Tag Archives: Silence

St. Ignatius Brianchaninov: The Lord remained silent before Pilate and Herod . . .

Icon Pilate JesusThe Lord remained silent before Pilate and Herod; He made no attempt to justify Himself. You must imitate His holy and wise silence when you see that your enemies accuse you, with every intention of certain conviction; they accuse only with the purpose of hiding their own evil intention under the guise of judgement.

+ St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, The Cup of Christ

Read in full at Orthodox England

St. Joseph of Optina: Prayer is food for the soul. Do not starve the soul, it is better to . . .

St. Joseph of Optina“Prayer is food for the soul. Do not starve the soul, it is better to let the body go hungry. Do not judge anyone, forgive everyone. Consider yourself worse than everyone in the world and you will be saved. As much as possible, be more quiet.”

+ St. Joseph of Optina: Living Without Hypocrisy: Spiritual Counsels of the Holy Elders of Optina

St. Ambrose of Optina: If someone offends you . . .

Icon of St. Ambrose of Optina“If someone offends you, don’t tell anyone about it except your elder, and you will be peaceful. Bow to everyone, paying no attention whether they respond to your bow or not. You must humble yourself before everyone and consider yourself the worst of all. If we have not committed the sins that others have, perhaps this is because we did not have the opportunity – the situation and circumstances were different. In each person there is something good and something bad; we usually see only the vices in people and we see nothing that is good.”

+ St. Ambrose of Optina, Living Without Hypocrisy: Spiritual Counsels of the Holy Elders of Optina

St. Basil the Great: Of the beliefs and practices whether generally accepted or publicly enjoined which are preserved in the Church . . . both of these in relation to true religion have the same force. . . .

Icon of St. Basil the GreatOf the beliefs and practices whether generally accepted or publicly enjoined which are preserved in the Church some we possess derived from written teaching others we have received delivered to us “in a mystery” by the tradition of the apostles; and both of these in relation to true religion have the same force.  

And these no one will gainsay;—no one, at all events, who is even moderately versed in the institutions of the Church.  For were we to attempt to reject such customs as have no written authority, on the ground that the importance they possess is small, we should unintentionally injure the Gospel in its very vitals; or, rather, should make our public definition a mere phrase and nothing more.  

For instance, to take the first and most general example, who is thence who has taught us in writing to sign with the sign of the cross those who have trusted in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ?  What writing has taught us to turn to the East at the prayer?  Which of the saints has left us in writing the words of the invocation at the displaying of the bread of the Eucharist and the cup of blessing?  For we are not, as is well known, content with what the apostle or the Gospel has recorded, but both in preface and conclusion we add other words as being of great importance to the validity of the ministry, and these we derive from unwritten teaching.  

Moreover we bless the water of baptism and the oil of the chrism, and besides this the catechumen who is being baptized.  On what written authority do we do this?  Is not our authority silent and mystical tradition?  Nay, by what written word is the anointing of oil itself taught?  And whence comes the custom of baptizing thrice? And as to the other customs of baptism from what Scripture do we derive the renunciation of Satan and his angels?  Does not this come from that unpublished and secret teaching which our fathers guarded in a silence out of the reach of curious meddling and inquisitive investigation?  

Well had they learnt the lesson that the awful dignity of the mysteries is best preserved by silence.  What the uninitiated are not even allowed to look at was hardly likely to be publicly paraded about in written documents.  

— St. Basil the Great, The Book of Saint Basil on the Spirit, Chapter XXVII

St. Theophylact: The Lord shows us that we ought not to answer . . .

Icon of St. Theophylact“The Lord shows us that we ought not to answer those who ask a question with malicious intent (cf. Mt. 21:23-27). For He Himself did not reply to those Jews who questioned Him with cunning, although He was not at a loss for an answer.”

— St. Theophylact, Explanation of the Gospel of St. Matthew

St. John Climacus: . . . silencing the lips when the heart is excited. . . .

Pic Raging Storm“The first stage of this tranquility consists in silencing the lips when the heart is excited. The second, in silencing the mind when the soul is still excited. The goal is a perfect peacefulness even in the middle of the raging storm.”

+ St. John Climacus, Step 8.4, Ladder of Divine Ascent

St. John Chrysostom: Let us always guard our tongue . . .

Icon of St. John Chrysostom“Let us always guard our tongue; not that it should always be silent, but that it should speak at the proper time.”

— St. John Chrysostom

St. Thalassios the Libyan: If you share secretly the joy of someone you envy . . .

Icon of St. Thalassios the Libyan“If you share secretly in the joy of someone you envy, you will be freed from your jealousy; and you will also be freed from your jealousy if you keep silent about the person you envy.”

+ St. Thalassios the Libyan, “On Love, Self-Control and Life in Accordance with the Intellect,” 3.57, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 2)

St. Abba Pimen: A man may seem to be silent . . .

Icon of 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.”

— St. Abba Pimen

St. Seraphim of Sarov: You cannot be too gentle, too kind. . . .

Icon of St. Seraphim of Sarov“You cannot be too gentle, too kind. Shun even to appear harsh in your treatment of each other. Joy, radiant joy, streams from the face of one who gives and kindles joy in the heart of one who receives. All condemnation is from the devil. Never condemn each other, not even those whom you catch committing an evil deed. We condemn others only because we shun knowing ourselves. When we gaze at our own failings, we see such a morass of filth that nothing in another can equal it. That is why we turn away, and make much of the faults of others. Keep away from the spilling of speech. Instead of condemning others, strive to reach inner peace. Keep silent, refrain from judgement. This will raise you above the deadly arrows of slander, insult, outrage, and will shield your glowing hearts against the evil that creeps around.”

— St. Seraphim of Sarov,