by H.H. Pope Shenouda III
Part 1: The Beauty of Calmness and its Sublimity1) History of the Loss of Peace in the World
Peace is the original state of this universe. It was also the original state before the world was created. Since the beginning of time, God alone has been in perfect peace. Millions of years have passed over millions of millions of years, more than that even; in fact before time existed and before its dimensions were known, the original state was peace.
God began to work in peace and His first work was the Creation. In perfect peace God created everything. "Then God said, 'Let there be light;' and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good." (Gen. 1:3,4). "Then God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind; and it was so... And God saw that it was good." (Gen. 1:11-12). Thus each stage of the Creation was accomplished in peace. God created the world and the world lived in peace. As an example of that, there are the heavenly bodies moving in the celestial sphere, with total precision and order, in total peace, without any confusion; day followed by night, night followed by day, without noise and without struggle.
So when did the world begin to lose its peace?
It was after God formed creatures with a mind and possessing free will. These creatures who were endowed with intelligence, spent a period of calm in which no one quarrelled and no one argued with anyone else, no one raised any objections and no one disagreed or rebelled. There was no one who provoked a problem or disturbance in any form.
Then there was the first loss of peace, for which Satan is to blame. Satan lost the peace of his heart from within, when the concept of pride entered him. (Is. 14:13,14). A desire to be like God entered his heart, and this desire troubled his whole heart, and so he lost his calmness. Not content with that, though, he in fact led a rebellion in heaven and brought down with him angels of various ranks. This was a result of the free will which he misused. Satan and his angels were banished from heaven, and heaven became peaceful again.
As far as human beings were concerned, Adam lived first of all in peace, while he was in the Garden of Eden. Even the wild beasts lived with him in peace, there was no enmity or strife between them. They did not kill him as their prey or attack him and he did not hunt or pursue them. He did not fear them, but rather a bond of harmony and peaceful coexistence united them. The same situation occurred with the wild beasts and creatures which were with our father Noah in the Ark.
Predatory animals were not predatory in Adam's time. Hunting for prey had not yet entered the world since the world still retained its peace. The wild creatures at that time used to eat grass (Gen. 1:29) - they did not hunt down animals that were weaker than themselves or prey upon a creature of a different species such as Adam. There was no wildness in them which was to earn them the name of wild beasts. They were peaceful, and so was man.
The amazing thing is that man lost his peace while he was still in the Garden of Eden, which happened after he sinned. When he sinned he was afraid, and he hid behind the trees. When he sinned, he felt ashamed of his nakedness and sewed fig leaves together to cover himself. And God banished Adam and Eve from Paradise.
Then there was the sin of Cain when he lost the peace of his heart because of his envy of his brother Abel. His inner feelings developed to the point that he, "rose up against Abel his brother and killed him." (Gen. 4:8) When Cain killed his brother he lost his peace forever and he lived as a restless wanderer and a fugitive on earth, afraid of God and of people. (Gen. 4:12-14). The psychological disorders of fear, anxiety and confusion began to disturb him deeply. He was the first to exhibit these disorders and the one who introduced them into human nature. Cain's fear of God was surpassed by his fear of people, and his bitter cry was: "My punishment is greater than I can bear! ...anyone who finds me will kill me."(Gen. 4:13,14) Cain's killing of Abel was the introduction to the wars which were to sweep over the earth later, and which caused the world to lose its peacefulness.
Lamech, one of the descendants of Cain, was also a murderer. After having confessed this to his two wives, he said: "If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, Then Lamech seventy- sevenfold." (Gen.4:24) This is how vengeance was introduced to the earth and the world was filled with evil and lost its peace. Tyrants and oppressors populated the earth and God drowned the raging world with the Flood. After the Flood, there was Nimrod who "began to be a mighty one on the earth." (Gen.10:8)
After the Tower of Babel, the people on earth became dispersed and struggles broke out between the nations. (Gen.11:9) Human nature became corrupt and lost its peace, which was encouraged by the rivalry and contention between people. Eventually, on account of the quarrelling of the shepherds for grazing land, we hear in connection with two righteous men, Abraam and Lot that, "Now the land was not able to support them, that they might dwell together." (Gen. 13:6) It is a tragic story, in which man fell from peacefulness to restlessness. The Elements of Calmness
Therefore what is calmness? What are its elements? What are its effects? What are the virtues that are linked with calmness and are lost with its loss? How can man obtain peace and remain in it? These and other things are what we wish to deal with in this little book.
Calmness has to involve the human being's whole life: inwardly and outwardly - what is apparent and what is hidden. Thus, it must include:
1. Inner calmness: which is made up of tranquillity of the mind, serenity of the heart and calmness of the thoughts.
2. Calmness of the body: which consists of the stillness of the senses and calmness of movement.
3. Calmness of the nerves: which consists of the serenity of the features and the spirit of cheerfulness.
4. Calmness of speech: which also includes calmness of the voice.
5. Calmness of behaviour: which consists of a serenity in practical matters of life and in private behaviour, and a calm approach to solving any problem which the individual might meet.
There are other elements which are common to all types of calmness, which are:
a. Peace of nature, a peaceful environment and quiet place in which to live.
b. Virtues associated with calmness
c. Nature of the calmness: Is it true peace or just a superficial or temporary calm? Is the calmness due to ignorance or inexperience?
d. Practical examples of true calmness True Calmness
1. We cannot judge whether a person is calm or not until his calmness has been tested.
A person may appear calm, because the external conditions which surround him are calm. No problem or provocation has yet occurred to put his calmness to the test. Though if you clash with him he will probably show his real self, and show whether he is calm or not. It is only when one person clashes with another over a matter of opinion or behaviour, or when insult or injury befalls him or he is faced with hurtful words that, according to how he behaves, he can be judged as to his calmness. It is the same situation if he falls into a problem or into adversity, or becomes ill or faces some difficulty. All of these could be a test for his disposition and his nerves. How does he behave, how does he react? Does he lose his calmness, or does he endure and solve the problem calmly?
This is the first test of true calmness. Any person can be calm when circumstances are calm.
2. The second test, however, is how long the calmness lasts.
Real calmness is a continuous tranquility that has become characteristic of the person. In the face of problems, true calmness is not lost after a period of time. True calmness is not just training for endurance for a specific period of time. It is a tranquil nature which continues regardless of how the situation changes.
True peace is not a veil behind which a restless character hides, only to be brought to light by unexpected events. The person who is tranquil by nature is not hurt by problems or clashes. On the contrary, these problems reveal his compassion, gentleness and kindness of heart. Saint Paul the Apostle lived in difficult surroundings, "in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments,... ", nevertheless he said in the introduction to all this, that it was, "in much patience,". (2 Cor.6:4,5) And he said, in the spirit of faith, "Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, the inward man is being renewed day by day. " (2 Cor.4:16). He also referred to all his problems and hardships by the phrase, "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment". (2 Cor.4:17).
3. True calmness is not external but internal.
Calmness does not only show on the outside whilst a volcano rages within. On the contrary, a person's internal peace is the source and origin of his outer calmness. We will speak about this point in greater detail when we talk about the tranquillity of the heart.
4. There is a difference between true calmness and impassivity.
In fact, impassivity or indifference may be an expression of coldness that is meant to provoke anger. The calm person, one who loves peace, is not only calm himself, but tries to make others around him calm and spread peace around them. However, sometimes it happens that a person with strong nerves may put up with a fretful friend, and replies to him very calmly or very coolly in a way that actually provokes the other's nerves even more and makes him more agitated. This increased agitation is then met with even greater calmness and cool composure by the person with stronger nerves. This person is not calm because he takes advantage in provoking his unfortunate friend and making him an object of criticism in front of those present.
This sort of calmness is not at all what is meant by spiritual calmness. The spiritually calm person does not demolish another through his own calmness. His fretful brother is entrusted in his care. He is responsible for safeguarding his brother's nerves and reputation and to lead him to find peacefulness as well. Consequently, he would not provoke his friend because he himself is a lover of peace. He wants peace for others just as he wants it for himself. He does not let the Devil of False Glory attack him with a bogus peace, which he uses to provoke his brother to become his angry and agitated adversary by maintaining a false, proud, superior calmness at his brother's expense. Satan would indeed be pleased to see him induce such an angry and exasperated state in his opponent.
The successful person does not gain spiritual satisfaction from seeing the downfall of another, but rather, as a result of his own calmness, spreads peace to all. He meets others calmly, whether they are for him or against him. If he finds that the other person is angry, he placates him with a gentle reply and not with words that are likely to rouse his anger. (Prov. 15:1)
5. The peaceful person may be calm by nature by being born that way or, his calmness may have been acquired.
The naturally calm person does not need to make great efforts to arrive at a state of calmness, because he shuns all that is not peaceful.
As far as acquired calmness is concerned though, this requires effort and practice and is a subject which we will discuss later, God willing. Briefly though, every effort that is made to reach a state of peace has its own reward. A person who needs to strive to acquire calmness may attain such a state gradually. After having attained it, he no longer has to make strenuous efforts because at this stage, he will have become firmly grounded, stable and experienced in the life of peace. Thus he retains that which he has acquired by hard work and of course by the great assistance of God's grace.
Saint Moses the Black is a good example of someone who acquired calmness through training. He was not born like that, but in fact he started life as a cruel murderer. Then when he entered the monastic life, he began to discipline himself in calmness until he mastered it so well that when he was called for his ordination as a priest, and the Pope ordered him to be sent away in order to test him, Saint Moses left quietly, blaming himself without feeling upset inside. Then, when they allowed him to return, he went back quietly without hurting his dignity. In lieu of this, it was not strange that one of the saints saw him in a vision being fed with honeycomb by the angels.
If you are not calm by nature, do not make excuses saying: "What can I do?! I was just born that way!! Even if you were born less calm than others, or inherited a lack of calmness from father or mother, that is no excuse. You can change what you inherited. Someone who has not obtained natural calmness can acquire calmness by training himself and striving hard to gain it. The qualities which a person is born with are not fixed rules that cannot be changed. They are easily changed if the good intention exists, accompanied by a sincere determination, hard work and effort. Then the Lord will give you a new heart, removing from you the heart of stone and giving you a heart of flesh as he promised. (Ezek.36:26) Virtues Connected with Tranquility
1. Tranquility has a relationship with love, to which it gives, and from which it takes.
The loving person is tranquil in his relationships with people. He does not react against them, because he loves them. As for hatred, if it enters the heart, it is like a raging volcano which never quiets; it wants vengeance and wants to demolish. Hatred does not subside until it has achieved what it wants and has ruined everything else.
The world needs love and peace in order for its problems to be solved. They can be solved by reconciliation with peace and calmness. In the calmness of a discussion that is soaked with love, people can come together in order to solve their problems, no matter how much their views differ. If calmness disappears, however, love disappears with it, since love cannot exist alongside confusion and disorder, sharp voices, and discourteous
It is easy to love the peaceful person because his calmness attracts you. The features of his face alone make you love him. His calm manner when dealing with things makes you love him too. If you should get irritated with him for any reason, his tranquillity will overcome you and avert your irritation. The Lord spoke well of the meek in heart and said that they will inherit the earth, which really means the earth here, and heaven later. They will obtain people's love on earth because of their meekness and peacefulness, just as they will obtain the land of the living too. (Ps.27:13)
2. Thus the virtue of calmness is also connected to peace
The calm person is always peaceful and the peaceful person is also calm. The calm person, "will not quarrel nor cry out, Nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets." (Matt.12:19), as was said about the Lord Jesus. Thus the calm person lives peacefully with people because he does not quarrel with anyone or raise his voice at them, and because he does not solve his problems with people by using force.
Peace may well be lost between one rude person and another, but it is not lost between a rude person and a calm one, because the calm one can withstand rudeness. It is like the saying that fire cannot be extinguished by fire, but by water. Also, if the calm person by his calmness can pacify the rude, then it goes without saying that peace can exist between two calm people. Calmness is not only one of the manifestations of inner peace, but it is also a factor which helps maintain it. Whoever maintains his calmness maintains his inner peace.
3. Calmness and gentleness.
The relationship between calmness and gentleness is self evident, since calmness is a branch of gentleness, or one of its outward signs. They are very similar and one could say that they are interchangeable. When you speak about the calm person, you are also speaking about gentleness. The person who loses his calm obviously loses his gentle temper. When we speak of the relationship between calmness and gentleness, we are just speaking about the relationship between the part and the whole.
4. The relationship between calmness and depth.
The calm person, through his calmness, can reach certain depths if he has a gift for contemplation. A calm person is not always deep. It would be more correct for us to say that every deep person is calm. Here I marvel at an expression given by one of the spiritual men, which I have probably repeated to you on more than one occasion, which is: "When God cast me as a pebble into the lake of life, I caused bubbles at its surface and circles rippling out to infinity. But when I reached the bottom, I became calm." The waves are turbulent on the surface of the sea; the depths of the sea or the bottom of the ocean is calm. When a calm person is going through a unimportant period and living a superficial and shallow life, he wants to cause ripples on the surface of life with circles rippling outwards to infinity, but when he reaches a more mature age and can think more deeply, he becomes calm. The shallow, superficial person is restless and goes around trying to find himself, or trying to fulfill himself, in whatever way he can.
5. At this point I would like to distinguish between depth and intelligence, in relation to calmness.
Some intelligent people have an intelligence which is just intellectual ability. Their spirits and hearts are not on the same level as their minds, so they do not reach the full depth of thought, heart, mind and spirit. Again, not every intelligent person is deep, but the deep person is intelligent.
The intelligent person who lacks depth may fall into errors that make him lose his calmness. For example, the intelligent person may comprehend that which another cannot and as a result regard the other person as his inferior. He might subsequently pile blame and scorn upon the other if he works with him or under his command, and thus lose his calmness in his dealings with him. Sometimes, on account of his intelligence, he detects many other people's mistakes and so becomes angry with them or becomes annoyed within himself at their errors, and in this way loses his peace from both inside and outside.
Intelligence, by itself, has troubles of its own if it is not accompanied by meekness and humility. If the mind is boisterous and thinks too highly of itself, it loses its calmness. And if the mind is pompous and proud, it loses its calmness and peace in its relationship with God and with people. Whoever has been given intelligence by God must pray that God will give him the meekness and humility of heart so that intelligence does not degenerate into arrogance and make him lose his peace.
6. The relationship between calmness and the virtue of humility
Saint Dorotheus said: "The humble person does not anger anyone, nor is he angered by anyone." The humble person does not make anyone angry because he asks for the blessing and prayers of everyone. He is not angered by anyone because he always lays the blame for everything on himself. Whoever is in this situation lives in peace with all people. If he loses his humility, he loses his calmness. Likewise, the humble person does not lose his calmness because of running after desires, as he does not see himself as deserving of anything and he does not want to be raised above the situation which he is in already.
7. The relationship between calmness, faith and submission.
Whoever lives a life of faith, lives in peace, surrendering his whole life to God. He accepts everything in faith from His loving hands and is not upset or annoyed by anything, but rather is continually peaceful, saying with the Prophet David: "Though an army may encamp against me, My heart shall not fear." (Ps.27:3)
In faith he says, "All is for the best". If he encounters a problem, he has faith that God will solve it, and so his heart stays calm. If troubles tire him, he says, "Their course will come to an end," and his heart once again becomes calm. In contrast to this is the person who is far from the life of faith and from surrendering to God. His thoughts tire him and he never becomes calm. If problems occur they completely exhaust him because he does not put before him the help that comes from above. Those who do not live a life of faith try to disturb other people's tranquility by the harm and damage that they bring upon them.
8. The connection between calmness and living with God.
How beautiful are the words of Saint Augustine in the book of his confessions, when he addresses the Lord with this beautiful, deep phrase: "Our heart is restless until it finds its rest in you." This is because the source of the heart's tranquility is not the world, with its passions and desires, but God alone. No one who lives far from God can live in peace. His heart remains troubled because of the winds of his desires, until he comes to know God and experiences the sweetness of living with Him. Only then does he find calm and peace, like a traveller on a troubled sea who reaches the port of safety. The Benefit of Calmness
In calmness, a person can think in a balanced way. With calmness he can solve his problems with no agitation or confusion of thoughts. In calmness he can deal with people and they accept his words. Generally speaking, the peaceful person is loved by others. How beautiful are the words of Saint Peter the Apostle: "The incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit". (1 Pet.3:4) Calmness, then, is something which beautifies the soul.
A life of calmness and quietness is a holy commandment from the Bible. Saint Paul the Apostle said: "aspire to lead a quiet life". (1 Thess. 4:11). The Bible also says: "Calmness can lay great errors to rest". (Eccl.10:4). Even in practical matters of life, whatever is done calmly tends to produce better results.
The Communion bread, which is baked over a gentle flame turns out perfectly, while that which they bake over a fierce flame gets burnt on the outside and is unfinished on the inside. In the same way, any food that is cooked over a gentle flame turns out better and is more beneficial to the health. In farming, a similar example exists in regards to land which is irrigated gently.
In dealing with people, the calm way is more effective for the soul and brings about the right result. In contrast to this, forceful methods bring bad reactions. We will talk about the benefits of calmness in more detail in the coming chapters. The Disadvantages of Lacking Calmness
The person who is not spiritually calm places the worries of the world on himself, thus causing himself many problems. He loses his inner peace and experiences anxiety and mental frustration because of the troubles involved. He may also experience depression, sadness and confusion. As a result, he may become afflicted with numerous illnesses, such as mental fatigue. Loss of peace causes agitation and this causes the person to lose his peace of mind. Each is a cause and effect of the other. The person whose nerves are not calm does himself harm physically, emotionally, and socially.
The person who is not calm changes his personality and loses other people's respect for him. The teacher who is calm and firm is respected by his pupils. The one who rants angrily with threats, reprimands and harsh words towards his pupils loses their respect for him and is not taken seriously by them. Whenever they want to provoke him they can do so easily. Likewise a mother who shouts loudly, scolds, yells, smacks and threatens her children, imagining that by doing this that she is bringing them up properly, instead makes her relationship with them a constant struggle.
The person who is not calm loses his composure with other people. He gets angry with them and they get angry with him. If he loses his calmness and clashes with them, it is so easy for them to react in the same way! He loses their friendship and love and he may also lose their respect. He may be confronted with hostility and enter into bad relationships.
If a person loses his calmness he may become noisy, unruly, and may start creating trouble. He may become rebellious and rude. By losing his peace, his internal confusion may also become apparent externally with his behaviour appearing unbalanced. Because he is not calm, the slightest word bothers him, and the slightest action of another provokes him.
He may have a desire for revenge, to defend himself, to prove his existence, or to preserve his dignity. He may become agitated without achieving any result, and thus clash with others. The calm person, even if provoked, replies calmly and wins the situation as a result of his calmness.
A person who is not calm loses in a conflict and mistakes are pinned on him. Perhaps he is the one who was originally wronged, but replying rudely with the wrong reply results in the situation being reversed. He becomes the aggressor rather than the injured party! However, even if a discussion gets overheated, a calm person can subdue it. As the Bible says: "A soft answer turns away wrath." (Prov. 15:1) and also: "The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools " (Eccl. 9:17). The person who is not calm is prone to many errors, while the Bible says: "Calmness can lay great errors to rest" also: "A wholesome tongue is a tree of life," (Prov. 15:4).
We cannot calculate the damage and negative effects that result from handling things with violence, forcefulness or tension. A restless person might imagine that by expressing himself so forcefully, he is expressing his masculinity and strength of character!! A forceful and aggressive approach does not in any way prove masculinity or strength of character. The calm person is always stronger because he is able to control his temper and words; stronger also because he has risen above the level of being easily provoked or incited; stronger because in his calmness he is able to control the situation and think of a way of solving the difficulty without getting upset. Thus the Apostle says: "We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the wear". (Rom. 15:1).
What a deep stumbling block it is for children whose parents quarrel. The house loses its calmness and the father and mother are tense. Perhaps they are abusive or fight each other. Each wants to prove that they are stronger, that they are right, that they can give as good an answer as the other. The result is that they lose their children's respect because of the stumbling block and bad example they represent. These parents also lose their good reputation with the neighbours, who may start to say "that is a house which has lost its peace"!
Perhaps the following pages will clarify in greater detail the negative effects of losing one's calmness. Examples of Calmness
The most outstanding example is God Himself, blessed be His name. If only we could comprehend the tranquillity in which God created the world and the peace the Bible speaks about in the events of the Creation. For example, the Bible says: "And God said, 'Let there be light, and there was light.' God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness." (Gen. 1:3). This wonderful event is conveyed by the simple phrase, "and there was light".
The peace of God in the face of paganism and atheism is something quite marvellous. There are those who deny the existence of God or who worship stones and statues instead of Him, yet no rebellion is raised in heaven against them. God does not send down fire from heaven to burn them or destroy them. People blaspheme against God, but He is calm. These blasphemers remain alive to live and enjoy themselves, as if nothing has happened. Indeed, men seek their revenge against God, but God does not seek to avenge Himself! God is leaving them all until the Day of Judgement, and for now, He still offers them opportunities to repent and return.
In fact, even more than this, the Bible says of God that "He makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." (Matt. 5:45), which means that the wicked and the unjust enjoy his universal blessings too, just
as if they had not broken his commandments.
How great is God's calmness also in his dealings with Satan. This evil being who opposes the Kingdom of God so violently and with such indifference, trying with all his craftiness to keep people away from God and to spread corruption on earth still exists. Although it has always been within God's power to destroy him and wipe him out, God has not done that. He confronts all of Satan's disobedience calmly and has left him on the principle of giving him his equal opportunity to test the believers until he obtains his punishment on the Last Day. Sometimes the Devil goes too far and God calmly stops him when he has reached the limit. He often removes Satan's evil and trials far away from us so calmly that we are not even aware of it.
Look at the stillness in which the miracle of the Incarnation was performed. The Lord came to our world very quietly, not in a procession of Cherubim or in the midst of psalms and hymns from the angels, but in such quiet circumstances that Herod did not realise it or know where He was to be found. Many people on entering a place are preceded by noise; they raise their voices to indicate their arrival or call to others from here and there.
Further, look at how quietly God performs miracles. Miracles often happen in secret without anyone seeing and without God announcing them, and people only learned of it later. So many miracles have taken place which have not been written about in the Bible, "if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written." (John 21:25). As an example of this, there are the miracles which happened during the visit of the Holy Family to Egypt, which were performed quietly and not recorded in the Gospels. We only know of a few of them that history has recorded.
Look also at heaven with its serenity filled with the angels and the saints. They are a wonderful example of calmness. All the angels who are there carry out God's commands with amazing swiftness and quietness. They have put before them the phrase, "Thy will be done". The angels also work on earth with us and around us in such wonderful calmness that we may be unaware of them and their actions. Even so, "Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?" (Heb. 1:14). In the same quiet way, the saints work with us. They have learned serenity from the Lord Jesus.
Reflect also upon the tranquility of the Lord Jesus when He lived as a man on earth. Notice the calm replies He gave to his adversaries (scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, high priests and elders of the people) and the remarkable calmness with which he faced their challenges, insults and false accusations. Look at how He replied to them objectively and persuasively without rising at their hurtful words when they said to him, "Aren't we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon possessed?" Or when they said of Him that He was, "a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!" (Matt. 11:19).
What is more amazing still is the Lord's calmness during His arrest. He waited calmly for that hour, and faced it calmly: both inwardly and outwardly. He stood saying calmly to them, "Whom are you seeking?" And when they replied, "Jesus of Nazareth", He said, "I am He". On account of His extreme composure the soldiers drew back and fell to the ground. (John 18:5 8). Calmly He received the kiss of Judas the Traitor without hurting his feelings in return. In fact He said to him, "Friend, why have you come?" (Matt. 26:50).
All of Christ's behaviour at that critical hour was extremely calm. He was concerned for the safety of his disciples and said to the soldiers, "If you seek Me, let these go their way". (John 18:8). When Peter the Apostle wanted to use force and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest cutting off his ear, the Lord charged him to preserve the peace saying, "Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword." (Matt. 26:52).
During His trial He was very calm: "He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth." (Is. 53:7). In the council of the Sanhedrin they confronted Him with accusations, "But He kept silent and answered nothing." (Mark 14:61). Before Him were false witnesses whose testimonies did not agree. Before Pilate, He was also very calm. He stood silent and when He spoke His answers, He baffled the governor so that he said: "What evil has He done? I have found no reason for death in Him." (Luke 23:22).
When Jesus was buried, He rose from the dead in such a remarkable, quiet way, at an hour of which no one knew, without any noise, without any announcement before the people and without any outward show of greatness and power, that the Jews even doubted His resurrection. Thus, they spread rumours that His disciples had come by night and stole His body (Matt. 28:13-15). What a wonderful thing! We do not have the time here, nor are we able to speak about all that took place so quietly.
From the example of the Lord comes the calmness of the martyrs during their martyrdom; remarkable calmness during their arrests, during their trials and torture, in their periods of imprisonment and at the hour of death. In fact, they used to sing hymns and psalms and praise God while in the depths of prisons, just as Paul and Silas did when they were in the inner dungeon with their feet bound (Acts 16:24,25).
How did they face death in such total calmness and joy? Their stories which are long and have many aspects, give a shining picture of tranquil spirits whose peacefulness was derived from a deep faith in a better life after death, or perhaps from visions and revelations which provided assurance to the soul on its eternal course.
The stories of the tranquility of the saints during their lives are long and wonderful, but perhaps we can just present a few examples of them here.
There was the peacefulness in which our fathers lived in the desert, the wonderful tranquility of nature, and the stillness of the soul within, which they showed with the serenity of its thoughts and contemplations. There is also the calmness with which they faced the attacks of the devils without fear or distress. Also the calm in which they conducted their lives, so that it was said of them that they were earthly angels or heavenly humans. This was due to the excellence of the gentle way of life by which they were characterised and the calmn nature which they showed by not rebelling or getting angry, no matter how many external factors pressed upon them no matter how much they were exposed to insults and false accusations.
How wonderful was the tranquility of Saint Marina for example, when she was accused of having fathered a son from a young girl like herself! She spent a period time in repentance for a sin she did not commit, all without the least complaint or grumble!
Then there is the example of the saint whom they called Al Habla (ie. foolish), in the days of the Saint Anba Daniel. She endured continuous insults with total serenity and joy as though they were crowns upon her head.