Orthodoxy Today
Print this page Send this page to a friend Create a PDF Post to Facebook Tweet this post Post on Google +
Chaplain’s Corner: Silence is Golden

Chaplain's Corner
Short essays written for the La Jolla Veteran's Hospital newsletter in La Jolla, California

A number of aphorisms inspired by popular wisdom are especially applicable to this age of instant global communication. I immediately think of one of my father’s favorite instructional sayings: “The wisest word is the word unspoken.” What brings this to my mind are recent media accounts of some notable individuals making some quite unwise statements that they think are private comments, but which later end up being publically broadcasted. Often the individuals themselves are adversely affected, and when they are associated with others, be they corporations, governments or sport teams, the untoward effects extend to many.

Would it not be ideal if “the word unspoken” were not just motivated by desire to avoid the inauspicious consequences of making unwise statements, but, rather, sprang from the habits of a truly virtuous mind and heart? Buddhist wisdom is particularly apt in this understanding: “Just as treasures are uncovered from the earth, so virtue appears from good deeds, and wisdom appears from a pure and peaceful mind. To walk safely through the maze of human life, one needs the light of wisdom and the guidance of virtue.”[i] When one has acquired such virtue, then wise silence should follow because it is built on a solid foundation.

In the book of Proverbs (8: 13), King Solomon tied true wisdom to virtue: “The fear of the Lord hateth evil: I hate arrogance, and pride, and every wicked way, and a mouth with a double tongue.” Hebrew wisdom puts it this way: “If a word be worth one shekel, silence is worth two.”[ii] The silence that is “golden” is, then, a product or consequence of virtue. Benjamin Franklin understood that developing the value of silence is one of the defining characteristics of a virtuous person in attaining what he called ‘moral perfection’. He wrote: “Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation."[iii] In the same vein, Roman Catholic Dominican friar, Meister Eckhart (c. 1260 – 1327 AD), wrote, “In silence man can most readily preserve his integrity.”[iv]

What better way to nurture virtue in our hearts and practice its offshoot of ‘golden silence’ than to be enlivened by God. Eastern Church Spiritual Father St. Mark the Acetic, writing in the fifth century, tells us: “God is the source of every virtue as the sun is of daylight (Philokalia I, p. 113).  He says further that “Fulfilling a commandment means doing what we are enjoined to do; but virtue is to do it in a manner that conforms to the truth. (p. 123).[v] Indeed, God is the ultimate truth.


[i] http://www.worldofquotes....

[ii] [www.worldofquotes.com/proverb/hebrew/1/index.html]

[iii] [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtue]

[iv] [www.worldofquotes.com/author/Meister+Eckhart/1/index.html]

[v] Palmer, G. E. H., Sherrard, P., & Ware, K. (Trans.). (1979–1999). The Philokalia: The compete text (Vols. 1–4). London, England: Faber & Faber

Click here to visit  Visit Fr. Morelli's Facebook page.

Fr. George Morelli
Antiochian Department of Chaplain and Pastoral Ministry

V. Rev. Fr. George Morelli Ph.D. is a licensed Clinical Psychologist and Marriage and Family Therapist.

Fr. Morelli is the Coordinator of the Chaplaincy and Pastoral Counseling Ministry of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese and Religion Coordinator (and Antiochian Archdiocesan Liaison) of the Orthodox Christian Association of Medicine, Psychology and Religion.

Fr. Morelli is a Senior Fellow at the Sophia Institute, an independent Orthodox Advanced Research Association and Philanthropic Foundation housed at Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary in New York City that serves as a gathering force for contemporary Orthodox scholars, theologians, spiritual teachers, and ethicists.

Fr. Morelli serves on the Executive Board of the San Diego Cognitive Behavior Therapy Consortium (SDCBTC)

Fr. Morelli serves as Assistant Pastor of St. George's Antiochian Orthodox Church, San Diego, California.

Fr. Morelli is the author of:

Healing – Volume 1
Orthodox Christianity
and Scientific Psychology

Click to order
Eastern Christian Publications
Healing – Volume 2
Reflections for Clergy
Chaplains, and Counselors

Click to order
Eastern Christian Publications
Published: June 1, 2014

Copyright © 2001-2020 OrthodoxyToday.org. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this article is subject to the policy of the individual copyright holder. Follow copyright link for details.
Text size: A  A  A