A Time to Keep Silence by Patrick Leigh Fermor

By Patrick Leigh Fermor

Whereas nonetheless undefined, Patrick Leigh Fermor made his method throughout Europe, as mentioned in his vintage memoirs, A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water. in the course of global battle II, he fought with neighborhood partisans opposed to the Nazi occupiers of Crete. yet in A Time to maintain Silence, Leigh Fermor writes a few extra inward trip, describing his numerous sojourns in a few of Europe’s oldest and such a lot venerable monasteries. He remains on the Abbey of St. Wandrille, a good repository of artwork and studying; at Solesmes, recognized for its revival of Gregorian chant; and at the deeply ascetic Trappist monastery of l. a. Grande Trappe, the place clergymen take a vow of silence. ultimately, he visits the rock monasteries of Cappadocia, hewn from the stony spires of a moonlike panorama, the place he seeks a few hint of the lifetime of the earliest Christian anchorites.

More than a heritage or go back and forth magazine, notwithstanding, this gorgeous brief publication is a meditation at the that means of silence and solitude for contemporary lifestyles. Leigh Fermor writes, “In the seclusion of a cell—an life whose quietness is barely diversified through the silent nutrients, the solemnity of formality, and lengthy solitary walks within the woods—the bothered waters of the brain develop nonetheless and transparent, and masses that's hidden away and all that clouds it floats to the skin and will be skimmed away; and after a time one reaches a nation of peace that's unthought of within the traditional world.”

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I have seen a number of monasteries in the interim: La Pierre qui Vire, St. Benoît-sur-Loire, Fossanova, Trisulti, Monte Olivetto, Subiaco, the ruins of Monte Cassino, the Charterhouses of Pavia and Jerez, Guadalupe and Yuste, Beuron, Gottweig and Melk, The Merced of Cuzco, Santa Catalina at Arequipa in Peru, the familiar monasteries of Greece and those very early Arabic- and Aramaic-speaking foundations among the canyons near Damascus. But these were a part of wider travels. The only ones where, at wide intervals, I have made sojourns like the ones I have tried to describe have been at St.

At 10 the Conventual High Mass was sandwiched between Tierce and Sext. Luncheon at 1. m. Supper at 7:30, then, at 8:30, Compline and to bed in silence at 9. All meals, the rules pointed out, were eaten in silence: one was enjoined to take one’s “recreation” apart, and only to speak to the monks with the Abbot’s permission; not to make a noise walking about the Abbey; not to smoke in the cloisters; to talk in a low voice, and rigorously to observe the periods of silence. They struck me as impossibly forbidding.

Worship found its main expression, of course, in the Mass; but the offices of the seven canonical hours that follow the Night Office of Matins—Lauds, Prime, Tierce, Sext, Nones, Vespers and Compline, a cycle that begins in the small hours of the night and finishes after sunset—kept, and keep the monks on parade, as it were, with an almost military rigour. Their programme for the day involves three-and-a-half or four hours in church. But other periods, quite separate from the time devoted to study, are set aside for the reading of the martyrology in the chapter-house, for self-examination, private prayer and meditation.

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