Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers

avarice

28 Entries

When our heart does not have Christ, then we will place either money or estates or people in it. REF:Elder Amphilochios of Patmos +1970



After the tyrant just described, many learned teachers next treat of the thousand-headed demon of avarice. We, unlearned as we are, did not wish to change the order of the learned, and we have therefore followed the same convention and rule. So let us first say a little about the disease, and then speak briefly about the remedy. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston; Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), STEP 16: On Love of Money, or Avarice

An illness that has become chronic, like the habit of wrong-doing that has become ingrained is very hard to heal. If after that, as very often happens, the habit turns into second nature, a cure is out of the question.

So the ideal would be to have no contact with evil. But there is another possibility: to distance yourself from evil, to run away from it as from a poisonous snake, once you have experienced it.

I have known some unfortunate people who in their youth let themselves slide into evil habits which have held them enslaved all their lives. Like pigs wallowing continually in the mire and becoming increasingly filthy, such sinners as these multiply their shame every day with fresh sins.

So blessed is the one who has never thought of evil. However, if through his wiles, the suggestions of the Enemy have found a foothold in your heart, do not remain inactive in the toils of sin.

Be careful not to be utterly overcome by it. If the sin is already weighing you down, if the dust of riches has already settled on you, if your soul has been dragged right down by attachment to material things, then before you fall into utter ruin get rid of the heavy burden. Before the ship sinks, follow the example of sailors and cast overboard the possessions you have accumulated overmuch. St. Basil the Great,From Commentary on Psalm 1



Avarice, or love of money, is the worship of idols, a daughter of unbelief, an excuse for infirmities, a foreboder of old age, a harbinger of drought, a herald of famines. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston; Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), STEP 16: On Love of Money, or Avarice

BROTHER: From what is the love of money produced?

OLD MAN: From desire, for unless a man desires he does not possess. When a man desires, he possesses, and when he possesses he has fulfilled his desire; and when he has fulfilled his desire, he becomes greedy; and when he has become greedy he commits fraud, and when he has committed fraud his possessions have become many.

When his possessions are many, his love diminishes, and when his love has diminished, the remembrance of God is removed from his heart. And when the remembrance of God has been removed from his heart, the mind becomes darkened, and his understanding is blinded; and when his understanding has become blinded, the power of discernment is darkened, and when the power of discernment has become dark, the soul loses its sight.

And when the soul has lost its sight, good is rooted out therefrom, and wickedness enters in, and sin takes up its rule; and when sin has taken up its rule, the thought of God is blotted out, and the passions of the body are stirred up, and they seek to satisfy their needs. And having taken that which they sought for, it is necessary for much money to be collected, and when money is multiplied, the gratification of the body is fulfilled, and when it eats and drinks, and commits adultery and fornication, and it lies and works fraud and oppression, and it transgresses the covenant, and destroys the Law, and treats the promises with contempt, and the lust for the things which are seen is fulfilled.

Let money be an abominable thing in our sight, and let us not love it; but if we perform the lust of the flesh it is an absolute necessity to love money; for money belongs to the flesh and not to the spirit, even as the Apostle says, "The flesh hurts the spirit, and the spirit the flesh, and both are opponents each of the other" (Galatians 5:17). E. A. Wallis Budge, "The Paradise of the Holy Fathers," Seattle, St. Nectarios Press, 1984, pp. 265-266



BROTHER: Is he who loves money able to believe the promises?

OLD MAN: No. If he believes, why does he possess riches? Perhaps our hope is set upon gold, or perhaps the hand of the Lord is too small to redeem us? The body of our Lord is given unto us for our happiness, and His blood is the drink of our redemption, and He withholds from us the loaves of bread and the apparel which grows old. He who loves money is divided in his mind concerning God, and he prepares for himself pleasures before God gives them unto him; and though he rejoices in the promises in his word, he makes them to be a lie by his deed. True indeed is the word of our Lord which He spake, "It is as difficult for the rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven as it is for a camel to go through the eye of the needle"; it is impossible to possess in one dwelling both God and mammon. Monks should, then, not belong unto the things which are seen. E. A. Wallis Budge, "The Paradise of the Holy Fathers," Seattle, St. Nectarios Press, 1984, pp. 265-266



But how can those who are tethered to their inheritance be following Christ? And those who are weighed down by earthly desires be seeking heaven and aspiring to the heights above? They think of themselves as owners, whereas it is they rather who are owned: enslaved as they are to their own property, they are not the masters of their money but its slaves. The Apostle was pointing to our times and to these very men when he said: `For they that will become rich, fall into temptation and into snares and into many hurtful desires, which drown a man into perdition and destruction. For the desire of money is the root of all evil; which some coveting have erred from the faith, and have entangled themselves in many sorrows.' St. Cyprian, The Lapsed

Do not say that you are collecting money for the poor; with two mites the Kingdom was purchased. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston; Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), STEP 16: On Love of Money, or Avarice

He who is not indifferent to fame and pleasure, as well as to love of riches that exists because of them and increases them, cannot cut off occasions for anger. And he who does not cut these off cannot attain perfect love. St. Maximos the Confessor (First Century on Love no. 75)

I have seen how men of scant means enriched themselves by living with the poor in spirit, and forgot their first poverty. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston; Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), STEP 16: On Love of Money, or Avarice

If a man does not keep himself from covetousness,(16) he shall be defiled by idolatry, and shall be judged as one of the heathen. The Epistle Of Polycarp To The Philippians(1)

In Job there was no trace of avarice; therefore, when he lost everything, he remained undisturbed. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston; Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), STEP 17: On Non-Permissiveness (that Hastens One Heavenwards)

It is impossible for the soul to be liberated from turbulent thoughts without the virtue of non-possessiveness. And without peace of the bodily senses it is impossible for the soul to have a peaceful intellect. And if it does not come into temptations it will not acquire wisdom of the Holy Spirit. And without laborious and persistence in reading, it will not come to the discernment of thoughts. And without the stillness of thoughts, the intellect cannot move to seek the hidden mysteries of God. St. Isaac the Syrian

It is the passion of having which gives men a false title of lordship over that which can never belong to them. "The earth," says the wise Preacher, "abideth for ever," ministering to every generation, first one, then another, that is born upon it; but men, though they are so little even their own masters, that they are brought into life without knowing it by their Maker's will, and before they wish are withdrawn from it, nevertheless in their excessive vanity think that they are her lords; that they, now born, now dying, rule that which remains continually. One who reflecting on this holds cheaply all that mankind prizes, whose only love is the divine life, because "all flesh is grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass," can never care for this grass which "today is and tomorrow is not. St. Gregory of Nyssa, On Virginity

Look at all the earth supplies in summer and in autumn! Every Christian, especially the priest, ought to imitate God's bountifulness. Let your table be open to everybody, like the table of the Lord. The avaricious is God's enemy." St. John of Kronstadt

Money! Money! Power! Honor! These are the temptations which, unfortunately, many people are unable to resist.

This is the source of all the disputes, disagreements and divisions among Christians.

This is the root of people's forgetting the "one thing needed" which is proposed to us by the true Christian faith and which consists of prayer, acts of repentance, and sincere, unhypocritical charity to our neighbors. The Holy Church always calls us to this, but especially now, during the Great Lent! What is required of us Christians is not some kind of "exalted politics," not lofty phrases and hazy philosophy, but the most humble prayer of the Publican: "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!", acts of repentance, and doing good to our neighbors, which proceeds from a pure heart.

And it is for the practice of all of this that the Church has established the Great Lent! How powerfully, colorfully, graphically, and convincingly, with what ardent inspiration is all of this spoken of in the divine services of Great Lent!

No one anywhere has such a wealth of edification in this regard as do we Orthodox in our incomparable Lenten services, which, to their shame, the majority of Orthodox in our times do not know at all. Archbishop Averky of Syracuse (of Blessed Memory)



No Passion is so ... ridiculous as avarice, 'the root of all evils' (I Tim. 6:10): for those who with great labour mine silver, and then hide it in the earth again, remain without any profit. That is why the Lord says, 'Do not store up treasures on earth' (Matt. 6:19); and again: 'Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also' (Matt. 6:21). For the intellect of man is drawn by longing towards those things with which it habitually occupies itself, whether these be earthly things, or the passions, or heavenly and eternal blessings. St. Peter of Damascus (Book 1: A Treasury of Divine Knowledge, The Philokalia Vol. 3 pg. 161)

Some people with possessions possess them dispassionately, and so when deprived of them they are not dismayed but are like those who accepted the seizure of their goods with joy (cf. Heb. 10:34). Others possess with passion, so that when they are in danger of being dispossessed they become utterly dejected, like the rich man in the Gospel who went away full of sorrow (cf. Matt. 19:22); and if they actually are dispossessed, they remain dejected until they die. Dispossession, then, reveals whether a man's inner state is dispassionate or dominated by passion. St. Maximos the Confessor (Second Century on Love no.89)

The beginning of love of money is the pretext of almsgiving, and the end of it is hatred of the poor. So long as he is collecting he is charitable, but when the money is in hand he tightens his grip. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston; Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), STEP 16: On Love of Money, or Avarice

The love of money is (and is called) the root of all evils, because it produces hatred, thefts, envy, separations, enmities, storms, remembrance of wrong, hard-heartedness, murders. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston; Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), STEP 17: On Non-Permissiveness (that Hastens One Heavenwards)

The lover of money sneers at the Gospel, and is a willful transgressor. He who has attained to love scatters his money. But he who says that he lives for love and for money has deceived himself. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston; Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), STEP 16: On Love of Money, or Avarice

The presence of the passion of avarice reveals itself when a person enjoys receiving but resents having to give. St. Maximos the Confessor (Third Century on Love no. 76)

Those who live in obedience are strangers to love of money. For where even the body has been given up, what is left to be one's own? Only in one way can they be harmed, namely by being ready and quick to go from place to place. I have seen material possessions make monks patient to remain in one place. But I praise those who are pilgrims for the Lord. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston; Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), STEP 17: On Non-Permissiveness (that Hastens One Heavenwards)

Why do we try to make other people's property our own, weighing ourselves down with material fetters, and paying no attention to the prophet's imprecation: 'Woe to him who gathers what is not his own, and heavily loads his yoke' (cf. Hab. 2:6 LXX). Those who pursue us are, as Jeremiah says, 'swifter than the eagles of heaven' (Lam. 4:19).; but we weigh ourselves down with worldly things, move slowly along the road and so are easily overtaken by our pursuer, covetousness, which Paul taught us to flee (cf. Col. 3:5). Even if we are not heavily laden, we must still run as fast as we can, or else the enemy will overtake us. St. Neilos the Ascetic, Philokalia, Vol. 2

87. Presumption and boastfulness are causes of blasphemy. Avarice and self-esteem are causes of cruelty and hypocrisy. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

The more you love money, the more securely you close the Kingdom of God. REF:Saint Basil the Great

No friend of gold ever became a friend of Christ or a friend of people. REF:Saint John Chrysostom

Nothing enslaves us more to the devil, as the desire for more and love for greed. REF:Saint John Chrysostom





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