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The Spirituality of Fasting, book by H. H. Pope Shenouda III
43- Solitude and Silence Drills
The Bible states: “Consecrate a fast, Call a sacred assembly.“ (Joel 1:14). Place this verse before you and train yourself in solitude.
What is meant by solitude is being in seclusion with God, for there are those who isolate themselves at home doing in no spiritual work and concentrate on the radio, television, or magazines, or delve into conversation with others at home! Or they may indulge in sinful thoughts!
Seclusion should actually be indulgence in spiritual work that you do with your bedroom door closed between you and God.
You seclude yourself with the Bible, with the biographies of saints, with prostration, and with prayer.
If you have a spiritual agenda you will love seclusion.
If you benefit by your seclusion in a spiritual way, you will pursue it and feel that it is a blessing from God.
Therefore, set a schedule, devote yourself to implement it. Try to free yourself during this period from your friends and recreations, for God will become your true friend in this period, and train yourself to do without useless talk and idle chatter. You will then be able to seclude yourself and labour with God.
If you cannot be in seclusion throughout the fast, then try the following:
Use the drill of “Some closed days.”
This means that you specify certain days during which you do not leave home, and we have discussed this issue before here on st-takla.org in other pages. You should organise your business, concerns and visits in such a way as to enable you to seclude yourself on these closed days. You may begin with one day a week, then two, then more.
However, what should you do if you cannot seclude yourself with God?
If you cannot close your doors during a fast, then at least secure your mouth against sinful words.
How easy it is for our conversation with people to hamper our discourse with God. As one of the Fathers said: “He who talks much is empty from the inside and is void of neither prayer, contemplation, nor spiritual recitations or spiritual work inside the heart.
Training in seclusion and retreat helps you remain silent, and silence rids you of the spoken mistakes and gives you the opportunity for internal growth which is the work of the soul.
Nevertheless, what full seclusion is not possible, what then? There is another drill, which is:
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