Neglected word of the day: Hesychia

This is the root of hesychism: keeping silence. Usually quite a lot. Not just externally, but also in mind. It usually goes with nepsis: watchfulness. Hesychia, then, is attentive listening: usually listening to silence, in silence. A hesychist might go out into the wilderness and begin by saying a short prayer more or less continually, like “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!” – and then eventually simply contemplate God in watchful silence. But hesychia isn’t only important for hermits. Even if the rest of us never advance very far in hesychism, at the least we can work on all the unhelpful thoughts that constantly distract us from listening to God – who tends to speak mostly through silence. And many – perhaps most – of the things we think or speak about throughout the day aren’t necessary or even important – they’re there so that we don’t have to deal with undistracted silence; because we’re unused to it, and it’s uncomfortable to us. But it’s also when we’re most likely to hear God. To review: A person might undertake the unmercinary podvig of hesychia in order to cleanse the nous from logismoi so as to encounter God apaphatically in the process of theosis. There will be a quiz worth 20 points on Monday. Extra credit for correct spelling in Greek and Cyrillic.


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