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STILLNESS Stillness of the body is the accurate knowledge and management of one s feelings and perceptions Stillness of the soul is the accurate knowledge of one s thoughts and an unassailable mind St John Climacus step 27 This is a good time towards the end of Lent to try to delve into this subject a little more As we are coming to the end of the Great Fast If you have made some effort we should feel somewhat different than 6 weeks ago Hopefully got a grip on some not so good habits and formed some good ones even become more virtuous by practicing fasting and charity Some calm and peace have found a way in your heart The church services by this time are not as long as they were in the first week Good habits as bad habits are formed by regular practice Any virtue by the very meaning of the word is to regularly and continually practice that which we want to accomplish In a few more days on Great and Holy Saturday we will be singing Let all mortal flesh be silent Fr Roman every year would remind us that Great and Holy Saturday is the quietest day of the whole year when even the children should play quietly all activities should cease because God is asleep Life is lying in the tomb The call to stillness is more acute on Great Saturday but it is the stillness we are called to acquire it is being in the presence of God The stillness of the body is one and the stillness of the inner being of mind and soul is at a deeper level 1
STILLNESS  Stillness of the body is the accurate knowledge and management of one   s feelings and perceptions. Stillness o...
It seems of interest to mention that the topic of stillness is very much on the minds of many people in the society at large yoga is very popular even among Christians being spiritual is something even young people talk about and feel the need to experience something that is not material and temporal The level of noise distractions brokenness has reached such levels that humans cry out for some form of sanity wholeness peace stability To learn and experience these peace and stability is to experience God To experience God is to stand before Him in silence Be still and know that I am God Ps 45 10 says David in the Psalms The voice of the Holy Spirit is a still small voice Unless we are quiet we will not be able to hear it And most of the time we don t hear God s voice the noise inside is so laud the distractions and noise on the outside vie for our attention Christ hangs on the cross and His silence speaks very loud I have given my life for you So you may have peace joy and life eternal with Me in the Kingdom The desire for stillness is in us it is natural to the human soul because we know it or not we long for our Prototype our Creator we belong to Him Hesychia stillness silence is not only for the hermits and monks but for every Christian There is a different dimension of inner silence that some of the hermits hesychats experience that might not be attainable for those who live an active way of life There are some who are chosen by God to live in quiet places away from the tumult of everyday life undisturbed by any care or other humans Those are the ones who have the calling of leaving the world for the sake of the world Not because they despise the world but to be able to pray for the world and to hold the whole world in their hearts before God 2
It seems of interest to mention, that the topic of stillness is very much on the minds of many people, in the society at l...
Even in the monastic order there is a difference there are those who live in the community and those who live by themselves as we mentioned the hermits Those who live in community practice virtue by obedience and service to others Those in the desert they too have a spiritual guide and usually have had their training in the community life Again St John os Sinai writing to monks about stillness says A small hair disturbs the eye and a small care ruins stillness because stillness is the banishment of thoughts and the rejection of even reasonable cares He who has really attained to stillness does not give a thought to the flesh for He who has promised will not prove falls Seek first the kingdom He who wishes to present his mind pure to God and is agitated by cares is like a man who has tied his legs tightly together and than expects to walk briskly What are some of the practical ways of learning and practicing stillness In humility recognize our nothingness before God and in the same time be aware of His limitless love for us Have hope Hope in the good things to come We have hope because God keeps His promise to be with us the end of times He also says that I AM which means He is present here and now We must have patience St Paul talks about patience endurance which equal to forbearance Remain steadfast This implies giving up our own will becoming selfless as Christ has shown us He became so selfless that He found it an honor to die on the cross for us We know God in suffering Every Sunday morning we sing in Matins that through the Cross joy has come into the world We cannot acquire stillness by our selves by our own efforts We will sure fail and expect to fail His presence in us is the real stillness and the real peace Not the peace the world gives not political peace but a different kind the inner peace 3
Even in the monastic order there is a difference  there are those who live in the community, and those who live by themsel...
that no one can take away Only we can allow it to be taken away God will fight for us When Moses was taking the people of Israel out of Egypt they reached the red sea and looking back they saw the Egyptian army coming and naturally they panicked Moses told them Be still for the Egyptians you see today you will never see them again The Lord will fight for you You only need to be still And this means not to take matters in our hands not to try to fix and resolve everything This is a real challenge especially for mothers not to try to do everything for the children to give up the need to be in control Teach as Christ does by example and by being present If we seek solitude because people annoy us that is wrong and can do us great damage That is running away because of lack of love In a state of selfishness the passions will grow in us we will be alone but not in solitude Anger resentment and vanity will increase and love will decrease This will be a pretense for solitude by in fact is a temptation to avoid dealing with our passions What can we do Identify the passions within The enemy is always within and not from the outside Many times we think it is because of this or that person or circumstance in reality it is the passion with in us that we need to tame to do battle with Remember what St Paul says our fight is not against flesh and blood but against the dark forces principalities We have a tendency of justifying ourselves find reasons why we are right in what we do being angry being greedy satisfying our impulses The fasting discipline is important in fighting this battle Food is good in itself but it can be to our destruction depending on how we use food this gift God has 4
that no one can take away  Only we can allow it to be taken away. God will fight for us  When Moses was taking the people ...
given and is absolutely necessary for our existence and how much Again the holy desert Fathers when they talk about food and fasting they have something else in mind then we normally do we talk about what we eat if it s Friday or Sunday if its Lent or not what is allowed what days they refer to eating to satisfaction eating too much or eating in such a way that one feels a little hungry all the time or getting up from the table feeling that you could have eaten more This is a hard but healthy fasting disciple in this way some were fasting all the time But after some time some years of practice one gets in the habit of eating this way In this state we are more aware of the hunger we have for God And that only God can satisfy our hunger Control the tongue stop the chatter the gossip the unnecessary conversation even though it may not be evil in itself it dissipates it distracts the mind from prayer In the teaching of the desert fathers we find sayings like I never regretted for being silent but I always regretted for taking Or speech is silver but silence is gold When the Archbishop came to Avva Macarios he would not speak to him after they left his disciples asked why he didn t speak and he said if my silence has not edified him my words wouldn t have either Remember we said from the very beginning that stillness is to be in the presence of God On other very important thing is passing on judgement and criticism we will never make any spiritual progress or rather experience the presence of God if we allow ourselves any judgemental thoughts or wards God alone is the judge Christ s example is compassion forgiveness and love Once we have passed on a judgement on someone we have put ourselves above that person we have put ourselves on the Judgement seat The way to God is Humility sincerely 5
given and is absolutely necessary for our existence-- and how much. Again the holy desert Fathers when they talk about foo...
considering ourselves worse than others see others better than me Other ways of quieting the body and learn to be still especially in our days is to put away the electronics test yourself and see how long can you go without checking messages emails or the face book or watching Televison After you cut them out of your life you realize the inner turmoil Remember St Mary of Egypt she said that after she went to the desert it took her 17 years to get rid of and to forget her previous way of life the songs the taste of wine the meat she liked so much the dances After we practice some of these what do we do Find a quiet place and sit still for few minutes everyday Increase the time as is possible and as you get accustomed with sitting still Some find stillness in spiritual reading other in some manual labor manual work a quiet walk if you work near a church go and sit quietly in the church during lunch hour To be able to quiet down the thoughts we should read the Scripture the Psalms St John Climacus says reading enlightens the mind considerably and helps it to concentrate For those are the words of the Holy Spirit and they attune those who attend to tem Put these words into practice Prayer needs preparation as we would prepare to visit some important even or person The one aspect of the preparation is forgetfulness of wrongs do not bring to mind any wrongdoings of any kind otherwise the prayer will not bring any benefit Let your prayer be completely simple for both the publican and the prodical son were reconciled to God by one single phrase The best way to pray is to first give thanksgiving secondly make our confession with contrition of soul thirdly we present our petitions This is how the desert fathers advice all of us to pray Do not use sophisticated words or too many 6
considering ourselves worse than others    see others better than me  Other ways of quieting the body and learn to be stil...
words because this distracts the mind one cry of faith saved the thief remember me Lord Our wish to be to cling to God and to put the hope of our sanctification in Him Faith gives wings to prayer and without it we cannot fly up to heaven The time of war proves the soldier s love for his superiors but the time and discipline of prayers shows our love for God Prayer has a teacher of its own God God teaches man knowledge and grant the prayer to him that prays and blesses the years of the just 1 Kings 11 Learn few short prayers by heart Ex The prayer that is read in the Holy Liturgy before the reading of the Gospel or the prayer of the first hour Christ our true Light who enlightens and sanctifies everyone who comes into the world cause the light of countenance to shine upon me that in it we may see the unapproachable light guide my steps to the doing of your commandments Last not least learn to say the Jesus prayer Use a prayer rope if necessary but discreetly keep it in your packet After we learn to quiet our minds we can sit quietly in the presence of God without the need of words There is no quick and easy way to stillness A little time spent in heartfelt prayer and supplication everyday will bring us closer to God The desert fathers have spent many years in hard asceticism and contemplation for many hours everyday Stillness is a real possibility for all of us if we truly love God with all our being Few of us will attain that unshakeable stillness but all of us can and should have a taste of it especially when we go to church to worship and above all when we receive the Precious Blood and Body of our Lord Jesus Christ Nowhere is the presence of Christ more tangible than in the Holy Liturgy In the presence of God 7
words, because this distracts the mind  one cry of faith saved the thief  remember me Lord   Our wish to be to cling to Go...
we are called to be still that we may hear the voice of the Holy Spirit be still and know that I am God 8
we are called to be still that we may hear the voice of the Holy Spirit  be still and know that I am God   8