The second Sunday of every Great Lent we celebrate the memory of Saint Gregory Palamas, who lived in a distant 14thcentury. He is widely considered to be the patron saint of Christians who practice silence and stillness in their life.
These are the people, mostly hermit monks, who try to isolate themselves from the world, by going into uninhabitable places. Their goal is to maintain silence of the heart and of the mind, rejecting the chaos of this world.
So why would we commemorate this particular saint today, the patron of the silent way of life? We are not monks, we are not in the process of isolating ourselves from the world. The reason we remember Saint Gregory today is that we learn, or remind ourselves, of the meaning of silence and stillness.
How is our life going? Do you ever catch yourself spinning and running nonstop? Your schedule is overbooked. Your kids schedule is overloaded. Even your dogs schedule looks like a mess. Do you ever feel like a guinea pig running in a wheel – you keep running but it turns out you are stuck in the same place?
That’s our life sometimes, or maybe most of the times – endless noise, constant chaos, and what seems like aimless movement. The whole life of a modern person is accompanied by sounds and noises. A person, especially one living in a city, lives in a relentless noise – cars are roaring, people are walking and talking, airplanes flying above, subway trains underground, the air itself is full of noise.
Noise pollution not only damages us physically, it also prevents us from having that spiritual stillness that is necessary to stay in touch with the Lord. It’s not only the monks who need calm and quiet.
Whether we like it or not, today we are not accustomed to silence. Silence reminds us of something that absolutely terrifies us – it reminds us of death. We used to have TVs and radios to fill the silence, to kill the voice of our conscience in our head. Now we have smartphones, iPads, notebooks, Alexa, heck, we can even have a conversation with our watch and refrigerator at the same time!
The point is, even if we wanted to, we can’t have silence anymore. All this turmoil and vanity devours our life, we are no longer able to be with ourselves, to examine our being, to pray in silence. And this hustle continues until our very last breath.
Today, it requires a serious effort to become still and quiet. Like a monk, radically rejecting the world and going away into a desert or woods … Think about it, shutting down the Wi-Fi makes our house a desert. To have even a tiny bit of silence, we become radical.
Sometimes only something horrible or catastrophic is able to slow us down, to wake us up, something like a natural disaster or a physical injury. Then we realize that we’ve been running pointlessly in the same place. We can’t even remember where we were supposed to run, we just know that someone said run and we ran. But where or why … who knows.
There are many reasons why we need silence in our life. But none is more important than conversation with God. We tend to complain that God does not hear us because for all the things we have asked Him, He has not responded once.
Well, can we actually hear Him when we are in constant chaos? It’s like, try having a conversation with a person next to you while blasting rock music as loud as your speakers allow you. How can we feel God’s grace when we are deafened and blinded and aimlessly running?
Long time ago, God told His people, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10), all we need to do is be still (Exodus 14:14). God’s voice is alwaysheard in silence. Always.
That’s why, every Great Lent we remember the patron saint of silent way of life. Every Great Lent we are called to incorporate some stillness into our life. Even if you think that you lead a quiet way of life, try spending at least 5 minutes every day, in the morning and in the evening, in complete silence, to test your theory, and to reconnect with God.
We learn God’s will in silence. We learn to see ourselves when we are silent. We see Christ working in our life when we are silent.
Be silent and know God.
Unless otherwise specified, the articles here are posted by Father Aleksey, who has no sense of humor and is extremely straight forward.