In this enlightening video, Bishop Teofil of Spain and Portugal [at that time Archimandrite Teofil] delves into the profound spiritual value of silence and its transformative impact on our lives. He reflects on the significance of silence in the eyes of God and how it contrasts with the prevalence of vain and excessive speech in the world. Bishop Teofil encourages us to embrace true, heartfelt prayers with deep meaning and few words. He highlights the importance of silence during prayer, confession, and sermons, urging us to seek God’s wisdom in our speech and actions. Ultimately, he emphasizes the need to value and pursue the peaceful and spiritually enriching silence that resonates with God’s love. In a world inundated with noise, Bishop Teofil’s insights guide us to rediscover the sanctity and power of silence. Through this video, viewers are prompted to reevaluate their approach to speech, prayer, and confession, ultimately encouraging a deeper connection with God through mindful and purposeful communication. This is a homily delivered at Nicula Monastery, Cluj, Romania (August 13, 2015).
Video source: Radio Renasterea
Watch the full sermon here (in Romanian)
The Holy Fathers say that silence is golden. Talking about God is silver. Anything else is punishment [sin]. So silence is golden. This is what the Mother of God cherished and lived all her life, this is what all our Holy Fathers cherished and experienced. And I think we should value this too.
We live in an age where there is a lot of talk going on. We talk a lot outside of the church. And of course we talk in vain. We don’t talk about God, it’s not that “silver” talk. We talk in vain. We speak lies, we speak blasphemous things against God, against our fellow men. We simply talk because we don’t like to pray. It is the sign that we do not know and love God. A man who knows and loves God speaks very little, because he prefers to be silent, and in his heart to pray unceasingly. We also talk a lot inside the church, unfortunately…
We talk quite a lot even in prayer. The Savior warned us not to say many things like the pagans, who thought that because of their many words they were pleasing God. And apparently this word contradicts “Pray without ceasing” [1 Thess 5:16-18]. That is, on the one hand, let us not say much during prayer, on the other hand, let us pray without ceasing. The contradiction is only apparent. We must pray without ceasing, but with few words, with deep words, words that really express our state before God, either the state of thanksgiving and glory, or the state of repentance, our hopelessness, or our need for help from God. All this is expressed in few and deep words. Peter, when he felt that he was drowning in the waves of the sea, he only cried, from the bottom of his heart, “Lord, save me!” Here is the prayer! “Lord, deliver me from this! Lord, save me, don’t let me perish!” This prayer is born when one feels lost. When he or she feels that without Christ he sinks. As long as we have our eyes fixed on Christ, we walk on the sea as on dry land. When we look away from Christ, or doubt Him, then we begin to sink; but if we cry from the bottom of our hearts, “Lord, save me, Lord, save me!” then the Lord willingly stretches out His hand and takes us into the saving ship. So, in prayer, we need few words, but true words, deep words. The words from the holy services are many, but they are life-giving words. If we receive them into our minds and hearts, they will purify our minds and hearts and sanctify our lives.
We talk a lot during [the sacrament of] Confession. We priests have also noticed, with sadness that many people come to confession and speak in vain. They say a lot of things, but miss the point. We turn confession into a psychology session, we don’t actually seek repentance, we don’t express our regret for hurting God’s love. But we express our regret that we have lost our inner comfort. We feel bad, we feel burdened when we sin. But we don’t necessarily feel pain that we hurt God’s love, and that’s why we talk a lot during Confession. We tend to convince the clergyman of what we think we need to convince him, that he needs to understand us. It is not the priest who must understand you. God understands you. He listens to your confession. He also puts in the heart of the priest a saving word for you. And He should give you also a true word of repentance and confession, if you would humbly ask for it, when you come to confession. So let’s be very careful. Let us not turn confession into a psychological session, but let it really be an expression of our repentance. Let us truly apprehend the things by which we have wounded the love of God, and suffer for it, ask forgiveness, simply. And surely the Lord will grant us this forgiveness. He can’t wait to offer us this forgiveness…
Maybe we priests also talk a lot during the sermon. This can be a temptation for us too. Perhaps we speak more from our own wisdom, and we don’t seek words from God. May God forgive us… May God forgive me if I speak in vain today. So we talk…. We talk a lot. In the church, and outside the church. But, it would be much more useful to value silence, to seek silence. It may not be easy in our age, but it is not impossible. If we seek God’s love, we will understand and feel more and more what silence [as a virtue] means. Of course, silence can sometimes be annoying. Unless it is a silence in God. That is why Fr. [Saint] Sophrony, the disciple of Saint Silouan [the Athonite], left us a very beautiful prayer, a morning prayer, in which we see this care of the Elder for the living word, for the true word. And among other things, the Elder says in this prayer: “Teach me what I should say and how I should speak. If it be Thy will that I make no answer, inspire me to keep silent in a spirit of peace that causes neither sorrow nor hurt to my fellow man.” Listen, what was the concern of Fr. Sophrony… So that he won’t cause either sorrow or hurt to his fellow man. Either he speaks or he is silent. If he speaks, let it be a word from God, let it be a living word, a true word, a comforting word, a life-giving word. And if he is silent, let there be silence in God, let it be a comforting silence, let it not be a silence that hurts the neighbor. We could also learn this prayer…
We must hear God’s voice, know God’s will, and fulfill God’s will in our lives. And all this is possible only in silence. To God be the glory, forever and ever, Amen. Forgive me!