Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers


3 Entries

"Listlessness begins with despondency and faintheartedness and the prolonged withdrawal of grace. It starts off with the application of economy towards some supposed infirmity or weakness, and ends in total disbelief and shamelessness and ingratitude. For those who live alone as hesychasts it starts from neglect of the rule and order of their lives, and grows if not attended to in good time. But in those who live with others, it begins with idle talk and backbiting." REF:Elder Joseph (trans. from Greek by Elizabeth Theokritoff), "Elder Joseph the Hesychast," (Mount Athos: The Great and Holy Monastery of Vatopaidi, 1999), pp. 195 - 198

Amma Theodora said, "It is good to live in peace, for the wise man practices perpetual prayer. It is truly a great thing for a virgin or a monk to live in peace, especially for the younger ones. However, you should realize that as soon as you intend to live in peace, at once evil comes and weighs down your soul through accidie, faintheartedness, and evil thoughts. It also attacks your body through sickness, debility, weakening of the knees, and all the members. It dissipates the strength of soul and body, so that one believes one is ill and no longer able to pray. But if we are vigilant, all these temptations fall away. There was, in fact a monk who was seized by cold and fever every time he began to pray, and he suffered from headaches, too. In this condition, he said to himself, 'I am ill, and near to death; so now I will get up before I die and pray.' By reasoning in this way, he did violence to himself and prayed, When he had finished, the fever abated also. So, by reasoning in this way, the brother resisted, and prayed and was able to conquer his thoughts." Sr. Benedicta Ward, "The Desert Christian," (New York: MacMillan Publishing Company, 1975), pp. 83-84

To the Monk Andrew, when he became faint from the temptations that had come upon him:

Andrew! My brother one in soul (with me), do not grow faint. God has not abandoned you and will not abandon you. But know that the sentence pronounced by the Master to our common father Adam: "In the sweat of your brow you shall earn your bread" (Genesis 3:19) is immutable. And just as this commandment is given to the outward man, so to the inward man it is commanded to aid the prayers of the Saints by means of one’s own ascetic labors; and these prayers greatly help a man so that he will not remain fruitless. For just as gold which is heated in a furnace, held with pincers and beaten with a hammer, becomes pure and fit for a royal crown, so also a man being supported by the mighty and much-performing prayer of the Saints is heated by sorrows, receives the blows of temptations and, if he endures everything with gratitude, becomes a son of the Kingdom.

And therefore, everything that might happen to you occurs for your benefit, so that you also might receive boldness before God, both through the intercession of the Saints and through your own labors. And do not be ashamed to offer now to God the beginning of these labors, lest in place of spiritual joy, sorrow should overtake you; and believe that He who has given the promises will fulfill them (Hebrews 10:23). Prosper in the Lord, my beloved. "Saints Barsanuphius and John: Guidance Toward Spiritual Life," trans. by Fr. Seraphim Rose, (Platina, California: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1990)

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