear His voice, discern His will and purpose for our life, and, finally, come to know the truth of a precious insight offered by St Isaac of Nineveh: “Silence is the sacrament of the world to come” (Letter 3).
Silence, in the most positive sense, is the environment and atmosphere, the sacred space, into which God speaks His Word, both to create the world and to save it from death and corruption.
Further on in Old Testament tradition, silence becomes the medium for divine revelation. In a terrifying epiphany recounted in the first Book of Kings, God appeared on a mountain to the prophet Elijah. As the Lord passed by, there came a mighty wind, so strong it split the mountain and shattered the rocks in pieces. But, the narrative tells us, “the Lord was not in the wind.” After the wind there came an earthquake, then a fire; but the Lord was in neither. Then, the passage concludes, “after the fire a still, small voice” (1 Ki 19:12). The New Revised Standard Version renders this more forcefully: “after the fire the sound of sheer silence.” Through this paradoxical image — “the sound of sheer silence” — God reveals both His presence and His purpose.
From the time of Elijah through the period of classical prophecy, God continued to reveal Himself through His Word of blessing and judgment.
Perhaps the greatest challenge in Orthodox Christian life is to transform the heart and mind, our inner being, into a place of silence and solitude, an interior monastic cell in which the Spirit of Truth dwells, to teach us everything we need for our journey toward the Kingdom of Heaven (cf. John 16:13-15).
St. Nikolai Velimirovich
Brethren, we have in total only a few words spoken by the Most-holy Theotokos recorded in the Gospels. All of her words pertain to the magnification of God.
She was silent before men but her soul conversed unceasingly with God. Every day and every hour, she found a new reason and incentive to magnify God. If only we were able to know and to record all her magnifications of God throughout her whole life..
Her soul magnified God with canticles throughout her whole life, and therefore God magnified her above the Cherubim and the Seraphim. Likewise, small and sinful as we are, the same Lord will magnify in His Kingdom us who magnify her, if we exert ourselves to fill this brief life with the magnification of God in our deeds, words, thoughts and prayers.
O Most-holy, Most-pure and Most-blessed Theotokos, cover us with the wings of thy prayers. To thee and thy Son and our Lord be glory and praise forever. Amen.