Early Christian spirituality is a topic of enduring fascination today among scholars and general readers alike. Stories of hermits living in the desert in their pursuit of God catch our fancy. What motivated them and drew them to silence on their path to God? In this gracious tour, Norris J. Chumley introduces us to Hesychasm, or the practice of silence and contemplative prayer, and to the lives of its early practitioners. The reader is introduced to St. Anthony, St. Pachomius, Evagrius, St. John Climacus, and many others. Then, as only a teacher and mentor can, he opens up the important possibilities the practice has for today.
- Publisher Fortress Press
- ISBN 9781451470512
- Format Paperback
- Dimensions 5.5 x 8.5
- Pages 176
- Publication Date February 1, 2014
Endorsements"The Jesus Prayer, a central discipline among the Hesychast monks of Byzantium, has come to be practised very widely throughout the West. Often there is little knowledge of the background and meaning of the prayer. Be Still and Know, drawing as much on modern spiritual elders, as on the saints of the past, fulfils a very urgent need."
"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
Study GuideThis book is paired with a six-session Study Guide, with suggested readings and study and discussion points, to be used in conjunction with the text. The Study Guide is intended for use in classrooms and church groups. An additional companion one-hour ethnographic field study film, also titled Be Still and Know, may also be utilized in conjunction with the book and the Study Guide.
To download the accompanying film for a small fee visit www.bestillandknow.info
Download the Study Guide!
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.