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Solitude /Stillness /Silence

“Our lives are often filled with tensions and judgments with jealousy and greed – all of which serve to deaden our hearts and make us blind to the true character of the Kingdom in our midst. The Kingdom is reduced to slogan – a cypher for a set of opinions. Patience, inner stillness, love and forgiveness are the disciplines that make it possible for us to perceive the texture of the Kingdom. It allows its depth to be formed in our hearts.” (Fr. Stephen Freeman)

“In so far as possible, we should fast from the hectic pace of our ordinary lives. When we live at “warp speed,” we cannot get in touch with the state of our souls. When we keep pushing forward, we cannot reflect soberly on the course of our lives. When we rush from one thing to the next, prayer gets left behind. Thus, Paul’s recommendation of “stillness” means to be “silent.” But it also means slowing down. We should ease up on our feverish pace so that the Lord can catch up with us and inspire us with the hope for His coming.” (Fr. Basil)

“Psalm 46 [Pslam 45 in Greek translation] states, “Be still, and know that I am God”… [Ps 45:11 LXX]. The converse is implied: if I am not still, I may not know God. And if I don’t know God, I am not going to know myself, because I am made in His image and likeness….We must strive after a quiet mind. Just as the eye cannot ascertain an object put before it if it wanders restlessly up and down and sideways, without fixing a steady gaze upon it, so a mind distracted by a thousand worldly cares will be unable to clearly apprehend the truth…” (Albert S. Rossi, PhD,  St. Basil the Great)

“If we genuinely seek God, yearn for what is right and holy, and desire to see ourselves as we are, then silent prayer becomes a source of discernment for us. This prayer becomes our time in the desert, away from the distractions of the world, where we find ourselves alone with God.” (Fr. Joshua Makoul) 

“Solitude is vital. It gives self-knowledge and exposes the age-old pain of Adam who sinned and is still hiding from his Lord in the bushes of his loneliness. But we should come out of the bushes towards God and His creation. Yes, walking this path is maybe more painful than sitting in Adam’s bushes. But on this path the abyss of our soul will find Him Who can fill it and will meet those who have similar abysses. “Call upon the Creator from the abyss of your heart, and He will fill your ‘limited infinity’”—this is what solitude tells us. It is for this meeting that the incessant voice of solitude sounds within us, and it is the purpose of our life on earth.” (Sergei Komarov)

“In all four Gospels we find the Lord Jesus often leaving behind the crowds that follow Him in order to spend time by Himself. He seeks solitude to be with His Father. If the Lord, who is both man and God, needs to withdraw from the world to find intimacy with the Father, how much more do we, as fallen human beings, need to follow His example!” (Dynamis 7/21/2020)

“Christ taught by example, spending whole long nights in the desert praying. He did this to teach and admonish us that, whenever we are going to converse with God, we must flee from the noise, the confusion, and the crowds. Instead, we should go off to a place which is deserted and go at a time when our solitude will not be interrupted.” (St. John Chrysostom)

“Solitude is a state of soul, not a matter of geographical location, and the real desert lies within the heart...I experience God in the solitude of my heart…The longing for solitude is the longing for God….There is a universal longing in the human heart to see God and make Him tangible.” (Albert S. Rossi, Abbot Tryphon, Ruth Haley Barton, Elmer Towns)

“When we sit prayerfully in silence and solitude we are entering the desert, our desert. In this sacred space, the goal is not to hide from others, devoid of pain, or to hold ourselves apart from and above the community in which we live. It is to receive the grace to learn to face ourselves directly so we can learn to live ordinariness, to live ethically and generously with others.” (Robert J. Wicks)

“I find when I long for solitude, I am not longing for isolation. I am not trying to completely retreat from people and reality. Rather, I find myself trying to rediscover what really is real. It’s so easy to get caught up in busyness, even the busyness of good works. God is always with us, and waits for us patiently in our places and times of solitude to renew us, to refresh our spirit, and to remind us to seek Him more frequently through moments of solitude so we be more fully present in His presence.” (Sacramental Living Ministries)

“…there is an ancient Christian awareness that physical stillness facilitates interior stillness…The body has two important contributions to contemplative practice: the body’s physical stillness and the breath itself. The stillness of the body facilitates the stilling of the discursive mind. Most of us spend most of our time with our attention riveted to the video going on in our heads.” (Martin Laird)

There is a silence we choose. Our retreats into our cells of silence and solitude still the noise pollution in our lives so that we might eventually be still. Quieted enough to hear the whispers of God. Still enough to feel the Holy Spirit winds blowing through our lives and to observe the effects of the Spirit winds all around us.” (Marlena Graves)

“We are starved for mystery, to know this God as One who is totally Other and to experience reverence in His presence. We are starved for intimacy, to see and feel and know God in the very cells of our being. We are starved for rest, to know God beyond what we can do for Him. We are starved for quiet, to hear the sound of sheer silence that is the presence of God Himself.” (Ruth Haley Barton)

“Silence unites you to God Himself…Perfect silence alone proclaims Him, and…brings us into His presence.” (St. Isaac the Syrian, St. Maximos the Confessor)

“God’s silence doesn’t mean His absence. Just because you can’t see or hear God doesn’t negate His presence and active work behind the scenes. Base your movement on who you know and what you know about Him, not on what you are seeing and feeling at the moment.” (Lois Evans)

"...God’s unresponsiveness can also be a “sign.” In some area, in some respect, God might withhold His gifts, both in my life or in the lives of people I know. But His silence can also be a gift, leading me to growth, as does His word, when I accept it in faith. My acceptance of God’s silence in my life teaches me patience, courage, humility, and compassion for others in a similar situation." (Sr. Dr. Vassa Larin)

“The best generals know their adversary so well that they can anticipate his moves and then plan for a counter strategy. But most of us clutter our moments with as much noise as possible in an attempt to drown out any silence or awareness of our adversary. The need for constant stimulation speaks more to our restlessness than it does to any real concern for productivity. Why are so we afraid of silence?” (Father Barnabas Powell)

"Our culture is one which is geared in many ways to help us evade any need to face this inner, silent self." (Thomas Merton) “Human beings are running either toward silence or away from it. A question the artist might ask himself is this: Am I covering up my fear of silence by excessive noise and activity? Or am I running toward it in search of true freedom?” (Jonathan Jackson)

“We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and private: and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.” (C. S. Lewis)

“ is in silence that we can begin to enter into the heart of God and usher in the peace of Christ, which will transform our hearts and give us the peace that has eluded us…The friend of silence comes close to God.” (Abbot Tryphon, St. John Climacus)

“In this world filled with noise, we must make time for silence, for God speaks to us in the silence of our heart. This seeking after silence is not world-denying but world-embracing.” (Abbot Tryphon)

“Solitude and silence are not, in the end, about success and failure. They are about showing up and letting God do the rest. They are not an end in themselves; they are merely a means through which we regularly make ourselves available to God for the intimacy of relationship and for the work of transformation that only God can accomplish.” (Ruth Haley Barton)

“Solitude is a state of soul, not a matter of geographical location, and the real desert lies within the heart.” (Albert S. Rossi)

“It is possible to be a solitary in one’s mind while living in a crowd, and it is possible for one who is a solitary to live in the crowd of personal thoughts." (Amma Syncletica of the Desert)

“If you love truth, be a lover of silence. Silence like the sunlight will illuminate you in God and will deliver you from the phantoms of ignorance.… In the beginning we have to force ourselves to be silent. But then there is born something that draws us to silence.… If only you practice this, untold light will dawn on you in consequence … after a while a certain sweetness is born in the heart of this exercise and the body is drawn almost by force to remain in silence.” (Syrian Monk)

“This is where solitude is so critical, for it is in solitude that we encounter the one [God] to whom we owe our ultimate allegiance, the one who alone can give us security, identify and purpose…Solitude is fundamentally a place of prayer and individual encounter with God. To be in solitude is to be intentionally present to God. Solitude is not the act of being alone; rather it is the event of being alone with God. Solitude is therefore the fundamental and most essential expression of Christian spirituality.” (Gordon T. Smith)

“North American culture will not give us silence or encourage stillness. We are a famously noisy and restless people...we should imagine the world in dualistic terms. On the one side are the forces of noise and on the other the powers of silence. For a time, we make a strong decision to side with silence...So often greatness in life is about being strong and still.” (Rev. Christopher H. Martin)

“Is our culture so disconnected that we are in constant touch electronically, but just too busy to see one another in person? Is this a modern problem? Or is it perhaps a problem of human nature that has been around forever? According to the Gospel of Luke, we are not the first generation to call each other"friends” but not have time for one another.” (Lillian Daniel)

"In the stillness of our souls, God touches us in ways that could be ground out by the noise of our world. Between television, radio, horns, voices, there's always noise everywhere. To retreat to a place of stillness, and there to find the Lord, can indeed be a blessing." (Marianne C. Sailus)

“Jesus had to get up very early just to get some time alone. If Jesus needed solitude for prayer and refreshment, how much more is this true for us?” (Life Application Study Bible, Luke 4:42)

"The world of men has forgotten the joys of silence, the peace of solitude, which is necessary, to some extent, for the fullness of human living..." (Thomas Merton)

“We know that Psalm 46:10 tells us,"Be still, and know that I am God.” The converse is implied: If I am not still, I run the danger of not knowing the real God. If I don’t know God, I don’t know myself, because I am made in God’s image and likeness. I need to know God to know who I am, to have an authentic identity. Much of the contemporary search for identity is a deeper, though often unconscious, seeking for Christ within our hearts.” (Albert S. Rossi)

"...if we spend a few moments in contemplation every day,"we deepen and transform the remaining moments of the day, rendering ourselves available to others, effective and creative in a way that we could not otherwise be.” (Metropolitan Kallistos Ware)

“Choosing a time to be quiet with Christ, a time of contemplation, is our part in the synergy between God and us. Some people are able to spend twenty minutes in the morning and twenty minutes in the evening, sitting quietly, saying their prayer word. Other people have less time to spend in quiet contemplation. The answer is not arithmetic. Quantity is not primary. Steadfastness in choosing to be still, every day, is primary.” (Albert S. Rossi)

"Some find peace and stillness in reading, others in handiwork or art, yet others in music. While these things may seem to us to be neutral and not specifically spiritual or godly activities, if they help us to acquire some measure of stillness, they should not be dismissed so quickly as spiritually unprofitable." (Archimandrite Vassilios Papavassiliou)

“In our world of constant activity, we are suffering from a certain level of motion sickness. We go from one thing to the next and never take time to catch our breath...the first step to fixing our attention on our Creator is to be still in His presence and experience a firsthand relationship with the God who made us. Look what God says in Psalm 46:10:"Be still, and know that I am God...Stillness with God invites soul-deep changes. Stillness makes us new again where it really matters.” (Ryan Shook & Josh Shook)

“Our society is addicted to noise. We find it impossible to drive our vehicles without the radio on or a CD playing. Our televisions are running from the moment we return from work. We take our runs with earphones, filling our minds with music. We even walk with our friends while listening to our own music. We live as though we were afraid of silence...noise keeps us from connecting with our inner self, wherein we have the opportunity for communion with God. Without silence, we are unable to hear the voice of God speaking in the stillness of our heart.” (Abbot Tryphon)

“Silence is an odd word. It doesn't mean merely a lack of noise but involves a quality of stillness and concentration…Silence is not so much a disciple on the tongue as a disciple on the ear.” We keep silence not to stop talking but to open our ears, to perceive something, to sense something…Silence is the means by which we may access and deepen our relationship with God as well as develop self-knowledge." (Rev. Christopher H. Martin, Anonymous, Abbot Tryphon)

“Silence is a way, a state of soul, in which all the powers of the soul and the faculties of the body are completely at peace, quiet, and recollected, perfectly alert yet free from any turmoil or agitation.” (Metropolitan Anthony Bloom)

“Silence and solitude are not instant cures to busyness. They are lifetime commitments worked out in the real world of schedules and flawed human beings." (Michael Yaconelli)

"By restoring our inner world, we increase our resistance, and in time become invincible to, the organized attacks of evil. By placing our whole life at God's feet and seeking the authentic life he wants us to live we begin to have a foretaste of immortality, where we are never alone but in the company of Christ and his saints. All loneliness is dispelled by inner self-sufficiency.” (Monk Moses)

“In all four Gospels we find the Lord Jesus often leaving behind the crowds that follow Him in order to spend time by Himself. He seeks solitude to be with His Father. If the Lord, who is both man and God, needs to withdraw from the world to find intimacy with the Father, how much more do we, as fallen human beings, need to follow His example!” (Dynamis 7/22/2014)

"…many Americans live their lives in…the ‘fast lane…’ In the course of our busy lives, prayer often gets neglected. If we have not developed a prayer routine that sets aside a time each, preferably around the same time, our prayer life can suffer…prayer also needs to be some quite time alone with God. That is why Jesus often took His disciple to a secluded place to pray…we need to rest our minds and bodies and turn to the Lord in prayer. Only when we move ourselves out of the ‘fast lane’…can we hope to achieve true peace and tranquility as found in God alone.” (Marianne C. Sailus)

“We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and privacy, and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.” (C.S. Lewis)

“How do we find true solitude in the mad rush of our godless society? Where do we find spiritual room to pursue a discipline of blessed solitude?...Those of us living in the world must develop our own little deserts – places where we can withdraw each day into the renewing and healing presence of God. If we are to gain the full riches of a life in Christ, we must also seek out times and places of solitude.” (Dynamis 7/22/2014)

"When we commit ourselves to times of solitude with the Lord, we cannot know what will happen... How we will change, in what directions we might grow. But we can be certain that time with God will result in something good, something beneficial for us and for those around us.” (Penelope J. Stokes)

“The lover of silence draws close to God. He talks to Him in secret and God enlightens him…Silence is a way of waiting, a way of watching, and a way of listening to what is going on within and around us. It is a way of interiority, of stopping and then of exploring the cellars of the heart and the center of life. Silence is fullness, not emptiness; it is not an absence, but the awareness of a Presence.” (St. John Climacus, Fr. John Chryssavgis)

“The Psalmist David tells us, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10). Silence to the noise of this world opens our ears to the whispers of the Lord, who speaks to us from within. Silence should not be feared, but sought out and embraced….” (Abbot Tryphon)

“Some complain about their minds wandering when they pray. I have ADD, my “mind” always “wanders.” But I don’t worry so much about it. When I pray, I stand before the icons. If my mind wanders, I remain standing. The icons have been given to us for “communion,” and that communion is real regardless of the noise of my mind. The noise is not me; it’s noise.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

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