Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers

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34 Entries

'And forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors.' For we have many sins. For we offend both in word and in thought, and very many things we do worthy of condemnation; and 'if we say that we have no sin' (I Jn. 1:8), we lie, as John says...The offenses committed against us are slight and trivial, and easily settled; but those which we have committed against God are great, and need such mercy as His only is. Take heed, therefore, lest for the slight and trivial sins against you, you shut out for yourself forgiveness from God for your very grievous sins. St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures: Lecture 23 no. 16)



A man who gives but nature its due and does not let his vain thoughts stray after things outside his needs is not far below the angelic state: he imitates their need of nothing as far as in him lies by being content with little. Therefore we have been commanded to seek only what is sufficient to preserve our physical existence. So we say to God : Give us bread. St. Gregory of Nyssa, "The Lord's Prayer"

A man who gives but nature its due and does not let his vain thoughts stray after things outside his needs is not far below the angelic state: he imitates their need of nothing as far as in him lies by being content with little. Therefore we have been commanded to seek only what is sufficient to preserve our physical existence. So we say to God : Give us bread. St. Gregory of Nyssa, "The Lord's Prayer"

And so, in saying, "Thy Kingdom come," we ask the Lord that His Kingdom reign in our souls through righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, and that this Kingdom of Christ would be revealed in all the world, that an end come to this oppressive time of falsehood and wickedness. The Lord's Prayer - By Archbishop Nathaniel - http://www.roca.org/oa/122/122e.htm

As the prayer proceeds, we ask and say: 'Give us this day our daily bread.' This can be understood both spiritually and simply, because either understanding is of profit in divine usefulness for salvation.

For Christ is the bread of life and the bread here is of all, but is ours. And as we say 'Our Father,' because He is the Father of those who understand and believe, so too we say 'our Bread,' because Christ is the bread of those of us who attain to His body.

Moreover, we ask that this bread be given daily, lest we, who are in Christ and receive the Eucharist daily as food of salvation, with the intervention of some more grievous sin, while we are shut off and as non-communicants are kept from the heavenly bread, be separated from the body of Christ as He Himself declares, saying: 'I am the bread of life which came down from heaven. If any man eat of my bread he shall live forever. Moreover, the bread that I shall give is my flesh for the life of the world.'

Since then! He says that, if anyone eats of His bread, he lives forever, as it is manifest that they live who attain to His body and receive the Eucharist by right of communion, so on the other hand we must fear and pray lest anyone, while he is cut off and separated from the body of Christ, remain apart from salvation, as He Himself threatens, saying: 'Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you.' And so we petition that our bread, that is Christ, be given us daily, so that we, who abide and live in Christ, may not withdraw from His sanctification and body.", St. Cyprian of Carthage, the Lord's Prayer, 252 A.D., chapter 18



Be true to God always and in everything. If you say the prayer "Our Father. . ." pronounce each word sincerely, with reverence, fixing your mind and heart upon God alone, not paying attention to anything or anybody around you. If you say any other prayer, say it also with all your soul, not with your heart divided, not paying undue attention to anything or anybody. St. John of Kronstadt

But, in fact, the one who prays to receive this supersubstantial bread does not receive it altogether as this bread is in itself, but as he is able to receive it. For the Bread of Life, out of His love for men, gives Himself to all who ask Him but not in the same manner to everyone: to those who have done great works, He gives Himself more fully, to those who have done smaller ones, less; to each, then, according to the spiritual dignity enabling him to receive it. St. Maximos the Confessor, Commentary on the Our Father, in Selected Writings

Chapter 8- Concerning Fasting and Prayer (The Lord’s Prayer)

But let not your fasts be with the hypocrites; for they fast on the second and fifth day of the week (meaning Monday and Thursday); but do you fast on the fourth day and the day of Preparation (meaning Wednesday and Friday). Neither pray as the hypocrites; but as the Lord commanded in His Gospel, thus pray: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth. Give us today our daily (needful) bread, and forgive us our debt as we also forgive our debtors. And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one (or evil); for Thine is the power and the glory for ever. Thrice in the day thus pray. Didache - The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles



Do we forgive our neighbors their trespasses? God also forgives us in His mercy. Do we refuse to forgive? God, too, will refuse to forgive us. As we treat our neighbors, so also does God treat us. The forgiveness, then, of your sins or unforgiveness, and hence also your salvation or destruction, depend on you yourself, man. For without forgiveness of sins there is no salvation. You can see for yourself how terrible it is. St. Philotheos of Sinai

Do we forgive our neighbors their trespasses? God also forgives us in His mercy. Do we refuse to forgive? God, too, will refuse to forgive us. As we treat our neighbors, so also does God treat us. The forgiveness, then, of your sins or unforgiveness, and hence also your salvation or destruction, depend on you yourself, man. For without forgiveness of sins there is no salvation. You can see for yourself how terrible it is. St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, Journey to Heaven

Do we forgive our neighbors their trespasses? God also forgives us in His mercy. Do we refuse to forgive? God, too, will refuse to forgive us. As we treat our neighbors, so also does God treat us. The forgiveness, then, of your sins or unforgiveness, and hence also your salvation or destruction, depends on you yourself, man. For without forgiveness of sins there is no salvation. You can see for yourself how terrible it is. St. Philotheos of Sinai.

Do you not see, brethren, that we toil for nothing when we pray, if we have enmity against someone? And again the Lord says, ‘If you offer your gift at the altar, and there you remember that someone has something against you, leave your gift before the altar, and go first and be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift’. Therefore, it is clear that if you do not do this first, all that you offer will be unacceptable, but if you do the Master’s bidding, then implore the Lord with boldness, saying, ‘Forgive me my debts, Master, as I have forgiven my brother, so fulfilling your commandment. I, weak though I am, have forgiven’. For the Lover of mankind will answer, ‘If you have forgiven, I too will forgive. If you have pardoned, I too will pardon your sins. For I have authority on earth to forgive sins. Forgive and you will be forgiven’. St Ephrem the Syrian, 'Three Short Discourses', from 'http://web.ukonline.co.uk/ephrem/3disc.htm'

GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD” means the bread which is sufficient for our nature and existence. He removes the care for tomorrow. The body of Christ is the daily bread, and we pray that we may share in it blamelessly. St. Germanus of Constantinople

God's will is done on earth as in heaven when, in the way indicated, we do not disparage one another, and when not only are we without jealousy but we are united one to another in simplicity and in mutual love, peace and joy, and regard our brother's progress as our own and his failure as our loss. St. Symeon Metaphrastis, Paraphrase of the Homilies of St. Makarios of Egypt, Philokalia, Vol. 3

Hence if a man whose conscience accuses him of evil calls God his Father, he asserts precisely that God is the cause and origin of his own wickedness. But `there is no fellowship of light with darkness,' says the Apostle; but light associates with light and justice with what is just, beauty with what is beautiful and incorruption with the incorruptible. `A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit.' If then some who is `dull of heart' and `seeks after lying,' as the Scripture says, yet dares to use the words of the prayer, he should know that he does not call the Heavenly One his Father, but the infernal one, who is himself a liar and father of every lie, who is sin and the father of sin. St. Gregory of Nyssa, On The Lord's Prayer

If the Emperor had laid down a law that all those who were enemies should be reconciled to one another, or have their heads cut off, should we not every one make haste to a reconciliation with his neighbor? Yes, truly, I think so! What excuse then have we, in not ascribing the same honor to the Lord that we should do to those who are our fellow servants? For this reason we are commanded to say, "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors" (Matt. 6:12).

What can be more mild, what more merciful, than this precept! He has made you a judge of the pardon of your own offenses! If you forgive few things, He forgives you few! If you forgive many things, He forgives you many! If you pardon from the heart, and sincerely, God in like manner also pardons you...

Do not tell me, "I have besought him many times , I have entreated, I have supplicated, but I have not effected a reconciliation." Never desist till you have reconciled him. For He said not, "Leave your gift, and go your way". Although you may have made many entreaties, yet you must not desist until you have persuaded. God entreats us every day, and we do not hear; yet He does not cease entreating. And do not then disdain to entreat your fellow-servant. How is it then possible for you ever to be saved? In proportion as the good work is accomplished with greater difficulty, and the reconciliation is one of much labor, so much the greater will be the judgment on him, and so much the brighter will be the crowns of victory for your forbearance. St. John Chrysostom



If you pay attention with understanding, our Lord did enjoin us to pray concerning bodily trials also, making provision for us after the manner of His loving-kindness and according to the measure of His grace. For knowing our nature to be frail because of the earthly and unsound substance of our body, and that it cannot withstand temptations when engulfed by them, and that for this reason we fall away from the truth and we turn our backs, being overcome by afflictions, He therefore commanded us to pray that we should not suddenly fall into temptations, if it be possible to please God without them. The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian

Now the health of the soul is the accomplishment of the Divine Will, just as, on the other hand, the disease of the soul that ends in death is the falling away from this good Will. We fell ill when we forsook the wholesome way of life in Paradise and filled ourselves with the poison of disobedience, through which our nature was conquered by this evil and deadly disease. Then there came the true Physician who cured the evil perfectly by its opposite, as is the law of medicine. For those who had succumbed to the disease because they had separated themselves from the Divine Will, He frees once more from their sickness by uniting them to the Will of God. For the words of the prayer bring the cure of the disease which is in the soul. For He prays as if His soul was immersed in pain, saying, `Thy Will be done.' Now the Will of God is the salvation of men. St. Gregory of Nyssa, On the Lord's Prayer and the Beatitudes

Rightly did the Lord say, ‘My burden is light’. For what sort of weight is it, what sort of toil is it to forgive one’s brother his offences, which are light and of no importance, and to be pardoned for one’s own, and immediately justified?

He did not say, ‘Bring me money, or calves, or goats, or fasting, or vigils’, so that you could say, ‘I have none, I cannot’, but he ordered you to bring what is light and easy and immediate, saying, ‘Pardon your brother his offences, and I will pardon yours. You pardon small faults, a few halfpennies, or three pennies, while I give you the ten thousand talents. You only pardon without giving anything, I nevertheless both grant you pardon and give you healing and the Kingdom.

And I accept your gift, when you are reconciled to the one who is your enemy, when you have enmity against no one, when the sun does not go down on your anger.

When you have peace and love for all, then your prayer is acceptable, and your offering well-pleasing, and your house blessed and you blessed. But if you are not reconciled with your brother, how can you seek pardon from me? You trample on my words, and do you demand pardon? I, your Master, demand, and you pay no attention, and do you, a slave, dare to offer me prayer, or sacrifice, or first fruits, while you have enmity against someone? Just as you turn your face from your brother, so I too turn my eyes from your gift and your prayer.’ St Ephrem the Syrian, 'Three Short Discourses', from 'http://web.ukonline.co.uk/ephrem/3disc.htm'



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 words of prayer are written once and for all, so that he who wishes to present his intellect motionless before the Holy and Life-giving Trinity may always pray one and the same prayer. The intellect itself has the sense that it is seen, even though at that time it is utterly impossible for it to see anything, for it is imageless, formless, colorless, undisturbed, undistracted, motionless, matterless, entirely transcending all the things that can be apprehended and perceived in the created world. It communes with God in deep peace and with perfect calm, having only God in mind, until it is seized with rapture and found worthy to say the Lord's Prayer as it should be said. This is what we are told by St., Philimon and St. Irene, as well as by the holy apostles, the martyrs and other holy men. Anything other than this is illusion born of self-conceit. St. Peter of Damascus in The Philokalia, Vol. III

We call God, "Father Who art in the heavens," not because God lives in heaven. God is Spirit, He is "everywhere present", i.e., in heaven, on earth and in every place; heaven, which extends over all the earth, is a symbol of all that is highest, and as such symbolizes the throne of God. So that in saying, "Our Father, Who art in the heavens," we are saying: Our Father, Who is above everyone and everything! The Lord's Prayer - By Archbishop Nathaniel - http://www.roca.org/oa/122/122e.htm

When we return to ourselves and remember the Heavenly Father, we may rightly use these words: 'Forgive us our debts.' Hence, even though one be a Moses or a Samuel, or any other man of outstanding virtue, in so far as he is a man, he does not consider these words less fitting for himself, seeing that he shares Adam's nature and participates in his exile. For since, as the Apostle says, 'in Adam we all die,' the words that are suited to Adam's penance are rightly applied to all who have died with him, so that after we have been granted the remission of our sins we may again be saved by the Lord through grace, as says the Apostle (cf. Eph. 2:5). St. Gregory of Nyssa, The Lord's Prayer.

[We pray] 'hallowed be Thy Name'. The Name of God is in its nature holy, whether we say so or not; but since it is sometimes profaned among sinners, according to the words, 'Through you My Name is continually blasphemed among the Gentiles' (Is. 52:5), we pray that in us God's Name may be hallowed; not that it comes to be holy from not being holy, but because it becomes holy in us, when we are made holy, and do things worthy of holiness. St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures: Lecture 23 no. 12)

Do we forgive our neighbors their trespasses? God also forgives us in His mercy. Do we refuse to forgive? God, too, will refuse to forgive us. As we treat our neighbors, so also does God treat us. The forgiveness, then, of your sins or unforgiveness, and hence also your salvation or destruction, depend on you yourself, man. For without forgiveness of sins there is no salvation. You can see for yourself how terrible it is. St. Tikhon of Zadonsk.

'And forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors.' For we have many sins. For we offend both in word and in thought, and very many things we do worthy of condemnation; and 'if we say that we have no sin (1 John 1:8), we lie, as John says.... The offenses committed against us are slight and trivial, and easily settled; but those which we have committed against God are great, and need such mercy as His only is. Take heed, therefore, lest for the slight and trivial sins against you, you shut out for yourself forgiveness from God for your very grievous sins. St. Cyril of Jerusalem.

After restoring us to the grace of adoption by Him, he has moreover not ceased to invite us to the kingdom of heaven. Hence the voice of the Lord says: "If you keep my commandments, I will be your father and you shall be my sons." So it is that we, though unworthy but aware of our baptism, dare in his prayer to call him father. Therefore it behooves us to share in his sufferings so that we may deserve to be made coheirs of his glory.

So when saying, "Our Father, who art in heaven," brothers, let us show that we are sons such as God wants to have, and may the Divinity rightly grant us the title of sons, seeing our will conformable to his own. For he who resembles his father not only in appearance but also in conduct is a true son. REF:St Benedict of Nursia, from "The Rule of the Master" - (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 1977), pp. 95 - 101



Since we have now deserved to say, "Our Father, who art in heaven," we continue the prayer saying: "Hallowed be thy name." Not that we want his name to be hallowed anew, since it is most holy from eternity to eternity, but rather that he may himself sanctify it in the good deeds of his sons, so that as Father and Lord he may make his dwelling in our souls and send the Holy Spirit to live in us, giving help to our hearts by his regard and ever keeping watch over them by his presence. REF:St Benedict of Nursia, from "The Rule of the Master" - (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 1977), pp. 95 - 101

(Then we say): "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." In this statement, brothers, our free will is expressed, and whatever harm the persuasion of the ancient serpent has done us is removed, if we so will, for the will of the Lord heals us.

As the apostle says: "You do not always carry out your good intentions." The spirit chooses to have the will of the Lord done in us, so that the soul no longer does what it had been persuaded to do by the concupiscence of corrupt flesh. We therefore pray that the will of the Lord will be done in us

If this His will is always done in us, on the day of judgment there will be no self-will to be condemned after being examined for faults. For the will of the Lord is holy. It knows how to remove fear of judgment. This His will promises that those in whom it is accomplished will judge even angels. REF:St Benedict of Nursia, from "The Rule of the Master" - (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 1977), pp. 95 - 101



"Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." From this, that he said "in heaven," we can well understand, brothers, that just as the will of the Lord is fulfilled in all holiness by the angels in heaven, so should God's command given through the prophets and the apostles be obeyed by carnal men on earth too, so that, as Holy Scripture says, in both spheres (that is, in heaven and on earth) the Lord may reign also in us according to his good pleasure, and there may be one shepherd and one flock. REF:St Benedict of Nursia, from "The Rule of the Master" - (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 1977), pp. 95 - 101

So also we can understand in a spiritual sense what he says: "Thy will be done as it is in heaven," that is, that the will of the Father be done in the Lord, His Son, because He cane down from heaven, the Lord Himself saying, "I have come, not to do my own will, but to do the will of the One who sent me." Do you therefore see that if our Savior, the Lord Himself, shows that He came not to do His own will but to fulfill the commands of His Father, how can I, a wicked servant, the least of all rightly do my own will? . . . REF:St Benedict of Nursia, from "The Rule of the Master" - (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 1977), pp. 95 - 101

Then we say: "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." Brothers, praying thus, we should very much fear lest the Lord reply to these words of our prayer: "The judgments you give are the judgments you will get, and the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given." And you who ask this, see whether you did to no one what you did not want done to you. Therefore before we hear these words of the Lord, brethren, let us first examine our hearts as to whether we are with justice asking of the Lord what we have not denied to those asking us. We ask that our trespasses be forgiven us. God hears and He wants to forgive us, but only if we first pardon those who ask us to do likewise. REF:St Benedict of Nursia, from "The Rule of the Master" - (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 1977), pp. 95 - 101

Then we say: "And lead us not into temptation." These words, brothers, are warning enough that we should be on our guard. We must therefore beg the Lord with many sighs, striking our hearts as well as our breasts, never to leave us His servants without His help, lest we be open to the power and access of our enemy the devil, who is constantly prowling around us like a lion, looking for someone of us to eat, and who seeks to poison our hearts with his evil suggestion that he deign, by the protection of his assistance, to surround us with the wall of his grace and by his defense ward off the incursion of temptation in us, so as not to permit the work of his hands to be taken captive and subjected to slavery by the enemy -- provided we do not on our part give our consent to the temptations of this same enemy and do not, so to speak, make ourselves his captives, inclined to desire our enemy rather than flee him. REF:St Benedict of Nursia, from "The Rule of the Master" - (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 1977), pp. 95 - 101

The intellect itself has the sense that it is seen, even though at that time it is utterly impossible for it to see anything, for it is imageless, formless, colorless, undisturbed, undistracted, motionless, matterless, entirely transcending all the things that can be apprehended and perceived in the created world. It communes with God in deep peace and with perfect calm, having only God in mind, until it is seized with rapture and found worthy to say the Lord's Prayer as it should be said. This is what we are told by St. Philimon and St. Irene, as well as by the Holy Apostles, the martyrs and other holy men. Anything other than this is illusion born of self-conceit. For the Divine is infinite and uncircumscribed, and the intellect that returns to itself must be in a similar state, so that through grace it may experience the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. "For we walk by faith, not by sight," says St. Paul (II Corinthians 5:7). 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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