Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers

commandments

80 Entries

I say that the ineffable speech which Paul heard spoken in Paradise were the eternal good things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived.

These things, which God has prepared for those who love Him, are not protected by heights, nor enclosed in some secret place, nor hidden in the depths, nor kept at the ends of the earth or sea.

They are right in front of you, before your very eyes. So, what are they?

Together with the good things stored up in heaven, these are the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ which we see every day, and eat and drink. These, we avow, are those good things.

Outside of these you will not be able to find one of the things spoken of, even if you were to traverse the whole of creation.

If you do want to know the truth of my words, become holy by practicing God's commandments and then partake of the holy things, and you will know precisely the force of what I am telling you." St. Symeon the New Theologian



ust as the arena and the field of action tests the athlete, so also the Christian is checked in the arena of struggle as to whether he truly loves God. Patience in the struggle against various sins and courage in rushing out to apply the divine commandments characterize the fervent worshipper of Jesus. REF:Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"

... while we are still in this life we shall often waver in our self-determining, hesitating whether to fulfill the commandments or give way to our passions. Gradually, as we struggle, the mystery of Christ will be revealed to us if we devote ourselves totally to obeying His precepts. The moment will come when heart and mind are so suffused by the vision of the infinite holiness and humility of the God-Christ that our whole being will rise in a surge of love for God. Archimandrite Sophrony (His Life is Mine, Chapter 13; SVS Press pgs. 93-94)

...the true fulfillment of the commandments does not require merely forbearance from excesses or defects, it also demands an aim acceptable to God, that is the fulfillment in everything of God's will alone. St. Gregory of Sinai (Texts on Commandments and Dogmas no. 14)

...while we are still in this life we shall often waver in our self-determining, hesitating whether to fulfill the commandments or give way to our passions. Gradually, as we struggle, the mystery of Christ will be revealed to us if we devote ourselves totally to obeying His precepts. The moment will come when heart and mind are so suffused by the vision of the infinite holiness and humility of the God-Christ that our whole being will rise in a surge of love for God." Archimandrite Sophrony (His Life is Mine, Chapter 13; SVS Press pgs. 93-94)

5. We ought to obey God In order to advance in the path of Christ, one needs besides other basic things, complete obedience to the Commandments of God. Modern Orthodox Saints Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene of Lesvos., by Constantine Cavarnos., INSTITUTE FOR BYZANTINE AND MODERN STUDIES., Belmont, Massachusetts., 1990., pp. 145-155

A house roof is held up by the foundations and the rest of the building, and the foundation and the rest of the building are laid to hold the roof - since both are necessary and useful - and neither is the roof built without the foundations and the rest of the house, nor can foundations and walls without roof make a building fit to live in. So it is with the soul: the grace of the Holy Spirit is preserved by keeping the commandments, and the keeping of the commandments is the foundation laid for receiving the gifts of God's grace. Neither does the grace of the Holy Spirit remain in us without our obeying the commandments, nor can obeying the commandments be useful and salutary without Divine grace. St. Simeon the New Theologian (Practical and Theological Precepts no. 95, Writings from the Philokalia on Prayer of the Heart; Faber and Faber pg. 119)

A life lived in the world can be as good, in the eyes of God, as one spent in a monastery. It is indeed only the keeping of God's commandments, love of all, and a true sense of humility that matter, wherever we are. Elder Macarius of Optina

Almsgiving heals the soul's incensive power; fasting withers sensual desire; prayer purifies the intellect and prepares it for contemplation of created beings. For the Lord has given us commandments which correspond to the powers of the soul. St. Maximos the Confessor (First Century on Love no. 79)

And just as tools without the workmen and the workmen without tools are unable to do anything, just so neither is faith without the fulfillment of the commandments, nor the fulfillment of the commandments without faith able to renew and re-create us, nor make us new men from the old. But, whenever we do possess both within a heart free of doubt, then we shall become the Master's vessels, be made fit for the reception of the spiritual myrrh. Then, too, will He Who makes darkness His hiding-place renew us by the gift of the Holy Spirit and raise us up new instead of old, and part the veil of His darkness and carry our mind away and allow it to peek as through some narrow opening, and grant it to see Him, still somehow dimly, and one might look on the disk of the sun or moon. It is then that the mind is taught -- or, put better -- knows and is initiated, and is assumed that that truly in no other way does one arrive at even partial participation in the ineffable good things of God except by way of the heart's humility, unwavering faith, and the resolve of the whole soul to renounce all the world and everything in it, together with one's own will, in order to keep all of God's commandments. St. Symeon the New Theologian, On the Mystical Life, Vol. I

And this is love, that we walk after His commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it." Divine Truth is contained and found in the commandments of the Gospel. Divine love gives us will, strength, and perseverance for we walk after the [divine] commandments, for we walk after His commandments in them and with them. Our love -- as much towards the Lord Christ as towards men -- consists of living according to the commandments of Christ. For at the end, everything comes back to this double commandment: the commandment of love of God and one's neighbor. This is why the holy Evangelist recalls all the commandments to a single one: This is the commandment, That ... you walk in it [love]. We now know that the entire Gospel of Christ is contained in the single commandment on love: he who lives in love lives in Christ God. Thus, he who fulfills the Gospel of God is deserving of heaven and earth. Commentary on the Second Epistle of St. John by (St.) Archimandrite Justin Popovich, in Orthodox Life, #5, 1994

As long as man was holy and passionless, he had no need of law. But now we know we do need our Lord's commandments. The loving God, wanting to teach us that we have a Creator Who produced us and all visible realities, wished also to reveal His own dominion and preeminence. Although our Lord entrusted us with His earthly creation, He knew we could be prone to fall into pride, exaggerate our importance as humans, and to regard visible things and even ourselves as self-sufficient. Johanna Manley, The Lament of Eve

Begin to fulfill the commandments relating to small things, and you will come to fulfill the commandments relating to great things: small commandments everywhere lead to great ones. St. John of Kronstadt (My Life in Christ, Part 1; Holy Trinity Monastery; pgs. 33-34)

Beloved, are you a Christian through God’s grace? Keep the commandments of our Lord Jesus Christ; for it is written, In truth I understand that God is no respecter of persons, but in every nation one who fears him and works justice is acceptable to him. But if you wish to walk the strict way of life of the monks so that you may meet with greater things, unless you fix in your thought that you have already passed over from this life and consider that this world and its glory are as a tent that has been struck, you cannot conquer the earthly passions and worldly desires which overwhelm people to the ruin and destruction of the flesh; for he is without deception who said, If any one wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For he who wishes to find his soul will lose it; but he who loses it for my sake will find it. For what advantage will someone have if he gain the whole world but pay the price of his life? St Ephrem the Syrian, 'To the Monks in Egypt", 2nd Exhortation. An invitation to right conduct, http://web.ukonline.co.uk/ephrem/egypt1-10.htm

But we also know that the fulfillment of the commandments of God gives true knowledge, since it is through this that the soul gains health. How could a rational soul be healthy, if it is sick in its cognitive faculty? So we know that the commandments of God also grant knowledge, and not that alone, but deification also. St. Gregory Palamas, The Triads

But we also know that the fulfillment of the commandments of God gives true knowledge, since it is through this that the soul gains health. How could a rational soul be healthy, if it is sick in its cognitive faculty? So we know that the commandments of God also grant knowledge, and not that alone, but deification also. This we possess in a perfect manner, through the Spirit, seeing in ourselves the glory of God, when it pleases God to lead us to spiritual mysteries... St. Gregory Palamas (The Triads)

Faith consists not only of being baptized in Christ, but also in fulfilling His commandments. Holy Baptism is perfect and gives us perfection, but does not make perfect those who do not follow the commandments. St. Mark the Ascetic

Grace has been given mystically to those who have been baptized into Christ; and it becomes active within them to the extent that they actively observe the commandments. Grace never ceases to help us secretly; but to do good - as far as lies in our power - depends on us. St. Mark the Ascetic in The Philokalia, Vol. 1

Grace has been given mystically to those who have been baptized into Christ; and it becomes active within them to the extent that they actively observe the commandments. Grace never ceases to help us secretly; but to do good - as far as lies in our power - depends on us. St. Mark the Ascetic, Philokalia, Vol. 1

Great peace have they who love God's law, and for them there is no stumbling block. For not all things congenial to men accord with God; and some things that do not appear good are seen, by those who know the inner essences of things and events, to be by nature most excellent. Niketas Stethatos, Philokalia, Vol. 4

He dishonors God who transgresses His law. But he who obeys it glorifies his Creator. "Instructions to Cenobites and Others", Abba Evagrius, "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. 115 - 116.

He that loves Me, saith the Lord, will keep My commandments; and 'this is My commandment, that you love one another.' He therefore who does not love his neighbor does not keep the commandment. Nor is he that does not keep the commandment able to love the Lord. St. Maximus the Confessor, Century 1

He who has love in Christ must observe the commandments of Christ. The binding power of the love of God - who is able to set it forth? The radiance of His beauty - who can voice it to satisfaction? The sublimity to which love leads up is unutterable. Love unites us with God, love covers a multitude of sins; love endures everything, is long-suffering to the last; there is nothing vulgar, nothing conceited, in love; love creates no schism; love does not quarrel; love preserves perfect harmony. In love all the elect of God reached perfection, apart from love nothing is pleasing to God. In love the Master took us to Himself. Because of the love which He felt for us, Jesus Christ Our Lord gave His Blood for us by the will of God, His Body for our bodies, and His soul for our souls. St. Clement of Rome, Epistle to the Corinthians

He who keeps these [commandments], will be glorified in the kingdom of God; but he who chooses other things will be destroyed with his works." St. Barnabas 125 AD Letter of Barnabas chap. 21)

He who raised Him up from the dead will also raise us up - if we do His will and walk in His commandments and love what He loved, keeping ourselves from all unrighteousness." St. Polycarp 69-156 AD Letter to the Philippians chap. 2)

He who seeks to understand commandments without fulfilling commandments, and to acquire such understanding through learning and reading, is like a man who takes a shadow for truth. For the understanding of truth is given to those who have become participants in truth (who have tasted it through living). St. Gregory of Sinai (Texts on Commandments and Dogmas no. 22)

Holy Scripture says of the midwives who kept alive the Israelites' male children, that through the God-fearing midwives they made themselves houses. Does it mean they made visible houses? How can they say they acquired houses through the fear of God when we do the opposite, and learn in time, through fear of God to give up the houses we have? Evidently this does not refer to visible houses but to the houses of the soul which each one builds by for himself by keeping God's commandments. Through this Holy Scripture teaches us that the fear of God prepares the soul to keep the commandments, and through the commandments the house of the soul is built up. Let us take hold of them, brothers, and let us fear God, and we shall build houses for ourselves where we shall find shelter in winter weather, in the season of storm-cloud, lightning, and rain; for not to have a home in winter-time is a great hardship. Dorotheos of Gaza, Discourses and Sayings

Holy Scripture says of the midwives who kept alive the Israelites' male children, that through the God-fearing midwives they made themselves houses. Does it mean they made visible houses? How can they say they acquired houses through the fear of God when we do the opposite, and learn in time, through fear of God to give up the houses we have? Evidently this does not refer to visible houses but to the houses of the soul which each one builds by for himself by keeping God's commandments. Through this Holy Scripture teaches us that the fear of God prepares the soul to keep the commandments, and through the commandments the house of the soul is built up. Let us take hold of them, brothers, and let us fear God, and we shall build houses for ourselves where we shall find shelter in winter weather, in the season of storm-cloud, lightning, and rain; for not to have a home in winter-time is a great hardship. St. Dorotheos of Gaza, Discourses and Sayings

I have found the words and the commandments of Christ pure, holy, true, splendid, brighter than the sun; and whoever believes in Christ and calls Him God and lives in accordance with His teaching, contained in the Holy Gospels, is fortunate and thrice-blessed. Modern Orthodox Saints I, St. Cosmas Aitolos).Dr. Constantine Cavarnos., INSTITUTE FOR BYZANTINE AND MODERN GREEK STUDIES., Belmont, Massachusetts., pp.81-94

If 'Christ died on our account in accordance with the Scriptures' (Rom 5:8; I Cor. 15:3), and we do not 'live ourselves', but 'for Him who died and rose' on our account (2 Cor. 5:15), it is clear that we are debtors to Christ to serve Him till our death. St. Mark the Ascetic (No Righteousness by Works no. 20)

If a person pushes himself to attain prayer alone, when he has none, in order to attain its grace, without striving earnestly for meekness and humility and charity and all the other commandments of the Lord, neither taking pains nor struggling and battling to succeed in these as far as his choice and free will go, he may at times be given a grace of prayer with some degree of repose and pleasure from the Spirit according as he asks. But he has the same traits he had before. He has no meekness, because he did not seek it with effort and he did not prepare himself beforehand to become meek. He has no humility, since he did not ask for it and did not push himself to have it. He has no charity toward all men, because he was not concerned with it and did not strive for it in his asking for the gift of prayer. And in doing his work, he has no faith or trust in God, since he did not know that he was without it. And he did not take the pains to seek from the Lord for himself to have a firm faith and an authentic trust. St. Macarius the Great, Fifty Spiritual Homilies.

It is demanded of us, Christians, that we receive these heavenly and most sweet tidings [the Gospel] gratefully as they are sent from Heaven, and that from a pure heart we always give thanks to God our Benefactor, Who so freely had mercy on us, and that we show holy obedience and compliance in all thankfulness. For conscience itself instructs and convinces us to be thankful to our Benefactors also love Him Who is worthy of all love. Love requires that we never offend the beloved. God is offended by every sin. Let us keep away from every sin and let us do His holy will that we may not offend Him as our compassionate Father and Benefactor. St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, Journey to Heaven

It is through our fulfilling of the commandments that the Lord makes us dispassionate; and it is through His divine teachings that He gives us the light of spiritual knowledge. St. Maximos the Confessor (First Century on Love no. 77)

It is well, therefore, that he who has learned the judgements of the Lord, as many as have been written, should walk in them. For he who keepeth these shall be glorified in the kingdom of God; but he who chooseth other things shall be destroyed with his works. The Epistle of Barnabas

Let him who has love in Christ keep the commandments of Christ. Who can describe the [blessed] bond of the love of God? First Epistle Of Clement To The Corinthians, Chap. XLIX

Many desire good spiritual life in its simplest form, but only a very few actually fulfill their good intentions. These are people who steadfastly obey the words of divine Scripture that we must enter the Kingdom of Heaven by way of many sorrows, and who, calling upon God’s help, strive to endure without complaint the sorrows, ills, and discomforts they encounter, always keeping in mind the words of the Lord Himself that whosoever wishes to enter into life, must obey the commandments. Counsels of the Venerable Elder St. Amvrossy of Optina

Many desire good spiritual life in its simplest form, but only a very few actually fulfill their good intentions. These are people who steadfastly obey the words of divine Scripture that we must enter the Kingdom of Heaven by way of many sorrows, and who, calling upon God’s help, strive to endure without complaint the sorrows, ills, and discomforts they encounter, always keeping in mind the words of the Lord Himself that whosoever wishes to enter into life, must obey the commandments. Spiritual Counsels of Holy Elder Amvrossy of Optina
http://www.stjohndc.org/Fathers/0011d.htm


Moses sought to see God, and this is the instruction he receives on how he is to see Him: seeing God means following Him wherever He might lead. Anyone who does not know the way cannot travel safely without following a guide. The guide shows him the way by walking ahead of him, And the one following will not get off the right path if he keeps constantly watching the back of his guide. On the other hand, if he moves off to one side, or tries to bring himself face to face with his guide, he will be setting out on a different path from the one which his guide is showing him. Thus the Lord says to those who are being guided: You shall not see My face, or, in other words: Do not face your guide. For then you will be going in a completely opposite direction. St. Gregory of Nyssa, From Glory to Glory

Now He Who has raised Him from the dead will raise us also, provided we do His will, make His commandments our rule of life, and love what He loves; if we abstain from every kind of wrongdoing, avarice, love of money, slander, and false testimony; ... St. Polycarp, Epistle to the Phillipians in The Didache

One should habituate oneself in this way so that the mind might as it were swim in the Lord's law; it is under the guidance of this law that one should direct one's life. St Seraphim of Sarov - Spiritual Instructions

One who wants to be saved must remember, must never forget, the Apostolic commandment: “Carry one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the Law of Christ.” This commandment is of great significance; one we must first and foremost strive to obey. Spiritual Counsels of Holy Elder Amvrossy of Optina
http://www.stjohndc.org/Fathers/0010d.htm


Only those who fear the Lord and keep His commandments have life with God. But as to those who do not keep His commandments, there is no life in them.... All, therefore, who despise Him and do not follow His commands deliver themselves to death, and each will be guilty of his own blood. But I implore you to obey His commands, and you will have a cure for your former sins. " 125 AD Hermas Shepherd bk. 2, comm. 7; bk. 3, sim. 10, chap. 2)

Some think they believe rightly, while not practicing the commandments; others, while practicing them, expect the kingdom as a just reward. Both sin against truth. St. Mark the Ascetic, "Early Fathers From the Philokalia," trans. by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, (London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1981), pp. 86 - 90

The Logos bestows adoption on us when He grants us that birth and deification which, transcending nature, comes by grace from above through the Spirit. The guarding and preservation of this in God depends on the resolve of those thus born: on their sincere acceptance of the grace bestowed on them and, through the practice of the commandments, on their cultivation of the beauty given to them by grace. Moreover, by emptying themselves of the passions they lay hold of the divine to the same degree as that to which, deliberately emptying Himself of His own sublime glory, the Logos of God truly became man. St. Maximos the Confessor, On the Lord's Prayer in Philokalia, Vol. 2

The Psalmist has somewhere said unto Christ, the Savior of all: Thy commandment is exceeding broad. And any one may see if he will from the very facts that this saying is true; for He establishes for us pathways in countless numbers, so to speak, to lead us unto salvation, and make us acquainted with every good work, that we, winning for our heads the crown of piety, and imitating the noble conduct of the saints, may attain to that portion which is fitly prepared for them. For this reason He says, `Let your loins be girt, and your lamps burning.' For He speaks to them as to spiritually-minded persons, and describes once again things intellectual by such as are apparent and visible. St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke (12:35 ff.)

The first kind of humility is to hold my brother to be wiser than myself, and in all things to rate him higher than myself, and simply, as that holy man said, to put oneself below everyone. The second kind is to attribute to God all virtuous actions. This is the perfect humility of the saints. It is generated naturally in the soul by the performance of the commandments. [It is] just like a tree bearing much fruit: it is the fruit that bends the branches and lowers them down, but when there is no fruit, the branches point upwards and grow straight. St. Dorotheos of Gaza, Discourses and Sayings

The purpose of the advent of the Saviour, when He gave us His life-giving commandments as purifying remedies in our passionate state, was to cleanse the soul from the damage done by the first transgression and bring it back to its original state. What medicines are for a sick body, that the commandments are for the passionate soul. St. Isaac of Syria

The roof of any house stands upon the foundations and the rest of the structure. The foundations themselves are laid in order to carry the roof. This is both useful and necessary, for the roof cannot stand without the foundations and the foundations are absolutely useless without the roof - no help to any living creature. In the same way the Grace of God is preserved by the practice of the commandments, and the observance of these commandments is laid down like foundations through the gift of God. St. Symeon the New Theologian, The Practical and Theological Chapters

The roof of any house stands upon the foundations and the rest of the structure. The foundations themselves are laid in order to carry the roof. This is both useful and necessary, for the roof cannot stand without the foundations and the foundations are absolutely useless without the roof - no help to any living creature. In the same way the grace of God is preserved by the practice of the commandments, and the observance of these commandments is laid down like foundations through the gift of God. The grace of the Spirit cannot remain with us without the practice of the commandments, but the practice of the commandments is of no help or advantage to us without the grace of God. St. Symeon the New Theologian

The roof of any house stands upon the foundations and the rest of the structure. The foundations themselves are laid in order to carry the roof. This is both useful and necessary, for the roof cannot stand without the foundations and the foundations are absolutely useless without the roof - no help to any living creature. In the same way the grace of God is preserved by the practice of the commandments, and the observance of these commandments is laid down like foundations through the gift of God. The grace of the Spirit cannot remain with us without the practice of the commandments, but the practice of the commandments is of no help or advantage to us without the grace of God. St. Symeon the New Theologian, The Practical and Theological Chapters

The spirit of spiritual knowledge is a grasping of the commandments and the principles inherent in them, according to which the qualities of the virtues are constituted. The spirit of understanding is acceptance of the qualities and principles of the virtues or, to put it more aptly, it is a transmutation by which one's natural powers commingle with the qualities and principles of the commandments. St. Maximos the Confessor(Third Century of Various Texts no. 39)

The spirit of strength is an impulse and disposition prompt to fulfill the commandments. St. Maximos the Confessor(Third Century of Various Texts no. 39)

The whole purpose of the Savior's commandments is to free the mind from incontinence and hate and to bring it to the love of Himself, and of its neighbor. From these is begotten the splendor of holy knowledge, actually possessed. St. Maximus the Confessor, Century IV, The Ascetic Life and Four Centuries on Charity (Love)

The whole warfare of the demons against us is waged with the one purpose of alienating those who obey them from the glory of God and the grace of the Holy Spirit. But, as I see it, we have already deprived ourselves of such a gift before they even attack us, because we have forsaken the commandments of God and have not been eager to seek Him with all our soul. Had we sought Him we should not have lived so idly and carelessly! Had we been concerned for the things of heaven we should not have shown such great eagerness for the things of earth. Had our thoughts been on things incorruptible we should not have gaped greedily after the things that are transitory and corruptible. Had we striven for things eternal we should not thus have pursued things temporal. Had we loved God we should not thus have turned away from those who guide us to Him. Had we sought to acquire virtues we would not have abhorred the teachers of virtues. Had we gladly embraced fasting we should not have complained of the lack of food and drink. Had we fought to gain control over our passions we should not have given ourselves unrestrainedly to pleasures. Had we a right and firm faith we should not have performed the works of faithlessness...Had we been found worthy to attain true love we should have known God. St. Simeon the New Theologian - The Discourses

The work of our salvation demands that wherever a person may live, he must fulfill God’s commandments and submit to His will.. Only thereby does one acquire spiritual peace, by no other way. As it is says in the psalm “Great peace have they which love thy law; and nothing shall offend them.” And yet you continue to seek after internal peace and spiritual calm by way of external circumstance. You still seem to think that you are not living in the right place, that you have not settled down among the right kind of people, that you have not ordered your affairs correctly and that others apparently have not behaved properly. In Divine Scripture it states “His [i.e. God’s] dominion is in every place.” and that for God the most precious thing in the whole world is the salvation of a single Christian soul. Counsels of the Venerable Elder St. Amvrossy of Optina

The work of our salvation demands that wherever a person may live, he must fulfill God’s commandments and submit to His will.. Only thereby does one acquire spiritual peace, by no other way. As it is says in the psalm “Great peace have they which love thy law; and nothing shall offend them.” And yet you continue to seek after internal peace and spiritual calm by way of external circumstance. You still seem to think that you are not living in the right place, that you have not settled down among the right kind of people, that you have not ordered your affairs correctly and that others apparently have not behaved properly. In Divine Scripture it states “His [i.e. God’s] dominion is in every place.” and that for God the most precious thing in the whole world is the salvation of a single Christian soul. Spiritual Counsels of Holy Elder Amvrossy of Optina #http://www.stjohndc.org/Fathers/0011d.htm

Therefore, there is no other way of attaining to spiritual knowledge except by following this order, which one of the prophets has neatly expressed: 'Sow for yourselves unto righteousness; reap the hope of life; enlighten yourselves with the light of knowledge' (Hosea 10:12). First, then, we sow for ourselves unto righteousness - that is, we must increase practical perfection by works of righteousness. Then we must reap the hope of life - that is, we must gather the fruit of spiritual virtues by expelling our carnal vices. Thus we shall be able to enlighten ourselves with the light of knowledge. St. John Cassian, The Conferences

To attain to knowledge of Truth demands far more effort than it takes to acquire practical and scientific learning. Neither the reading of a vast number of books, nor familiarity with the history of Christianity, nor the study of different theological systems can bring us to our goal, unless we continuously and to our utmost cling to the commandments of Christ." Archimandrite Sophrony (His Life is Mine, Chapter 13; SVS Press pg. 95)

To contemplate this [Christ's] glory we must needs be in this glory. Otherwise we cannot see it. To apprehend, even dimly, 'Who this is?' (cf. Matt. 21:10) we must become like Him by abiding in His word. Whoever has not followed after Him in faith; who has not loved Him and therefore has not observed His commandments, cannot pronounce judgment, since he possesses no grounds for forming an opinion." Archimandrite Sophrony (His Life is Mine, Chapter 11; SVS Press pg 84)

To him who has been baptized into Christ grace has been mysteriously given already. But it acts in proportion to his fulfillment of commandments. Although this grace never ceases to help us in secret, it lies in our power to do or not to do good according to our own will.

In the first place, it fittingly arouses conscience, through which even evil-doers have been accepted by God when they repented.

Again, it may be concealed in the advice of a brother. Sometimes it follows thought during reading and teaches its truth to the mind by means of a natural deduction (from that thought). Thus, if we do not bury this talent bestowed upon us on these and similar occasions, we shall in truth enter into the joy of the Lord. St. Mark the Ascetic, "Early Fathers From the Philokalia," trans. by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, (London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1981), pp. 86 - 90



To prophesy, to cast out demons, and to do great acts upon the earth are certainly a sublime and admirable thing. However, a person does not attain the Kingdom of Heaven even though he is found in all these things unless he walks in the observance of the right and just way. The Lord says, 'Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed other powerful works in your name? And then I will confess to them, I never knew you. Depart from me you workers of evil.' [Matt. 7:22,23] There is need of righteousness so one may deserve well of God the Judge. We must obey His precepts and warnings that our merits may receive their reward." 200-258 AD St. Cyprian of Carthage, Unity of the Church sec.16)

Watch constantly, learning to understand God's law, for this warms the heart with heavenly fire. Guard your lips from the idle word, or empty talk, lest the heart gets used to evil words. St.Barsanuphius and St.John

Wishing to show that to fulfill every commandment is a duty, whereas sonship is a gift given to men through His own Blood, the Lord said: "When you have done all that is commanded you, say: "We are useless servants: we have only done what was our duty"' (Luke 17:10). Thus the kingdom of heaven is not a reward for works, but a gift of grace prepared by the Master for His faithful servants. St. Mark the Ascetic, "The Philokalia," Vol. 1

Wishing to show that, although every commandment is obligatory, none the less it is by His blood that sonship is granted to men, the Lord says: "When you have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do" (Luke 17:10). Thus the kingdom of heaven is not a reward for deeds, but a gift of the Lord prepared for faithful servants. St. Mark the Ascetic, "Early Fathers From the Philokalia," trans. by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, (London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1981), pp. 86 - 90

…You feel the desire to come closer to God and to receive salvation. In this lies the duty of every Christian, but it is something to be attained by obedience to the commandments of God. They all consist of love for God and for one’s neighbor and extend to love of one’s enemies. Read the Gospels. There you will find the way, the truth and the life. Preserve the Orthodox Faith and follow the rules of the Holy Church, study the writings of the Church Fathers and Teachers, and arrange your life according to their teachings. However, rules of prayer alone cannot be of benefit to us… I recommend that you strive as much as possible to pay attention to the matter of love for your neighbors: your matushka, your wife and your children (seeing that they be brought up in the Orthodox Faith and good moral order), your subordinates, and all of your neighbors. The Holy Apostle Paul, in enumerating the various manifestations of virtues and spiritual struggles of self-denial says, “If I should do such and such, and I have not love, it profiteth me nothing.” Counsels of Venerable St. Makary (Ivanov) of Optina

...The true fulfillment of the commandments does not require merely forbearance from excesses or defects, it also demands an aim acceptable to God, that is the fulfillment in everything of God's will alone. St. Gregory of Sinai.

But also know that the fulfillment of the commandments of God gives true knowledge, since it is through this that the soul gains health. How could a rational soul be healthy, if it is sick in it's cognitive faculty? So we know that the commandments of God also grant knowledge, and not that alone, but deification also. St. Gregory Palamas

The reception of wisdom is normally accomplished through keeping the commandments, for God does not grant it before receiving our good works. As someone versed in true godliness said: "If thou desirest wisdom, keep the commandments, and the Lord God will supply thee with it. The Second Century of St. John of Karpathos, A Supplement to the Philokalia

"The knowledge and the practice of the soul's virtues have as their goal the preparation and planting of the trees of paradise. These trees are the knowledge of a man's intellect and his spiritual labor; in other words, the attentiveness of his intellect and the moral state of his soul. By practicing the commandments he 'cultivates and keeps' the trees (cf. Gen 2:15) with understanding and insight. At the same time he is helped by divine providence, that acts like sun, rain, wind and growth, without which all the effort of the gardener is in vain, even if everything has been done in due order. For nothing good can come about without help from above; yet help from above and grace are only granted to those who have resolve to act..." St. Peter of Damascus (Twenty-Four Discourses no. 9, The Philokalia Vol. 3 pg. 237):

"If only with firm resolve we begin to live according to God's Law, we do not need to fear any sort of attack from those who do not understand. For to him who has truly begun to live according to God's Law, all that happens to him at the hand of men, happens for his profit and to the glory of God." St. Nikolai Velimirovich

4. 'Christ died on account of our sins in accordance with the Scriptures' (1Co 15:3); and to those who serve Him well He gives freedom. 'Well done, good and faithful servant,' He says, 'you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter into the joy of your Lord' (Mt 25:21).

5. He who relies on theoretical knowledge alone is not yet a faithful servant: a faithful servant is one who expresses his faith in Christ through obedience to His commandments. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779



15. When we fulfill the commandments in our outward actions, we receive from the Lord what is appropriate; but any real benefit we gain depends on our inward intention. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

18. Some without fulfilling the commandments think that they possess true faith. Others fulfill the commandments and then expect the kingdom as a reward due to them. Both are mistaken. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

27. Certain commandments are specific, and others are comprehensive. Thus Christ enjoins us specifically to 'share with him who has none' (Lk 3:11); and He gives us a comprehensive command to forsake all that we have (cf. Lk 14:33). REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

61. Grace has been given mystically to those who have been baptized into Christ; and it becomes active within them to the extent that they actively observe the commandments. Grace never ceases to help us secretly; but to do good- as far as lies in our power- depends on us. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

64. He who seeks the energies of the Spirit, before he has actively observed the commandments, is like someone who sells himself into slavery and who, as soon as he is bought, asks to be given his freedom while still keeping his purchase-money. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

92. Everyone baptized in the orthodox manner has received mystically the fullness of grace; but he becomes conscious of this grace only to the extent that he actively observes the commandments. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

140. Some, when they actively observe the commandments, expect this to outweigh their sins; others, who observe the commandments without this presumption, gain the grace of Him who died on account of our sins. We should consider which of these is right. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

223. Every word of Christ shows us God's mercy, justice and wisdom and, if we listen gladly, their power enters into us. That is why the unmerciful and the unjust, listening to Christ with repugnance, were not able to understand the wisdom of God, but even crucified Him for teaching it. So we, too, should ask ourselves whether we listen to Him gladly. For He said: 'He who loves Me will keep My commandments, and he will be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him' (cf. Jn 14:21).

Do you see how He has hidden His manifestation in the commandments? Of all the commandments, therefore, the most comprehensive is to love God and our neighbor. This love is made firm through abstaining from material things, and through stillness of thoughts. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779



For the ordinary initial faith of the Orthodox is born of natural knowledge, and from this faith are born devotion to God, fasting and vigil, reading and psalmody, prayer and the questioning of those with experience. It is such practices that give birth to the soul's virtues, that is, to the constant observance of the commandments and of moral conduct.

Through this observance come great faith, hope, and the perfect love that ravishes the intellect to God in prayer, when one is united with God spiritually, as St. Neilos puts it. 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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