Be Still and Know: God's Presence in Silence
Introduction—Silence (Hesychia): A Method for Experiencing God
Part One—Development and Methodology of Hesychia Through Stories of the Ancient Practitioners
Part Two—Silence (Hesychia) in Contemporary Focus: Methodology and Importance of the Practices Inside and Outside Monasteries
Appendix 1: Glossary of Terms
Appendix 2: Chronology of Places Visited and Persons Interviewed for This Book and Bibliography
"In Be Still and Know, Norris J. Chumley invites readers behind the curtain to experience ascetic practices and practitioners seldom seen. Focusing on the ancient practice of hesychia (silence)—as experienced in monasteries in Egypt, Greece, and Romania—Chumley skillfully examines the objective of this monastic practice identified as internal stillness as precursor to a direct spiritual experience and union with God. A timely read in a technological world afflicted by a perpetual state of internal static."
—David A. Sánchez
Loyola Marymount University
"Having followed the development of Be Still and Know from beginning to end, I can attest to its genuine and caring incentive. Having witnessed the increasing lack of silence and stillness in our world, I can also attest to the importance of Norris J. Chumley's contribution."
Author of In the Heart of the Desert
"Norris J. Chumley's book is timely—the academic study of spirituality is on the rise and silence is increasingly hard to come by in the developed world. Be Still and Know offers a survey of the theology behind the Hesychast tradition, provides a lens on how monastics practice Hesychasm today, and hints as to what this ancient practice might offer contemporary spirituality in the West."
—Eileen M. Daily
Loyola University Chicago
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Introduction to Hesychia (the practice of silence and contemplation)
This first week, the subjects are the possibility of communication with God and the various methods employed through
the ages. The concepts of Uncreated Light, image, likeness, purification (apatheia), and grace are discussed. Mention of
Scripture, classical philosophy, and early theological thoughts advance our understanding. We are introduced to early
Christian desert theology.
The early desert Christians
Chapter 1 includes St. Antony, St. Pachomius, the Cappadocian Fathers and Mother (St. Gregory, St. Basil the Great,
and St. Macrina), St. John Cassian, Evagrius, Diadochus, St. Symeon the New Theologian, St. Gregory Palamas, and the
Philokali. The chapter also discusses centuries of Christian thought on purification, renunciation, control of mind and body,
and experience of God through “likeness” and “energies.”
Comparing Practitioners and Monastic Life
This week, we take the philosophies, theologies, and practices of the ancient sages and saints and put them into context
with monastic life. This section also includes an introduction to the Jesus Prayer.
Connecting with God
Now we take what we have learned from the great monastic fathers and mothers into the present. We visit working
monasteries in Egypt, Mt. Sinai, Greece, and Eastern Europe (specifically Romania) and speak with Bishops, Archbishops,
monks and nuns. Be sure to see the connection between what you’ve learned from the ancients with modern practices.
Building Communication with God
The conversation with both living practitioners and contemporary theologians now centers around prayer (specifically
the Jesus Prayer), Kyrie Eleison, or just the Holy Name of Jesus. Different stages of prayer are brought to the fore, as is a
distinction between different aspects of the body, mind, and psyche.
This is the concluding lesson of this series. It sends participants off with suggestions for ways to connect and communicate
with God, as suggested by monks and nuns, spiritual leaders, and even a Patriarch.