Sunday, June 21, 2009

Saying of the Desert Christians: Silence 1


Having withdrawn from the palace to the solitary life, abba Arsenius prayed and heard a voice saying to him, "Arsenius, flee, be silent, pray always, for these are the source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."

Some thoughts:

Here we have the most basic teaching of the Desert Christians. Flee the world, flee occasions for sin, flee argument, flee temptation, flee anything that will separate us from God. It's a conscious choice that they practiced with a constant vigilance. Oh sure, some of the would-be monks tried to slide, take the easy way out or even fake it, but they were always found out. The Desert Christians teach me that God is better than anything else and to be with Him is worth far more than whatever the world or others might tempt us with.

Be silent. Keep the mouth shut. Do not offer opinions, advice, judgement, condemnation. Rather hard for Americans, I fancy, because we seem to interpret "freedom of speech" to mean we have the right to say whatever we want, regardless of the desirability or appropriateness of occasion, place and time. But there is something else about being silent: if we are not talking, then we can listen. And out there in the desert what else was there to listen to but God?


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