Fr. Mike and Interrupting the Silence

MKM picture 7.2016My name is Michael K. Marsh. I am a priest of the Episcopal Church. I serve St. Philip’s Episcopal Church – Uvalde, a parish in the Diocese of West Texas.

I am married to Cyndy. We have two sons. Our older son died in 2009. Our younger son moved to Maui, Hawaii, following his discharge from the Marines.

I have wanted to be a priest since elementary school. As many do, however, I took the longer road. Before going to seminary I practiced law for fifteen years. My formal education includes:
    + BS, University of Texas at El Paso, 1982;
    + JD, Texas Tech University School of Law, 1985;
    + MDiv, The School of Theology, University of the South – Sewanee, 2003; and
    + DMin, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, 2012.

Though my life is active I try to live contemplatively with silence, stillness, and solitude. I try to base all that I do and am in a life of prayer and study. I am drawn towards desert, monastic, and mystical spiritualities. My theology has been deeply formed by the patristic tradition of Eastern Orthodoxy. I seek to stand at the intersection of Episcopal breadth and Orthodox depth.

Why the title Interrupting the Silence? St. John of the Cross, a 16th century mystic and poet, says that silence is God’s first language. My life of prayer and study are attempts, through God’s grace and blessing, to become fluent in this language. Who, then, am I to interrupt the silence, to interrupt God with my words?

I read somewhere that if our words will not contribute to the silence then we should say nothing. I offer my words, interrupting the silence, with the hope that somehow they might contribute to the silence. And when they do not I offer them as my confession with the hope of forgiveness.

The words I offer are my own, though not always original with me. They do not necessarily represent the views of the parish I serve, the Diocese of West Texas, the Episcopal Church, or any other group or organization.

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord.”
– Psalm 19:14

God’s peace be with you,
Mike+

68 thoughts on “Fr. Mike and Interrupting the Silence

  1. Carl, I just recently found your blog and have enjoyed it. My wife and I were in Sewanee 2000-2003. It was a great experience for us. Like you we consider our time there some of the best years of our life. We miss Sewanee. I have been back for short visits a couple of times.

    Peace, Mike+

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    • Dan, in many ways the answer is to your question is “yes.” Yes, it is just a blog – my thoughts, questions, wonderings, and discoveries. And yes it is an introduction to the spiritual life – perhaps mine more than anyone else. If the blog somehow helps another in their own spiritual journey…Thanks be to God.

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  2. Hi Mike,
    I just found your blog by searching “diocese of west texas” congrats! The diocese will be setting up a blog page for communications during General Convention. We’re having fun testing a staff page right now.

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  3. Great connecting with you today on Twitter. I love that I have been in your town and parish. Thank you for directing me to your excellent blog. Blessings! Fr. James

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  4. Found you through Networked Blogs on Facebook. I am seeking to deepen my spiritual life and find your posts very thought-provoking. I’m adding you to my blogroll.

    Looking forward to reading more!

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    • Erlinda, thank you for reading my blog and placing it on your blogroll. I appreciate your kind comment and look forward to hearing from you again. If you are ever in this area please stop by. Blessings on your journey. Mike+

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  5. Peace be with you. I linked to your video of Taize at the bottom of a recent post. I found my way here via “Liturgy, Worship, Spirituality”. I have you bookmarked now. Mine has been a long journey – and I expect it to be longer still. From depth to depth.

    Peace be with you.

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  6. Father Mike-
    I just found your wonderful blog online. Thank you so much for all these wonderful prayers/thoughts/homilies/videos. I’ve saved this at the top of my favorites list.

    My sincerest (belated) condolences to you and your family in your recent loss. My thoughts and prayers were with you and I’ve been keeping up through the St. Peters ” grapevine”.
    -Sharon C.
    <

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    • Sharon, thank you for your kind and thoughtful words. I am glad you found the blog. it is good to hear from you. Thank you also for your thoughts and prayers. Peace, Mike

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  7. Thank you for your Advent words -it fed me well in my journeying into Advent. I am trying to help my people enter into the experience of silence.This is a new journey for them. As a start this Advent, I am inviting them to join me in silent reflection in our prayer corner before we begin the service. I look forward to more of your reflections. Blessings and greetings from this little Australian corner of the world!

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    • Robyn, thank you for reading my Advent post. I am glad you found it helpful. A great practice and gift to teach silence. I enjoyed looking at your parish site. Really like the prayer corner. May your and your parish’s Advent be blessed with holy silence. Peace, Mike+

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  8. Not sure how I stumbled across your blog but am really glad that I did. The thoughts and the videos were just what I needed at this crossroad in my life. I have realized that it is a matter of “Do the next right thing”, and have started the journey. Thank you so much.

    Oh, if the name sounds remotely familiar, I worked at MD&A back in the 90s.
    Thanks again – Jan

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    • Jan I am glad you stumbled across my blog and I do remember you. Thank you for reading my blog and leaving a comment. May God bless and guide your journey. Peace and Christmas blessings, Mike+

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  9. Mike, for more than I year now I have been reading your blog. I am always encouraged and blessed by both the truth and the honesty that you hold forth. Generally your posts carry a depth that I am drawn to; a depth that is strangely beautiful; a depth that touches on the unfathomable depths of God. Yet again I realize just how very privileged I am to be called child of God; to taste d i v i n e d e p t h. Somehow, when reading your posts, I don’t feel so alone in wanting more of what is authentically from God. I do believe that there are many like me, whom God has touched through your “interrupting the silence”, who refrain from commenting for various reasons. Today I simply couldn’t ignore the compulsion within. THANK YOU from a sunny South Africa!

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  10. Hi Mike, I just wanted to say that your words on blindness have touched me deeply. Seems that even though we are no longer at Sewnanee, you are still serving as my mentor! Thank you.

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  11. From time to time I seek to “interrupt” my silence and solitude with the words that come through this site. Thank you, Father Mike for allowing the Word to express itself through you. Isn’t this what God did in the beginning? He interrupted the Eternal Silence to speak over the void?
    Isn’t this what happened at the Annunciation when the Angel interrupted Mary’s life of silence in the Temple? Isn’t this what happened when at Midnight the Word lept into our midst as Jesus? Isn’t this what happens when there is a solitary, silent, still place where yearning calls forth newness to the Glory of God! At these moments of “epiphany” we are filled with awe and wonder at the marvelous works of God throughout history, as well as in our own lives! From true Silence comes the Word bursting with Light!. May this Word of God continue to inhabit the quiet still spaces of your soul, and burst forth with Light, for souls seeking the Light of Life: Christ Jesus manifested at Christmastide, as Emmanuel — God with us! Blessings all ways during this 2012, Father Mike!

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    • Fred, the Orthodox position on these two issues is deeply rooted in their understanding of the Tradition and I think it is unlikely that either will happen anytime soon. I am not aware that these questions are even being discussed.

      Peace,
      Mike+

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  12. So we can expect their nuns to start protesting this fact just like Catholics nuns are now? How about their priests getting married after their wives die-why can’t they do this? Why should Progressives support or admire groups that refuse to grant basic rights to their members, like allowing their clergy to marry or ordaining women? Is it enough to paint pretty pictures for mainline Protestants to admire people? Or do we just not care about the sufferings of Orthodox women like we do about Catholic women because we don’t have nearly as many of them in our social circles? I call that inconsistent, even hypocritical.

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    • No doubt there are times when I have been “inconsistent, even hypocritical” with my words and actions. Forgive me if I have offended you. I am not sure what you are asking or wanting. While I do not hold the same position as the Orthodox concerning ordination of woman and clergy marriage I do find much in their theology that is of value and consistent with Anglican thought.

      Peace be with you,
      Mike+

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  14. “If our words will not contribute to the silence then we should say nothing.”

    I have thought about that very often but couldn´t formulate it so well.

    Furthermore:

    I offer my words, interrupting the silence, with the hope that somehow they might contribute to the silence. And when they do not I offer them as my confession with the hope of forgiveness.

    Considering what I read here, I must tell you that in this world of counterfeits, you are a true light. Someone who not only follows, but IS HIS VOCATION.

    I bow,

    Julien M

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      • Mike,

        I was born in the Christian Orthodox tradition, and yes…I could easily detect that
        you “seek to stand at the intersection of Episcopal breadth and Orthodox depth.”

        My most beloved representative for Christianity is Meister Eckhart.

        I am too what you may call a “mystic”. The Godhead is only understood only through direct, unmediated relation.
        Thus any “distinct” dogma which places the individual outside himself creating duality is bound to fail. That is why I heard that your words are born out of a true understanding of man´s nature. You speak from “inside”.

        I do not exaggerate telling you that except a monk I had met years ago in Athos who made a mark on me,
        you are the first church representative who directly touched me this way.

        Sincerely,

        Julien

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        • Julien, I appreciate this additional conversation. Orthodoxy has had a profound influence on and shaped my life and theology. I too have an affinity for Meister Eckhart. Just earlier today I wrote a Christmas article that referenced and quoted him.

          In many ways I see the Incarnation and the Holy Trinity as the antithesis and antidote to the duality that dismembers our lives and world. Part of the work of theology, it seems to me, is to lead us to the interior life, form our inner lives, and guide us in living from the inside out. I am afraid I often speak this better than I live it and you give me too much credit. Your reference to Mount Athos is most timely. I am researching and planning a trip to the Holy Mountain as part of a sabbatical I hope to take in 2015.

          I look forward to further conversations.

          Peace be with you,
          Mike+

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  16. As long as I have known you (is it possible that it has been 24 years?) you have been consistently introspective, quiet, thoughtful, and thus, credible. Juries thought so in your previous career, and I am certain parishioners do today. Best to you, my friend. John

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  17. Mike, the Holy Spirit moves powerfully through you and your writings. Thank you for your thoughtful and practical writings. Greatly appreciated here in Brisbane, Australia.

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  18. Hi Fr Mike. I just read your article on Interrupting the silence. I liked it and I would like to read more. Kindly include me.

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  19. Father Mike, I feel that God has led me to your site. I am a former Orthodox Christian who is trying to discern God’s direction for my life. My husband is exploring the Episcopalian Church. Thank you for sharing your beautiful prayer for the people of Aleppo. God Bless you.

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    • Welcome to my blog. I am glad you found it and I hope it offers something of what you are looking for. I also hope your husband and maybe you too, will find a home in the Episcopal Church. I suspect you see some similarities to the Orthodox Church. You may have noticed from my blog that Orthodoxy has been important to and formative in my life. Blessing on your discernment. May God grant you wisdom and guidance.

      Peace be with you,
      Mike+

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