The information I have was posted in November of 07, so I would think that the documentary is finished. The info says:
Short preview of a “A Pilgrim’s Way”, a documentary we’ve made about the Romanian Orthodox church. It begins with lay life in Bucharest and then travels to a monastery, and we end by meeting some of the great Romanian church fathers. It is 73 minutes long and will be released soon
It was a quote, I assume, from some who have experience of the “age to come” which I suspect is not the same thing as the “heaven” we see displayed in Scripture (which seems to have everything to do with our present).
But it was only an interesting paradox. I do not know enough of such silence in my life to draw conclusions. It’s not a dogma – just a thought. But without experience how do we understand the Scriptures? It would just be a set of ideas to provide fodder for the imagination and argument. An example are the disciples after the resurrection in John who “did not yet know the Scriptures” (though they obviously could have quoted them). Do I yet “know the Scriptures”? Not very well.
I suspect the monk in the video knows what he’s talking about and that we do not yet.
I have not yet viewed this, but in the Apocalypse, chapter 8 verse 1, it says that when the Lamb opened the Seventh Seal, there was silence in heaven for half an hour. According to “The Apocalpyse” by Archbishop Averky (Taushev) as translated by Fr. Seraphim (Rose), “This silence in heaven signifies the concentration of reverent attention on the part of the angels and men who stand before the throne of God in expectation of the fearful signs of the wrath of God before the end of this age and the manifestation of the kingdom of Christ.” (page 143)
Of course there is such a thing as extra-biblical knowledge. When Scripture says that eternal life is to “know Thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ Whom Thou hast sent” it surely doesn’t mean knowing the Bible but something more (that the Bible confirms and agrees with, of course).
Orthodoxy, the faith which defeated and silenced the Gnostics, does not hold to Gnosticism, but it also a true and living faith, else it would not understand and rightly hold the Scriptures. This follows the teaching of St. Irenaeus, who spoke of the “Apostolic Hypothesis,” in his explanations of why the gnostics do not rightly interpret the Scriptures.
But in the inner life of a Christian, I assume that there are depths that I do not yet know and I assume that those depths may take me deeper than a literal reading of every place in Scripture. The descriptions of heaven in Scripture cannot be treated literally, for no literalism would ever do such a reality justice. Thus, we should have room for paradox. If a man of great prayer says that “silence is the language of the age to come” I would take his statement, not as Scripture, but perhaps expressing something that I do not yet understand and worth pondering.
I’m making a mountain out of a mole-hill. I know you’re a faithful believer and appreciate your reading and comments.
My own meager experience of worship and prayer tells me that there is a place of silence that is so “full” that words cannot be spoken, because I have no words that will suffice. St. Paul says the Spirit prays for us with “groanings which cannot be uttered” (and I do not take this to be a reference to tongues as do some charismatics).
The angels are in “unceasing praise” but whether it is a sound I can hear or a fullness beyond description I have no way to tell. St. Paul heard and saw things that “it is unlawful to be uttered.” There’s a bunch of mystery around this stuff that is very Scriptural and within the normative experience of Christianity. No Gnosticism.
But of course there is experience that is “extra Biblical” else we would only know God through the mediation of Scripture – which is not taught in the Scriptures. Some branches of the Church of Christ teach that, but it is an error. The Scripture bears witness to the Truth. Christ is the Life of the Church and the Scriptures bear witness to this (the Church is the “Pillar and Ground of Truth” the “Fullness of Him that Filleth All in All”). These are predicates of the Church – not of Scripture. The Church’s Life (which is Christ’s Life) is confirmed in the witness of Scripture – but it would be odd for the Church not to “know” its own Life but have to find it in a book. To have awareness of one’s own Life is part of what it would mean to be alive or to have life at all. Thus there must be such experience.
On the other hand – the Church is also quite careful and watchful to scrutinize experience lest we fall into delusion. And I would agree that if that experience contradicts the understanding of Scripture as held by the Church through the centuries, then it would be quite suspect.
I simply took the common saying among monastics (it dates back to the Desert Fathers) as something which has been accepted without a since of contradiction for 1700 years or more and thus worth considering. I would not see it as a contradiction of Scripture.
I do know that when “that age” comes – “knowledge will cease, tongues will cease, etc.” whatever we hear and speak will be love in His fullness.
BTW, forgive me if I come across too argumentative, etc. today. My head’s sort of out of place (or some such expression) and I’m not writing at my best.
I should have noted that the monastic statement is a strong part of the Hesychastic tradition in Orthodoxy (which is a matter of dogma). It is the practice of inner stillness in prayer (cf. St. Gregory Palamas).
It is worth noting that the “language” of the age to come is “silence” is an inherently paradoxical statement and is meant to be. It is related to “be still and know that I am God.” One could also say that “silence is the language of stillness”.
two thumbs up Father! problem comes when we think we know God’s fullness…and think all of His existence is in a few books and letters. For anyone to think there is no mystery to God, I would say they are very delusional!
I find your conversation on silence very intriguing.
Once I had a dream in which angels were singing in the clouds above the ocean. Their voices were real and ethereal but behind and surrounding their incredible clear voices, was Silence. It was the medium of the dream. It was a silence that was alive and huge in it’s presence and depth. I would call that silence God.
In that regard I find the statement of silence being the language of the
age to come a great truth.
Father, you don’t come across argumentative at all in a bad way. If this is how you communicate when your head is not quite in the right place, then I think you can rest in the grace of God that is at work in your weakness! 🙂 Your clarifications were helpful as were Death Bredan’s statements/queries, which are questions or convictions he shares with many other readers I am sure. Very insightful comments to a very lovely video clip. I can’t wait to see the entire documentary. I’m sure I will want to own it.
I have been a Roman Catholic since I was baptized in 1955. During these years I endured times of spiritual strength and weakness like most pilgrims on the path.My decision to leave the church of Rome was not easy as I left many loved one wondering. I feel I have found a greater sense of peace with and myself in the orthodox community and a deeper understand of the Christian message.
May God strengthen you, and the Orthodox Church in Scotland. The British Isles were once among the most pious and wonderful of Orthodox lands. I pray for such a day to return. Displaced Anglo-Scots-Irish like me need the encouragement.