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What sort of thing?

Abba Joseph on friendship, and in particular, the “silent treatment” in the Sixteenth Conference:

But what sort of thing is it that we sometimes think that we are patient because, when we are aroused, we disdain to respond but mock our irritated brothers by a bitter silence or by a derisory movement or gesture in such a way that we provoke them to anger more by our taciturn behavior than we would have been able to incite them by passionate abuse, in this respect considering ourselves utterly blameless before God, since we have voiced nothing that could brand or condemn us according to the judgement of human beings? As if it were words alone and not the will in particular that is declared guilty in the sight of God, and just the sinful deed and not also the wish and the intention that should be considered wrong, and only what each person has done and not also what he wanted to do that should be submitted to judgement.


It is of no value not to speak, then, if we enjoin silence on ourselves in order to do by silence what would have been done by an outcry…