Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers

afflictions

31 Entries

Sometimes afflictions are sent to a person even though he is innocent, so that he would suffer for others, as did Christ. The Saviour Himself first suffered for people. His Apostles suffered for the Church and for people. Perfect love means suffering for your neighbor. REF:St. Ambrose of Optina (+1891)



A human being who does not endure courageously the unpleasant burdens of temptations, will never produce fruit worthy of the divine wine-press and eternal harvest, not even if one possesses all other virtues. For one is only perfected through zealously enduring both all the voluntary and involuntary afflictions. St. Gregory Palamas, Treatise on the Spiritual Life

Affliction, if not accompanied by patience, produces double torment, for a man's patience casts off his distress, while faintness of heart is the mother of anguish. Patience is the mother of consolation and is a certain strength which is usually born of largeness of heart. It is hard for a man to find this strength in his tribulations without a gift from God, received through his ardent pursuit of prayer and the outpouring of his tears. St. Isaac the Syrian, The Ascetical Homilies

As long as you have bad habits do not reject hardship, so that through it you may be humbled and eject your pride. St. Maximos the Confessor (Second Century on Love no. 43)

Avoid praise, but do not be ashamed of reproach. Venerable St. Nilus of Sinai

Believe that dishonors and reproaches are medicines that heal the pride of thy soul, and pray for those who reproach thee, as for true physicians of thy soul, being assured that he who hates dishonor, hates humility, and he who avoids those who grieve him, flees from meekness. Venerable Dorotheos

Do not shun poverty and afflictions, these wings of buoyant prayer. "153 Texts on Prayer", St Nilus of Mt Sinai, "Early Fathers From the Philokalia," translated from the Russian text, "Dobrotolubiye," by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, eighth edition, (London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1981), pp. 127 - 135.

Every adversity and affliction, if not accompanied by patience, produces double torment, for a man's patience casts off his distress, while faintness of heart is the mother of anguish. Patience is the mother of consolation and is a certain strength which is usually born of largeness of heart. It is hard for a man to find this strength in his tribulations without a gift from God, received through his ardent pursuit of prayer and the outpouring of his tears. St. Isaac the Syrian, The Ascetical Homilies

If you bear your sufferings with submission and surrender to the will of God and do not seek consolation anywhere or in anyone except the Lord, then in His mercy He will not abandon you and will not leave you without consolation; He will touch your heart with His grace and will communicate to you the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Amid your sufferings, and perhaps even at the very beginning of them, you will feel in your heart ineffable sweetness, a wonderful peace and joy which you never felt before; and at the same time you will feel within you the power and ability to pray to God with true prayer and to believe in Him with true faith. Then your heart will burn with pure love for God and your neighbor. All this is a gift of the Holy Spirit. St. Innocent of Irkutsk, Indication of the Way into the Kingdom of Heaven

Misfortune in the shape of reduced circumstances, illness or the death of a loved one often drives people to prayer. But if the situation alters for the better, not only does their impulse to pray abate - prayer itself may seem pointless. But there is a different kind of prayer, prayer of the spirit, fastened on eternity, and here no external well-being can heal the sufferings of the soul who sees herself falling short of the sought-for eternal. Then prayer becomes the normal state for the soul, and the grace of the Holy Spirit may visit her, suddenly, inscrutably, bringing a foretaste of eternity. For this visitation integrity and faithfulness are the essential prerequisites. Archimandrite Sophrony (His Life is Mine, Chapter 6; SVS Press pg.47 )

No one on this earth can avoid affliction; and although the afflictions which the Lord sends are not great men imagine them beyond their strength and are crushed by them. This is because they will not humble their souls and commit themselves to the will of God. But the Lord Himself guides with His grace those who are given over to God's will, and they bear all things with fortitude for the sake of God Whom they have so loved and with Whom they are glorified for ever. It is impossible to escape tribulation in this world but the man who is given over to the will of God bears tribulation easily, seeing it but putting his trust in the Lord, and so his tribulations pass. Archimandrite Sophrony, Wisdom From Mt. Athos

No one on this earth can avoid affliction; and although the afflictions which the Lord sends are not great men imagine them beyond their strength and are crushed by them. This is because they will not humble their souls and commit themselves to the will of God. But the Lord Himself guides with His grace those who are given over to God's will, and they bear all things with fortitude for the sake of God Whom they have so loved and with Whom they are glorified for ever. It is impossible to escape tribulation in this world but the man who is giver over to the will of God bears tribulation easily, seeing it but putting his trust in the Lord, and so his tribulations pass. Archimandrite Sophrony

No one on this earth can avoid affliction; and although the afflictions which the Lord sends are not great men imagine them beyond their strength and are crushed by them. This is because they will not humble their souls and commit themselves to the will of God. But the Lord Himself guides with His grace those who are given over to God's will, and they bear all things with fortitude for the sake of God Whom they have so loved and with Whom they are glorified for ever. It is impossible to escape tribulation in this world but the man who is giver over to the will of God bears tribulation easily, seeing it but putting his trust in the Lord, and so his tribulations pass. Archimandrite Sophrony, Wisdom From Mt. Athos

No one on this earth can avoid affliction; and although the afflictions which the Lord sends are not great men imagine them beyond their strength and are crushed by them. This is because they will not humble their souls and commit themselves to the will of God. But the Lord Himself guides with His grace those who are given over to God's will, and they bear all things with fortitude for the sake of God Whom they have so loved and with Whom they are glorified for ever. It is impossible to escape tribulation in this world but the man who is giver over to the will of God bears tribulation easily, seeing it but putting his trust in the Lord, and so his tribulations pass. John of Karpathos

None of your suffering has come by chance. Nothing can happen to us without our Lord's consent; and His consent is not only wise but always dictated by His love of us. Carefully examine your conscience and your life, and I am sure you will understand what I mean. Sorrow weighs you down? Never mind. The grateful heart, humble and wise - the heart which has become grateful, humble, and wise - will be greatly consoled and blessed with serene joy. St. Macarius of Optina, Russian Letters of Direction

Oftentimes a man for Christ's sake has been outraged and dishonored unjustly; martyrdom is at hand; tortures on every side, and fire, and sword, and savage beasts, and the pit. But the Holy Spirit softly whispers to him, 'Wait on the Lord, O man; what is now befalling you is a small matter, the reward will be great. Suffer a little while, and you shall be with angels forever. "The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Rom. 8:18).' He portrays to the man the kingdom of heaven; He gives him a glimpse of the paradise of delight; and the martyrs, whose bodily faces are of necessity turned to their judges, but who in spirit are already in Paradise, despise those hardships which are seen. St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures: Lecture 16 no. 20)

One should always endure any trial for the sake of God with gratitude. Our life is a single minute in comparison with eternity; and therefore, according to the Apostle, `the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be comparted with the glory which shall be revealed in us' (Rom. 8:18). Spiritual Instruction of St. Seraphim of Sarov

Repentance is the renewal of baptism. Repentance is a contract with God for a second life. A penitent is a buyer of humility. Repentance is constant distrust of bodily comfort. Repentance is self-condemning reflection, and carefree self-care. Repentance is the daughter of hope and the renunciation of despair. A penitent is an undisgraced convict. Repentance is reconciliation with the Lord by the practice of good deeds contrary to the sins. Repentance is purification of conscience. Repentance is the voluntary endurance of all afflictions. A penitent is the inflicter of his own punishments. Repentance is a mighty persecution of the stomach, and a striking of the soul into vigorous awareness. St. John Climacus, Ladder of Divine Ascent, Step 5

Sometimes in the affliction of your soul you wish to die. It is easy to die, and does not take long; but are you prepared for death? Remember that after death the judgment of your whole life will follow. You are not prepared for death, and if it were to come to you, you would shudder all over. Therefore do not waste words in vain. Do not say: 'It is better for me to die,' but say rather, 'How can I prepare for death in a Christian manner?' By means of faith, by means of good works, and by bravely bearing the miseries and sorrows that happen to you, so as to be able to meet death fearlessly, peacefully, and without shame, not as a rigorous law of nature, but as a fatherly call of the eternal, heavenly, holy, and blessed Father unto the everlasting Kingdom. St. John of Kronstadt (My Life in Christ, Part 1; Holy Trinity Monastery, pg.18)

The prudent man who reckons upon the medicine of divine judgments, thankfully bears the misfortunes that thereby come upon him, allowing that they have no other cause than his own sins. The imprudent man, however, ignorant of the supernal wisdom of God's providence, sins and is chastised, yet considers God or men as the cause of his evils. St. Maximus the Confessor, "Four Centuries on Charity (Love)

To have faith in Christ means more than simply despising the delights of this life. It means we should bear all our daily trials that may bring us sorrow, distress, or unhappiness, and bear them patiently for as long as God wishes and until He comes to visit us. For it is said: `I waited on the Lord and He came to me.' St. Symeon the New Theologian, The Practical and Theological Chapters

Trials are sent to some so as to take away past sins, to others so as to eradicate sins now being committed, and to yet others so as to forestall sins which may be committed in the future. These are distinct from the trials that arise in order to test men in the way Job was tested. St. Maximos the Confessor (Second Century on Love no. 45)

9. Afflictions that come to us are the result of our own sins. But if we accept them patiently through prayer, we shall again find blessings. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

82. When a sinful soul does not accept the afflictions that come to it, the angels say: 'We would have healed Babylon, but she was not healed' (Jr 51:9). REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

132. Do not say that a dispassionate man cannot suffer affliction; for even if he does not suffer on his own account, he is under a liability to do so for his neighbor. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

168. He who accepts present afflictions in the expectation of future blessings has found knowledge of the truth; and he will easily be freed from anger and remorse. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

202. As work according to God is called virtue, so unexpected affliction is called a test. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

203. God 'tested Abraham' (cf. Gn 22:1-14), that is, God afflicted him for his own benefit, not in order to learn what kind of man Abraham was- for He knew him, since He knows all things before they come into existence- but in order to provide him with opportunities for showing perfect faith. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

204. Every affliction tests our will, showing whether it is inclined to good or evil. This is why an unforeseen affliction is called a test, because it enables a man to test his hidden desires. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

208. He who willingly accepts chastening by affliction is not dominated by evil thoughts against his will; whereas he who does not accept affliction is taken prisoner by evil thoughts, even though he resists them. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

Better than (all the particular gifts God gives) ... is the patient endurance of afflictions; and he who has been found worthy of this great gift should give thanks to God in that he has been all the more blessed. For he has become an imitator of Christ, of His holy apostles, and of the martyrs and saints: he has received from God great strength and spiritual knowledge, so that he may voluntarily abstain from pleasure and may readily embrace hardship through the eradication of his own will and his rejection of unholy thoughts, and may thus always do and think what is in accordance with God's will. REF:St. Peter of Damaskos, "God's Universal And Particular Gifts", from G. E. H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Bishop Kallistos Ware, "The Philokalia: Vol. III," (London: Faber and Faber, 1984), pp. 172 - 173.





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