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Do novices take a vow of silence?


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#1 Guest_Augustine Martin

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 11:42 AM

I hear that when you become a novice, that you are supposed to take a vow of silence, sometimes only for that time of being the novice.
What things are the novices being tested for and how long do they stay quiet?

#2 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 07:19 PM

I don't believe this is a general Orthodox monastic practice. Of course, different monasteries actually have different obediences. What many monasteries practice is that a novice is not to communicate with anyone without the abbot's blessing (or do much of anything at all without a blessing). This is not exactly a vow of silence, but when visiting a monastery, one generally is not encouraged to engage any monastic in conversation unless it is the abbot or one who has a blessing to do so from the abbot.

Herman the not very silent Pooh

#3 Jeremy Troy

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 07:44 PM

One of Fr. Ephrem's monasteries is near my parent's house. I've been there about five times, since there isn't a regular parish nearby for me to go to when I visit. Here are all the verbal interactions I've ever had with the monks while there:

Me (having just showed up for the first time): "Can you tell me where the service is?"
Monk: *points*
Me: "Thank you."

A monk comes up to me while I'm trying to dig my car out the mud hole that it got in in the parking lot
Monk: "Aren't you coming to lunch?"
Me: "Oh, I didn't know there was lunch! Alright."

A monk has just towed my car out of the parking lot with a truck.
Me: "Thank you, Father."
Monk: *nods and smiles*

That's it.

#4 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 07:52 PM

I have been to/stayed in monasteries in Cyprus, Greece, Russia and Bosnia, and I have not come across this idea which sounds more Catholic than Orthodox.

#5 Kusanagi

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 08:18 PM

In Sihastria (hesychast) monastery in Romania the novices are given an obedience of silence.

#6 Fr. Ambrose

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 08:37 PM

I hear that when you become a novice, that you are supposed to take a vow of silence, sometimes only for that time of being the novice.
What things are the novices being tested for and how long do they stay quiet?


The idea of a "vow" of silence is not part of normal Orthodox monasticism, either in this country or in the old Orthodox countries. In general, however, novices do lead a much more restricted and quiet way of life during the years of their novitiate, so as to have fewer distractions and temptations and so as to be able to focus their energies on spiritual and monastic formation.

Having said that, it should be noted that all of the monastic literature, from ancient times to this, encourage even tonsured monastics to keep as much outer silence and quiet as is functionally proper. This counsel is by and large ignored in American monasticism, however, where many monks or nuns are quite social and sociable, even during the time of their novitiate. --Fr. A




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