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Obedience (and Stillness)

“As Holy Scripture records, “Noah did according to all the Lord God commanded him” (Gn 6:22), never uttering a word of reply to God. Throughout the entire account of the Great Flood, Noah silently acts as the Lord commands. The Lord’s speech to him, on the other hand, takes many forms. He directs, commands, asks, and explains. Long after the flood we finally hear Noah speak, but only to his sons (vss. 9:25-27). Never once does he speak directly to God, yet he obeys the Lord without hesitation. Noah’s silent actions speak eloquently, however. He speaks when he prepares and loads the ark, and also as he waits for God to tell him when he may leave the ark. Noah typifies obedience to God for all of us who desire to actualize the mystery of being “saved through water” (1 Pt 3:20). Christian obedience begins silently within the self whenever we choose to obey the Lord. The faithful respond without question, because we believe in Christ as God and King.” (Dynamis 4/3/2024)

“ “Hesychasm”…means the discipline of silence. That silence is not an absence of words, but an attention to the Word (Logos) within words. I think that we are, at present, set to lose many of the arguments within our culture. I am confident, however, that the Word continues to speak within everything that He has created. St. Paul described creation as “groaning in travail.” It is the sound of deep calling unto Deep. ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live (John 5:25).’” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“Obedience is not to carry out this or that order that you were given, while you object on the inside. Obedience is to subordinate your soul’s convictions so that you may be freed from your evil self. Obedience is to become a slave in order to become free. Purchase your freedom for a small price. . . . And don’t listen to that thought of yours which advises you.” (Elder Joseph the Hesychast)

“…human beings acquire a knowledge of the good through the experience of both good and evil. Through experiencing both, and casting away disobedience through repentance, human beings become ever more tenacious in their obedience to God; but if they try to avoid the knowledge of both of these, they will forget themselves and kill their humanity…This is a very real danger for all of us…We can hide our self-love and our spiritual decay under the mask of outward obedience.” (St Irenaeus, Hieromonk Gabriel)

“Our vocation is not simply to avoid becoming as wicked as Herod, but to become like the Theotokos and Joseph the Betrothed. Her life plans changed at the Annunciation, and we must accept that the healing of our souls will likely not occur according to our own preferences or schedules. That was certainly the case for Joseph, who took on unanticipated responsibilities because He accepted them as God’s will for him. Through the free obedience of this unlikely couple in their respective callings, the Savior came into the world. Such obedience is a form of martyrdom in the sense of dying to self-centered desire out of faithfulness to the Lord.” (Fr. Philip LeMasters)

“So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you extremely sorrowful? And why has your countenance fallen? Did you not sin, even though you brought it rightly, but did not divide it rightly? Be still; his recourse shall be to you; and you shall rule over him” (Genesis 4:6-7 LXX). Because the Lord loved Cain, He sought to bring him to repentance (did you not sin). He commended him for having the right worship (brought it rightly), but reproved him for not having a right heart (did not divide it rightly). He commanded him to still his heart (be still) through repentance, for it was filled with turbulence because of the passions. He also commanded him to be his brother's keeper, as this is what is meant by the words recourse and rule. As the eldest, he was responsible for Abel's welfare. As Cain's parents looked out for his welfare, he too should show the same love to his younger brother.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Genesis 4:7)

“Let us reflect before the Lord on how self-will governs our lives. Whenever we defy the will of God, the consequences inevitably expose the futility of following our own judgment. Saint John Climacus indicates a better path, calling “obedience . . . the tomb of the will and the resurrection of humility.” Whenever we take the risk of setting God’s will above our own, obedience becomes the “abandonment of discernment in a wealth of discernment.” (Dynamis 9/10/2019)

"...obedience is not passiveness, but humble action that emanates from calm of soul, peaceful silence, and inward stillness…If our obedience [to God] is sincere, it bestows upon us the peace from above. If we practice it ungrudgingly (even if we do not like what we have been asked to do), we will find inner stillness and “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Phil. 4:7)." (Archimandrite Vassilios Papavassiliou)

“We must learn to bow down before the will of God and not insist on our will. Obedience to the will of God is carried out through obedience to our elders, parents, teachers, supervisors at work...If we have obedience we will understand what is required of us.” (Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica)

“Blessed are they who are completely devoted to God, either through obedience to someone experienced in the practice of the virtues and living an ordered life in stillness, or else through themselves living in stillness . . . scrupulously obedient to God’s will, and seeking the advice of experienced men.” (St. Peter of Damascus)

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