Thursday, June 25, 2009

Saying of the Desert Christians: Silence 5


This place was called Cellia, because of the number of cells there, scattered
about the desert. Those who have already begun their training there [i.e. in
Nitria] and want to live a more remote life, stripped of external things,
withdraw there. For this is the utter desert and the cells are divided from
one another by so great a distance that no one can see his neighbour nor can
any voice be heard. They live alone in their cells and there is a huge
silence and a great quiet there. Only on Saturday and Sunday do they meet in
church, and then they see each other face to face, as men restored to heaven.

Some thoughts:

A bit of history first: On Saturday and Sunday they gathered for synaxis. Synaxis is the noun form of the Greek verb which is the root of the modern word "synagogue", and it means "gathering". They gathered together for common prayer, an agape meal and presumably, this would also be when many of the Sayings were uttered. They also stayed awake all Saturday night to pray and praise God together.

Can you imagine what this would be like? I can't even imagine enduring the training that would equip me to live for 5 days seeing no one, hearing no other voice. All the "what ifs" leap into my mind such as what if i am injured or ill. But even so, is not the idea of peace and quiet and only God present attractive? Maybe we cannot withdraw to a deep desert place, but surely we can with the aid of the Holy Spirit, carve out such moments.

Any suggestions


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