Michael Haldas is the author of Sacramental Living: Understanding Christianity as a Way of Life. Michael’s focus is on understanding and applying our faith to everyday living, which supports OCN’s mission to provide material “to provoke discussion and contemplation about the issues we face in daily life.” His work has been featured in Theosis Magazine, The National Herald, Pravmir, and other publications. He is a member of the Orientale Lumen Foundation, the Orthodox Speakers Bureau and is on the board of the Washington Theological Consortium. He teaches adult religious education and high school Sunday school at the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George in Bethesda, Maryland, and has worked with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Religious Education Department to create educational lessons and materials.
“When God the Logos created human nature, He did not make the senses susceptible either to pleasure or pain; instead, He implanted in it a certain noetic capacity through which men could enjoy Him in an inexpressible way.” (St. Maximos the Confessor)
It is impossible to experience God’s presence in any measure if we do not have some degree of stillness of body and mind. Noise disrupts the stillness of mind, and busyness, or pace, disrupts the stillness of body.
The Power of Silence
Noise is a barrier. It blocks us from God. It comes in so many forms today, and it takes a very disciplined person to manage it and shut it out. Many people are addicted to the various forms of noise and may not even know it. With today’s social media, 24-hour TV, iPads, and smartphones, we are in an ever-increasingly noisy society. It is a formidable challenge to achieve inner silence and stay connected with God. Noise creates a disturbance in our mind and heart. In Orthodoxy, we understand the mind and the heart to be something more than just a brain and an organ that pumps blood. We understand when the New Testament writers and the Holy Fathers wrote about the mind and the heart, they meant something we call the nous, the “eye of the soul,” the part of us that can experience and comprehend God.
Have you ever wondered how the ancients acquired so much knowledge and wisdom yet lacked our modern technological and other advancements? They could perceive reality accurately because they were able to contemplate, to be still, to create conditions in their nous that opened them to revelation about God and His reality. This is called noetic knowledge. Today, most people think acquiring knowledge is solely through effort put into intellectual study via the Internet, apps, books, and Universities. But that is often just intellectual knowledge that goes into the brain that never connects to the heart due to the noise we succumb to that keeps us from prayer and contemplation.
If we are not living sacramentally, prayerfully, and contemplatively, we are not creating conditions within ourselves where we have fertile hearts. Without fertile hearts, what comes to the brain stays there. Because the Apostles and Holy Fathers spoke and wrote about the nous as our deepest selves where essentially what we think of as the mind (i.e., intellect and brain) and heart are one integrated whole, we must always work to ensure our mind and heart become one. If they do not, we may be deceiving ourselves thinking we know God when all we know is about God. We tend to live by our brains and intellects. We come to Orthodoxy through the mind, and it takes a long time for it to sink into our heart.
Pace is also great obstacle to this mind/heart integration in Christ but it is a different type of obstacle. Where noise is more about the mind, pace is more about the body, which of course greatly affects the mind. We live life in a hurry, always rushing, always moving, yet we are physical and spiritual beings (Genesis 2:7) and need to realize a noetic experience is not possible without learning how to still our bodies first. When we learn to still our bodies, resist cramming our schedules full of activities, we will likely begin to still our minds as well.
We need to be patient with ourselves, realizing that attaining stillness of body and then mind takes time as we grow spiritually. St. John Chrysostom reminds of this steady slow growth when he writes, “do you see how we learn all things by gradual advance?”
As we deepen our relationship with Christ and learn to still ourselves, the heart draws the mind into it and we begin to experience life—reality as it truly is—illumined by the light of Christ.
“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 45:11 LXX (Psalm 46:10)
ABOUT THE ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN NETWORK
The Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) is an official agency of the Assembly of Canonical Bishops of the United States of America originally commissioned by SCOBA to create a national, sustainable, and effective media witness for Orthodox Christianity and seekers around the world through media ministry. CLICK HERE to download our brochure.
This 501(c)3 is recognized as a leader in the Orthodox Media field and has sustained consistent growth over twenty years. OCN shares the timeless faith of Orthodoxy with the contemporary world through modern media. We are on a mission to inspire Orthodox Christians Worldwide. We have reached 5.7 Million People in One Week. Much like public radio, the Orthodox Christian Network relies on the support of our listeners, readers, and fans. If you are interested in supporting our work, you can send your gift by direct mail, over the phone, or on our website. Your gift will ensure that OCN may continue to offer free, high-quality, Orthodox media.
Do you find it hard to keep focused on Christ when you’re on the go? OCN makes it easy! Give today to help you and your Orthodox community stay connected no matter the location.
ORTHODOX MOBILE APPS ARE HERE!
Click here to download the Spark OCN and Orthodox Prayer Book.
Posted by the Orthodox Christian Network. OCN is on Social Media! Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube,