Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers

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We should live on the earth as a wheel turns - as one point touches the earth, all the rest reaches upward; but we lie on the earth and cannot get up. REF:St. Ambrose of Optina (+1891)



The person who listens to Christ fills himself with light; and if he imitates Christ, he reclaims himself. " St. Thalassios, "On Love, Self-control and Life in accordance with the Intellect" Philokalia (Vol. 2)", p. 321)

Now since the Church is one, and that oneness consists primarily and universally of perfect agreement in Orthodox doctrines, it necessarily follows that all those who do not conform to those Orthodox doctrines, whether by addition or omission, or by any innovation of their own, thus changing the truth, are outside this one Holy Church, as one may also ascertain from a review of the sixth and seventh canons of the Second Ecumenical Council, and the first canon of St. Basil the Great. Excerpt from Divine Prayers and Services of the Catholic Orthodox Church of Christ, compiled and arranged by the Late Reverend Seraphim Nassar (Englewood, NJ: Antiochian Archdiocese of N. America, 1979), p. 1031.

'According to the glorious Gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.' (1 Tim. 1:11) Thus the Law is still necessary for the confirmation of the Gospel, yet to those who obey it is unnecessary. And he calls the Gospel 'glorious.' There we some who were ashamed of its persecutions, and of the sufferings of Christ, and so for the sake of these, as well as for others, he has called it 'the glorious Gospel,' thus showing that the sufferings of Christ are our glory. And perhaps he glances too at the future. For if our present state is exposed to shame and reproach, it will not be so hereafter; and it is to things future, and not to things present, that the Gospel belongs. St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Timothy.

'All the vessels that Hiram made for King Solomon for the house of the Lord were of fine bronze. In the plains of the Jordan the king cast them, in the clay ground' (1 Kings 7:45-6). It is appropriate that the vessels of the Lord's house were cast in the region of the Jordan, namely, in the river in which our Lord deigned to be baptized and by His immersion in the waves of its waters changed the element for us into a bath for sins, because every baptism of the faithful in which they are consecrated to the Lord is celebrated on the model of His baptism whereby He Himself sanctified the waters. It is proper that the vessels of the Lord's house should have been made in the country of the Jordan, for there is no other way for us to become vessels of election and mercy than by looking to His baptism which He underwent in that river and making sure that we too are washed in that life-giving river. The Venerable Bede. On the Temple.

'And I fell upon my face' (3:23). The glory of the Lord being manifest, the Prophet falls on his face because although a man is raised to the understanding of the sublime yet, through the contemplation of the majesty of God, he realized the weakness of his own condition and, as it were, has no standing, he who sees himself as dust and ashes before the eyes of God. Then follows: 'And the Spirit entered into me and set me upon my feet' (3:24). When we humbly prostrate before God, when we know ourselves to be dust and ashes, when we ponder the weakness of our proper condition and do not adopt a stance of stiffness and pride, Almighty God through His Spirit raises us and sets us upon our feet ... Homilies of St. Gregory the Great on the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel

'And the Spirit took me up, and I heard behind me the voice of a great commmotion, saying: Blessed be the glory of the Lord from His place' (Ez. 3:12). Why is it that the Prophet, after he is sent to the transmigration of the sons of his people, hears behind him the voice of great commotion, saying: 'Blessed be the glory of the Lord from His place?' For he had turned towards the sinners at Babylon, and he heard the voice of the glory of the Lord from His place behind his back. For the place of God is Jerusalem, viz. the vision of peace, because surely those hearts which do not go down to the Babylonian transmigration, i.e., to the vices of confusion, see the things which are of God. For God lives where true peace is sought and and the glory of inward contemplation is loved. But those who descend to perversity disdain to be the place of God. Therefore the place of the glory of God is either every holy soul or each angelic spirit abinding in the heavens. And the glory of the Lord is blessed from His place when eternal praise is sung by the elect among men or by the Holy Angels to the Creator of all. Homilies of St. Gregory the Great on the Book of Ezekiel.

'And when the house was being built it was with stones hewn and dresssed, so that neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron was heard in the house while it was being built' (3 Kings. 6:7 [LXX]). This properly pertains to the part of the Church which after the toils and struggles of this life has merited admittance to eternal rewards. There, indeed, only the perfect and spotless and those purified from every stain of inquity enter. For nothing defiled shall enter that city, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood, as John has written in the Aprocalypse. No hammer, axe or any iron implement is heard because here below we are hammered by adversities and trained by the teaching of truth so that there we may be ranged in appropriate places according to our deserts. The Venerable Bede, On the Temple, Book I.

'And when they had prayed, the place where they were gathered was shaken' (Acts 4:31). Those who sought the power of a stout heart against the deception of their enemies received a token, in the shaking of the earth, that their prayer had already been heard. This was so that they might recognize that earthly hearts would pass away from those under whose feet the earth itself was shaken with dread at the coming of the Holy Spirit. And even the fear of those who, by believing, were to be subject to the apostles, can be understood as joyful, since in shaking off their infirm depression they had learned to rise with Christ and to taste of heavenly things. The Venerable Bede, Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles.

'But go your way, tell His disciples and Peter.' He names Peter separately from the other disciples, as Peter was the foremost of the apostles. Also, because Peter had denied the Lord, the angel singles him out by name so that, when the women came and said that the Lord had commanded them to tell the disciples, Peter could not say, 'I denied the Lord, and therefore I am no longer His disciple. He has rejected me and abhors me.' The angel added the words, 'and Peter,' so that Peter would not be tempted to think that Jesus found him unworthy of mention, and unworthy to be ranked among the Lord's disciples, because of his denial. Blessed Theophylact, The Explanation of the Holy Gospel According to St. Mark.

'But the chief priest rose up and all those who were with him, that is, the sect of the Sadducees,' and so forth. In Greek the word for sect (heresis) takes its name from the word for choice, because everyone chooses for himself what he thinks should be followed, scorning what others have said. Therefore 'the Sadducees, whose name is interpreted as righteous (for they claimed to be what they were not,' as we read below) entirely denied the resurrection of the body and said that the soul perishes with the flesh. Indeed, they did not even believe 'that there are any angels or spirits, and accepting only the five books of Moses, they scorned' the honoring of the prophets. Therefore it was they who especially supported the leaders in persecuting the apostles. They were moved by zeal because the apostles, with great power and miraculous signs, were giving witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ the Lord. The Venerable Bede, Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles.

'But they engaged in joy and gladness, slaying calves, and killing sheep, so as to eat flesh and drink wine; saying, let us eat and drink; for to-morrow we die' (Isa. 22:13). Distinguish these matters, and, because you are spiritual, judge between them. The unholy are like the everlasting, but they are not everlasting, because they cannot receive eternity from one who is not eternal. And so, he cannot give what he does not have; nor can one who does not possess the light give light, but he transforms himself into an angel of light to deceive the unbelieving (cf. 2Cor. 11:14). St. Ambrose of Milan, quoted in Isaiah Through the Ages by JohannaManley.

'Darkness will not be darkness with Thee and night shall be bright as day for me, for Thou hast taken possession of my mind' (cf. Ps. 139:12-13). It is as if David were saying that not only has God become the sole object of his soul's desire, but also that any spark of this desire in his body has returned to the soul that produced it, and through the soul has risen to God, hangs upon Him and cleaves to Him. For just as those who cleave to the perishable pleasures of the senses expend all the soul's desire in satisfying their fleshly proclivities and become so entirely materialistic that the Spirit of God cannot abide in them (cf. Gen. 6:3), so in the case of those who have elevated their intellect to God, and who through divine longing have attached their soul to Him, the flesh is also transformed, is exalted with the soul, communes together with the soul in the Divine, and itself likewise becomes the possession and dwelling-place of God, no longer harboring any enmity towards Him or any desires that are contrary to the Spirit (cf. Gal. 5:17). St. Gregory Palamas (Those Who Practice a Life of Stillness no. 9, The Philokalia Vol. 4 edited by Palmer, Sherrard and Ware; Faber and Faber pg. 339)

'For just as in the case of the limbs of the body, their individual needs are fulfilled by one another, so too the inhabitants of the world fill in the common need from the common excess. We should rejoice in this need on the part of us all, for out of it is born harmony for us all; for in that people need one another, those in high position stoop to the lowly and are not ashamed, and the insignificant reach our to the powerful and are not afraid. Even in the case of animals, seeing that we have a need for them, we take care of them. Clearly our need for everything binds us with a love for everything.' St. Ephraim the Syrian, Letter to Hypatius

'Fruitless trees in autumn, twice dead, uprooted' (Jude 12). It is a dead tree which does not produce good fruit; but anyone who has also brought forth the fruit of evil work is called a twice-dead tree. And if anyone who has been unwilling to bear the fruit of good work is said to be worthy of being cut down for his barrenness and be cast into the fire, what punishment do you think the person deserves who either by acting perversely or perverting others has yielded rotten fruit? Nor is it astonishing if those who are proven to have been uprooted are said to be fruitless and twice-dead [like] trees. For it is said of the saints, 'Rooted and grounded in charity.' But those who do not fear to uprrot themselves from the firmness of charity deservedly lose whatever good fruit they appear to have, such as these are deservedly compared to trees in autumn, that it may be shown that their salvation is without hope. For in autumn not only are no fruits usually formed but even those which were formed and are ripe fall off. To the condition of this time, namely, are they compared who themselves both neglect to yield the fruits of faith and are eager to root out those good things they see any other believers producing and to make culls of them. The Venerable Bede, Commentary on the Seven Catholic Epistles.

'I have hid the words of His mouth in my breast' (Job 23:12). For we 'hide the words of His mouth in the bosom of our heart' when we hear His commandments not in a passing way, but to fulfil them in practice. So it is that of the Virgin Mother herself it is written, 'But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart' (Lk. 2:19). St. Gregory the Great, quoted in Wisdom, Let Us Attend by JohannaManley.

'I raised my eyes to the mountains, whence my help will come' (Ps. 121:1). Observe a soul at a loss and bewildered from being in trouble, and wishing to attain comfort from God, Who is not unaware. This again is a good effect and advantage of temptations, exciting and stirring up the soul, making it look for influence from on high and sever connections with everything of this life. I mean, if the Jews, materialistic and attached to the earth as they were, were made so zealous by hardship in captivity and set their eyes on heaven, much more would it be right for us to do this in our situation and have recourse to God, required as we are to display a greater diligence than they. Since, you see, they were isolated in the midst of their enemies, and had no city of their own, no rampart, no tower, no weapons, no humann assistance, no abundance of resources, nothing else of this kind, but dwelt as captives and slaves amidst people who were their masters and enemies together, they took refuge in the invincible hand when oppressed by the magnitude of the disasters, and deprived of human help they began to come to their senses from this isolation. St. John Chrysostom, Commentary on the Psalms, Vol. 2.

'If therefore' (he says) 'perfection were by the Levitical priesthood.' Haiving spoken concerning Melchisedec, and shown how much superior he was to Abraham, and having set forth the great difference between them, he begins from this point forward to prove the wide differnece as to the covenant itself, and how the one is imperfect and the other perfect. However he does not even yet enter on the matters themselves, but first contends on the ground of the priesthood, and the tabernacle. For these things would be more easily received by the unbelieving, when the proof was derived from things already allowed, and believed. St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Hebrews 7:11.

'In the day of His power.' You could say the day of His power is both the day already arrived and the day to come: each is a desmonstration of His immense power. Does it not strike you as a mighty example of power when death is abolished through death, when doors of bronze are broken down, when sin is cancelled, when a curse is annulled, when all the ancient vices are overturned, and new virtues instroduced in their place? I mean, what could match this power, whether it is the miracles you scrutinize or the other achievements? St. John Chrysostom, Commentary on the Psalms, Vol. 2

'O God, we have heard with our ears, and our fathers told us...' (Ps. 44:1). Listen to this, all you who are heedless of your children, who ignore their singing diabolical songs, while you pay no attention to the divine stories. Those men were not like that, however, on the contrary, they passed their life without interruption in stories of God's great deeds, and achieved a double advantage. On the one hand, it was a good experience for them to keep in mind the divine favors, and they were the better for it; on the other, their offspring gained no little grounding in the knowledge of God from these stories, and were moved to imitation of virtue. For them, you see, books were the mouths of their forebears, and these stories were a feature of every study and every employment, nothing being more agreeable nor more profitable. St. John Chrysostom, Commentary on the Psalms, Vol. I.

'O Lord, my heart is not exalted, neither have mine eyes been lifted up.' This Psalm, a short one, which demands an analytical rather than a homiletical treatment, teaches us the lesson of humility and meekness. Now, as we have in a great number of other places spoken about humility, there is no need to repeat the same things here. Of course we are bound to bear in mind in how great need our faith stands of humility when we hear the Prophet thus speaking of it as equivalent to the performance of the highest works: 'O Lord, my heart is not exalted.' For a troubled heart is the noblet sacrifice in the eyes of God. The heart, therefore, must not be lifted up by properity, but humbly kept within the bounds of meekness through the fear of God. St. Hilary of Poitiers, Homilies on the Psalms.

'O mystery brought about on earth!' After the birth Anna prayed To our God and Maker Who knows all in advance: 'Thou has heard me, O Lord, as Thou hast heard Hannah who was accused by Eli of being drunk. She promised Samuel after his birth to the Lord To become a priest. Just as formerly, Thou hast give me, too, a gift,' The barren woman gives birth to the Mother of God, And the nurse of our life. St Romanos the Melodist - On the Nativity of the Virgin Mary.

'Suffer children to come to Me, and forbid them not; for of such is the Kinddom of God' (Lk. 18:16). And this age is weak in strength, feeble in intelligence, and immature in counsel. Thus, age is not preferred to age; moreover, it would be hurtful to grow up. What need is there for prayers that maturity of age ensue, if it is to take from me the merit of the Heavenly Kingdom? So did God give the course of life for vices and not for the increase of virtue? And why did He choose Apostles who were not youthful, but of mature years? But why does He say that children are fit for the Kingdom of Heaven? Perhaps, because they do not know malice, they have not learned to deceive, they dare not strike back, they neglect to search for wealth, they do not strive after honor and ambition. But virtue is not to be ignorant of those things, but to despise them, nor is there praise of abstinence where there is integrity through weakness. For not childhood, but goodness rivalling childlike simplicity is meant. For it is not a virtue to be unable to sin, but to be unwilling so to do and to retain perseverance of will, so that the will imitates childhood and one man imitates nature. Finally, our Saviour Himself expressed this saying, 'Unless ye be converted, and become as this boy, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of the Heavens' (Mt. 18:3). St. Ambrose of Milan, Exposition of the Holy Gospel According to Saint Luke.

'Those who sow in tears will reap in joy' (Ps. 126:5). While this is said in reference to the Jews, in many places it could also be referred elsewhere. Virtue is like that, you see: it offers conspicuous reward for its labors; we need firstly to toil land struggle, and then to seek rest. After all, you would find this happening everywhere even in things of this life. For this reason the psalmist also focused on these things, sowing and harvesting. In other words, just as the sower needs to apply effort, sweat and tears, and winter is also required, so too the person practicing virtue: nothing is so unsuited to laxity as a human being. Hence God made this way narrow and constrained - or, rather, not only the practce of virtue; even the things of this life He made laborious, and in fact far more so. St. John Chrysostom, Commentary on the Psalms, Vol. 2

'Tis the whole Being of the Supernal Godhead (saith the Scripture) that the Absolute Goodness hath defined and revealed. For in what other sense may we take the words of Holy Writ when it tells us how the Godhead spake concerning Itself, and said: 'Why asketh thou me concerning the good? None is good save one, that is, God.' Now this matter we have discussed elsewhere, and have shown that all the Names proper to God are always applied in Scripture not partially but to the whole, entre, full, complete Godhead, and that they all refer indivisibly, absolutely, unreservedly, and wholly to all the wholeness of the whole and entire Godhead. St. Dionysius the Areopagite, The Divine Names.

'To declare a year of grace of the the Lord and the day of retribution; to comfort all that mourn.' He has not only granted us the remission of sins, delivered us from the tyranny of the devil, and shown us the divine light, but He has likewise promised the future life and warned of a just judgment. For I think that by 'a year of grace' His first coming is meant, and the day of judgment by 'the day of retribution.' 'To comfort all that mourn,' for by the hope of the resurrection He has mitigated the despondence that death provokes. Theodoret of Cyrus, quoted in Isaiah Through the Ages by Johanna Manley.

'Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is give;' so, too, is the grace of the Spirit given. But why should I hesitate to say that the holy Spirit also is given to us, since it is written: 'The love of God is shed forth in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, Who is given to us.' And since captive breasts certainly could not receive Him, the lord Jesus first led captivity captive, that our affections being set free, He might pour forth the gift of divine grace. St. Ambrose of Milan, Of the Holy Spirit, Book I.

(Acts 8:35) 'Philip opened his mouth..." and so forth. Philip means 'the mouth of a lamp,' and there is a beautiful meaning in 'the mouth of a lamp' opening his mouh as he brought the obscurities of prophecy into the light of knowledge. The Venerable Bede, Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles.

(John 11:21)

See how great is the heavenly wisdom of the women, although their understanding be weak. For when they saw Christ, they did not break out into mourning and wailing and loud crying, as we do when we see any of those we know coming in upon our grief; but straightway they reverence their Teacher. So then both those sisters believed in Christ, but not in a right way; for they did not yet certainly know either the He was God, or that He did these things by His own power and authority; on both which points He taught them. For they showed their ignorance of the former, by saying, `If thou hadst been here our brother had not died'; and of the latter by saying, `Whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, He will give it thee.' St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on St. John.



-The Apostles are bidden not to carry staffs in their hands, for thus Matthew thought it should be written (cf. Mt. 10:10). What is a staff if not a sign of the exercise of power and an instrument for inflicting pain? Therefore, the Disciples obey the precept of their humble Lord - for `in His humiliation His judgement was taken away' [Is. 53:8] - their humble Lord, I say, through the obligation of His humiliation; for He sent them to sow the faith, not to enforce it, but to teach it, and not emphasize the force of power, but extol the doctrine of humility. St. Ambrose of Milan, Exposition of the Holy Gospel According to Saint Luke.

... God brought forth many men who by means of things perceptible to the senses became blessedly enriched with divine wisdom, with virtue, with knowledge and divine favour: for example, Seth, Enos, Enoch, Noah, Melchisedec, Abraham, and those who were their contemporaries or who have lived before them and after them, and who proved to be their equals, or nearly so.

But there was no one among these great men who passed his life utterly free from sin, so that he might retrieve the defeat which our forefathers has suffered, heal the wound at the root of our race and be sufficient warranty for the sanctification, blessing and return to life of all who followed.

God foreknew this; and during the course of time He chose out people from among the races and tribes who would produce that celebrated staff from which would blossom the Flower that was to accomplish the saving economy of our whole race (cf. Num. 17:8; Is. 11:1). St. Gregory Palamas (Topics of Natural and Theological Science no. 53, The Philokalia Vol. 4 edited by Palmer, Sherrard and Ware; Faber and Faber pg. 371)



... avoid in all possible ways communion with people, who can be a temptation to you ... The wise Solomon calls a man wise, who fears and avoids the causes of sin; and he calls foolish a man who, with great self-reliance, confidently neglects to avoid them, saying: 'A wise man fears, and departs from evil: but the fool rages, and is confident'...(Prov. 14:16). Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare: Chapter 19)

... exclude all pleasing of yourself even in the spiritual order of life. If you introduce into it, or choose exclusively deeds which please you, even if they belong to the spiritual order of things, you will ruin your work...You will seem to have something spiritual, but in actual fact it will not be so. Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare: Chapter 13)

... had the serpent been rejected, along with sin, they would have eaten of the Tree of Life, and the Tree of Knowledge would no longer have been withheld from them. From the latter they would have acquired infallible knowledge, while from the former they would have received immortal life. They would have acquired divinity in humanity. And had they thus acquired infallible knowledge and immortal ife, they would have done so in this body. St. Ephrem the Syrian, quoted in The Luminous Eye by Sebastian Brock.

... men of unrestrained life and character greatly desire all others to be worse than themselves, thinking to find themselves excused by the fact that the wicked are many ... St. Antony the Great(170 Texts on Saintly Life no. 8)

... perfection ... consists in nothing but coming near to God and union with Him...With this is connected a heartfelt realization of the goodness and greatness of God, together with consciousness of our own nothingness and our proneness to every evil; love of God and dislike of ourselves; submission not only to God but also to all creatures, for the sake of our love for God; renunciation of all will of our own and perfect obedience to the will of God; and moreover desire for all this and its practice with a pure heart to the glory of God (I Cor. 10:31), from sheer desire to please God and only because He Himself wishes it and because we should so love Him and work for Him. Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare Chapter 1)

... the Book of Psalms thus has a certain grace of its own, and a distinctive exactitude of expression. For in addition to the other things in which it enjoys an affinity and fellowship with the other books, it possesses, beyond that, this marvel of its own - namely, that it contains even the emotions of each soul, and it has the changes and rectifications of these delineated and regulated in itself. Therefore anyone who wishes boundlessly to receive and understand from it, so as to mold himself, it is written there. For in the other books one hears only of what one must do and what one must not do. And one listens to the Prophets so as solely to have knowledge of the coming of the Savior. One turns his attention to the histories, on the basis of which he can know the deeds of the kings and saints. But in the Book of Psalms, the one who hears, in addition to learning these things, also comprehends and is taught in it the emotions of the soul, and, consequently, on the basis of that which affects him and by which he is constrained, he also is enabled by this book to possess the image deriving from the words. Therefore, through hearing, it teaches not only not to disregard passion, but also how one must heal passion through speaking and acting. St. Athanasius the Great, Letter to Marcellinus.

... the greatest and most perfect thing a man may desire to attain is to come near to God and dwell in union with Him. Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare Chapter 1)

...God brought forth many men who by means of things perceptible to the senses became blessedly enriched with divine wisdom, with virtue, with knowledge and divine favour: for example, Seth, Enos, Enoch, Noah, Melchisedec, Abraham, and those who were their contemporaries or who have lived before them and after them, and who proved to be their equals, or nearly so. But there was no one among these great men who passed his life utterly free from sin, so that he might retrieve the defeat which our forefathers has suffered, heal the wound at the root of our race and be sufficient warranty for the sanctification, blessing and return to life of all who followed. God foreknew this; and during the course of time He chose out people from among the races and tribes who would produce that celebrated staff from which would blossom the Flower that was to accomplish the saving economy of our whole race (cf. Num. 17:8; Is. 11:1)." St. Gregory Palamas (Topics of Natural and Theological Science no. 53, The Philokalia Vol. 4 edited by Palmer, Sherrard and Ware; Faber and Faber pg. 371)

...If 'The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise' (John 5:19), and the Spirit 'shall not speak of Himself' (john 16:13), who can think that he has reached such heights of virtue that he has no need of someone's guidance amid mysteries? St. Gregory of Sinai (On Silence and Prayer no. 15)

...advance into battle without hesitation. Should you be visited by the troubling thought of the hatred and undying malice, which the enemies harbor against you, and of the innumerable hosts of the demons, think on the other hand of the infinitely greater power of God and of His love for you, as well as of the incomparably greater hosts of heavenly angels and the prayers of saints. They all fight secretly for us and with us against our enemies... Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare: Chapter 15)

...although expecting no good from ourselves and not relying on ourselves is the work of God in us, we on our side must make every effort to acquire this disposition, doing all we can, all within our power. And so, my brother, I offer you here four activities, by means of which, with God's help, you may end by acquiring disbelief in yourself, and learn never to rely on yourself in anything. (a)Realize your nothingness and constantly keep in your mind the fact that by yourself you can do nothing good which is worthy of the kingdom of heaven...(b)Ask for God's help in this with warm and humble prayers; for this is His gift...(c)Accustom yourself to be wary and to fear your innumerable enemies whom you cannot resist even for a short time...(d)If you fall into some transgression, quickly turn to the realization of your weakness and be aware of it. For God allows you to fall for the very purpose of making you aware of your weakness...This is the foundation and beginning of true humility, since it is based on realization, by experience, of your impotence and unreliability. Lorenzo Scupoli(Unseen Warfare, Chap. 2)

...among our people there exists an ascetic spirit as created by Orthodoxy through the centuries. The Orthodox soul of our people leans towards the Holy Fathers and the Orthodox ascetics. Ascetic exertion, at the personal, family, and parish level, particularly of prayer and fasting, is the characteristic of Orthodoxy. Our people is a people of Christ, an Orthodox people, because -- as Christ did -- it sums up the Gospel in these two virtues: prayer and fasting. And it is a people convinced that all defilement, all foul thoughts, can be driven out of man by these alone (Matt. 17:21). In its heart of hearts our people know Christ and Orthodoxy, they know just what it is that makes an Orthodox person Orthodox. Orthodoxy will always generate ascetic rebirth. She recognizes no other.

St. Justin Popovich, The Inward Mission of Our Church: Bringing About Orthodoxy. From Divine Ascent, Vol. 1 Number 1.



...do what a warrior in physical warfare does sometimes when he is hard pressed by the enemy; he steps back a little, to find a better point of vantage and see more clearly how best to speed his arrow at the heart of the foe. So you too, collect your thoughts within, and, re-establishing the consciousness and feeling of your nothingness and of your impotence to achieve by yourself what this moment demands, appeal to God to Whom all is possible, calling for His help against the attack of passion with warmth of trust and tears... Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare: Chapter 14)

...enter with attention into the heart and examine carefully with what thoughts, dispositions and passionate attachments it is specially occupied, and which passion is most predominant and tyrannically rules there. Then against this passion first of all take up arms and struggle to overcome it. On this one concentrate all your attention and care, except only at the times when some other passion happens to arise in you. In that case you should deal with this one without delay and drive it away, after which you must once more turn your weapons against your chief passion, which constantly manifests its presence and power. Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare: Chapter 17)

...every time you feel in God's creatures something pleasing and attractive, do not let your attention be arrested by them alone, but, passing them by, transfer your thought to God and say: 'O my God, if Thy creations are so full of beauty, delight and joy, how infinitely more full of beauty, delight and joy art Thou Thyself, Creator of all!' Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare: Chapter 21)

...get accustomed to looking at visible things, without your attention dwelling solely on their external aspect, but penetrating within them to their divine content, to their unseen and hidden beauty, thus revealed to the mind...evoking and feeding its spiritual contemplation and inciting you to praise the Lord. Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare: Chapter 21)

...how could this Universe have come into being or been put together, unless God had called it into existence, and held it together? For everyone who sees a beautifully made lute, and considers the skill with which it has been fitted together and arranged, or who hears its melody, would think of none but the lutemaker, or the luteplayer, and would recur to him in mind, though he might not know him by sight. St. Gregory Nazianzen (Second Theological Oration no. 6)

...if a man seeks God with obedience, questioning and wise humility, he will always be protected from harm by the grace of Christ, Who desires all men to be saved. St. Gregory of Sinai (Instructions to Hesychasts no. 7)

...in looking at trees, grasses and other plants, and seeing in your mind how they live, feed, grow and reproduce their kind, and that their life and all they have comes not from themselves, but from the Creative Spirit, Whom you do not see, but Who alone animates them, you can cry: 'Here is the true Life in Whom, from Whom and by Whom all live, feed and multiply! O life-giving Delight of my heart!' Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare:Chapter 21)

...in much the same way as a builder is to be seen in his work, so the sovereign artificer is to be found and as it were perceived in the creative wisdom inherent in living things, and in His providential care, governance, unification, guidance and conservation of them. St. Theognostos (On the Practice of the Virtues no. 35)

...it is not authority that is bad, but the love of authority; not glory, but the love of glory and - what is worse - vainglory; not the acquisition of virtue, but to suppose that one has acquired it; not spiritual knowledge, but to think that one is wise and - worse than this - to be ignorant of one's own ignorance; not true knowledge but what is falsely called knowledge (cf. I Tim. 6:20); not the world, but the passions; not nature, but what is contrary to nature; not agreement, but agreement to do what is evil and does not contribute to the soul's salvation; not the body's members, but their misuse. St. Peter of Damaskos (Book 1:A Treasury of Divine Knowledge, The Philokalia Vol. 3 pgs. 156-157)

...it is not enough for you merely to desire and seek to please God always and in everything; you must desire it as if moved by God Himself, and for one single aim - to please Him with a pure heart. Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare:Chapter 10)

...let us at least agree upon this, that we will mutter Mysteries under our breath, and holy things in a holy manner, and we will not cast to ears profane that which may not be uttered, nor give evidence that we possess less gravity than those who worship demons, and serve shameful fables and deeds... St. Gregory Nazianzen (First Theological Oration no. 5)

...let us recognize that as in dress and diet and laughter and demeanor there is a certain decorum, so there is also in speech and silence; since among so many titles and powers of God, we pay the highest honor to The Word. Let even our disputings then be kept within bounds. St. Gregory Nazianzen (First Theological Oration no. 5)

...looking at the...elements...and thinking of their essence, power and action, you will be filled with great spiritual delight and will call to the great Creator Who has made them: 'Great God,immeasurable Power and wondrous Action! I rejoice and am glad that You alone are the origin and cause of the essence, power and action of every creature!' Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare: Chapter 21)

...love every man as yourself - that is, do not wish him anything that you would not wish for yourself; think, feel for him just as you would think and feel for your own self; do not wish to see in him anything that you do not wish to see in yourself; do not let your memory keep in it any evil, caused to you by others, in the same way as you would wish that evil done by yourself should be forgotten by others; do not intentionally imagine either in yourself or in another anything guilty or impure; believe others to be as well-intentioned as yourself, in general, if you do not see clearly that they are evilly disposed; do unto them as you would to yourself, or even do not do unto them as you would not do unto yourself, and then you will see what you will obtain in your heart - what peace, what blessedness! St. John of Kronstadt (My Life in Christ, Part 1; Holy Trinity Monastery pgs.34-35)

...love every man as yourself - that is, do not wish him anything that you would not wish for yourself; think, feel for him just as you would think and feel for your own self; do not wish to see in him anything that you do not wish to see in yourself; do not let your memory keep in it any evil, caused to you by others, in the same way as you would wish that evil done by yourself should be forgotten by others; do not intentionally imagine either in yourself or in another anything guilty or impure; believe others to be as well-intentioned as yourself, in general, if you do not see clearly that they are evilly disposed; do unto them as you would to yourself, or even do not do unto them as you would not do unto yourself, and then you will see what you will obtain in your heart - what peace, what blessedness!" St. John of Kronstadt (My Life in Christ, Part 1; Holy Trinity Monastery pgs.34-35)

...make it your rule every morning, while you still sit at home, to review in your mind all the occasions you may meet with in the course of the day, both favorable and unfavorable, and visualize the passionate impulses, lusts and irritations they may provoke; then prepare in yourself beforehand how to stifle them at the very inception, without allowing them to develop... This review of what may happen should be practiced especially when you have to go out and visit places where you are bound to meet people, who can either attract or irritate you. Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare: Chapter 18)

...seeing the dumb animals you can soar with your mind to God, Who gave them their senses and the power to move from place to place, and say: 'O prime Mover of all things, Who, setting all things in motion, Thyself remains at rest! How I rejoice and am glad in Thy immobility and Thy firm immutability!' Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare:Chapter 21)

...the Spirit of Christ...abides wholly in all the members of Christ's body, and moves and gives life to those who can take part in life. But those also whose weakness prevents them, it still mercifully keeps as its own. Thus each believer, though sharing through faith in spiritual sonship, may remain passive and unenlightened through lack of faith and zeal, deprived of the light and life of Jesus. So, although every believer, as a member of Christ, possesses the Spirit of Christ in him, he may remain passive and unmoving, as one incapable of sharing in grace. St. Gregory of Sinai (Texts on Commandments and Dogmas no. 129)

...the enemy - wanting to overpower the intelligence, a skilled commander - first addles its wits with gluttonous and promiscuous thoughts, treating it derisively and dismissing it from its command as though it were a drunken general; then he uses anger and desire as servants of his own will. Free in this way from the control of the intelligence, these powers - the desiring and the incensive powers - use the five senses as aids in sinning openly. St. Philotheos of Sinai(Texts on Watchfulness no. 18)

...the material body...cannot enshrine the essence of the intellect until the material body itself truly lives by adopting a form of life appropriate to union with the intellect." St. Gregory Palamas (Those Who Practise a Life of Stillness no. 6, The Philokalia Vol. 4 edited by Palmer, Sherrard and Ware; Faber and Faber pg. 337)

...there is nothing He[God] loves and desires to see in us more than a sincere consciousness of our nothingness and a firm and deep-felt conviction that any good we may have in our nature and our life comes from Him alone, since He is the source of all good, and that nothing truly good can ever come from ourselves, whether a good thought or a good action. Therefore He takes care to plant this heavenly seed in the hearts of His beloved friends, urging them not to value themselves and not to rely on themselves. Sometimes He does this through the action of grace and inner illumination, or sometimes through external blows and tribulations, sometimes through unexpected and almost unconquerable temptations, and sometimes by other means, not always comprehensible to us. Lorenzo Scupoli(Unseen Warfare, Chap. 2 )

...to say that God turns away from the wicked is the same as to say that the sun hides itself from those who lose their sight. St. Anthony the Great (170 Texts on Saintly Life no. 150)

...watch, my beloved, with all attention and protect yourself from liking or disliking a thing out of passion, before you have had time to examine it properly in the light of reason and the just word of the Divine Scriptures, in the light of grace and prayer, and with the help of the judgment of your spiritual father; otherwise you may sin in taking for evil what is truly good, and good what is truly evil. This mostly happens in the case of certain actions, which are good and holy in themselves, but which according to circumstances, namely that if they are done at a wrong time, or are out of place, or are not done in the right measure, cause considerable harm to those who do them. Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare: Chapter 8)

...we carry as in earthen vessels - that is to say, in our bodies - the Father's Light in the Person of Jesus Christ, and so can experience the glory of the Holy Spirit... St. Gregory Palamas (Those Who Practice a Life of Stillness, The Philokalia Vol. 4 edited by Palmer, Sherrard and Ware; Faber and Faber pg. 333

...when desire is not restrained from forming likes and dislikes before a thing is properly examined, then both these powers of the soul - mind and will - always work wrongly, plunging ever deeper and deeper from darkness to darkness, and from sin to sin. Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare: Chapter 8)

...when did the Father come into being. There never was a time when He was not. And the same thing is true of the Son and the Holy Ghost...How then are They not alike unoriginate, if They are co-eternal? Because They are from Him, though not after Him. For that which is unoriginate is eternal, but that which is eternal is not necessarily unoriginate, so long as it may be referred to the Father as its origin. Therefore in respect of Cause They are not unoriginate; but it is evident that the Cause is not necessarily prior to its effects, for the sun is not prior to its light. St. Gregory Nazianzen (Third Theological Oration no. 3)

...when one listens with faith and the other teaches with love, speaking of virtues without arrogance or vanity...then the soul accepts the word of teaching as a teacher; the word of reading as a nourisher; the word derived from practice (the most inner word) as the loveliest bridal adornment; the illumining word of the Spirit as the word of the bridegroom, joining her with Himself and rendering her glad. St. Gregory of Sinai (Texts on Commandments and Dogmas no. 96)

...when you see a thing with your eyes, or visualize it in your mind, keep a firm grip on your desires and do not allow yourself at the first glance either to conceive a liking for the thing or a dislike for it, but examine it in a detached way with the mind alone. Unobscured by passion, the mind then remains in a state natural to it, which is free and pure, and has the possibility to know the truth and to penetrate into the depths of a thing, where evil is often concealed under a deceptively attractive exterior and where good is sometimes hidden under a bad appearance. Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare, Chapter 8)

...while the kings of particular nations have bounds set to their authority, the Holy Church Catholic alone extends her power without limit over the whole world; 'for God', as it is written, 'has made her border peace' (Ps. 147:14). St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures: Lecture 18 no. 27)

...who are the permitted persons [to philosophize about God]? They to whom the subject is of real concern, and not they who make it a matter of pleasant gossip, like any other thing, after the races, or the theatre, or a concert, or a dinner, or still lower employments. To such men as these, idle jests and pretty contradictions about these subjects are a part of their amusement. St. Gregory Nazianzen (First Theological Oration no. 3)

...whom the Lord loves He chastens, and a rebuke is a fatherly action; while every soul which is unchastised, is unhealed. Is not then freedom from chastisement a hard thing? But to fail to be corrected by the chastisement is still harder. St. Gregory Nazianzen (On His Father's Silence no. 15)

A certain man travelling to Constantinople from the East fell among robbers who stole from him everything that he had with him, mutilated his body, cut the sinews of his knees and leaving him half dead, went their ways; but by the providence of God they had not inflicted any mortal wound on him. Some wayfarers who came to that place picked him up and carried him to the city of Ancyra, for it was close to that city that this had befallen him.

There they took him to the bishop who ordered him to be conveyed to the hospital and cared for there. But while his wounds were tended he was not able to walk. He therefore made this request of the bishop, 'I was travelling to Constantinople in fulfillment of a vow making my way to our lord Daniel, who stands on the column, when I met with this accident; and now that, thanks to you, I have been healed it behoves me to fulfill my vow. I pray you, therefore, servant of God, to send me safely to Constantinople to the holy man'

The bishop, since he thought that this was a pious request; gave him money for his expenses, also a beast and two men to conduct him to the holy man Daniel. So the men took him and brought him to the holy man's enclosure and then carried him and laid him in front of the column. The man cried aloud and told the holy man the reason for which he had come and related what had happened to him and how he had been saved by the help of God and the bishop. The holy man sent thanks to the bishop for the kindness he had shown to the man and after furnishing those who had brought him with supplies for their journey he dismissed them in peace with presents for the bishop. He handed over the man to some of the servants with orders to carry him and bring him to the enclosure daily at the hour of prayer, and to anoint him with the oil of the saints; the man's legs hung down as if they did not belong to him. After a few days, one Friday when the Saint had said the prayers as usual and all had said 'Amen', the man suddenly leapt from the litter, and stood on his feet and said with a loud voice, 'Bless me, oh servant of God'. And he quickly ran up the steps and embraced the column giving thanks the while to God

A certain woman had a son of twelve years, Damianus by name, dumb from birth; him she brought to the holy man's enclosure and signing to him not to go away, she left him and departed. Then when the brethren saw the boy staying there and saying nothing to anybody, they brought him to the holy man. He, beholding him, ordered that he should remain in the monastery, saying, 'The boy shall be God's minister'. The brethren said, 'He is dumb, master !' He said to them, 'Moisten his tongue with the oil of the saints'. But the brethren suspected that from stress of poverty the mother had suggested to him to feign dumbness; so very often when the boy was asleep they woke him suddenly by making a noise; and at other times they would prick him in the body with needles or pens to try whether he would speak. But he said nothing, as he was held by the power of dumbness. One Sunday, after some considerable time had passed, when the holy Gospel was going to be read aloud, and the deacon had announced the lesson from the holy Gospel of St. Matthew, the boy shouted out ahead of the others, 'Glory be to thee, oh Lord!' And after uttering this first cry he in future surpassed all the brethren in his singing of the psalms. A certain chamberlain, Calopodius by name, had built an oratory to the holy Archangel Michael and came to the holy man asking him to give him some brethren for this oratory in Parthenopolis. And together with the brethren the holy man gave him this boy to sing the psalms and he became God's minister, as the servant of God had foretold about him. So great are the achievements of grace, so great the gifts of our Master to His sincere servants; he came not speaking and became a good speaker, he came voiceless and gained a beautiful voice, he was deserted by his mother as dumb and he proved to be the wonderful herald of the church. the Life of Daniel the Stylite, commemorated 11 December



A great evil is it when we theologize cold-heartedly with our mind, passing off our mind for the Holy Spirit. This is called "encephalogy" [theology of the brain], which gives birth to Babel (confusion). In theology, however, there are many tongues (many gifts), but all tongues are in agreement because they have one Master, the Holy Spirit of the Pentecost, and the tongues are of fire. He, who disregards divine enlightenment, gives primacy to the mind and creates an impressive sermon with beautiful wording, is related to the Arians who believed that Christ is a creature of God.

We, the Orthodox, believe and confess that the Word of God was not created, but was born "of the Father before all ages" and was incarnate "of the Holy Spirit" and the Virgin Mary and brought salvation to the world. The word of the mind does not bring change to souls, for it is flesh. The word of God that is born of the Holy Spirit has divine energy and changes souls. the forthcoming book "The Epistles of Fr. Paisios," published by St. John the Evangelist Monastery in Souroti, Greece.



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 possess all other virtues. For one is only perfected through zealously enduring both all the voluntary and involuntary afflictions. Some of these afflictions are inflicted upon u s externally and others are borne internally. That which happens to the earthly plants naturally, during the changes of the season when cultivation is done by the vinedressers - who are us, the intelligent branches of Christ who are obedient to that Vinedresser of souls - is endured from self-determined free choice. Furthermore, without enduring the involuntary afflictions which come upon us, nor those voluntary things, one will not acquire divine blessings. For love towards God is received especially through the sorrows which are a result of the trial of temptations. St. Gregory Palamas, Treatise on the Spiritual Life.

A hypocrite, hunting after glory the comes from apparent righteousness, is untroubled so long as he thinks that he escapes notice. But when he is detected, he utters streams of imprecation, imagining that by abusing others he can hide his own deformity. Because of his craftiness Scripture has compared him to the offspring of vipers and commanded him to bring forth appropriate fruits of repentance, that is, to refashion the hidden state of his heart so that it conforms to its outward behavior St Maximus the Confessor - First Century on Theology (Text 23)

A man becomes perfect in the sight of God to the extent that he follows in His footsteps; in the true age God will reveal His face to him. For the righteous, to the degree that they enter into contemplation of Him, behold His image as in a mirror; but there they will behold the revelation of Truth. St Seraphim of Sarov - Spiritual Instructions

A man cannot receive spiritual knowledge except he be converted, and become as a little child. For only then does he experience that delight which belongs to the Kingdom of the Heavens. By `Kingdom of the Heavens' the Scriptures mean spiritual divine vision. This cannot be found through the workings of our deliberations, but by grace it can be tasted. Until a man has been purified, he is not even capable of hearing of it, for no one is able to acquire it by instruction. The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian.

A man who is wrathful with us is a sick man; we must apply a plaster to his heart - love; we must treat him kindly, speak to him gently, lovingly. And if there is not deeply-rooted malice against us within him, but only a temporary fit of anger, you will see how his heart, or his malice, will melt away through your kindness and love - how good will conquer evil. A Christian must always be kind, gracious, and wise in order to conquer evil by good. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ.

A mind that has found spiritual wisdom is like a man who finds a fully equipped ship at sea, and once he has gone aboard, it brings him from the sea of this world to the isle of the age to come. In like manner, the perception of the future age while in this world is like an islet in the ocean; and he who approaches it toils no longer amid the billows of the appearances of this age. The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian.

A person must first spend a long time in ascetic practice. He must begin by purifying his body from the actual committing of sin, whether great or small, and then purge his soul of every form of desire or anger. His moral impulses need to be disciplined by good habit, so that he does not do anything whatsoever through his five senses that is contrary to the purpose of his intellect, nor does his inner self consent to any such thing. It is then, when finally he becomes subject to himself, that God makes all things subject to him through dispassion and by the grace of the Holy Spirit. For a man must first submit to the law of God, and then he will rule as an intelligent being over all around him. His intellect will reign as it was originally created to reign, with judgment and self-restraint, with courage and justice. Now he will calm his wrath with the gentleness of his desire, now quieten his desire with the austerity of his wrath; and he will know that he is a king. St. Peter of Damaskos(24 Discourses; Discrimination)

A person standing at an open window hears the sounds from outside; it is impossible not to do so. But he can give the voices his attention or not, as he himself wishes. The praying person is continually beset by a stream of inappropriate thoughts, feelings and mental impressions. To stop this tiresome stream is as impracticable as to stop the air from circulating in an open room. But one can notice them or not. This, say the saints, one learns only through practice. Tito Colliander, The Way of the Ascetics

A person who through the grace of God partakes of divine blessings is under an obligation to share them ungrudgingly with others. St. Maximos the Confessor (First Century on Theology no. 29)

A scholar attracts by his knowledge, a wealthy man by riches, a handsome man by beauty, an artist by his skill. Each of these attracts a limited number of individuals. Only love attracts all human beings. The attraction of love is unlimited. And educated or uneducated, rich or poor, skilled or unskilled, beautiful or ugly, healthy or sick, and young or old - all want to be loved. Christ spread His love on everyone, and lovingly drew all to Himself. With His great love he encompassed even the dead, long decomposed and forgotten by men. Kassiana: Lessons in Divine and Christian Love. From the Collected Works of Bp. Nikolai Velimirovic.

A sensible sick man could say equally well to his doctor: 'Take pity on me, according to your instruction: take care of me, as your discipline prescribes.' He who makes this demand knows the manner in which this care will be exercised. Often, indeed, God assures our salvation by His correction. The chastisement comes because God loves mankind. Theodoret of Cyrus

A sinner like me does not ask God that he may see visions for that is against his will, and wrong. Hear all the same about a great miracle: If you see a man pure and humble, that is a great vision: for what is greater than such a vision, to see the invisible God in his temple, a visible man?" St. Pachomius

A soul's motivation is rightly ordered when its desiring power is subordinated to self-control, when its incensive power rejects hatred and cleaves to love, and when its power of intelligence, through prayer and spiritual contemplation, advances towards God. St. Maximos the Confessor (Fourth Century on Love no. 15)

A tale of wonder has now stirred within me to be told: Hearken lovingly, O men of discernment, with the ear of the soul, Mary's history has been roused in me with wonder, that it might reveal itself: Prepare your minds with discretion. The holy Virgin hath bid me speak of her this day; Let us purify our hearing for her pure account, lest we bring dishonor upon us. She is a second Heaven; for in her womb the Lord of the Heights has dwelt, And dawned from her to drive the darkness from every quarter; The blessed among women, by whom the cursing of the earth was torn out by the roots, And the full term of the sentence was thenceforth fulfilled; Grave, venerable, filled with the virtues of holiness, Whose history my mouth is too little to tell; The daughter of the poor, who became the Mother of the Lord of kings, And gave riches to the needy world for it to live by; The Ship bearing treasures and blessings from the House of the Father, Which came and poured out riches on our destitute realm; The good Field that seedlessly yielded a crop, Whence abounded a great harvest, being yet untilled; The second Eve who gave birth to Life among those subject to death, Redeeming and rending the bond of Eve her mother. Mar Jacob of Serugh, Homily on the Blessed Virgin Mary.

A true Christian is made by faith and love toward Christ. Our sins do not in the least hinder our Christianity, according to the word of the Saviour Himself. He deigned to say: not the righteous have I come to call, but sinners to salvation; there is more joy in heaven over one who repents than over ninety righteous ones. Likewise concerning the sinful woman who touched His feet, He deigned to say to the Pharisee Simon: to one who has love, a great debt is forgiven, but from one who has no love even a small debt will be demanded. From these judgements a Christian should bring himself to hope and joy, and not in the least accept an inflicted despair. Here one needs the shield of faith. St. Herman of Alaska, in The Orthodox Word, Vol. 5 #6, 1969.

A very simple Athonite elder said, "These learned people get into trouble when they try to research the Divine. When the rope is too short, how does one dare to descend into the depths of the ravine? An Athonite Gerontikon

A worker takes the trouble to get hold of the instruments that he requires. He does so not simply to have them and not use them. Nor is there any profit for him in merely possessing the instruments. What he wants is, with their help, to produce the crafted objective for which these are the efficient means. In the same way, fasting, vigils, scriptural meditation, nakedness, and total deprivation do not constitute perfection but are the means to perfection. They are not themselves the end point of a discipline, but an end is attained through them. To practice them will therefore be useless if someone instead of regarding these as means to an end is satisfied to regard them as the highest good. One would possess the instruments of a profession without knowing the end where the hoped-for fruit is to be found. St. John Cassian, Conferences

A zealous man never achieves peace of mind. And he who is a stranger to peace is a stranger to joy. If, as it is said, peace of mind is perfect health, and zeal is opposed to peace, then the man who has a wrong zeal is ill with a grievous disease. Though you presume, O man, to send forth your zeal against the infirmities of other men, you have expelled the health of your own soul. Be assiduous, therefore, in laboring for your own soul's health. If you wish to heal the infirm, know that the sick are in greater need of loving care than of rebuke. Therefore, although you do not help others, you expend labor to bring grievous illness upon yourself.

Zeal is not reckoned among men to be a form of wisdom, but one of the illnesses of the soul, namely narrow-mindedness and deep ignorance. The beginning of divine wisdom is clemency and gentleness, which arise from greatness of soul and the bearing of infirmities of men. For, he [the Apostle Paul] says, "let the strong bear the infirmities of the weak', and 'Restore him that has fallen in the spirit of meekness.' The Apostle numbers peace and patience among the fruits of the Spirit. "On the Harm of Foolish Zeal that Has the Guise of Being Divine", St. Isaac of Nineveh



AND GOD SAID: LET US MAKE MAN IN OUR IMAGE AFTER OUR LIKENESS

Our likeness to God requires our cooperation. When the intellect begins to perceive the Holy Spirit with full consciousness, we should realize that grace is beginning to paint the divine likeness over the divine image in us. If the intellect does not receive the perfection of the divine likeness through such illumination, although it may have almost every other virtue, it will still have no share in the perfect love. St. Diadochos of Photiki. On Spiritual Knowledge, Text 89. Philokalia. B#22, Vol. One, p. 288



Abba Poemen said, "If three men meet, of whom the first fully preserves interior peace, and the second gives thanks to God in illness, and the third serves with a pure mind, these three are doing the same work." The Desert Fathers

Abba Theonas and Abba Theodore related that at Alexandria under the patriarch Paul (538-542), a young girl surviving the death of her parents gained a great fortune. She was not yet baptized. One day, going into an orchard which her parents had left to her -- for there were some orchards in the midst of the city belonging to great persons -- when she had thus gone into the orchard she saw a man who was preparing to do away with himself. She ran to him and said, "What are you doing, my good man?" He replied, "Truly, woman, leave me alone, because I am in great distress." The young girl said to him, "Tell me the truth, and perhaps I can come to your assistance." He said, "I have large debts and I am greatly pressed by my creditors; I prefer to die rather than live such a miserable life." The young girl said to him, "I beseech you, take everything I have, pay what you owe, but don't kill yourself now." He took (what he needed) and paid back what he owed. After this, the young girl found herself in financial trouble, and having no one to look after her, deprived of parents, she was in great need and fell into lewdness/dissoluteness. Those who knew her and who knew what had been the status of her parents said, "Who knows the judgements of God? Who knows why He permits that a soul falls and for what reason?" Sometime afterwards, the young girl fell sick; she returned to her own place and with great remorse she said to her neighbors, "In the name of the Lord, have pity on my soul and ask the Papa (patriarch) if he would make me a Christian." But casting scorn on her they said, "Is he going to receive such a prostitute?" She was greatly afflicted. Since she was in deep despair, the angel of the Lord appeared to her in the guise of the man on whom she had taken pity; and he said to her, "What is it that you want to have?" She replied, "I desire to be a Christian, and no one wishes to speak for me." and he said to her, "Do you truly desire it?" She said, "Ye! s, I pray you." He said to her, "Don't be discouraged anymore. I am going to introduce/conduct some others, and they will bear you to the church." He thus gave her over to two others -- who were also angels -- and they escorted her into the church. And again, they were transformed into important persons, of augustal rank, and the priests summoned those who sponsored the baptisms. The priests said to them, "Are Your Charities responsible/answerable for her?" They responded, "Yes." The priests, having thus performed all of the series of ceremonies for those who wished to be baptized, then baptized her in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. They likewise dressed her in the robes of the newly-baptized; and dressed in white, she returned to her place, borne along by them; and having set her down, they disappeared. The neighbors saw her dressed in white and they said to her, "Who has baptized you?" She told them, "Certain men came, conveyed me to the church! , spoke to the priests, and had me baptized." They demanded of her, "Who were these people?" Since she couldn't find anything to say in reply, they went to report this thing to the Papa. The Papa then summoned those who presided at the baptistery. He said to them, "Are you the ones who baptized her?" They admitted it, saying that they had been bidden to by such and such ones, (who were) augustals. The bishop then sent them out to look among those who were so designated (as augustals), and inform him quickly of those who had answered so well concerning her. They said, "We know nothing, we have no knowledge of having done this thing." Then the bishop recognized that this was the work of God. He called in the young girl and said to her, "Tell me, my daughter, what good deed have you done?" She answered, "I am a prostitute and am poverty-stricken. What good deed could I have done?" He asked her, "You have absolutely no knowledge of having done a good deed?" She responded, "No, except that once I saw someone who was going to kill himself, because he was hard-pressed by his creditors; and I gave to him all of my fortune to deliver him." Saying this, she fell asleep in the Lord, herself delivered from both voluntary and involuntary faults. Then the bishop glorifying God said, "You are just, Lord, and your judgements are true" (Ps. 118: 137). John Moschus, Leimonarion, (The Spiritual Meadow), 207

Abraham, ready to receive strangers, faithful towards God, devoted in ministering, quick in his service, saw the Trinity in a type; he added religious duty to hospitality, when beholding Three he worshipped One, and preserving the distinction of the Persons, yet addressed one Lord, he offered to Three the honor of his gift, while acknowledging one Power. It was not learning but grace which spoke in him, and he believed better what he had not learnt than we who have learnt. St. Ambrose, On Belief in the Resurrection, Book II.

According to St. Gregory the Sinaite there are three degrees in eating: temperance, sufficiency, and satiety. Temperance is when someone wants to ear some more food but abstains, rising from the table still somewhat hungry. Sufficiency is when someone eats what is needed and sufficient for normal nourishment. Satiety is when someone eats more than enough and is more than satisfied. Now if you cannot keep the first tow degrees and you proceed to the third, then, at least, do not become a glutton, remembering the words of the Lord, `Woe to you that are full now, for you shall hunger' (Lk. 6:25). Remember also that rich man who ate in this present life sumptuously every day, but who was deprived of the desired bosom of Abraham in the next life, simply because of this sumptuous eating. St. Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain, Handbook of Spiritual Counsel.

According to the Apostle's word, we are forthwith required to acquire every virtue in order to accomplish the perfect man according to God, that is, the man who lacks nothing in any way, and to receive the grace of the Spirit from the heavenly King like soldiers taking their rations from the earthly emperor. And then, when we have become already perfect men, and have risen up to the maturity of Christ and its measure, and have been enrolled with His soldiers and servants, we shall campaign against our hostile enemies since, as Paul the divine Apostle says, no one `ever serves as a soldier at his own expense' (1Cor. 9:7). What does `expense' mean? The royal ration. If, therefore, we should not also receive from God the bread which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world, that is, the grace of the Spirit - for this is the spiritual rations by which they are nourished who campaign with Christ, and with which they are spiritually clothed in place of weapons - then how, tell me, shall we march with God's army? How shall we be ranked among His servants? St. Symeon the New Theologian, On the Mystical Life, Vol. 2.

According to the Gospel, it should be said that undoubtedly each person is given his own saving cross. This cross has grown on the soil of our heart, and it is only through this cross that we can be saved. From this it follows that if we refuse to carry our cross of obedience for no legitimate reason, we refuse to go by the way of Christ, by the saving way, and we want to invent for ourselves another way, free of labor, for attaining the Kingdom of Heaven. But this cannot be. The Kingdom of God suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force (Cf. Mt. 11:12). St. Anatoly (Zertsalov) of Optina, A Collection of Letters to Nuns.

According to the text, `We are the body of Christ and each of us is one of its members' (cf. 1Cor. 12:27), we are said to be the body of Christ. We do not become this body through the loss of our own bodies; nor again because Christ's body passes into us hypostatically or is divided into members; but rather because we conform to the likeness of the Lord's flesh by shaking off the corruption of sin. For just as Christ in His manhood was sinless by nature both in flesh and soul, so we too who believe in Him, and have clothed ourselves in Him through the Spirit, can be without sin in Him if we so choose.

St. Maximus the Confessor, Second Century on Theology, Philokalia, Vol. II.



Accordingly it is the Church's offering, the offering that the Lord has taught us to make throughout the world, which is counted as a pure sacrifice before God and which is acceptable to Him. He needs no sacrifice from us, but the offerer is himself glorified through his offering, if his gift is accepted. Through this gift we show the honor and devotion we are paying to the King. The Lord expressed His desire that we should offer it in all simplicity and innocence in the words: `If you are offering your gift at the altar and you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift before the altar and go; for be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift' (Mt. 5:23-24). So we are to offer to God the first-fruits of His own creation, as Moses says: `You shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed' (Deut. 16:16) - the purpose being that man should express his gratitude to God by means of the gifts that have been bestowed on him, and thereby receive the honor which comes from God. St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies IV

Accordingly when it is said: `God is love,' by this is said that the entire Holy Trinity is Love. The Father is Love and the Son is Love and the Holy Spirit is Love. The source and the original countenance of love between the angels and men, the source Who was giving of Himself without ceasing and receiving without enrichment. Kassiana, Lessons in Divine and Christian Love.

Accordingly, dearly-beloved, being mindful of our weakness, because we easily fall into all kinds of faults, let us by no means neglect this special remedy and most effectual healing of our wounds. Let us remit, that we may have remission; let us grant the pardon which we crave; let us not be eager to be revenged when we pray to be forgiven. Let us not pass over the groans of the poor with deaf ear, but with prompt kindness bestow our mercy on the needy, that we may deserve to find mercy in the judgment. And he that, aided by God's grace, shall strain every nerve after this perfection, will keep this holy fast faithfully; free from the leaven of the old wickedness, in the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth, he will reach the blessed Passover, and by newness of life will worthily rejoice in the mystery of man's reformation through Christ our Lord, Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen. Sermons of Leo the Great, On Lent I.

Acquire the grace of the Holy Spirit also by practicing all the other virtues for Christ's sake. Trade spiritually with them; trade with those which give you the greatest profit. Accumulate capital from the superabundance of God's grace, deposit it in God's eternal bank which will bring you immaterial interest, not four or sic percent, but one hundred percent for one spiritual rouble, and even infinitely more than that. For example, if prayer and watching gives you more of God's grace, watch and pray; if fasting gives you much of the Spirit of God, fast; if almsgiving gives you more, give alms. Weigh every virtue done for Christ's sake in this manner. St. Seraphim of Sarov, A Wonderful Revelation to the World

Actually, a man's real life begins with his faith in the Lord Christ, which commits all his soul, all his heart, all his strength to the Lord Christ, Who gradually sanctifies, transfigures, deifies them. And through that sanctification, transfiguration, and deification the grace-filled Divine energies, which give him the all-powerful feeling and consciousness of personal immortality and personal eternity, are poured out upon in. In reality, our life is life inasmuch as it is in Christ. And as much as it is in Christ is shown by its holiness. St. Justin Popovich, Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ.

After first calling blessed those who gain imperishable wealth because of their poverty in spirit, God, Who alone is blessed, next make those who grieve partakers of His own blessedness, saying, `Blessed are those who grieve, for they will be consoled' (Mt. 5:4). Why did Christ thus join grief to poverty? Because it always coexists with it. But while sorrow over worldly poverty induces the soul's death, grief over poverty embraced in God's name induces the `saving repentance that `saving repentance that is not to be regretted' (2Cor. 7:10). The first kind of poverty, being unsought, is followed by unwished-for grief; the second, being freely embraced, is followed by grief freely embraced. Because the grief here called blessed is linked with the poverty embraced in God's name, necessarily issuing from it and depending on it as its cause, it too possesses a spiritual and voluntary character. St. Gregory Palamas, To the Most Rev. Nun Xenia. Philokalia, Vol. IV

After having sung hymns of praise to the tomb of the Giver of life, They turned and saw the one seated upon the stone, And from fright they drew back; And feeling awe, they turned aside their faces, And with fear they said this: `What is the figure, whose shape is the? Who is this whom we behold? An angel? A man? Has he come from on high? Or has he just arisen into our presence from below? He is fire; he sends forth light; his glance is like lightning; he shines. Let us flee, maidens, lest we be consumed.' O divine, heavenly shower, descend on those who thirst for Thee, Thou Who offerest resurrection to the fallen. St Romanos the Melodist - On the Resurrection

After the Savior introduced the lofty doctrines concerning the Spirit to the disciples, at one and the same time, both doing away with their faint-heartedness and theologizing* truly concerning the Spirit, it was only human if their minds were in a turmoil of unlawful thoughts. How grim it is when the soul is consumed with grief and when judgment is muddled by the murk of this state; then that which is for salvation is distorted and becomes baneful. Therefore, as best physician of both body and soul, He prescribes the saving medicine beforehand, so that, inasmuch as the Spirit grants greater gifts, they would not apprehend the Spirit as being superior to the Son, nor would they admit any thought which would insult matter and sunder the equal hypostases into inequality. St. Photios the Great, On the Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit.

After the resurrection, when our bodies will be re-united to our souls, they will be incorruptible; and the carnal passions which distrub us now will not be present in those bodies; we shall enjoy a peaceful equilibrium in which the prudence of the flesh will not make war upon the soul; and there will no longer be that internal warfare wherein sinful passions fight againt the law of the mind. conquering the soul and taking it captive by sin. Our nature then will be purified of all these tendencies, and one spirit will be in both, I mean in the flesh and in the spirit, and every corporeal affection will be banished from our nature. St. Gregory of Nyssa, Commentary on the Canticle in From Glory to Glory.

After the resurrection, when our bodies will be re-united to our souls, they will be incorruptible; and the carnal passions which disturb us now will not be present in those bodies; we shall enjoy a peaceful equilibrium in which the prudence of the flesh will not make war upon the soul; and there will no longer be that internal warfare wherein sinful passions fight against the law of the mind, conquering the soul and taking it captive by sin. Our nature then will be purified of all these tendencies, and one spirit will be in both, I mean in the flesh and in the spirit, and every corporeal affection will be banished from our nature. St. Gregory of Nyssa, From Glory to Glory.

After the travelers in virtue had crossed the sea, after the water had been sweetened for them, after their refreshing rest by the springs and palms, and after their drinking from the rock, the supplies from Egypt ran completely out. And thus when they had no more of the foreign food which they had laid by in Egypt, there flowed down from above food which was at the same time varied and uniform. In appearance the food was uniform, but in quality it was varied, for it conformed to each person's desire. What then do we learn here? We learn by what purification one should purify himself of Egypt and the foreign life so that he empties the sack of his soul of all evil nourishment prepared by the Egyptians. In this way he receives in himself with his pure soul the food which comes down from above, which was not produced for us by any sowing in cultivated soil. Coming down from above, the bread is found upon the earth already prepared without the wheat's having been sown or ripened. St. Gregory of Nyssa, The Life of Moses

After this period of childhood and the full development of reason, the mind may learn on its own or may learn by hearing Holy Scripture and the holy Fathers that its natural and appropriate pleasure is something altogether different. What happens then? The mind, being by nature rational and prudent and loving whatever is good, cannot suffer to see the senses of its body so enslaved to their pleasurable objects. The mind cannot continue to be a co-prisoner with the senses the senses and a contradiction: the king becoming a slave; the ruler becoming the ruled; who by nature is self-ruled and in authority becoming the obedient subject. The mind, finally, cannot bear to receive such harm that it will gradually bring it to annihilation and to hell. St. Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain, Handbook of Spiritual Counsel.

Again we would say `If Adam died because of sin, He Who removed sin had to take away death too.' But just as Adam was told `The day you eat of the forbidden tree, you shall die,' but in fact he did not die; but rather he received a pledge of his death in the form of being stripped naked of the gory and his expulsion from Paradise, after which he was daily pondering on death. It is exactly the same with life in Christ: we have eaten His Body in place of the fruit of the Tree, and His altar has taken the place of the Garden of Eden for us; the curse has been washed away by His innocent blood, and in the hope of resurrection we await the life that is to come, and indeed we already walk in the new life, in that we already have a pledge of it. St. Ephrem the Syrian, quoted in The Luminous Eye by Sebastian Brock.

Again, it is from the Scriptures that we learn how to travel on the road of virtuous conduct, for in them all the fine deeds of the just life are delineated. Just as one cannot see anything without light, for it is light that enables us to see, as it is written `By Thy light we see light,' similarly, without the light of the Scriptures we are unable to see God, Who is Light, or His justice, which is filled with light. Abba Martyrius, in The Syriac Father on Prayer and the Spiritual Life.

Ages, times and places belong to the category of relationship, and consequently no object necessarily associated with these things can be other than relative. But God transcends the category of relationship; for nothing else whatsoever is necessarily associated with Him. Therefore if the inheritance of the saints is God Himself, he who is found worthy of this grace will be beyond all ages, times and places: he will have God Himself as his place, in accordance with the text, 'Be to me a God who is a defender and a fortified place of my salvation' (Ps. 71:3. LXX). St. Maximos the Confessor (First Century on Theology no. 68)

Alas! We are in exile and we do not want to realize it. We do not want to see from what heights we have fallen. But with our own evil will, we cover our ears and shut our eyes, blinding ourselves willingly so that we might not see the truth. Woe to us, for we consider the darkness here to be light, and for a paltry pleasure that this world offers, we avoid the light there as if it were darkness. We avoid it because of the small sorrow that the body encounters, and lose the repose there. Woe to our wretchedness! For God calls out to us to become His children, but we become sons of darkness. We exchange eternity for a little bit of honey. For the small pleasure of luxury or glory, we deny and fall away from the glory of the kingdom of God. So blessed is he who sees this deception and abstains from the fleeting pleasures of this world, and aspires to the enjoyment that awaits us. Monastic Wisdom: The Letters of Elder Joseph the Hesychast

All Scripture of our, my son - both ancient and new - is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, as it is written. But the Book of Psalms possesses a certain winning exactitude for those who are prayerful. Each sacred book supplies and announces its own promise. The Pentateuch, for instance, relates the beginning of the world and the deeds of the patriarchs, both the exodus of Israel out of Egypt and the decree of the legislation. The Triteuch [Joshua, Judges and Ruth] tells the possession of the land and the exploits of the judges, as well as David's ancestral line. The books of the Kings and Chronicles recount the stories of the rulers. And Esdras describes the release from the captivity, the return of the people, and the construction of the temple and the city. The books of the Prophets contain foretellings about the sojourn of the Savior, admonitions concerning divine commands and reprimands against transgressors, as well as prophecies for the gentiles. Yet the Book of Psalms is like a garden containing things of all these kinds, and it sets them to music, but also exhibits things of its own that it gives in song along with them. St. Athanasius the Great, Letter to Marcellinus

All images reveal and make perceptible those things which are hidden. For example, a man does not have immediate knowledge of invisible things, since the soul is veiled by the body. Nor can man have immediate knowledge of things which are distant from each other or separated by place, because he himself is circumscribed by place and time. Therefore the image was devised that he might advance in knowledge, and that secret things might be revealed and made perceptible. Therefore, images are a source of profit, help, and salvation for all, since they make things so obviously manifest, enabling us to perceive hidden things. Thus, we are encouraged to desire and imitate what is good and to shun and hate what is evil. St. John of Damascus, On the Divine Images.

All men are made in God's image; but to be in His likeness is granted only to those who through great love have brought their own freedom into subjection to God. For only when we do not belong to ourselves do we become like Him Who through love have reconciled us to Himself. No one achieves this unless he persuades his soul not to be distracted by the false glitter of this life.

St. Diadochos of Photiki, On Spiritual Knowledge and Discrimination, Philokalia, Vol. I.



All my happiness and unhappiness are in the thoughts and desires of my heart. If the thoughts of my heart are in accord with God's truth, with the will of God, then I am at rest, filled with divine light, joy and blessedness; if not, I am uneasy, filled with spiritual darkness that corrupts the soul, with heaviness and despondency. If I replace the false and ungodly thoughts of my heart by true and godly ones, then rest, blessedness and joy return. St. John of Kronstadt

All the Beatitudes make man a god by grace; he becomes gentle, longs for righteousness, is charitable, dispassionate, a peacemaker, and endures every pain with joy out of love for God and for his fellow men. For the Beatitudes are gifts from God and we should thank Him greatly for them and for the rewards promised: the kingdom of heaven in the age to be, spiritual refreshment in this world, the fullness of all God's blessings and mercies, His manifestation when we contemplate the hidden mysteries found in the Holy Scriptures and in all created things, and the great reward in heaven (cf. Matt. 5:12). For if we learn while on earth to imitate Christ and receive the blessedness inherent in each commandment, we shall be granted the highest good and the ultimate goal of our desire. As the apostle says, `God, Who dwells in unapproachable light, alone is blessed' (cf. 1 Tim. 6:15-16). We, for our part, have the duty of keeping the commandments - or, rather, of being kept by them, but through them God in His compassion will give to the believer rewards both in this world and in the world to be. St. Peter of Damaskos, The Seven Commandments, Philokalia, Vol. 3.

All the holy Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, Confessors, Monastic Saints, and Righteous ones, old and new, would not have attained salvation without humility. All their deeds, their virtues, their labors, their sweat, their struggles, their prayers, their fasts, their almsgiving would not have benefited them, as they did not benefit that proud and boastful Pharisee.

Blessed Elder Philotheos Zervakos, Modern Orthodox Saints, Vol. 11 by Constantine Cavarnos.



All things belong to God. All our brothers and sisters. Among us it is best that all inherit equal portions. St. Gregory of Nyssa

All things, then, that Christ our God enjoined upon the apostles, He likewise also commanded us to observe. We have the ability to observe them in the world, yet we do not will to do so because we are weak in faith and love towards Christ. That this is true, we have the witness borne by all who have pleased the Lord before the Law, under the Law, and after the coming of the Savior. Though they had children and wives and were occupied with the cares and concerns of all the affairs of this life they were pleasing to Him. They were separated from all these things by their will of detachment, and shone more brightly in faith and life than those who `are in mountains and caves' (Heb. 11:38). St. Symeon the New Theologian, The Discourses

All those who praise the divine and sacred Word correctly and without error are, we affirm, the allies of the doctrines of truth, and its best teachers; well knowing how to guide whosoever wish to advance in Christ, rightly unto every good word, and to the life incorruptible, and to participation in the blessings bestowed upon us. Of these most wise Paul also declares, that they are `the lights of the world, holding the word of life.' Now of these illustrious and famous men the divine disciples were the commencement, and stand foremost in order, for they had as a schoolmaster Him Who is the Giver of all understanding, and Who richly bestoweth His light upon those who love Him. For He is the true light Who illumineth the heavens, even the powers who are above; and delivereth from ignorance and darkness those also upon earth. St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke

All who have firm hope in God are raised to Him and illumined by the radiance of the eternal light. If a man does not let excessive concern for himself turn him away from love for God and for acts of virtue, then this hope is true and wise. But if a man places all his hope in his own affairs and turns to God with prayer only when unforeseen misfortunes befall him, and seeing no means in his own power to avert them begins to rely on the help of God, his hope is vain and deceptive. True hope seeks first of all the Kingdom of God, and is confident that every earthly necessity of temporal life will doubtless be given. St. Seraphim of Sarov, in Modern Orthodox Saints, Vol. 5

All who have firm hope in God are raised to Him and illumined by the radiance of the eternal light. If a man does not let excessive concern for himself turn him away from love for God and for the acts of virtue, then this hope is true and wise. But if a man places all his hope in his own affairs and turns to God with prayer only when unforeseen misfortunes befall him, and seeing no means in his own powers to avert them begins to rely on the help of God, his hope is vain and deceptive. True hope seeks first of all the Kingdom of God and is confident that every earthly necessity of temporal life will doubtless be given. It is of this hope that our Savior's most holy words speak to us: `Come unto me, all ye that labor and are burdened, and I shall give you rest' (Matt. 11:28); that is, hope in Me and you shall be comforted in your labor and cares. St. Seraphim of Sarov, Modern Orthodox Saints, Vol. 5.

All you mortals who have within yourselves a desire to behold the supreme Good, when you are told that the majesty of God is exalted above the heavens, that the divine glory is inexpressible, its beauty indescribable, its nature unaccessible, do not despair at never being able to behold what you desire. ?For you do have within your grasp the degree of the knowledge of God which you can attain. For, when God made you, He at once endowed your nature with this perfection: upon the structure of your nature He imprinted an imitation of the perfections of His own nature, just as one would impress upon wax the outline of an emblem. But the wickedness that has been poured all over this divine engraving has made your perfection useless and hidden it with a vicious coating. You must then wash away, by a life of virtue, the dirt that has come to cling to your heart like plaster, and then your divine beauty will once again shine forth. St. Gregory of Nyssa, From Glory to Glory.

Allow the Spirit of God to dwell within you; then in His love He will come and make a habitation with you; He will reside in you and live in you. If your heart is pure you will see Him and He will sow in you the good seed of reflection upon His actions and wonder at His majesty. This will happen if you take the trouble to weed out from your soul the undergrowth of desires, along with the thorns and tares of bad habits. Evagrius of Pontus - in The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual Life

Almighty God has allowed His chosen to succumb to certain sins. This is so that He may restore hope of forgiveness to others, who are under sin's domination, if they will only rise up to Him wholeheartedly: for then God can open up for them the way to heaven through sorrow and repentance. Let us then embrace sorrow, let us rid ourselves of our sins by tears and `fruits worthy of repentance.' We must not squander the time that has been granted us. We see so many freshly washed clean of the wrongs they have done: what else so we have in them except a pledge of the compassion from on high! St. Gregory the Great, Be Friends of God

Almost every sin is committed for the sake of sensual pleasure; and sensual pleasure is overcome by hardship and distress arising either voluntarily from repentance, or else involuntarily as a result of some salutary and providential reversal. St. Maximos the Confessor (Second Century on Love no. 41)

Although God's saints have no need of glory and honor from men, since they enjoy heavenly and divine glory, living in eternity according to Solomon, and their souls are in the hand of God, and their names are recorded in the book of life, nevertheless it is our indispensable duty to write their lives and achievements for their glorification and honor, and consequently to praise them and pronounce them blessed, as faithful servants of God, or rather as genuine friends of His. For according to St. Basil the Great, the honor that is given to the best of fellow-servants is proof of goodwill towards our common Lord. This is especially true if these good servants of God are not simply saints, if they did not simply struggle for their own salvation, but were also public benefactors, who struggled for the salvation of many, and made myriads of efforts towards this end. St. Nikephoros of Chios, Modern Orthodox Saints, Vol. 4.

Although the soul is one and the members of the body are many, the soul sustains them all, giving life and movement to those that can be animated. Should some of them have withered because of some disease and become as if dead and inert, yet they are still sustained by the soul, even in their lifeless and insensate state. Similarly, the Spirit of Christ is present with integral wholeness in all who are members of Christ, activating and generating life in all capable of participating in it; and in His compassion He still sustains even those who through some weakness do not actively participate in the life of the Spirit. In this way each of the faithful participates, by virtue of his faith, in adoption to sonship through the Spirit; but should he grow negligent and fail to sustain his faith he will become inert and benighted, deprived of Christ's life and light. Such is the state of each of the faithful who, though a member of Christ and possessing the Spirit of Christ, fails to activate this Spirit within himself and so is stagnant, incapable of participating positively in the life of grace.

St. Gregory of Sinai, On Commandments and Doctrines, in The Philokalia, Vol. IV.



Although...it is very important not to rely on our own efforts in this unseen warfare, at the same time, if we merely give up all hope of ourselves and despair of ourselves without having found another support, we are certain to flee immediately from the battlefield or to be overcome and taken prisoner by our enemies. Therefore, together with complete renunciation or ourselves, we should plant in our heart a perfect trust in God and a complete confidence in Him. Lorenzo Scupoli(Unseen Warfare, Chapter 3)

Amma Sarah said, `If I prayed God that all men should approve of my conduct, I should find myself a penitent at the door of each one, but I shall rather pray that my heart may be pure towards all.' Benedicts Ward, The Desert Christian

Amma Theodora said that a teacher ought to be a stranger to the desire for domination, vain-glory, and pride; one should not be able to fool him by flattery, nor blind him by gifts, no conquer him by the stomach, nor dominate him by anger; but he should be patient, gentle and humble as far as possible; he must be tested and without partisanship, full of concern, and a lover of souls. Sr. Benedicta Ward, "The Desert Christian," (New York: MacMillan Publishing Company, 1975), pp. 83-84

Among the virtues some are practical, others are natural, and others are divine and conferred by the Holy Spirit. The practical virtues are the products of our resolution, the natural virtues are built into us when we are created, the divine virtues are the fruits of grace. St. Gregory of Sinai, On Commandments, The Philokalia, Vol. IV.

An Athonite elder said: "Whether you are a mirror or only the lid of a tin can, you still won't dazzle if the sun's rays don't fall on you." an Athonite Gerontikon

An old man said, Just as no one can cause harm to someone who is close to the king, no more can Satan do aything to us if our souls are close to God, for truly He said, 'Draw near to Me, and I shall be near to you.' But since we often exalt ourselves, the enemy has not difficulty in drawing our poor souls into shameful passions. The Wisdom of the Desert Fathers, trans. by Benedicta Ward.

And He bids them have not only gentleness as sheep, but also the harmlessness of the dove. For thus shall I best show forth My might, when sheep get the better of wolves, and being in the midst of wolves, and receiving a thousand bites, so far from being consumed, do even work a change on them: a thing far greater and more marvellous than killing them, to alter their spirit, and to reform their mind; and this, being only twlve, while the whole world is filled with the wolves. St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of St. Matthew.

And He is called Life, because He is Light, and is the constituting and creating Power of every reasonable soul. For in Him we live and move and have our being, according to the double power of that Breathing into us; for we were all inspired by Him with breath, and as many of us as were capable of it, and in so far as we open the mouth of our mind, with God the Holy Spirit. He is Righteousness, because He distributes according to that which we deserve, and is a righteous Arbiter both for those who are under the Law and for those who are under Grace, for soul and body, so that the former should rule, and the latter obey, and the higher have supremacy over the lower; that the worse may not rise in rebellion against the better. He is Sanctification, as being Purity, that the Pure may be contained by Purity. And Redemption, because He sets us free, who were held captive under sin, giving Himself a Ransom for us, the Sacrifice to make expiation for the world. And Resurrection, because He raises up from hence, and brings to life again us, who were slain by sin. St. Gregory Nazianzen , Fourth Theological Oration.

And as to what kind of man receives repose and peace from meekness, St. John Chrysostom writes: There is nothing stronger than meekness, nothing more powerful; it preserves our soul in constant quiet, and strives to lead it as into a harbor, and is the cause of every kind of satisfaction for us; and nothing else can give the soul repose and great quiet as well as meekness and humblemindedness. This is the most honorable of all crowns for one who acquires these virtues; it is more profitable than all dignity and glory. Abbot Nazarius, A Short Spiritual Ladder, in A Little Russian Philokalia,Vol. II.

And by Isaiah He speaks thus concerning another Israel: `In that day shall there be a third Israel among the Assyrians and the Egyptians, blessed in the land which the Lord of Sabaoth has blessed, saying, blessed shall My people in Egypt and in Assyria be, and Israel Mine inheritance, (Isa. 19:24ff). Since then God blessed this people, and calls them Israel, and declares them to be His inheritance, how is it that you do not repent of the deception you practice on yourselves, as if you alone were the Israel, and if execrating the people whom God has blessed? For when He speaks to Jerusalem and its environs, He thus added: `And I will beget men upon you, even My people Israel; and they shall inherit you, and you shall be a possession for them; and you shall be no longer bereaved of them.' St. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, quoted in Isaiah Through the Ages, by Johanna Manley.

And everywhere we, more readily than all men, endeavor to pay to those appointed by you the taxes both ordinary and extraordinary, as we have been taught by Him; for at that time some came to Him and asked Him, if one ought to pay tribute to Caesar; and He answered, `Tell Me, whose image does the coin bear?' And they said, `Caesar's.' And again He answered them, `Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's.' Whence to God alone we render worship, but in other things we gladly serve you, acknowledging you as kings and rulers of men, and praying that with your kingly power you be found to possess also sound judgment. But if you pay no regard to our prayers and frank explanations, we shall suffer no loss, since we believe (or rather, indeed, are persuaded) that every man will suffer punishment in eternal fire according to the merit of his deed, and will render account according to the power he has received from God, as Christ intimated when He aid, `To whom God has given more, of him shall more be required.' St. Justin the Martyr, The First Apology.

And finally, did not the Lord Jesus Himself begin His divine ministry of the salvation of mankind with a long, forty-day fast? And did not He, in this way, clearly show that we must make a serious beginning to our life as Christians with fasting? First, the fast, and then all the rest comes together with, and through, the fast. By His own example, the Lord showed us how great a weapon fasting is. With this weapon, He vanquished Satan in the wilderness, and with it was victorious over the three chief satanic passions with which Satan tempted Him: love of ease, love of praise and love of money. These are three destructive greeds, the three greatest traps into which the evil enemy of the human race lures Christ's soldiers. Bp. Nikolai Velimirovic, Homilies, Vol. I (On Cheesefare Sunday).

And having now come to the house of His suppliant, ;He quiets their lamentations, silences the musicians, and stops the tears of the weepers, saying, `The damsel if not dead, but rather sleepeth.' And they, it says, laughed at Him. Observe here, I pray, the great skill of the management. For though He well knew that the damsel was dead, He said, `She is not dead, but rather sleepeth.' For what reason? That by their laughing at Him, they might give a clear and manifest acknowledgement that the damsel was dead. For probably there would be some of that class who always resist His glory, who would reject the divine miracle, and say, that the damsel was not yet dead, and that in being delivered from sickness, there was nothing done by Christ very extraordinary. To have, therefore, the acknowledgement of many that the damsel was dead, He said, that she was rather sleeping. And let no man affirm that Christ spoke untruly. For to Him, as being Life by nature, there is nothing dead. And this is the reason why we, having a firm hope of the resurrection of the dead, call them `those that sleep.' For in Christ they will arise; and, as the blessed Paul says, `They live to Him,' in that they are about to live.. St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke - 8:49-56

And he shows another thing too, by sainging, that `God tempted Abraham.' What then? Did not God know that the man was noble and approved? Why then did He tempt him? Not that He might Himself learn, but that He might show to others, and make his fortitude manifest to all. And here also he shows the cause of trials, that they may not suppose they suffer these things as being forsaken [of God]. For in their case indeed, it was necessary that they should be tried, because there were many who persecuted or plotted again them; but in Abraham's case, what need was there to devise trials for him which did not exist.? Now this trial, it is evident, was by His command. The others indeed happened by His allowance, but this even by His command. If then temptations make men approved in such wise that, even where there is no occasion, God exercises His own athletes; much more ought we to bear all things nobly. St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Hebrews 11:17-19.

And if any one believes not that death is abolished, that Hades is trodden under foot, that the chains thereof are broken, that the tyrant is bound, let him look on the martyrs deporting themselves in the presence of death, and taking up the jubilant strain of the victory of Christ. O the marvel! Since the hour when Christ despoiled Hades, men have danced in triumph over death. `O death, were is thy sting! O grave, where is thy victory?' St. Gregory the Wonderworker, Sermon the All the Saints.

And if one considers accurately, it is not the death of our being, but of evil, for being continues, it is evil that perishes. That which has been rises again; would that as it is now free from sinning, so it were without former guilt! But this very thing is a proof that it is not the death of being, that we shall be the same persons as we were. And so we shall either pay the penalty of our sins, or attain to the reward of our good deeds. For the same being will rise again, now more honorable for having paid the tax of death. And then 'the dead who are in Christ shall rise first; then, too, we who are alive' it is said, 'shall together with them be caught p on the clouds into the air to meet the Lord, and so we shall always be with the Lord.' They first, but those that are alive second. They with Jesus, those that are alive through Jesus. To them life will be sweeter after rest, and though the living will have a delightful gain, yet they will be without experience of the remedy.

St. Ambrose of Milan, On Belief in the Resurrection.



And let no one of you say that this very flesh shall not be judged, nor rise again. Consider ye in what state ye were saved, in what ye received sight, if not while ye were in this flesh. We must therefore preserve the flesh as the temple of God. For as ye were called in the flesh, ye shall also come to be judged in the flesh. As Christ the Lord Who saved us, though He was first the Word became flesh, and thus called us, so shall we also receive the reward in this flesh. Let us therefore love one another, that we may all attain to the kingdom of God. While we have an opportunity of being healed, let us yield ourselves to God that healeth us, and give to Him a recompense. Of what sort? Repentance our of a sincere heart; for He knows all things beforehand, and is acquainted with what is in our hearts. Let us therefore give Him praise, not with the mouth only, but also with the heart, that He may accept us as sons., For the Lord has said, `Those are my brethren who do the will of My Father.' St. Clement of Rome

And may these words be spoken now again over you also, `Sing, O heavens, and be joyful, O earth,' and then, `for the Lord has had mercy on His people, and comforted the lowly of His people (Is. 49:13). And this shall come to pass through the loving-kindness of God, Who says to you, `Behold, I will blot out as a cloud your transgressions, and as a thick cloud your sins.' But you have been counted worthy of the name of Faithful of whom it is written: `Upon my servants shall be called a new name which shall be blessed on the earth' (Is. 65:15); you shall say with gladness, `Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ' (Eph. 1:3); in Whom we have our redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our sins, according to the riches of His grace, wherein He abounded towards us' (Eph. 5:7), and what follows, and again, `But God being rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, when we were dead through trespasses, quickened us together with Christ' (Eph. 2:4).

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, quoted in Isaiah Through the Ages by Johanna Manley.



And not only is the operation of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit everywhere one but also there is one and the same will, calling, and giving of commands, which one may see in the great and saving mystery of the Church. For as the Father called the Gentiles to the Church, saying: `I will call her My people which was not My people, and her beloved who was not beloved;' and elsewhere: `My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations,' so, too, the Lord Jesus said that Paul was chosen by Him to call forth and gather together the Church, as you find it said by the Lord Jesus to Ananias: `Go, for he is a chosen vessel unto Me to bear My name before all nations.' St. Ambrose of Milan, On the Holy Spirit, Book II.

And shall we, whom the Lord, the great worker of marvels, calls to the contemplation of His own works, tire of looking at them, or be slow to hear the words of the Holy Spirit? Shall we not rather stand around the vast and varied workshop of divine creation and, carried back in mind to the times of old, shall we not view all the order of creation? Heaven, poised like a dome, to quote the words of the prophet; earth, this immense mass which rests upon itself; the air around it, of a soft and fluid nature, a true and continual nourishment for all who breathe it... St. Basil the Great, The Hexaemeron

And so, brother, hate perfectly so as to love perfectly. Depart completely, so as to draw near completely. Disdain one kind of adoption, in order to receive another adoption. Cease to fulfill desires, and you will fulfill desire. Wound yourself, and treat yourself. Mortify yourself, and bring yourself to life. Forget yourself, and know yourself. And you will have the works of a monk. "Saints Barsanuphius and John: Guidance Toward Spiritual Life," trans. by Fr. Seraphim Rose, (Platina, California: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1990)

And the Saviour also, when He manifested Himself to the world in the Jordan, began at this point. For after His baptism the Spirit led Him into the wilderness and He fasted for forty days and forty nights. Likewise all who set out to follow in His footsteps make the beginning of their struggle upon this foundation. For this is a weapon forged by God, and who shall escape blame if he neglects it? And if the Lawgiver Himself fasts, who among those who keep the law has no need of fasting? This is why the human race knew no victory before fasting, and the devil had never experienced defeat from our nature; but this weapon has made him powerless from the outset. The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian

And the fathers tell us many such things in different ways to secure us against the harm suspicions do us. Let us strive with all our power never to put our trust in our own conjectures. For nothing separates us so completely from God or prevents us from noticing our own wrong doing or makes us busy about what does not concern us, as this. No good comes from it but only troubles without number and they leave us no time to acquire the fear of God. Should worthless suspicions germinate in our minds, let us turn them into charitable thoughts and they will not harm us. For entertaining suspicions is wrong and it never allows the mind to be at peace. This is all I have to say about falsehood in the mind. St. Dorotheos of Gaza, Discourses and Sayings.

And there are some who suppose that God is fashioned after a bodily manner, when they read of His hand or finger, and they do not observe that these things are written not because of any fashion of a body, since the Godhead are neither members nor parts, but are expressions of the oneness of the Godhead, that we may believe that it is impossible for either the Son or the Holy ~Spirit to be separated from God the Father; since the fullness of the Godhead dwells as it were bodily in the substance of the Trinity. For this reason, then, is the Son also called the Right Hand of the Father, as we read: `The Right Hand of the Lord hath done mighty things, the Right Hand of the lord hath exulted me.' St. Ambrose of Milan, Exposition of the Holy Spirit, Book II.

And though men also have raised the dead, still they did this not of their own power, but in the Name of Christ. To ask is one thing, to command is another; to obtain is different from bestowing. Elias, then, raised the dead, but he prayed - he did not command. Elisseus raised one to life after laying himself upon the dead body, in accordance with its posture; and again, the very contact of Elisseus' corpse gave life to the dead, that the prophet might foreshow the coming of Him, Who, being sent in the likeness of sinful flesh, should, even after His burial, raise the dead to life. St. Ambrose of Milan, On the Christian Faith, Book III.

And thus it was fitting in all justice for the one who had become corruptible and mortal by reason of the transgression of the commandment, to live upon the corruptible earth and be nourished with corruptible food; for since a life without labor and an abundant food which grew by itself had caused him to forget God and the good things which He had given him and to disdain His commandment, he was therefore justly condemned to work the earth in the sweat of labor and in this way receive from it food little by little as from some kind of steward. Do you see how then the earth received the criminal after it had been cursed and had been deprived of its original productivity by which fruits were produced from it by themselves without labor? And why was this? In order that it might be worked by him in sweat and labors and thus give him that little which it grows for his need, for the support of life, and if it will not be worked, to remain fruitless and to grow only thorns and thistles! St. Symeon the New Theologian, quoted in The Lament of Eve by Johanna Manley

And what is the permitted occasion [to philosophize about God]? It is when we are free from all external defilement or disturbance, and when that which rules within us is not confused with vexatious or erring images; like persons mixing up good writing with bad, or filth with the sweet odors of unguents. For it is necessary to be truly at leisure to know God; and when we can get a convenient season, to discern the straight road of the things divine. St. Gregory Nazianzen (First Theological Oration no. 3)

And what was the nature of the invitation? `Come, for lo! all things are ready.' For God the Father has prepared in Christ for the inhabitants of earth those gifts which are bestowed upon the world through Him, even the forgiveness of sins, the cleansing away of all defilement, the communion of the Holy Spirit, the glorious adoption as sons, and the kingdom of heaven. Unto these blessings Christ invited by the commandments of the gospel Israel before all others. For somewhere He has even said by the voice of the Psalmist: `But I have been set as a king by Him; that is, by God the Father; upon Zion His holy mount, to preach the commandment of the Lord.' And again, `I was not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.'

St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke. (14:15-24)



And when his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. And for three days he could not see.

By no means would he [Saul] have been able to see well again unless he had first been fully blinded. Also, when he had rejected his own wisdom, which was confusing him, he could commit himself totally to faith. Since he had not believed that the Lord had conquered death by rising on the third day, he was now taught by his own experience of the replacement of three days of darkness by the return of the light. the Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles from the Venerable Bede



And when you hear that we look for a kingdom, you suppose, without making any inquiry, that we speak of a human kingdom; whreas we speak of that which is with God, as appears also from the confession of their faith made by those who are charged with being Christians, though they know that death is the punishment awarded to him who so confesses. For if we looked for a human kingdom, we should also deny our Christ, that we might not be slain; and we should strive to escape detection, that we might obtain what we espect. But since our thoughts are not fixed on the present, we are not concerned when men cut us off; since also death is a debt which must at all events be paid. First Apology of St. Justin, Martyr.

And who are the Christians? Christians are those through whom the holy Divine-human life of Christ is continued from generation to generation until the end of the world and of time, and they all make up one body, the Body of Christ - the Church: they are sharers of the Body of Christ and members of one another. The stream of immortal divine life began to flow and still flows unceasingly from the Lord Christ, and through Him Christians flow into eternal life. Christians are the Gospel of Christ continued throughout all the ages of the race of men. In the Lives of the Saints, everything is ordinary as in the Holy Gospel, but everything is extraordinary as in the Holy Gospel - both one and the other, uniquely true and real. And everything is true and real by the same Divine-human reality; and the same holy power - Divine and human - bears witness to it: Divine in an all-perfect way, and human - also in an all-perfect way.

St. Justin Popovich, Introduction to the Lives of the Saints, in Orthodox Fr Justin Popovich, Faith and Life in Christ.



And who but holy Church should teach you how to hold on to Christ? Even now she is teaching you if you understand what you read: `Scarcely had I passed them, when I found Him Whom my soul loves. I held Him, and would not let Him go.' By what, therefore, is Christ held? not by painful fetters for by knotted rope, but by the bonds of charity; He is bound by things of the mind and held by the affection of the soul. If you also wish to hold on to Christ, be continually on the lookout, and fear no pain. St. Ambrose of Milan, On Virginity.

Anger is given to us so that we might fight against the demons and strive against every pleasure. Now it happens that the angels suggest spiritual pleasure to us and the beatitude that is consequent upon it so as to encourage us to turn our anger against the demons. But these, for their part, draw our anger to worldly desires and constrain us - contrary to our nature - to fight against our fellow men to the end that, blinded in mind and falling away from knowledge, our spirit should become a traitor to virtue. Evagrius Ponticus, The Praktikos and Chapters on Prayer.

Anna, whose name means `grace,' was one with her husband in heart as well as home; that although she abounded in all good qualities, she was, for some mysterious reason, afflicted by the complaint of sterility. For grace was truly sterile [then], unable to bear fruit in human souls. Therefore `all people were in a state of decline and frustration'; no one `had understanding, no one sought after God' (Ps. 13:3,. Then the good God looked down and had pity on the creatures of his own hand; willing to save his creation, he put an end to the sterile period of grace - I mean the sterility of Anna, whose thought were turned to God. She bore a child, one such as never before had been, and never again will be. And the healing of her sterility revealed most clearly that the world's sterility in good was also about to be healed, and that its bare trunk was about to bear the fruit of indescribable blessedness. St. John of Damascus, Homily I, On the Dormition of the Mother of God.

Anna| `It is a great thing for me, good Lord, that I have given birth to one who will produce Thee, The Master and Lord before all time. Thou wilt guard Thy mother as a virgin after Thy birth. I present her to Thee, O Merciful One, in the Temple. She will be the gate of the One from on high Whom with joy The barren woman gives birth to, the Mother of God And the nurse of our life.' St Romanos the Melodist - On the Nativity of the Theotokos.

Apologies - this was sent last night without the subject...

Lo, the day has dawned which I longed to see, A time favorable for me. My God is lodged in the house of Simon. I shall hasten to Him and weep, just as Anna did about her sterility. Simon may consider me drunk, Just as Elias then considered Anna. I shall keep on praying And saying, `Lord, I do not ask for a child. I seek my very own soul which I have lost! O Emmanuel, born of a virgin, just as Thou hast removed the stigma of sterility when Samuel was born Of the childless woman, so deliver me, a harlot, From the slime of my deeds.' St Romanos the Melodist - On the Sinful Woman.



Armed with faith, take a stand; bow down your necks, And bend your bodies to the earth, looking up in the spirit of Christ, Watching eagerly, and hastening to withdraw from this life And dwell in the abode of the holy angels along with them, So that from there you may shout aloud the song, Hallelujah.

In your heart cherish the monastic rule, which you have chosen well and wisely If you compare one with another, do not make way for the devil; Let no one incline toward a way out, for the all-evil one hunts you, And, encircling the fold, he seeks the food of the lambs. Hence, let no one at any time neglect the psalm, Hallelujah. St Romanos the Melodist - Vol. II, On Life in the Monastery.



As He heals the ills of all, it is not with the magic of words that He discovers those who are disobedient, But with deeds He attends to our healing, For He shakes all creation and makes the earth roar as a result of our sins. Bewailing the time of the earthquake, again as usual, Running away in forgetfulness, we gave ourselves up to every fear, And so He commanded the clouds, By no means with a view to giving showers of rain, But in order that He might arouse our sluggishness, So that He would be petitioned for Eternal life. St Romanos the Melodist - On Earthquakes and Fires

As I have said, it is because of their love of mend that the saints speak, so far as this is possible, about things ineffable, rejecting the error of those who in their ignorance imagine that, after the abstraction from beings, there remains only an absolute inaction, not an inaction surpassing all action. But, I repeat, these things remain ineffable by their very nature. This is why the great Denys [Dionysius the Areopagite] says that after the abstraction from beings, there is no word but `an absence of words'; he also says, `After every elevation we will be united with the Inexpressible. St. Gregory Palamas, The Triads

As a hard stone with sharp corners has all its sharpness and hard formation dulled by knocking and rubbing against other stones, and is made round, so in the same way, a sharp and curt soul, by living in community and mixing with hard, hot-tempered men, undergoes one of two things: either it cures its wound by its patience, or by retiring it will certainly discover its weakness, its cowardly flight making this clear to it as in a mirror. St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent

As a pilot calls on winds and a storm-tossed mariner looks homeward, so the times call on you to win your way to God. As God's athlete, be sober; the stake is immortality and eternal life. St. Barsanuphius

As for those works of piety and charity of which you speak, these are neessary in this present life for as long as inequality prevails. Their workings here would not be required were it not for the superabundant numbers of the poor, the needy, and the sick. These are there because of the iniquity of men who have held for their own private use what the common Creator has made available to all. As long as this iniquity rages in the world, these good works will be necessary and vauable to anyone practicing them and they shall yield the reward of an everlasting inheritance to the man of good heart and concerned will. St. John Cassian, The Conferences

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 s 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 ilnto pride, exaggerate our importance as humans, and to regard visible things and even ourselves as self-sufficient. The Lament of Eve by Johanna Manley

As many therefore as are children of the light also become sons of the Day which is to come, and are enabled to walk decently as in the day. The Day of the Lord will never come upon them, because they are already in it forever and continually. The Day of the Lord, in effect, is not going to be revealed suddenly to those who are ever illumined by the divine light, but for those who are in the darkness of the passions and spend their lives in the world hungering for the things of the world, for them it will be fearful and they will experience it as unbearable fire. However, this fire which is God will not appear in an entirely spiritual manner but, one might say, as bodilessly embodied, in the same way as, according to the Evangelist, Christ of old was seen by the Apostles after having risen from the dead. St. Symeon the New Theologian, On the Mystical Life

As material salt give a savour to bread and to all food, and keeps meat from rotting, even for a long time; so in this same way should you think of guarding the inner savour of the mind and the wonderful doing in the heart. For it sweetens divinely both the inner and the outer man, drives away the evil smell of wicked thoughts, and preserves us continually in what is good. Hesychius of Jerusalem, Bishop, Texts on Sobriety and Prayer

As much as possible, seek to do the will of God, which `is good and acceptable and perfect' (Rom. 12:2). The `good' will of God is to simply do that which is good either by deed or by word or thought. God's `acceptable' will is to do the good for no other reason that for God only. The `perfect' will of God is to do the good with all of your heart and power and love. In this regard, St. Theophylact said, `First of all, look to see the will of God as good, when you realize this, look to see it as acceptable; many things that are good are not always acceptable either because of the time or because of the person.... But when the will of God is both good and acceptable, seek to have it be perfect, complete, and observed fully as it is required and not only partially.' St. Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain, Handbook of Spiritual Counsel.

As our body, whether ill or not, is unable to move or even live at all without a soul, so our soul, too, whether it sins or not, is dead without the Holy Spirit and can in no way live everlastingly. If sin is death's sting, clearly he who has sinned has been stung and is dead; and, if no one is without sin - for everyone, Paul says, has sinned and been deprived of God's glory (Rom. 3:23) - then, obviously, all we who have sinned have died and are dead. So imagine yourself together with me as spiritually dead. Then tell me how you may truly live without having been united with the true life, that is, the Holy Spirit, through Whom every believer is regenerated and made alive again in Christ? `I am the Truth,' He says, `and the resurrection, and the life' ((Jn. 14:16 and 11:25). The servants and disciples of Christ are light and truth and life. `He who receives you,' He says, `receives Me, and he who received Me receives Him Who sent Me' (Mt. 10:40). If we are dead and He alone is life everlasting, let us not say that we serve Him before we have been united with Him and live. How can the dead ever serve anyone? Unless we put Him on consciously, like a cloak, let us not think that we have been freed at all from our infirmities and the passions which trouble us. St. Symeon the New Theologian, On the Mystical Life, Vol. 2

As quickly as the pleasure of eating and drinking passes away in those sitting at the table dining, for instance, so quickly shall pass, and passes away the present life, with all its pleasures, joys, sorrows, and sickness. It is like morning dew, vanishing at the appearance of the sun. Therefore the Christian, who is called to a heavenly country, who is only a stranger and a sojourner upon earth, ought not attach his heart to anything earthly, but should cling to God alone, the Source of life, our resurrection, and the Life eternal. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ.

As soon as yoiu realize that you have sinned against the Lord, add no more wounds to your bruises. But if as a human you fall again, don't get despondent, don't despair. For how will the loving Lord, Who told Peter to forgive seventy times seven in a day, not forgive us? Monastic Wisdom: The Letters of the Elder Joseph the Hesychast.

As the death of the soul is authentic death, so the life of the soul is authentic life. Life of the soul is union with God, as life of the body is its union with the soul. As the soul was separated from God and died in consequence of the violation of the commandment, so by obedience to the commandment it is again united to God and is quickened. This is why the Lord says in the Gospels, `The words I speak to you are spirit and life' (Jn. 6:63). And having experienced the truth of this, St. Peter said to Him, `Thy words are the words of eternal life' (Jn. 6:68). But they are words of eternal life for those who obey them; for those who disobey, this commandment of life results in death (cf. Rom. 7:10). St. Gregory Palamas, Philokalia, Vol. 4.

As the old passes away, and the new comes into being, as rusted iron turns to brilliant steel; as a hill layered with dirt collapses into the abyss, these burdens weigh on the shoulders of humanity. For this, a power greater than man is necessitated for all creatures, even those who despise themselves. On earth, such a force does not exist, neither such love, nor such heroism. This needed to come from heaven. And it has come, For "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believed in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (Jn. 3:16). Therefore the Son of God came down from heaven, "the power of God and the wisdom of God" to revive by his love the world that was dead. Kassiana: Lessons in Divine and Christian Love

As the perfect God-man, nothing within the categories of human life remain unknown. It is precisely for this reason the He became man, although remaining God, in order to give to human nature divine power which would lead humanity to an intimate, divine-human, union with God. This divine power continuously acts within His divine-human body, that is, the Church, by uniting men with God through a holy life in grace. The Church is nothing other than that wondrous divine-human organism where, through cooperation of divine grace and the free activity of man, the entire man and everything that is human, save sin, is immortalized and refashioned in a divine-human way. Fr Justin Popovich, Faith and Life in Christ

As the physical eye looks at written letters and receives knowledge from them through the senses; so the mind, when it becomes purified and returns to its original state, looks up to God and receives Divine knowledge from Him. Instead of a book it has the Spirit, instead of a pen, thought and tongue ('my tongue is the pen' says the Ps. [45:1]); instead of ink - light. Plunging thought into light, so that thought itself becomes light, the mind, guided by the Spirit, traces words in the pure hearts of those who listen. Then it understands the words: 'And they shall be all taught of God' (John 6:45)... St. Gregory of Sinai (Texts on Commandments and Dogmas no. 23)

As they went up into Olivet, He that filleth all things then spake unto His disciples and said: `Go ye forth unto every land and preach to the nations, teaching them the word which ye have heard from Mine own mouth. Then the Lord ascended in glory as upon a chariot. Wherefore, the Apostles trembled and were seized with awe. Aposticha from Thursday Vespers of the Ascension. The Pentecostarion.

As to those who life in the world, they must force themselves to use the things of this world in conformity with the commandments of God, Will not the passionate part of the soul, as a result of this violence, be also brought to act according to the commandments? Such forcing, by dint of habituation, makes easy our acceptance of God's commandments, and transforms our changeable disposition into a fixed state. This condition brings about a steady hatred towards evil states and disposition of soul, and hatred of evil duly produces the impassibility which in turn engenders love for the unique Good. Thus one must offer to God the passionate part of the soul, alive and active, that it may be a living sacrifice. As the Apostle said of our bodies, `I exhort you, by the mercy of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God.' St. Gregory Palamas, The Triads.

As we approach then, dearly-beloved, the beginning of Lent, which is a time for the more careful serving of the Lord, because we are, as it were, entering on a kind of contest in good works, let us prepare our souls for fighting with temptations, and understand that the more zealous we are for our salvation, the more determined must be the assaults of our opponents. But `stronger is He that is in us that he that is against us,' and through Him are we powerful in Whose strength we rely: because it was for this that the Lord allowed Himself to be tempted by the tempter, that we might be taught by His example as well as fortified by His aid. For He conquered the adversary, as ye have heard, by quotations from the law, not by actual strength, that by this very thing He might do greater honor to man, and inflict a greater punishment on the adversary by conquering the enemy of the human race not only as God but as Man. He fought then, therefore, that we too might fight thereafter: He conquered that we too might likewise conquer. For there are no works of power, dearly beloved, without the trials of temptations, there is no faith without proof, no contest without a foe, no victory without conflict. St. Leo the Great of Rome. Sermon 39.

Astonishing are all things wrought at the hands of Moses, For he depicted Thee all along the path he took. In the rod, he took Thee from Thy Father on Mount Sinai, And he cleaved to Thee as the shadow to its great Body. As he entered Egypt, he showed her the Cross of Thy reproach, And she shuddered at it and gave way to its might. He carried the great image through the desert as he crossed it, And the mountains skipped because they saw Thine image on the Hebrews. The hills saw Thy great Passover and they leapt like lambs, To honor the procession of Thine image through their regions.

Mar Jacob of Serugh, On the Serpent of Brass that Moses Lifted up in the Desert, in The True Vine, #6.



At dawn, before the light of the day, the women sought the Sun Who was ere the sun was made. They sought the noetic Daystar which had then set in the tomb. And a brilliant Angel call to them and said: The Light hath dawned forth and shown upon those slumbering in the dark. Proclaim the tidings to His radiant disciples now; in this wise transform their deep sorrow to brightest joy. This is the gladsome Pascha, the salvation of all the world. With a heart sure and undoubting, strike up a dance as ye clap your hands. For Christ hath arisen, even He that doth bestow His great mercy on the world.

Stichera from Vespers of Sunday Evening of the Third Week after Pascha, Pentecostarion



At the beginning of every task call on the name of the Lord your God, and begin it with prayer, that the Lord may prosper you to begin it and complete it. And from this it is evident that a Christian ought not to begin anything that is contrary to the Law of God, but only that which is in agreement with it. St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, Journey to Heaven.

At the creation of man the love of God towards the human race was manifested, unutterably and incalculably, for God gave to man feelings of soul and body. The feelings of the soul are mind, thought or understanding, word, imagination, feeling of the heart. The feelings of the body are the following: sight, smell, hearing, taste, touch. By means of the one and the other, we perform virtues of the soul and body. It was pleasing to Christ our God that books should be written so that a man might, by their means, judge properly and be instructed in the fear of God, the beginning of spiriitual wisdom. St. Paisius Velichkovsky, Little Russian Philokalia, Vol. IV.

At the sixth hour the Well-spring of miracles came to the well to capture the fruit of Eve, for Eve at this same hour departed from Paradise through the deceit of the serpent. The Samaritan woman, therefore, drew nigh to draw water, and the Saviour, upon seeing her, said to her: Give Me water to drink, and I shall fill thee with living water. And running to the city, that prudent woman at once announced to the multitudes: Come, behold Christ the Lord, the Saviour of our souls.

Glory of the Stichera of Vespers of Wednesday evening of the week of the Samaritan Woman. The Pentecostarion.



At the times when you stand before your Lord in prayer, do not start off in a languid fashion, otherwise you will perform your entire prayer in a lax and lazy way. Rather, when you stand in prayer sign yourself wih the cross, collect your thoughts together and prepare yourself properly; concentrate on Him to Whom you are praying, and take care that your thought does not depart from Him untl your prayer has teached its conclusion. Anonymous I, The Syriac Fathers and Prayer and the Spiritual Life.

At whatever time God should open up your mind from within and you give yourself over to unceasing kneeling, do not give your heart over to care for anything, even though the demons secretly try to persuade you otherwise. Then look and be amazed at what is born within you as a result. So do not compare any of the ascetic practices with falling on one's face before the Cross night and day, with one's hands clasped behind one's back. Do you wish that your fervor should never cool and that your tears [or repentance] should never dry up? Then practice this. Blessed are you if you meditate on what I have told you, and seek for nothing else alongside God night and day. Your light shall be like the morning's and your righteousness will quickly shine forth; and you will be like a jubilant paradise of flowers and a fountain whose water never fails. St. Isaac the Syrian (of Nineveh) 7th century

Attentiveness is the heart's stillness, unbroken by any thought. In this stillness the heart breathes and invokes, endlessly and without ceasing, only Jesus Christ who is the Son of God and Himself God. It confesses Him who alone has power to forgive our sins, and with His aid it courageously faces its enemies. Through this invocation enfolded continually in Christ, who secretly divines all hearts, the soul does everything it can to keep its sweetness and its inner struggle hidden from men, so that the devil, coming upon it surreptitiously, does not lead it into evil and destroy its precious work. St. Hesychios the Priest(On Watchfulness and Holiness no. 5)

BROTHER: Is it helpful to the soul to make oneself a stranger?

OLD MAN: With perfect thanksgiving it does help, provided that the soul bears chastely afflictions, and rejoices in our Lord who gives pleasure; but if it does not, its good seed is made of no effect because it does not give fruit beloved of God, and if it endures and utters blessing it has a reward, but if it lack these things, it becomes a mere wandering of the mind and a sight which is without profit. The best thing of all is the quietness of the mind which is akin to God. E. A. Wallis Budge, "The Paradise of the Holy Fathers," (Seattle, St. Nectarios Press, 1984), pp. 268-269



BROTHER: What is the way of life?

OLD MAN: The going forth of a man from this world on his entrance into another. But if a man forsakes his childhood of humility and comes to the old age of the world in his love, he reveals the way of life. To go forth truly from this world is to be remote from it. E. A. Wallis Budge, "The Paradise of the Holy Fathers," Seattle, St. Nectarios Press, 1984, pp. 265-266



BROTHER: Who is the mighty man, he who is remote from the world, or he who dwelleth therein?

OLD MAN: The mighty man conquers in every place, whether he be in the world or without. Nevertheless, the fathers departed to the wilderness, the place which is preserved from the uproar of those who are afraid that as long as they dwell in the body the passions which trouble will cleave to them. Now, for those who have ended the great strife of their conflict in the world, Divine Grace has worked with its power, and it still works for the remembrance and benefit of the community, and truly great is the crown of those whose spiritual ship has not sunk to the bottom of the tossed and troubled sea of this world, and has not ceased its course heavenwards by the straight road which is full of fear. E. A. Wallis Budge, "The Paradise of the Holy Fathers," (Seattle, St. Nectarios Press, 1984), pp. 268-269



BROTHER: Who is, indeed, the man of excellence?

OLD MAN: He who cries out always that he is a sinner, and asks mercy from on high, whose word is laden with the feeling of discernment, and his senses with the watchfulness of deeds; and who, being silent, yet speaks; and who, though speaking, holds his peace, and whose actions are wholly good fruits for the life of time and the revelation of Christ. E. A. Wallis Budge, "The Paradise of the Holy Fathers," Seattle, St. Nectarios Press, 1984, pp. 265-266



Baptized in Christ by the Spirit, we have received the first incorruptibility of the flesh; we await the final incorruptibility of Christ in the Spirit, that is, in keeping undefiled the first incorruptibility by a free gift of good works and by a voluntary death; according to this final incorruptibility no one who enjoys it will lose the benefits he has acquired. St. Maximus the Confessor, Chapters on Knowledge.

Be as kind, meek, humble, and simple as possible in your intercourse with all, considering yourself not hypocritically inferior to all in respect to your spiritual condition, that is, more sinful and weaker than all. Say to yourself, `Of all sinners I am the first.' From pride proceeds self-sufficiency, coldness, and insincerity in our behavior to our inferiors, or to those from whom we do not expect to obtain any advantage. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ.

Be eager to have companions on your way toward God. Any of you going to the market, or perhaps to the public baths, will invite someone you see has nothing else to do to come along. It is so natural we make it a habit. So, if you are going toward God take care not to go to Him alone. It is written, `Let him who hears say, Come!' Those who have received in their hearts a word of heavenly love an respond with a word of encouragement to their neighbors. They may have no bread to give as an alms to another who is in need, but one who has a tongue has something greater with which to make an offering. It is worth more to offer a nourishing word to refresh a heart that is going to live forever than to satisfy with earthly bread the stomach of a body that is going to die. St. Gregory the Great, Be Friends of God.

Be emulous, brethren, and in eager rivalry about the things that pertain to salvation. Study the sacred Scriptures, which are true and given by the Holy Spirit. Bear in mind that nothing wrong or falsified is written in them. You will not find that upright men have ever been thrust out by holy men. The upright have been persecuted, to be sure, but by the lawless; they have been imprisoned, but by the impious; they have been stones, but by transgressors; they have been slain, but by such as have been possessed by a depraved and unjust jealousy. Yet they endured gloriously the suffering of such things. St. Clement of Alexandria in The Apostolic Fathers

Be extremely careful not to offend anyone in word or deed, for it s a grave sin. When someone is offended, God, Who loves the man, is also offended, for there can be no offending man without offending God. Whoever sins against man, also sins against God. This is a serious matter, as you can see for yourself. And when you offend your neighbor, straightway humble yourself before Him and beg forgiveness of him humility, lest you fall under God's just condemnation. St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, Journey to Heaven.

Be free, though you are bound in a body, and for Christ's sake show forth obedience in your freedom. But also be prudent in your simplicity, lest you be plundered. Love humility in all your activities, that you be delivered from the imperceptible snares that are always found outside the pathways of humble men. Do not reject afflictions, for through them you will enter into the knowledge of the truth; and do not fear temptations, because therein you will find precious things. Pray that you enter not into the temptations of the soul, but with all your strength prepare yourself for those of the body. Without these you cannot draw nigh to God, because divine rest is laid up within them. St. Isaac the Syrian, Ascetical Homilies

Be zealous, therefore, to stand squarely on the decrees of the Lord and the Apostles, `that in all things whatsoever you may prosper,' in body and in soul, in faith and in love, in the Son and the Father and the Spirit, in the beginning and the end, together with your most reverend bishop and with your presbytery - that fittingly woven spiritual crown! - and with your deacons, men of God. Submit to the bishop and to each other's rights, just as did Jesus Christ in the flesh to the Father and as the Apostles did to Christ and the Father and the Spirit, so that there may be oneness both of flesh and of spirit. St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Magnesians.

Because the Deity is goodness itself, true mercy and an abyss of loving bounty - or, rather, He is that which embraces and contains this abyss, since He transcends every name that is named and everything we can conceive - we can receive mercy only by union with Him. We unite ourselves to Him, in so far as this is possible, by participating in the godlike virtues and by entering into communion with Him through prayer and praise. Because the virtues are similitudes of God, the participate in them puts us in a fit state to receive the Deity, yet it does not actually unite us to Him. St. Gregory Palamas, Philokalia, ~Vol. IV.

Because today an assault of the devil has aroused some hatred in you, do not judge as base and wicked a brother whom yesterday you regarded as spiritual and virtuous; but with long-suffering love dwell on the goodness you perceived yesterday and expel today's hatred from your soul. St. Maximos the Confessor (Fourth Century on Love no. 26)

Become guileless and be like the guileless sheep whose wool is sheared off without their saying a word. Do not go from one place to another saying, “I will find God here or there.” God has said, “I fill the earth, I fill the heavens” (Jeremiah 23:24). And again, “If you cross over water, I am with you” (Isaiah 43:2); and again, “The waves will not swallow you up” (Isaiah 43:2). My son, be aware that God is within you, so that you may dwell in his law and commandments. Behold, the thief was on the cross, and he entered Paradise; but behold Judas was among the Apostles and he betrayed his Lord. Behold, Rahab was in prostitution, and she was numbered among the saints; but behold, Eve was in Paradise, and she was deceived. Behold, Job was on the dungheap, and he was compared with his Lord; but behold, Adam was in Paradise, and he fell away from the commandment. St Pachomious, “Pachomian Koinonia vol III,” trans. by Fr. Armand Veilleux, a monk of Mistassini, (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, no. 47, 1982), pp. 23-24.

Before a man gives way to his passions, even if his thoughts mount an assault against him, he is always a free man in his own city and he has God as an ally. If, therefore, he humbles himself before God and bears the yoke of his trial and affliction with thanksgiving, and puts up a little fight, the help of God will deliver him. But if he flees labor and goes after bodily pleasures, then he is necessarily led into the land of the Egyptians and without wishing it becomes their slave. St. Dorotheos of Gaza, ,Discourses and Sayings.

Before any fall into sin the demons bring upon a man the following passions: dark forgetfulness; fierce anger, that is, inhuman and beastlike malice; and ignorance, like darkness which has no trace of light. These three passions precede every sin. For a man does not perform a single sin before he has become disposed towards every sin, towards every evil, either by forgetfulness or by anger or by ignorance. From these proceed insensitivity of soul, that is, the mind, which is the eye of the soul, remains dark and is then captivated by all the passions. The first to be born is a weakness of faith; weakness of faith gives birth to self-love, the beginning and end, the root and origin of every evil.

St. Paisius Velichkovsky, Field Flowers, Little Russian Philokalia, Vol. IV.



Before our Fall, we lived, Adam and I and God's presence in our lives, in perfect love and harmony. But as soon as we listened to God's adversary and had eaten of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, we had the boldness, the audacity, the arrogance, the gracelessness to judge and blame others rather than ourselves. Confess I must that our feeble attempt to imitate God our Maker and think ourselves ready for true contemplation, produced only cowardly recriminations, quarrels, enmity, entirely untempered by love and mercy. The Lament of Eve by Johanna Manley

Before the advent of the Lord, Satan never ventured to blaspheme God, inasmuch as he was not yet sure of his own damnation, since that was announced concerning him by the prophets only in parables and allegories. But after the advent of the Lord, learning plainly from the discourses of Christ and His apostles that eternal fire was prepared for him who voluntarily departed from God, and for all who, without repentance, persevere in apostasy, then, by means of a man of this sort, he as if already condemned, blasphemes that God who inflicts judgment upon him, and imputes the sin of his apostasy to his Maker, instead of to his own will and predilection. St. Justin the Philosopher, Martyr, Fragments.

Behold, the angels were in heaven, and they were hurled into the abyss; but behold Elijah and Enoch who were raised into the kingdom of heaven. “In every place, then, seek out God; at every moment seek out his strength” (Psalms 105:4). Seek Him out like Abraham, who obeyed God, who called Him “my friend.” Seek Him out like Joseph, who did battle against impurity, so that he was made ruler over his enemies. Seek him out like Moses, who followed his Lord, and He made him lawgiver and let him come to know His likeness. Daniel sought Him out, and He taught him great mysteries; He saved him from the lions gullet. The three saints sought Him out, and found Him in the fiery furnace. Job took refuge with Him and He cured him of his sores. Susanna sought Him out, and He saved her from the hands of the wicked. Judith sought Him out, and found Him in the tent of Holofernes. All these sought Him out and he delivered them; and he delivered others also. St Pachomious, “Pachomian Koinonia vol III,” trans. by Fr. Armand Veilleux, a monk of Mistassini, (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, no. 47, 1982), pp. 23-24.

Behold, you have learned that you are clay, poor, and naked. Now, seek from Him Who is able to regenerate nature to make you rich. And whether He gives you a lot or a little, acknowledge your Benefactor. And do not boast of foreign things as your own. You will receive grace with pain and tears. And then with tears, thanksgiving, and fear of God, you will keep it. With fervency and zeal it is attracted; with coldness and negligence is it lost. Monastic Wisdom: The Letter of the Elder Jospeh the Hesychast.

Beholding the undreamed-of richness of God's gifts, an obedient man is filled with fear and amazement both at God's almightiness and his own sin. He would then want to hide from God, that God should depart from him and he himself return to his old spirit and his old life. But as soon as God's splendor and His mercy are revealed to a man, his own sinfulness, unworthiness and long estrangement from God are instantly revealed to him. Bp. Nikolai Velimirovic, Homilies, Vol. 2

Being the source of goodness, God, even after our failures, calls us anew, not effacing entirely from our mind the knowledge of good, even if we have turned away from virtue through sin. This is what God, at present, also does for Adam in calling him although he has hidden himself, saying to him: 'Adam, where art thou?' Adam, in fact, had been placed there by God for the purpose of working and guarding Paradise; he had received this place from Him to be his own. Having distanced himself from there by disobedience, it is proper that he should hear from God: 'Where art thou?' St. Didymus the Blind, quoted in The Lament of Eve by Johanna Manley.

Bethlehem opened Eden, come let us behold; We have found joy in this hidden place, come let us seize The pleasures of Paradise within the cave; There appeared an unwatered root which sprouted forgiveness; There was found an undug well From which David one yearned to drink; And there the Virgin brought forth an infant Who at once quenched their thirst, that of Adam and of David. Come, then, let us hasten to this place where there has been born A newborn babe, the God before time. The Kontakia of Romanos the Melodist, On the Nativity I

Beware of despair. You do not serve a tyrant, but your service is to a kind Lord, Who, taking nothing from you, he has given you all. And when you did not exist at all, He fashioned you so that you would be in that [state] in which you now are. Who is sufficient to render Him thanks for the fact that He has brought us into existence? O the immeasurable grace! Who can sufficiently honor Him with hymns? For He has given us knowledge of all things. And not only of those which are manifest, but also of hidden things. For we know that if there is anything we do not know, it is necessary for us only to ask this [knowledge] from Him. St. Isaac the Syrian, The Ascetical Homilies

Beware of envy. Wherever there is envy, God's spirit does not exist. Control the tongue, so that it will not utter empty words. Whoever preserves his tongue, preserves his soul from grief. Life and death both come from the tongue. The old should teach the young and the inexperienced. Everyone should have humility, kindness, and love. It is necessary to strength oneself by the fear of God and by the memory of death and eternal sufferings.

Quoted from: Starets Paisii Velichkovskii by Fr. Sergii Chetverikov



Blessed are you, drawer of ordinary water, who turned out to be a drawer of living water. You found the treasure, another Source, from Whom a flood of mercies flows. The spring had dried up, but it broke through to you and gave you to drink. He was poor, but He asked in order to enrich you. You left behind your pitcher, but you filled understanding and gave your people to drink. Blessed are you to whom He gave living water to drink, and you did not thirst again, as you said. For He called the truth 'living water,' since all who hear it will not thirst again. Blessed are you who learned the truth and did not thirst; for one is the Messiah and there are no more. St. Ephrem the Syrian, Hymns

Blessed are you, woman, living in poverty, who put two treasures on High. It is a wonder on which Greatness gazed. The two obols were weighed and they surpassed a talent on God's scale. Her life depended on the obols she lent and, impoverished, she stood [there]. Who is not reproved by greed? And in whom is not hidden a foul manner of life? Who has not stored up and set aside too much, so that it reproaches him that he has not been purified? Let one who resembles you, O widow, praise you, for my mind is too poor to gaze at you. By your poverty is convicted and exposed the provision of our greed.

St. Ephrem the Syrian, Hymns (on Virginity and on the Symbols of our Lord).



Blessed is He Who once came in humility and Who will hereafter come in glory: at the first lowly, and seated upon an ass's colt, and by infants extolled in order that it might be fulfilled that which was written: Thy goings have been seen, O God; even the goings of my God, my King, in the sanctuary; but at the second time seated on the clouds, in terrible majesty, by angels and power attended. O the mellifluous tongue of the children! O the sincere doctrine of those who are well pleasing to God! David in prophecy hid the spirit under the letter; children, opening their treasures, brought forth riches upon their tongues, and, in language full of grace, invited clearly all men to enjoy them. Therefore let us with them draw forth the unfading riches. In our bosoms insatiate, and in treasure-houses which cannot be filled, let us lay up the divine gifts. Let us exclaim without ceasing, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord! St. Methodius, Oration on the Psalms.

Blessed is He Whose power came down and was mingled with his churches! Bestow on yourselves, my brothers, the treasure of consolation from the word our Lord spoke about His church, 'The bars of Sheol cannot conquer her.' If, indeed, she is mightier than Sheol, who among mortals can frighten her? Blessed is He Who made her great yet has tested her that she might be greater! St. Ephraim the Syrian, Hymns (On the Church).

Blessed is he who always has before his eyes that "the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof" (Ps. 23:1), and keeps in mind that God is powerful to arrange for His servants as is pleasing to Him. St. Gregory the Great

Blessed is the person who has consented to become the close friend of faith and of prayer: he lives in singlemindedness and makes prayer and faith stop by wit him. Prayer that rises up in someone's heart serves to open up for us the door of heaven: that person stands i converse with the Divinity and gives pleasure to the Son of God. Prayer makes peace with the Lord's anger and with the vehemence of His wrath. In this way too, tears that well up in the eyes can open the door of compassion. St. Ephrem the Syrian in The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the SpiritualLife.

Blessed is the person who has consented to become the close friend of faith and of prayer: he lives in singlemindedness and makes prayer and faith stop by with him. Prayer that rises up in someone's heart serves to open up for us the door of heaven: that person stands in converse with the Divinity and gives pleasure to the Son of God. Prayer makes peace with the Lord's anger and with the vehemence of His wrath. In this way too, tears that well up in the eyes can open the door of compassion. St. Ephrem in The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual Life.

Bringing doxology to the One born of the Virgin in church hymns and spiritual songs, we must, outside the church as well, unceasingly praise Him and give Him thanks for His ineffable lovingkindness to us sinners, who are atoned by His honorable blood and who have received through this promise life eternal, blessed, and unceasing. St. Paul of Obnora

But after receiving the knowledge of the truth and winning regeneration and adoption as sons, and tasting of the Divine Mysteries, we must strive hard to keep our feet lest we fall. For to fall becometh not the athlete, since many have fallen and been unable to rise. Some, opening a door to sinful lusts and clinging obstinately to them, have no more had strength to hasten back to repentance; and others, being untimely snatched by death, and having not made speed enough to wash them from the pollution of their sin, have been damned. And for this cause it is perilous to fall into any kind of sinful affection whatsoever. But if any man fall, he must at once leap up, and stand again to fight the good fight; and, as often as there cometh a fall, so often must there at once ensue this rising and standing, unto the end. For `Turn ye unto me, and I will turn unto you,' saith the Lord God. St. John Damascene, Barlaam and Ioasaph.

But again, say to yourself, `If it is the will of my Master that evil beings should hold dominion over what He has fashioned, I am not vexed at this, as one who would wish to hinder the will of his Lord.' And thus even in temptations you will be filled with joy, as one who knows and is fully aware that his Master's signal steers him through all. Establish your heart, therefore, by the confidence [of faith] in the Lord, and be not afraid `for the terror by night, nor for the arrow that flieth by day,' for the righteous man's faith in God, they say, tames wild beasts as though they were sheep. Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian

But and if thou readily obey Him that calleth thee to salvation, and thou run unto Him with desire and joy, and be signed with His light, and follow Him without turn, renouncing every thing, and cleaving only unto Him, hear what manner of security and happiness shall be thine. 'When thou sittest down, thou shalt not be afraid of sudden fear. When thou liest down, sweet shall be thy sleep.' And thou shalt not be afraid of terror coming or of the assaults of evil spirits, but shalt go thy way bold as any lion, and shalt live in bliss and everlasting joy... St. John Damascene, Barlaam and Ioasaph

But as we cannot imitate God, let us imitate the Apostles whom the world held in hatred for they were not of this world. Imitate them, follow them. Perhaps you are thinking that it is difficult to ascend above the world by merely human virtue. Well said! but even the Apostles in their following of the Lord (not as equals but as disciples), merited to rise above the world. You too should be Christ's disciple and an imitator of Christ; He will pray for you as He prayed for them. And He said, 'Not only do I pray for the Apostles, but for those who will believe in Me through their word, so that all my be one.' St. Ambrose of Milan, On Virginity.

But day by day renew thyself in righteousness and holiness and truth: for this is possible with every man that willeth, as thou hearest that unto them that believe on His name He hath given power to become the sons of God; so that we can no longer say that the acquiring of virtues is impossible for us, for the road is plain and easy. For, though with respect to the buffeting of the body, it hath been called a strait and narrow way, yet through the hope of future blessings is it desirable and divine for such as walk, not as fools, but circumspectly, understanding what the will of God is, clad in the whole armor of God to stand in battle against the wiles of the adversary. St. John Damascene, Barlaam and Ioasaph.

But even those who have fallen from the state of righteousness into evil actions must not despair because behold the Prophet is sent to the Transmigration at Babylon. And the Lord says through another Prophet: 'And thou shalt come even unto Babylon; and there shalt thou be delivered' (Mic. 4:10). For often someone, after he has fallen in the confusion of vices, ashamed of the evils which he has committed, returns to penitence and raises himself by a good life from his failings. What therefore is this but that he came even unto Babylon and was there delivered? The Homilies of St. Gregory the Great on the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel.

But if we diligently look into the words of our Lord and Savior, in which He exhorts us to ask God our Father, after the example of an earthly parent, we quickly recognize what especially in the justice which can open for us the way to the heavenly kingdom. `Which one of you,' He says, `if his son asks his father for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent in place of the fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will hand him a scorpion?' This is indeed a clear comparison, and one easy for all hearers to understand: if any human being, mortal and weak and still burdened with sinful flesh, does not refuse to give the good things which he possesses, though they be earthly and weak, to the children whom he loves, much more does our heavenly Father lavish the good things of heaven, which do not perish, upon those who ask of Him and are endowed with the fear and love Him. Venerable Bede, Homilies on the Gospels, Book 2.

But in all that mass of people by the Jordan, there was one man, and one only, who truly knew Him. This was John the Baptist himself. The eyes of the strict ascetic shone, and the thunder of his voice was for an instant silenced. John forgot all about the rest of the crowd gathered around the water and in it and, pointing to Jesus, he quietly said: `Behold the Lamb of God! (Jn. 1:29). Bishop (St.) Nikolai Velimirovic, Homily on Theophany.

But incense is not just a symbolic representation of the heart that is praying to God. It is also an expression of worship, of deep gratitude for His countless blessings to mankind, of which the greatest is that He sent His only begotten Son to sacrifice Himself to save the world. That is why the priest takes the censer at cretain sacred moments when the Divine Liturgy is being celebrated and censes the Altar Table, the icons, and all of the church. He censes especially when the Divine Sacrifice is being offered and the bread becomes the Body of Christ and the wine becomes the Blood of Christ. Orthodox House of Worship by Augoustinos N. Kantiotes

But it is not enough for us to abandon our possessions if we do not abandon ourselves as well. What does it mean to abandon ourselves? If we abandon ourselves, where shall we go outside of ourselves? And who is it who departs, if a person has forsaken himself? But we are one thing when we have fallen into sin, and another in the nature with which we were created; what we did is one thing, what we have become is another. Let us abandon the selves we have made by sinning, and let us continue to be the selves we have become by grace. St. Gregory the Great, Forty Gospel Homilies.

But it often happens that certain people, while glorying in such gifts as they have particularly, lose the gift of concord which is the greater gift; for example, if a man should perchance, by restraining his gluttony, subdue the flesh more than others do, but despise concord with those whom he surpasses in abstinence. But he who separates abstinence from concord should consider well the admonition of the Psalmist, who says: 'Praise Him with timbrel and choir.' For in the timbrel, the dried skin, when struck, resounds, but in the choir, voices are joined together in concord. A man, therefore, who afflicts the body but forsakes concord, praises God, indeed, on the timbrel, but not in choral harmony. Often, however, when superior knowledge exalts certain people, it separates them from the society of others, and the greater the knowledge, the less wise they are in the virtue of concord. St. Gregory the Great, Pastoral Care.

But let no one imagine that humility can be achieved easily and without labor. On the contrary, it needs more effort than the practice of any other virtue. Why? Though man had received good seeds, the chief of the opposite seeds - the tares of pride - sown by the enemy of our life, took root while he was asleep. For the same thing by which the devil had caused his own downfall to earth, caused the miserable human race to fling itself down with him into the common ruin; and there is no other evil so harmful to our nature as that which is caused by pride. St. Gregory of Nyssa , The Beatitudes.

But let us examine ourselves and test whether we are truly Christians. According to the apostolic injunction, `Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith (II Cor. 13:5), for without faith it is not possible to be a Christian. We show the outward signs of Christianity, as we said above, but do we have true ?Christianity within us? For everything outward is nothing without the inward, and outward signs apart from very truth are a lie and hypocrisy. St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, Journey to Heaven.

But mark both their faith, and their obedience [Simon Peter and Andrew]. For though they were in the midst of their work ( and ye know how greedy a thing fishing is), when they heard His command, they delayed not, they procrastinated not, they said not, 'let us return home, and converse with our kinfolk,' but 'they forsook all and followed,' even as Elisha did to Elijah. Because such is the obedience which Christ seeks of us, as that we delay not even a moment of time, though something absolutely most needful should vehemently press on us. Wherefore also when some other had come unto Him, and was asking leave to bury his own father, not even this did He permit him to do; to signify that before all we ought to esteem the following of Himself. St. John Chrysostom, Homily XIV on the Gospel of St. Matthew.

But nothing causes such exceeding grief as when anyone, lying under the captivity of sin, calls to mind from w here he has fallen, because he turned aside to carnal and earthly things, instead of directing his mind in the beautiful ways of the knowledge of God. So you find Adam concealing himself, when he knew that God was present and wishing to be hidden when called b y God ;with that voice which wounded the soul of him who was hiding: `Adam, where art thou?' That is to say, Why do you hide yourself? Why are you concealed? Why do you avoid Him Whom you once longed to see? A guilty conscience is so burdensome that it punishes itself without a judge, and wishes for covering, and yet is bare before God.

St. Ambrose of Milan, Concerning Repentance Quoted in The Lament of Eve by Johanna Manley (excellent Lenten reading).



But nothing causes such exceeding grief as when anyone, lying under the captivity of sin, calls to mind from where he has fallen, because he turned aside to carnal and earthly things, instead of directing his mind in the beautiful ways of the knowledge of God. So you find Adam concealing himself, when he knew that God was present and wishing to be hidden when called by God with that voice which wounded the soul of him who was hiding: `Adam, where art thou?' That is to say, Why do you hide yourself? Why are you concealed? Why do you avoid Him Whom you once longed to see? A guilty conscience is so burdensome that it punishes itself without a judge, and wishes for covering, and yet is bare before God. ` St. Ambrose of Milan, Concerning Repentance - quoted in The Lament of Eve by Johanna Manley.

But perchance some one possibly may say to our common Savior Christ, `What doest Thou, O Lord? Goest Thou to lodge with Zacchaeus? and deignest Thou to abide with the chief of the publicans? He hath not yet washed away the stain of his greedy love of lucre; he is still sick with covetousness, the mother of all crimes; still full of the blame of rapine and extortion.' But yes, He says, I indeed know this, in that I am God by nature, and see the ways of every individual upon earth. And more than this, I know also thing to come. I have called him to repentance because he is ready thereto; and even though men murmur, and blame My gentleness, facts themselves shall prove that they are wrong. For Zacchaeus, is says, `stood up, and said unto the Lord, Behold, the half of whatever I possess I give unto the poor, and if I have defrauded any man, I make four-fold restoration.' St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of Saint Luke.

But seek with all your heart and you will receive the pearl (of great price) or the drop (of life-giving water) or like the grain of mustard or like a divine spark you will receive the seed. How will you seek for what I am describing to you? Listen and then act with energy and you will find it quickly. Take my image that will clarify my point, that of a stone and iron. For there is inherent in them truly the nature of fire; yet no one can see it at all. But if you continue striking them, they will give off sparks of fire and then everyone will at once see them. St. Symeon the New Theologian, Hymns of Divine Love.

But since some find fault with us for worshipping and honoring the image of our Saviour and that of our Lady, and those, too, of the rest of the saints and servants of Christ, let them remember that in the be ginning God created man after His own image. On what grounds, then, do we show reverence to each other unless because we are made after God's image? For as Basil, that much-versed expounder of divine things, says, the honor given to the image passes over tot he prototype. St. John of Damascus, Exposition of the Orthodox Faith.

But since, following the sayings of the fathers, we have briefly touched on these things concerning the priestly vesture, we suppose that we should also note that those four selected colours from which it was made are well suited to be compared with the four elements of the world: fine linen or linen with earth, because it comes forth from it; purple with water, because it is produced with dye from snails of the sea; blue and scarlet with air and fire, on account of the similarity of colour; and the scarlet was twice dyed because fire is endowed with the twofold power of giving light and setting ablaze. Therefore, the Hebrews say that the high priest carried the figure of all the elements in his vesture, because when he offered sacrifice he was under an obligation to pray not for Israel alone, but also for the whole world. Nor would it be inconsistent with these things if we should make bold to add that every individual human being contains the figure of all the elements: fire, in the heat [of the body]; air, for its sustenance; water, in its fluids; earth, in the very solidity of its members. For this same reason Greek natural science refers to the human being as a 'microcosm,' that is, a 'little world.' The Venerable Bede: On the Tabernacle

But the whole of our treatment and exertion is concerned with the hidden man of the heart, and our warfare is directed against that adversary and foe within us, who uses ourselves as his weapons against ourselves, and, most fearful of all, hands us over to the death of sin. In opposition then, to these foes we are in need of great and perfect faith, and of still greater cooperation on the part of God, and, as I am persuaded, of no slight countermanoeuvring on our own part, which must manifest itself both in word and deed, if ourselves, the most precious possession we have, are to be duly tended and cleansed and made as deserving as possible. St. Gregory Nanzianzen, In Defense of His Flight to Pontus.

But then what advocate shall we have? What pretext? What false excuse? What plausible artifice? What device contrary to the truth will impose upon the court, and rob it is its right judgment, which places in the balance for us all, our entire life, action, word, and thought, and weighs against the evil that which is better, until that which preponderates wins the day, and the decision is given in favor of the main tendency; after which there is no appeal, no higher court, no defense on the ground of subsequent conduct, no oil obtained from the wise virgins, or from them that sell, for the lamps going out, no repentance of the rich m man wasting away in the flame, and begging for repentance for his friends, no statute of limitations; but only that final and fearful judgment-seat, more just even than fearful; or rather more fearful because it is also just; when the thrones are set and the Ancient of days takes His seat, and the books are opened, and the fiery stream comes forth, and the light before Him, and the darkness prepared; and they that have done good shall go into the resurrection of life, now hid in Christ and to be manifested hereafter in Him, and they that have done evil, into the resurrection of judgment, to which they who have not believed have been condemned already by the word which judges them.

St. Gregory Nazianzen, Select Orations. ions.



But this discourse of the Lord (Jn. 16:20) is also appropriate to all believers who are striving to arrive at eternal joys through the tears and distress of the present life; who rightly lament and weep and are sorrowful during the present time, since they are not yet capable of seeing Him Whom they love. As long as they are in their body they recognize that they are on a journey and absent from their fatherland and kingdom. They have no doubt that they must reach their crown by labors and contests. Their sorrow will be changed to joy when, after the struggle of this present life is over, they receive the prize of everlasting life, about which it is said in the psalm, `Thou who sow in tears will reap in joy.' Homilies on the Gospels, Book Two by Bede the Venerable.

But today, the One Whom the inspired Prophet called `the cornerstone' has wonderfully accomplished the transferral of His own mountain, which looms over all creation in the height of its glory .From this mountain, Christ our God, has been 'cut without touch [of human hands],' and has `set the whole universe right'; He has constructed in the world communities of right faith, so that whose who reverently take refuge in Him by way of that mountain might be saved from all impious heretical belief, just as Holy Scripture says, `Everyone who believes in Him will not be put to shame.' She who remained a Virgin, the `sealed fountain' of divine gifts, has been led out to meet Him; through her, the garden of the Orthodox Church is watered, and is tended by the second Adam, born of her. St. Modestus of Jerusalem, An Encomium, in On the Dormition of Mary; Early Patristic Homilies.

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, in the manner indicated by St. Isaac. St. Gregory Palamas, The Triads

But we know that natural perfection is itself a gift of God, even though knowledge is not only a gift of God, but a state of perfection of the rational nature. However, this state, since it is not supernatural, is not a deifying gift, because the deifying gift is supernatural. Otherwise all men and angels without exception would be more or less gods, and the race of demons would be imperfect gods or demi-gods. Thus, whatever the state in which the rational nature attains perfection, whether it is a knowledge, a constitution, a natural perfection of body and soul, whether it comes from within them or from outside a man, it can truly make perfect those rational beings who possess it, but it cannot make them gods. St. Gregory Palamas, The Triads

But we must first ask why Ezekiel the Prophet, both when he sees subline things and when he is ordered to perform some mystic acts, is first called Son of man? For he is often lifted to the heights and his mind feeds on hidden and invisible things. Therefore it is needful that he be called "Son of man" amid the hidden things he penetrates, in order that he may always recognize what is, and never be lifted away from that to which he is led. For why is the Prophet always addressed as "Son of man" when he is lifted to spiritual things save to remind him of his own infirmity? So that conscious of his infirm condition he should not be elevated in his thoughts through the magnitude of his contemplation.

The Homilies of St. Gregory the Great on the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel.



But we must look attentively at this - that not everyone who seems to pray before other people is proven to ask or to seek or to knock at the entrance of the heavenly kingdom in the sight of the Searcher of hearts. The prophet would not have said, 'The Lord is near to all who call upon Him in truth,' unless he roecgnized that there are some who call upon the Lord, but not in truth. They do indeed call upon the Lord in truth who do not contradict in their lives what they say in their prayers. They call upon the Lord in truth who, as they are about to offer their petitions, first busy themselves with carrying out His orders. Those who, as they are about to say to Him in prayer, 'And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors,' have fulfilled that mandate of His which says, 'And whenever you stand to pray, grant pardon if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father too Who is in heaven, may forgive you your sins.' Hence about such persons the prophet appropriately adds, 'He will fulfill the will of those who fear Him, and will hearken to their prayers, and will save them.' Accordingly, they call upon the Lord in truth who are acknowledged to fear Him. He hearkens to their prayers when they cry out [to Him]; He accomplishes their pious desires when they long for Him; He raises them up to eternal salvation when they have passed from this life. The Venerable Bede, Homilies on the Gospels, Book 2.

But what advantage is it to us to foreknow these things, if it is not our lot to escape them? Therefore, with the whole bent of our mind, we must make it our business, that when the opportunity of being at liberty is ours, that we should escape the avenging torments of evildoers by the implementation of righteous life. For it is so said by Solomon, 'Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave where you are going' (Eccles. 9:10). So Isaiah says, 'Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near' (Is. 55:6). And so Paul says, 'Behold now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation' (2Cor 6:2). And he says again, 'While we have opportunity, let us do good to all men" (Gal. 6:10). St. Gregory the Great, quoted in Wisdom. Let Us Attend: Jobe, the Fathers, and the Old Testament, by Johanna Manley.

But when you hear the sayings of the prophets spoken as in the person of someone, you must not suppose that they are spoken by the inspired persons themselves, but by the divine Word Who moves over them. For sometimes He speaks things that are to happen, in the manner of one who foretells the future; sometimes He speaks as in the person of God the Master and Father of all; sometimes as in the person of Christ; sometimes as in the person of the people answering the Lord or His Father, just as you can see even in your own writers, one man being the composer of the whole, but introducing the persons who converse. St. Justin, Martyr, The First Apology

But when you hear the sayings of the prophets spoken as in the person of someone, you must not suppose that they are spoken by the inspired persons themselves, but by the divine Word Who moves them. For sometimes He speaks things that are to happen, in the manner one who foretells the future; sometimes He speaks as in the person of God the Master and Father of all; sometimes as in the person of the people answering the Lord or His Father, just as you can see even in your own writers, one man being the composer of the whole, but introducing the persons who converse. St. Justin Martyr, The First and Second Apologies

But why are our death, burial, and resurrection all at the same time, for we do arise at the same moment that we are buried [at baptism], whereas our Master's resurrection was delayed? He arose after three days. Why, then, does our resurrection come at once and His come more slowly? The truth is that He did so to help us to understand that weakness is not the reason for the delay. Surely He Who could make His servant arise in an instant of time was all the more able to raise up Himself. Why, then, the delay? Why the three days in the tomb? So that the fact of His resurrection after a death which was slow in coming might, because of this delay, be established by a proof beyond all dispute. Even now, after such strong proof, there are men who say that He only appeared to suffer. What would these men have said if there had not been such a delay in His resurrection? St. John Chrysostom, Baptsmal Instructions.

But why did not Jesus require faith of this man, as He did in the case of others, saying, `Believest thou that I am able to do this?' It was because this man did not yet clearly know who He was; and it is not before, but after the working of miracles that He is seen so doing. For persons who had beheld His power exerted on others would reasonably have this said to them, while of those who had not yet learned who He was, but who were to know afterwards by means of signs, it is after the miracles that faith is required... Observe however in this way the faith of the paralytic. When he had heard, `Take up thy bed and walk,' he did not mock, nor say, 'what can this mean? An Angel cometh down and troubleth the water, and healeth only one, and does Thou, a man, by a bare command and word hope to be able to do greater things than Angels?... But he neither said nor imagined anything like this, but at one he heard and arose, and becoming whole, was not disobedient to Him that gave the command. St. John Chrysostom, Homily 37 on the Gospel of St. John.

But why is the excess greater from the five thousand (cf. Lk. 9:17) and less from the four thousand (cf. Mt. 15:37)? Because those four thousand spent three days with Christ and, therefore, received more of the heavenly food. Not idly were the fragments from the crowd taken up by the Disciples, because ye will find the things which are of God more easily among the elect than among the Gentiles. Would that it were my fate to hear, 'Gather what remains" (Jn. 6:12)! If I had heard and done so, I should have many things which the crowds, which the children and the women, could not eat. Blessed is he who can gather what remains also from the learned. St. Ambrose, Exposition of the Holy Gospel According to St. Luke.

But why when He was about to restore the paralytic did He not pray, nor when He was raising the dead, or bridling the sea, while He doth so here over the loaves? It was to show, then when we begin our meals, we ought to give thanks unto God. Moreover, He doth it especially in a lesser matter, that thou mayest learn that He doth it not as having any need; for were this the case, much more would He have done so in greater things; but when He did them by His own authority, it is clear that it was through condescension the He acted as He did in the case of the lesser. Besides, a great multitude was present, and it was necessary that they should be persuaded that He had come according to the will of God. Wherefore, when He doth miracles in the absence of witnesses, He exhibiteth nothing of the kind; but when He doth them in the presence of many, in order to persuade them that He is no enemy of God, no adversary of Him Who hath begotten Him, He removeth the suspicion by thanksgiving. St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on St. John (6:8-9)

But, that we may lead you to the light in every respect, when you hear `light of knowledge,' do not imagine that this is mere knowledge of what is said and no light at all. The prophet did not say an `account' or `lecture about light,' but `light of knowledge' and `of knowledge light' (Hos. 10:12). There is no other way for anyone to know about God unless it is by means of the contemplation of the light which is sent by Him. It is just as in the case of someone who is telling some others about some man or city. He first talks to them about what he has seen and heard. His listeners, who have not seen either the man or city about which they are hearing, cannot by merely hearing about them know them in the same way as the man who has actually seen them and is telling them about it. It is just the same with regard to the Jerusalem on high and the invisible God Who dwells within it, or concerning the unapproachable glory if His countenance, or about the energy and power of His all-Holy Spirit -- in other words, His light. No one can say anything unless he has first seen the light with the eyes of his soul and knows precisely its illumination and activities as they occur within himself.

St. Symeon the New Theologian, On Thy Mystical Life, Vol. 2. (Just published)



By faith the intellect is confirmed in pondering God. The way of salvation is that of the constant remembrance of God. The intellect separated from remembrance of God is like a fish out of water. The freedom of a true man consists in his freedom from the passions, in his resurrection with Christ, and in a joyous soul. Fr Justin Popovich, Faith and Life in Christ

By the Anointed again and by His power, lamps resist in the darkness, and by the Holy Spirit the prophets were strong with the People. Oil strengthens lamps to struggle with darkness until the sun comes with its breath and dispels it. The Spirit sustained the prophets so that falsehood was mitigated by truth before the Sun Who pursues error by the twelve rays that He extends. Again, oil served as a beam in the temporal Tabernacle since in a seven-branched candlestick its flow served seven flames in a symbol of our Lord from Whom seven lights of seven spirits shone. The seven-branched candlestick brought forth the light of its seven brightnesses by which the temporal Tabernacle enlightens. Mary brought forth the Luminary of the seven holy brightnesses that illuminate for us all creation. St. Ephraim the Syrian, Hymns

By the death of One the world was redeemed. For Christ, had He willed, need not have died, but He neither thought that death should be shunned as though there were any cowardice in it, nor could He have saved us better than by dying. And so His death is the life of all. We are signed with the sign of His death, we show forth His death when we pray; when we offer the Sacrifice we delcare His death, for His death is victory, His death is our mystery, His death is the yearly recurring solemnity of the world. What now should we say concerning His death, since we prove by this Divine Example that death alone found immortality, and that death itself redeemed itself. Death, then, is not to be mourned over, for it is the cause of salvation for all; death is not to be shunned, for the Son of God did not think it unworthy of Him, and did not shun it. The order of nature is not to be loosed, for what is common to all cannot admit of exception in individuals. St. Ambrose of Milan, On Belief in the Resurrection.

By what other example could human beings more fittingly be aroused to faith in the glory in which they were to share and in the immortal life which they were to merit, than by their acknowledging that God Himself had been made a sharer in their humanity and mortality? By what means might they be more effectively stirred up to tolerate adversities of every kind for their salvation, than by their learning that their Maker had been subject to countless kinds of abuses at the hands of the wicked, and even to the sentence of death, for their salvation? For what other reason might they more fittingly receive the hope of their own resurrection, than by their remembering that through His sacraments they had been cleansed and sanctified, united to the body of Him Who, when He had tasted death for them, presented an example of a speedy rising from death? Venerable Bede, Homilies on the Gospels, Book 2.

Certainly it is desirable that every age bring some human vices forward for the inquiry into a life without fault, because it is profitable to correct oneself, even belatedly, in doing away with these vices. But for shaping a man who will please God, the Prophet does not wait until he will have been formed -- after a long a durable habit of faults -- for the instruction of God and the precepts of fear of Him. But he desires that those years which do not have the experience of sins, and the age that is still ignorant of them be formed, not only by intermittent aspirations for a life without fault, but also by the associated habit gained during adolescence. Indeed, it is difficult to renounce habits; it is hard to abstract oneself from things familiar...Also, the best worshipper of God will be not only he who has remitted his sins, even those rendered without intent, but those who are even in ignorance of vices would be assured of being without fault. Commentary on Ps. 117, V. 9-16.St. Hilary of Poitiers, quoted in The Lament of Eve by Johanna Manley

Certainly it is desirable that every age bring some human vices forward for the inquiry into a life without fault, because it is profitable to correct oneself, even belatedly, in doing away with these vices. But for shaping a man who will please God, the Prophet does not wait until he will have been formed -- after a long and durable habit of faults - for the instruction of God and the precepts of fear of Him. But he desires that those years which do not have the experience of sins, and the age that is still ignorant of them be formed, not only by intermittent aspirations for a life without fault, but also by the associated habit gained during adolescence. Indeed, it is difficult to renounce habits; it is hard to abstract oneself from things familiar.

St. Hilary of Poitiers in The Way, The Truth and the Life (Commentary on Psalm 118), Epilogue to The Lament of Eve, by Johanna Manley.



Certainly, when it is said that 'the kingdom of heaven is like to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom' the meaning is that all of them entered upon the same path of life, for this is signified by the letter 'I.' They went forth all equially pledged to the same life, and this is why they are said to be ten, for they chose, and I have said, the same purpose. But they did not all go forth to meet the bridegroom in the same way: some had provided themselves with abundant fuel, enough even for the repeated replenishing of their oil lamps; the others had been careless, thinking only for the present. And so they are divided equally, five and five: that is to say, the first group kept their five senses, which are generally called the portals of wisdom, virginally pure of sin; the second group, on the contrary, mingling their senses with wickedness, dishonored them with innumerable sins. They practiced their abstinence and sobriety by keeping away from justice, and only reaped a greater harvest of transgressions; and hence, of course, it happened that they were locked out and excluded from the divine precincts. For whether we act virtuously or commit sin, it is through these our senses that our deeds, both good and evil, are strengthened. St. Methodius, The Symposium: A Treatise on Chastity.

Charity, it is said, `rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.' It often happens to us to see the unrighteous, sinful doings of men, or to hear of them, and we have a sinful habit of rejoicing at such doings, and of shamelessly expressing our joy by foolish laughter. This is wrong, unchristian, uncharitable and impious. It shows that we have not Christian love for our neighbor in our hearts: for charity `rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth .' Let us therefore, cease doing this so that we may not be condemned with the workers of iniquity. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ.

Christ Himself accuses us of hypocrisy: `This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. In vain do they worship Me" (Mt. 15:8-9). Precisely these words that the Lord was speaking to reprove the Pharisees I feel He is speaking to us, the hypocrites of today who have been enriched with so much grace and yet have remained in a worse state than the hypocrites of yesterday. Do we not also require others to carry crushing weights while we do not touch them even with a finger? Is it not possibly true that we too look for the best seats at banquets, the front places in meetings and like to be called experts? And do we not have a mortal hatred for anyone who does not offer us these honors? Have not we too, perhaps, thrown away the key of true knowledge and shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in the face of other people, so that we neither enter it ourselves nor allow others to enter (cf. Lk. 11:46, Mt. 23:6-7,13)? St. Maximus the Confessor, quoted in Drinking from the Hidden Fountain.

Christ and We Only where Christ dwells is there blessedness. Where Christ blesses there is heavenly repose. Where Christ turns His benevolent gaze there is inexpressible true joy. Christ, with His unceasing love for us and His great humility, loves us and invisibly reproves us and reminds us through His miracles that there is life in the Kingdom of Heaven. 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

Christ compares the kingdom of heaven to a treasure hidden in a field. Someone finds this treasure and hides it, and in the joy of discovery, goes and sells everything he or she possess and buys the field. We should note that the treasure, once discovered, is hidden for protection's sake. It is not enough for us to stake our claim to the joy of heaven, guarding it from the forces of evil., if we do not also hide it from human praise. In this present life we are traveling on the road which will lead us to our homeland. Evil lies in wait along our route like a highway robber. Those who carry their treasure openly on the road are asking to be robbed. St. Gregory the Great, Be Friends of God.

Christ is Born, glorify Him!

`I do not disregard the grace which I receive from Thee, Master. I do not discount the value which I attained when I gave birth to Thee; For I rule over the world, Since bearing Thy power in my womb, I am sovereign of all. Thou hast transformed my worthlessness by The condescension; Thou hast humbled Thyself and exalted my race. Now rejoice with me Heaven and earth, For I carry your Creator in my arms. Earthborn, lay aside sadness as you behold the joy Which I brought forth from my immaculate womb as I heard myself called: Mary, full of grace.' The Kontakia of Romanos, On the Nativity II



Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!

Let us all who seek grace, praise with one accord the true living and endlessly flowing source, the most divine Spring, which doth pour forth its streams most abundantly. So much doth it pour forth healings daily unto all men, by comparison a river's streams are counted as nought. Wherefore, as is due, as we all draw nigh with longing, with faith let us now draw up from the Spring inexhaustible and immortal strength in all truth, which clearly doth bedew the hearts of the pious; and with our lips let us cry: Thou art the comfort and solace of the faithful flock, O Maid.

Sessional Hymn of Matins of Friday of New (Bright) Week. Feast of the Life-Giving Spring. The Pentecostarion .



Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!

Suddenly the bodies of the dead became animated; they were resurrected, and they trampled on Hades, Crying out, 'O unjust one, where is thy victory and Death, where is thy sting?' Suddenly all of the tombs were opened of themselves And all of the dead were released from them and formed a chorus;

And an angel coming down rolled the stone from the tomb of the Savior. 'O Lord, Master, Thou hast opened the tombs At a command, not needing anyone. How is it then that Thou hast need of someone To roll away the stone from Thy tomb? Thou, The Life and Resurrection.' St Romanos the Melodist - On the Resurrection IV



Christ is Risen! When the men heard this and were rejoicing in the words, They were immediately astonished and said to the women: `What is this, women, do you understand what you say? And angel spoke?' `Yes,' they said, `he both spoke and showed us: In fact, the God of the angels, and the Creator Was seen by Mary and said, -Tell My people, The Lord is risen.-' Come, then, like rams, like sheep, Let us all of the flock, skip as we say: `Our shepherd, some, gather together those of us Who were scattered through fear. Thou hast tread upon death; come near those who love Thee, Thou Who dost offer resurrection to the fallen.' St Romanos the Melodist - On The Resurrection, VI.

Christ is Risen! `I wish that you knew, Hades, my ally, that He endured all because H wished to save the race of mortals. Because of men, He has been seen as a man and of His own will took on flesh, In order that, as God, He might save Adam with Eve.' Belial, lamenting, said these things to Hades. `If only I had not worked to kill Christ He would not ever have conquered us; But we made great haste to seize him as though He were a mortal And to barricade ourselves with the gates, and secure ourselves with the bars, And how He has captured our thoughts, He Who has destroyed the weapons of Belial, the victory of Hades, and the sting of Death. St Romanos the Melodist - On the Resurrection V.

Christ loves us in spite of our senseless behavior. He calls to us, is always ready to respond to our cries for help and guide our fragile steps through all the obstacles that lie in our path. He respects us on a par with Himself. His ultimate idea for us is to see us in eternity verily His equals, His friends and brothers, the sons of the Father. He strives for this, He longs for it. This is our Christ, and as Man He sat on the right hand of the Father. Archimandrite Sophrony, from His Life is Mine

Christ our God is born and becomes man by adding to Himself flesh endowed with an intellective soul. He Who from non-being brings created things into being is Himself born supernaturally of a Virgin who does not thereby lose her virginity. For just as He Himself became man without changing His nature or altering His power, so He makes her who bore Him a Mother while keeping her a Virgin. In this way He reveals one miracle through another miracle, at the same time concealing the one with the other. This is because in Himself, according to His essence, God always remains a mystery. He expresses His natural hiddenness in such a way that He makes it the more hidden through the revelation. Similarly, in the case of the Virgin who bore Him, He makes her a Mother in such a way that by conceiving Him the bonds of her virginity become even more indissoluble.

St. Maximus the Confessor, Various Texts on Theology, The Philokalia, Vol. II.



Christ the Lord came, as the strongest expression of God's unchanging love for mankind, to rekindle the extinct fire of love in the hearts of God's children, and to make natural once more that which had, at one time, been completely normal to man, as to the angels, and had in time become unnatural. Were a mother not to love her child, could that child love its mother? Were God not to love man, could man love God? But God, from the beginning - and from before the beginning - loves man, and it is therefore natural for man to love God. (St.) Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich, Homilies, Vol. 2.

Christ's light, by which He illumines the world and enlightens men, reveals itself before our eyes in its true radiance only when we see it against human darkness. And what followed on from the miraculous healing of the blind man presents, in very truth, the thickest and most frozen darkness of the human heart and mind; a darkness that, in today's Gospel, lies like a deep shadow under the blazing light of Christ the Sun. This is the terrible darkness of the blind hearts and minds of the Pharisees. Not only did the Pharisees not rejoice that the blind beggar in front of their Temple could now see, but they but they were even insulted and embittered. St. Nikolai Velimirovic, Homilies, Vol. I.

Christ's prayer [`Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, as We are.'] is not only for the apostles - although it is firstly for them - but is also for all those who have and will come to faith in Christ through their word. This prayer, then, was also for the holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council, that we commemorate today. `Keep them!' - the Lord prayed to His Father. And the Father kept them from the errors of Arius , and inspired, illumined and strengthened them by the Holy Spirit to defend and confirm the Orthodox Faith. This prayer is for all of us who are baptized in the apostolic Church and who have from the apostles and their successors, come to know the saving name of Christ the Saviour. Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic, Homilies, V. 1, on the 6th Sunday after Pascha.

Christ's words, opposed to every kind of evil, instruct us unceasingly on every page of Scripture. Thus even now Christ is doing what the gospel says, `And He was teaching daily in the temple.' Truth is teaching daily in the temple when He subtly instructs us, His faithful people, to avoid evil. We are truly being instructed by His words when we fearfully and ceaselessly keep before our eyes our last end, in accord with what a certain wise man said: `In all that you do remember your end, and you will never sin.' St. Gregory the Great, Be Friends of God.

Christ, out o love, sought us - but not hours. But men, because of their meager love, seek His good things rather than Him. They expect from Him bread, rain, fertility, health, and earthly good in general. And He gives all with sadness that it is not Him, Himself they seek. They have forgotten that when they received Him, they have received all along with Him. The Apostle said: `I do count them all as dung, that I may win Christ' (Phil. 3:8. Elsewhere he writes to the faithful: `I seek not yours but you' (2 Cor. 12:14). Kassiana: Lessons in Divine and Christian Love.

Christians are not distinguished from the rest of mankind by either country, speech, or customs; the fact is, they nowhere settle in cities of their own; they use no peculiar language; they cultivate no eccentric mode of life. Certainly, this creed of theirs is no discovery due to some fancy or speculation of inquisitive men; nor do they, as some do, champion a doctrine of human origin. Yet while they dwell in both Greek and non-Greek cities, as each one's lot was cast, and conform to the customs of the country in dress, food, and mode of life in general, the whole tenor of their way of living stamps it as worthy of admiration and admittedly extraordinary. They reside in their respective countries, but only as aliens. They take part in everything as citizens and put up with everything as foreigners. Every foreign land is their home, and every home a foreign land. The Epistle to Diognetus in The Didache.

Christians therefore ought to strive continually, and never to pass judgment on anyone - no, not upon the harlot on the street, or upon open sinners and disorderly persons - but to regard all men with singleness of intention and purity of eye, so that it may become like a fixed law of nature to despise no one, to judge no one, to abhor no one, to make no distinctions between them. If you see a man with one eye, be not divided in your heart, but look upon him as if he were whole. If a man is maimed of of one hand, see him as not maimed, the lame as straight, the palsied as whole. This is purity of heart, when you see sinners or sick people, to have compassion on them and be tender-hearted towards them. It happens sometimes that the saints of the Lord sit in theatres and behold the deceit of the world. According to the inner man they are conversing with God, while according to the outer man they appear to men as contemplating what goes on in the world. The Spiritual Homilies of St. Macarius the Great.

Cleansed through fervent ascetic labor, the soul is illumined by divine light and begins little by little to perceive the natural beauty which God originally bestowed on it and to expand in love for its Creator. And as through its purification the rays of the Sun of righteousness grow more lucid in it, and as its natural beauty is increasingly revealed to it and recognized, so in order to become yet more pure it extends its ascetic practice. In this way it acquires a clear vision of the glory of the gift it has received, regains its former nobility and restores to its Creator His own image pure and unalloyed. And it continues to add to its labors until it has cleansed itself of every stain and impurity and is privileged to contemplate and commune with God. Nikitas Stithatos (On the Inner Nature of Things no. 86)

Come now, my brethren - all who have received the name of faith, who have been deemed worthy to be called people of Christ - do not put aside our calling; let us not voilate our faith through improper works. It is not enough for someone merely to be known as a believer, so let us show our faith through works. A father had, Christ says, two sons, and he said to one: 'Go, and work in my vineyard' (Mt. 11:28). That son promised to go, but failed to fulfil his promise. Later, the second son was addresssed likewise. This one refused with his words, but fulfilled the command with his actions. In this way the first was blamed while the second was praised. Let us likewise remember what we renounced and what we accepted by baptism! We renounced the devil and his angels and all his works and all his service and all his retinue. Let us hold fast this renunciation; let us not return like a dog to our vomit.

St. John of Damascus, Homily on the Withered Fig Tree and the Parable of the Vineyard.



Come, Adam and Eve, our first father and mother, who fell from the choir on high through the envy of the murderer of man, when of old with bitter pleasure ye tasted from the tree in Paradise. See, the Tree of the Cross, revered by all, draws near! Run with haste and embrace it joyfully, and cry to it with faith: O precious Cross, thou art our succor; partaking of thy fruit, we have gained incorruption; we are restored once more to Eden, and we have received great mercy. Stichera from Vespers, Sunday of the Cross, The Lenten Triodion.

Come, come," said this good friend, "come and dwell with us, and for living water drink derision at every hour. For David, having tried every pleasure under heaven, last of all said in bewilderment: Behold now, what is so good or so joyous as for brethren to dwell together in unity. St. John of the Ladder

Common bread is improperly called our daily bread, because it strengthens only our body and not our soul. Properly and principally the term daily bread denotes the Body of our Lord and the word of God, because they strengthen the soul as well as the body. For this reason, those of us who have received spiritual regeneration through Divine Baptism must continually eat this spiritual food with warm love and a contrite heart. St. Macarios of Corinth, Modern Orthodox Saints, Vol. 2.

Compared with the righteousness of the age to be, all earthly righteousness fulfills the role of a mirror: it contains the image of archetypal realities, not the realities themselves as they subsist in their true and universal nature. And compared with knowledge there, all spiritual knowledge in this world is an indistinct image: it contains a reflection of the truth but not the truth itself as it is destined to be revealed (cf. 1 Cor. 13:12). St. Maximos the Confessor, Philokalia, Vol. 2

Concerning Faith: The first virtue is faith, for by faith even mountains are moved and men receive everything they wish, as the Lord said. Each one, in all glorious and wondrous deeds, is confirmed by his faith. By our own free will faith either decreases or increases. St. Paisius Velichkovsky, Little Russian Philokalia, Vol. IV

Consider to what a dignity he exalts himself who esteems his brother's salvation as of great importance. Such a man is imitating God, as far as lies with the power of man. And God says so through His Prophet [Jer. 15:19]. What He says is that he who is eager to save a brother who has fallen into careless ways, he who hastens to snatch his brother from the jaws of the devil, that man imitates Me as far as lies in human power. What could equal that? This is greater than all good deeds; it is the peak of all virtue.

S t. John Chrysostom, quoted in The Lives of the Holy Prophets, compiledby Holy Apostles Convent.



Consider, therefore, the grace of the Spirit, how it is all-sufficient, enough for such a wide world in so many ages: far from being circumscribed or used up, it fills all with wealth and grace while itself in no way being consumed. Then, since the word 'spirit' is something with many meanings (it is called angel as well, remember, and soul, and breath, and many other names), He added 'some of My Spirit,' As, then a human being's spirit is related to the human being, so too God's, but remaining in a distinct person. Paul, too, suggested this in saying, 'I mean, what human being knows the depths of a human being if not the spirit of the human being that is within. Likewise, too no one knows the depths of God if not the Spirit of God,' not confusing the divine Persons - perish the thought - but revealing the nobility of the Spirit. At any rate, as complete as the soul's harmony with itself, so complete is the relation of the Spirit to the Father.

S _____________________________________________ t. John Chrysostom, Commentary on the Psalms, translated by Robert Charles Hill.



Consider, therefore, the grace of the Spirit, how it is all-sufficient, enough for such a wide world in so many ages; far from being circumscribed or used up, it fills all with wealth and grace while itself in so way being consumed. Then, since the word 'spirit' is something with many meanings (it is called angel as well, remember, and soul, and breath, and many other names), he added 'some of my Spirit.' As, then, a human being's spirit is related to the human being, so too God's but remaining in a distinct person. Paul, too, suggested this in saying, 'I mean, what human being knows the depths of a human being if not the spirit of the human being that is within? Likewise, too, no one knows the depths of God if not the Spirit of God,' not confusing the divine persons - perish the thought - but revealing the nobility of the Spirit. St. John Chrysostom, Commentary on the Psalms.

Contemplation of God can be understood in more than one fashion. For God is not solely known by way of that astonished gaze at His ungraspable nature, something hidden thus far in the hope that comes with what has been promised us. He can also be sensed in the magnificence of His creation, in the spectacle in His justice, and in the help He extends each day to the running of the world. He can be sensed too when with well-purified minds we consider what He has achieved in each generation by means of His saints. He can be sensed when we gaze with trembling hearts at that power of His which controls, guides, and rules everything, when we contemplate His immense knowledge and His knowing look which the secrets of the heart cannot evade. His presence is known when we meditate on the fact that the sands of the sea are numbered by Him, that He keeps a count of the waves. Astounded, we reflect that every drop of rain, every day and every hour of all the centuries, everything past and everything to come are all facts of which He is aware. St. John Cassian, Conferences

Contrary to the rest of men enlist for yourself in an army without weapons, without war, without bloodshed, without wrath, without stain pious old men, orphans dear to God, widows armed with gentleness, men adorned with love. Obtain with your wealth as guardians of body and soul such as these whose commander is God. St. Clement of Alexandria

Creating man according to His image, God diffused into man's very being the longing for the divine infinitude of life, of knowledge, and of perfection. It is precisely for this reason that the immeasurable longing and thirst of humanity is not able to be completely satisfied by anything or anyone except God. Declaring divine perfection as the main purpose for humanity's existence in the world - `Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father Who is in heaven is perfect.' (Mt. 5:48) - Christ, the Savior, answered the most elemental demand and need of our God-like and God-longing humanity. Fr Justin Popovich, Faith and Life in Christ

Creating man according to His image, God diffused into man's very being the longing for the divine infinitude of life, of knowledge, and of perfection. It is precisely for this reason that the immeasurable longing and thirst of humanity is not able to be completely satisfied by anything or anyone except God. Declaring divine perfection as the main purpose for humanity's existence in the world -- `Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father Who is in heaven is perfect.' (Mt. 5:48) -- Christ, the Savior, answered the most elemental demand and need of our God-like and God-longing humanity. (St.) Fr. Justin Popovich, Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ

Dearly beloved, I have briefly discussed the Gospel lesson. It now remains for me to say something concerning the excellence of this great solemnity. I am right to speak of the excellence of this solemnity, because it surpasses all others. For just as in the sacred scriptures the Holy of Holies and the Song of Songs are so called because of their importance, so this festival can be properly called the solemnity of solemnities. In truth in this solemnity a prefiguration has been given us of our resurrection, we have been given the hope of reaching our heavenly country, and we can already anticipate the glory of the kingdom on high. St. Gregory the Great, Forty Gospel Homilies.

Demons often transform themselves into angels of light and take the form of martyrs, and make it appear to us during sleep that we are in communication with them. Then, when we wake up, they plunge us into unholy joy and conceit. But you can detect their deceit by this very fact. For angles reveal torments, judgments and separations; and when we wake up we find that we are trembling and sad. As soon as we begin to believe the demons in dreams, then they make sport of us when we are awake too. He who believes in dreams is completely inexperienced. 'But he who distrusts all dreams is a wise man. Only believe dreams that warn you of torments and judgments. But if despair afflicts you, then such dreams are also from demons. St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent

Deny yourself sensual delights in the hope that, instead of them, you will obtain higher spiritual, heavenly delights. Do good to all in the hope that, in accordance with God's justice, `with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again'; that the good you have done to your neighbor shall be sooner or later returned into your bosom, just as the evil you have done him shall sooner or later be returned into your bosom. Remember that we are one body. `We being many are one bread.' Remember that God is just to the highest degree, to an iota. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ.

Discrimination is born of humility. On its possessor it confers spiritual insight, as both Moses and St. John Klimakos say: such a man foresees the hidden designs of the enemy and foils them before they are put into operation. It is as David states: `And my eyes looked down upon my enemies' (Ps. 54:7). Discrimination is characterized by an unerring recognition of what is good and what is not, and the knowledge of the will of God in all that one does. Spiritual insight is characterized, first, by awareness of one's own failing before they issue in outward actions, as well as of the stealthy tricks of the demons; and, second, by the knowledge of the mysteries hidden in the divine Scriptures and in sensible creation. St. Peter of Damaskos, The Philokalia, Vol. 3.

Do not be deluded by thoughts that virtue exceeds your powers and is impossible for you; but, inspired by faith, boldly make a beginning, show before God your good will and diligence - and you will see the help He will send you to practice virtue. Imagine two ladders, one leading up to heaven, the other down to hell, while you stand on earth between the two. Do not think or say, 'How can I fly upwards from the earth and suddenly find myself as high as heaven, that is at the top of the ladder? All you have to care about is to refrain from going down by doing evil. As to going up, strive to climb little by little by doing the good that offers. Each action will be a step upwards. Climbing thus with God's help from one rung to another, you will finally reach the top of the ladder. St. Abba Dorotheus, Directions on Spiritual Training, Early Fathers fromthe Philokalia trans. by Kadloubovsky and Palmer.

Do not be irritated either with those who sin or those who offend; do not have a passion for noticing every sin in your neighbor, and for judging him, as we are in the habit of doing. Everyone shall given an answer to God for himself. Everyone has a conscience; everyone hears God's Word, and knows God's Will either from books or from conversation with other people. Especially do not look with evil intention upon the sins of your elders, which do not regard you; `to his own master he standeth or falleth.' Correct your own sins, amend your own life. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ.

Do not be over-anxious and strain yourself so as to gain an immediate hearing for your request. The Lord wishes to confer greater favors than those you ask for, in reward for your perseverance in praying to Him. For what greater thing is there than to converse intimately with God and to be preoccupied with His company? Undistracted prayer is the highest act of the intellect. Evagrius Ponticus, The Praktikos and Chapters on Prayer

Do not consider the merits of individuals, but the office of the priests. Or, if you look at the merits, consider the priest as Elijah. Look upon the merits of Peter also, or of Paul, who handed down to us this mystery. which they had received of the Lord Jesus. To those of old a visible fire was sent that they might believe; for us who believe, the Lord works invisibly; for them that happened for a figure, for us for warning. Believe, then, that the Lord Jesus is present at the invocation of the priest, Who said: `Where two or three are, there I am also.' How much where the Church is, and where His Mysteries are, does He vouchsafe to impart His Presence. St. Ambrose of Milan. On the Mysteries.

Do not consider your riches as belonging to yourselves alone; open wide your hand to those who are in need; assist those in poverty and pain; comfort those who have fallen into extreme distress; console with those who are in sorrow or oppressed with bodily maladies, and the want of necessities; and also comfort the saints who embrace a voluntary poverty so they may serve God without distraction. Nor will your doing so be unrewarded. St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke.

Do not despair of whatever sins you may have committed since baptism and find yourself in true repentance, but await God's mercy. However many and however great and burdensome your sins may be, with God there is greater mercy. Just as His majesty is, so likewise is His mercy. Only guard yourself from sinning henceforth, and walk according to the aforementioned points. St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, Journey to Heaven.

Do not fear bodily privations, but fear spiritual privations. Do not fear, do not be faint-hearted, do not be irritated when you are deprived of money, food, drink, enjoyments, clothes, dwelling, even of your body itself; but fear when the enemy deprives your soul of faith, of trust, and love for God and your neighbor; when he sows hatred, enmity, attachments to earthly things, pride, and other sins in your heart. `Fear not them which will kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul' (Matt. 10:23). St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ.

Do not passionately care for your flesh; do not cherish it; do not gratify it; and do not strengthen it against the spirit. Otherwise, when it is necessary to labor in spirit - for instance, to pray or write a spiritually moral work - you will find that the flesh has overpowered the spirit and has bound it hand and foot. The flesh overthrows all the impulses of the spirit, and will not let it rise and come to its full power. The spirit will then be the slave of the flesh. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

Do not rail against anyone, but rather say, 'God knows each one.' Do not agree with him who slanders, do not rejoice at his slander and do not hate him who slanders his neighbor. This is what it means not to judge. Do not have hostile feelings towards anyone and do not let dislike dominate your heart; do not hate him who hates his neighbor. This is what peace is: Encourage yoaurself with this thought, 'Afflliction lasts but a short time, while peace is for ever, by the grace of God the Word.

St. Moses the Ethiopian, Sayings of the Desert Fathers trans. by Benedicta Ward.



Do not regard the feelings of a person who speaks to you about his neighbor disparingly, but rather say to him: `Stop, brother! I fall into graver sins every day, so how can I criticize him?' In this way you will achieve two things: you will heal yourself and your neighbor with one plaster. This is one of the shortest ways to the forgiveness of sins; I mean, not to judge. `Judge not, and ye shall not be judged.' St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent.

Do not say that you are the temple of the Lord, says the divine Jeremiah. Neither should you say, only faith in our Lord Jesus Christ can save me. For this is impossible unless you acquire love for Him, and love testified by deeds. As regards faith that is bare, 'the devils also believe, and tremble' (Jas. 2:19). St. Maximus the Confessor, in Early Fathers From the Philokalia.

Do not sit with folded hands, putting off the sewing of your wedding garment to the moment when it is time to go out in festive raiments to meet the coming bridegroom, Christ our Lord. Remind yourself every day that 'now' is in our hands, but 'tomorrow' is in the hands of God, and that He Who gave you this morning has not bound Himself with the promise to give you the evening too... Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare: Chapter 20)

Do not think that those who bring you reports which fill you with resentment and make you hate your brother are affectionately disposed towards you, even if they seem to speak the truth. St. Maximos the Confessor (Fourth Century on Love no. 31)

Do violence to no man. St. John the Baptist, from Luke 3:14, King James Version

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 your 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, then, consider it a great and remarkable thing if the Creator of the universe will bring about a resurrection of those who have piously served Him in the assurance engendered by honest faith, when He uses even a bird to illustrate the sublime nature of His promise? For somewhere it is said: `And thou wilt raise me, and I will give Thee praise:' and, `I lay down to sleep, and I slept; and I awoke again, for Thou art with me.' And, again, Job says, `Thou wilt raise up this body of mine, which has patiently endured all these things.' Epistle of St. Clement of Rome.

Do you know what eternity is? Eternity is beginning without end. That is, one it begins it never ends. Or, it is always and never. That is, it shall always be and never cease. This is eternity. All the ages from the foundation of the world to the end are as the smallest speck as compared to the whole world, or as a minute as compared to thousands of years. St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, Journey to Heaven.

Do you marvel at His power on the earth? Think again how the heaven was made, not yet being; how the innumerable stars, how the sun, how the moon; and all these things not yet being. Again, tell me how after they were made they stood fast, and upon what? What foundation have they? and with the earth? after that which came next o the earth? Do you see into what an eddy the eye of your mind is plunged, unless you quickly take refuge in faith and the incomprehensible power of the Maker? St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on First Corinthians.

Do you see from this their confusion and contradiction? But who are these other husbandmen to whom the householder will give the vineyard? I must firstly be clear that the vineyard will be a new one, as the husbandmen will be new. From the time of Christ's coming, God's vineyard will be extended to comprise the whole human race. It will not be composed only of the Israelites, but of all nations on earth. This new vineyard will be called the Church of God, and the workers, or husbandmen, in it will be the apostles, the saints, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, the martyrs and confessors, bishops and priests, devout and Christ-loving kings and queens and all who serve in the Lord's vineyard. They will 'render Him the fruits in their seasons.' They will, after Christ's coming, become a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation (1 Pet. 2:9). Bp. (St.) Nikolai Velilmirovich, Homilies, Vol. 2

Do you see how all who hear His word and do it He elevates to the rank of His mother, and says they are His brothers, and calls them all His kinsmen? Still, as we said above, she who was His mother in the body is alone properly so, as she gave birth to Him ineffably without a man. Yet, all the saints who conceive Him by grace and gift do possess Him. Thus, while from His immaculate mother He borrowed her immaculate flesh, and have her in return His own divinity - O strange and new exchange! - He takes no flesh from the saints, but He does make them sharers of His own, deified flesh. Consider with me, please, the depths of this mystery! While the grace of the Spirit, that is, the flame of the Godhead is of the one Savior and God, from His nature and essence, His body is not from that source but, on the contrary, is taken from the all-pure and holy flesh of the Theotokos and from her all-immaculate blood. This He took from her and made His own, according to the holy saying: `And the Word became flesh' [Jn.1:14]. As we have said, it is by means of this flesh that He Who is Son of God and son of the Virgin communicates the grace of the Spirit - i.e., of divinity - from, on the one hand, the nature and essence of His co-eternal Father, as He says Himself through His prophet, `And it will come to pass that in those days I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh' [Joel 2:28], on all flesh, clearly, that believes; and on the other hand, from the flesh which He took from her who, truly and in the proper sense, gave Him birth. St. Symeon the New Theologian, On the Mystical Life, Vol. 1.

Do you see the humility of the saints and how their hearts were set on it? Even when messengers straight from God were sent to them they were not turned away from humility but fled from self-glorification. As men clad all in silk flee if a filthy rag is thrown at them, so that their noble robes will not be stained, so the saints, clad in virtue, take flight from human glory lest they be stained by it. Those who desire that sort of glory are like the naked man who always wishes to find a few rags, anything at all, to cover his shame. So too one who is naked of virtue desires to be praised by men. Therefore the holy men who are sent from God to help men, do not let go of humility. St. Dorotheos of Gaza, Discourses and Sayings.

Do you see, how all that he has said, tends to turn them to this one thing, advancement in virtue? `Only let your manner of life be worthy of the Gospel of Christ.' What means this word `only,' but that this, and nought else, is the only thing we should seek? If we have this, nothing grievous will befall us. `That whether I come and see you, or be absent, I may hear of your state.' This he says not as if he had changed his purpose, and no longer meant to visit them. But if this come to pass, he says, even though absent I am able to rejoice.' `If,' that is, `I hear that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one soul.' This is what above all things unites believers, and maintains love unbroken, `that they may be one.' For a `kingdom' divided against itself shall not stand.' St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Philippians (1:27).

Do you want us, our brethren, to tell you what you ought to fear? It is this: to deny Christ, instead of courageously confessing Him. This alone is truly to be feared. For if you deny Christ, then He will deny you on the day of Judgment: 'But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father Who is in heaven.' (Mt. 10:33). St. Macarios of Corinth in Modern Orthodox Saints, Vol. 2

Dost thou abstain from food? Thou doest well. For this is a weapon against the passions for those who use it rightly. Abstain also from envy, so that thy fasting may be considered as fasting by God too, and not be a mask, hiding the other evils as with a veil behind the feigned abstinence from food; but that it should take root in the folds of thy soul like a flourishing and many-branched stock, and should propagate the other virtues, and show them, along with itself, fructified with that blessed and truly immortalizing joy of paradise.

St. Photios the Great, Sermon on Wednesday of Cheese Fare Week.



Draw near to the Lord by following His footsteps through humility, and He will draw near to you by freeing you from your difficulties through His mercy. For not everyone is far from God by distances, but by dispositions. For though both he who is inclined to virtues and he who falls away in the filth of vices dwell in one place on the earth, the one is far from God, the other has God near. Hence the psalmist also says, `The Lord is near to all who call upon Him in truth,' and again, `Salvation is far from sinners,' that salvation is certainly of which we sing, `The Lord is my light and my salvation.' And the Lord himself, when He was urging us to draw near to Him, saying, `Come to Me all you who labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you,' immediately pointed out that this was to be fulfilled not by the feet but by actions when He appended, `Take my yoke upon you and learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of heart. The Venerable Bede, Commentary on the Seven Catholic Epistles (James 4:8)

During prayer, intentional, deliberate, extreme humility is indispensable. We must remember who speaks and what he says, this is especially necessary during the Lord's Prayer: `Our Father...' Humility destroys all the snares of the enemy. Ah! how much secret pride there is in us. This, we say, I know; this I do not need; this is not for me; this is superfluous; in that I am not a sinner. How much sophistry of our own! St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

Earthly wisdom must be conjoined with heavenly wisdom. Or, to speak more aptly, heavenly wisdom, which is reverence for God, must be the starting point and foundation of education, for 'the feart of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.' St. Nikephoros of Chios, Modern Orthodox Saints, Vol. 4

Easy is Christ's yoke, and His burden light. For what is lighter than to check the tongue? What is easier than to have a reverent mouth? What is milder than not to begrudge thy brethren? No need for thee to suffer toils, to undergo sleepless vigils, distressed all day and all night, or to dig a ditch, or erect an mound of earth, or to work i clay and brick-making, which the Egyptians devised against t the Jews, or to carry out any other toilsome act. There will be need only to contain thy tongue behind thy teeth, like a fair bride guarded in her natural chamber, wherein the Creator has enclosed her with a double rampart, safeguarding her proneness to slip and her vulnerability, and teaching thee by the example of His creation not to abuse her at random, especially in matters which do not concern thee; but if thou fulfillest the divine laws, and sot not outrage the limits of nature, thou oughtest to keep her in her natural chamber like a good virgin. St. Photios the Great, Sermon XIV on Friday of Cheese Fare Week.

Emmanuel is interpreted `God is with us.' And so, test yourselves, whether in truth God be with us. If we have removed ourselves from evils and become strangers to their inventor, the devil, then in truth God is with us. And if the sweetness of evil deeds has become bitter to us, and we take sweet enjoyment of the desire for good deeds and of having forever a dwelling in the heavens, then in truth God is with us. If we look on all men alike, and if all days (sorrowful and successful) are equal for us, the in truth God is with us. If we love those who hate us, who insult, reproach, despise, oppress us, and cause us detriment just like those who love us, praise us, furnish us gain, and give us repose - then in truth God is with us. The sign of one who has attained to this measure is this: that (such a man) always has God with him, for he is always with God. If he is not with God, and God is not with him, then of necessity he will have the adversary with him, and from this the rest is clear for those who have intelligence.

St. Barsanuphius the Great, Sts. Barsanuphius & John, Guidance Toward Spiritual Life.



Enter eagerly into the treasure-house that lies within you, and so you will see the treasure-house of heaven: for the two are the same, and there is but one single entry to them both. The ladder that leads to the Kingdom is hidden within you, and is found in your own soul. Dive into yourself and in your soul you will discover the rungs by which to ascend. St. Isaac the Syrian in The Art of Prayer

Enter eagerly into the treasure-house that lies within you, and so you will see the treasure-house of heaven: for the two are the same, and there is but one single entry to them both. The ladder that leads to the Kingdom is hidden within you, and is found in your own soul. Dive into yourself and in your soul you will discover the rungs by which to ascent. St. Isaac the Syrian in The Art of Prayer

Even if ten thousand obstacles stand in the way, the promises of God cannot fail. Just as He is Himself unchangeable and immutable, and abides continuously and always, so too His promises are infallible and never change, except if somehow we prevent them from coming to pass. St. John Chrysostom, Baptismal Instructions

Even if ten thousand obstacles stand in the way, the promises of God cannot fail. Just as He is Himself unchangeable and immutable, and abides continuously and always, so too His promises are infallible and never change, except if somehow we prevent them from coming to pass. But in human affairs the opposite is true. Just as man's nature is corruptible and subject to death, so also the gifts which come from man are corruptible and wither away. And this is as it should be, since all of us who are human are corruptible, and the nature of human gifts imitates the nature of human beings. We cannot suspect anything like this in the case of God's promises. His promises, and only His, endure and stand steadfast, fixed, and firm. St. John Chrysostom, Baptismal Instructions.

Even if we should have mounted to the very pinnacle of virtue, let us consider ourselves last of all; having learned that pride is able to cast down even from the heavens themselves him who takes not heed, and humbleness of mind to bear up on high from the very abyss of sins him who knows how to be sober. For this it was that placed the publican before the Pharisee. St. John Chrysostom, Concerning Lowliness of Mind.

Even should a person be guilty of countless evils, the judgement exercised by conscience is not destroyed; it is part of our nature, after all, having been placed within us by God from the beginning. Even if we dispute its rulings countless times, it keeps on protesting, punishing, condemning, and there is no one living in sin who does not suffer countless pangs, both in intending evil and in putting the intention into effect. St. John Chrysostom, Commentary on the Psalms

Even when men are extremely poor, they often either borrow or buy a clean robe when they are invited to an earthly wedding, and garbed in this they go to meet those who have invited them. But you have been invited to a spiritual wedding and a royal banquet; consider, then, what sort of wedding garment you should buy. On the other hand, there is no need for you to buy it, because He Who has invited you gives you the garment as a gift, so that you cannot offer your poverty as an excuse. St. John Chrysostom, Baptismal Instructions.

Even without any other passion, self-esteem can ruin a man; and in the same way, if we have formed the habit of judging, we can be utterly ruined by by this alone; for indeed, the Pharisee was condemned for this very thing. St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent

Every evening we must test ourselves as to how the day passed with us, and every morning we again should test ourselves as to how the night passed. And not only at some definite time but at every time and in every place and concerning everything we must give account o ourselves, and reflect concerning the virtues and the passions, in what condition of life we are: in the beginning, at the middle, or at the end; whether we are laboring worthy of the rewards and performing virtues, or only laboring without receiving rewards. St. Paisius Velichkovsky, Little Russian Philokalia, Vol. IV.

Every kind of help comes to our souls through Him, and an appropriate title has been devised for each particular kind of care. When He presents a blameless soul to Himself, a soul which like a pure virgin has neither spot nor wrinkle, He is called `Bridegroom,' but when He receives someone paralyzed by the devil's evil strokes, and heals the heavy burden of his sins, He is called `Physician.' Because He cares for us, will this make us think less of Him? Or will we not be struck with amazement at our Savior's mighty power and love for mankind, who patiently endured to suffer our infirmities with us, and condescended to our weakness? St. John Chrysostom, On the Holy Spirit

Every person who has been renewed in the Spirit and has preserved this gift will be transformed and embodied in Christ, experiencing ineffably the supernatural state of deification. But he will not hereafter be one with Christ or be engrafted into His body unless in this life he has come to share in divine grace and has enbodied spiritual knowledge and truth. St. Gregory of Sinai, On Commandments and Doctrines, Philokalia, Vol. 4.

Every soul, by the grace of the Holy Spirit and by its own work and diligence, can conjoin and combine in itself the following qualities: word with mind, action with contemplation, virtue with science, faith with knowledge free of all forgetfulness, in such a way, moreover, that none of these qualities would be greater or less than another. For then it will be united with God, Who is good and true, and with Him alone. "Reflections on the Eight Thoughts", 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. 113 - 114

Every virtue has its beginning from God, but in terms of time, it is eternal as God is. St. Maximos has noted: `All good things and virtue itself are obviously works of God. All virtuous things have a beginning; there was a time when they were not. But virtue itself has no such beginning in time, for there was no time when it was not.' The mind rejoices and the heart is happy when we acquire the virtues. Besides this, every virtue and especially the fear of God produces knowledge, prudence, and wisdom, making those who have this fear of God virtuous, prudent, knowledgeable, and wise. Moreover, it makes those who have it praiseworthy, happy, and zealous. St. Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain, A Handbook of Spiritual Counsel.

Every word proceeding from God's lips is either a word from the mouth of the saints made active by the Spirit, or the most delectable inspiration from the Spirit which not all, but only a few, are given to enjoy. For, although all intelligent beings enjoy words, there are very few in this world who rejoice in the words of the Spirit. St. Gregory of Sinai (Texts on Commandments and Dogmas no.96)

Everyone possessing experience can but laugh when contradicted by those who lack experience; for such a person is taught not by argument but by the exertions he makes and the experience that comes from these exertions. It is from experience that we reap what is profitable, and it is experience that refutes the fruitless arguments of contentious braggarts. St. Gregory Palamas (Those Who Practice a Life of Stillness no. 8, The Philokalia Vol. 4 edited by Palmer, Sherrard and Ware; Faber and Faber pg. 338)

Examine your self and strive to adorn it with love, humility, compassion and hope. Seek the regeneration of your soul, enlightened by the voice of the Gospel and helped by God. With fear and love for the Heavenly Father, proceed to sow the seeds of God's word on good soil. Cultivate the talen given by Christ for the salvation of your soul. Spiritual counsels of St. Raphael, Modern Orthodox Saints, Vol. 10.

Exile means that we leave forever everything in our own country that prevents us from reaching the goal of piety. Exile means modest manners, wisdom which remains unknown, prudence not recognized as such by most, a hidden life, an invisible intention, unseen meditation, desire for humiliation, longing for hardship, constant determination to love God, abundance of love, renunciation of vainglory, depth of silence. St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent.

Explaining the precise significance of Christ's Descent into Hades, the great eleventh century Orthodox mystic Saint Symeon the New Theologian says, `Christ descended into Hades, and freed from the eternal fetters and resurrected the souls of the holy ones who were enslaved there [that is, took them into Paradise]. However, He did not resurrect their bodies, but left them in the graves until the Common Resurrection of all.' Thus, Christ's lifting of Adam and Eve from the graves, shown in the icon, symbolizes His resurrection of the souls. Constantine Cavarnos, Guide to Byzantine Iconography, Vol. I.

Ezekiel forecalled thee 'gate' and said: 'This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no one shall pass through it' (Ez. 44:4). The gate spoken of by Ezekiel also foretells that just as the great King enters and exits, He will again close the gate. Thus, the great King desires to be born. He will leave thee virgin, just as thou art now. the Canons of the Feast of the Presentation of the Mother of God, quoted in The Life of the Virgin Mary, The Theotokos, by Holy ApostlesConvent.

Fairer in my eyes, is the beauty which we can gaze upon than that which is painted in words: of more value the wealth which our hands can hold, than that which is imagined in our dreams; and more real the wisdom of which we are convinced by deeds, than that which is set forth in splendid language. St. Gregory Nazianzen (On His Father's Silence no. 3)

Faith and hope are not merely casual or theoretical matters. Faith requires a steadfast soul, while hope needs a firm will and an honest heart. How without grace can one readily believe in things unseen? How can a man have hope concerning the hidden things held in store unless through his own integrity he has gained some experience of the Lord's gifts? These gifts of grace are a gage of the blessings held in store, which they manifest as present realities. Faith and hope, then, require both virtue on our part and God's inspiration and help. Unless both are present we labor in vain. St. Theognostos, on the Practice of the Virtues in Philokalia, Vol. II.

Faith is the door to mysteries. What the bodily eyes are to sensory objects, the same is faith to the eyes of the intellect that gaze at hidden treasures. Even as we have two bodily eyes, we possess two eyes of the soul, as the Fathers say; yet both have not the same operation with respect to divine vision.With one we see the hidden glory of God which is concealed in the natures of things; that is to say, we behold His might, His wisdom, and His eternal providence for us which we understand by the magnitude of His governance on our behalf. With this same eye we also behold the heavenly orders of our fellow servants. With the other we behold the glory of His holy nature. When God is pleased to admit us to spiritual mysteries, He opens wide the sea of faith in our minds. The Ascetical Homilies of Saint Isaac the Syrian.

Faith is the key of God's treasury. She dwells in simple, kind, loving hearts. `All things are possible to him that believeth.' Faith is a spiritual mouth, the more freely it opens the greater the stream by which the Divine springs enter into it; let this mouth freely open, as your bodily one does; do not let your lips be compressed by doubt and unbelief: if you compress them by doubt and unbelief, the treasury of God's blessings will be closed to you. The more openly, the more heartily you believe in God's omnipotence, the more bountifully will God's heart be opened to you. `What things soever ye desire, when ye pray believe that ye receive them and ye shall have them.' St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ.

Faith, according to the teaching of St. Antioch, is the beginning of our union with God. One who truly believes is a stone in the temple of God; he is prepared for the edifice of God the Father, raised to the heights by the power of Jesus Christ, that is, of the Cross, with the aid of ropes, that is, the grace of the Holy Spirit.

Spiritual Instruction of St. Seraphim of Sarov (Little Russian Philokalia, Vol. 1).



Faith, the fear of God, and the observance of His commandments, bring us a reward in proportion to our purity. For as we are purified, so we rise from fearing God to loving Him. It is like making progress and passing out of fear into God's love. It is then that we hear: 'He who accepts My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me.' So then, let us redouble our efforts to prove our love by our works. For when we have done this, He Himself loves us just as He promised and His Father loves us in the same way, and the Holy Spirit, of course, comes before Him to prepare a dwelling place. So it is that by the indwelling unity of the hypostases, we become the home of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. St. Simeon the New Theologian, The Practical and Theological Chapters

Faithfully worship, with honor and reverence, the venerable likeness of the features of the lord, the Word of God, Who for our sake was made man, thinking to behold the Image of your Creator Himself. 'For the honor of the Image, says one of the Saints, passes over to the original.' The original is the thing imagined, and from it comes the derivation. For when we see the drawing in the Image, in our mind's eye we pass over to the true form of which it is an Image, and devotedly worship the form of Him Who for our sake was made flesh, not making a god of it, but saluting it as an image of God made flesh, with desire and love of Him Who for us man emptied Himself, and even took the form of a servant. In the same way also for this reason we salute the icons of His undefiled Mother, and of all the Saints.

S t. John Damascene, The Precious Pearl (The Lives of Saints Barlaam andIoasaph).



Far beyond the bright beam of the sun The brilliance of these saints shines out. Clouds conceal the light of the former, but night does not succeed their brightness. Their light as it rises sends forth bright flashes, And as it sets, draws all people with it; And the day proclaims The shining brightness of the all-blessed ones, And the night again wonders very much How their light is strong enough to scatter the storm of deeds, For the very famous One is near the man who glorifies the faithful, And he hears from Christ, "You have glorified Me among men, And I shall speak in similar terms for you in Heaven, As I offer you good things, Glory from the Heavens and an abundance of crowns." Kontakia of Romanos On the Forty Martyrs of Sebasteia II

Fasting is acceptable to God when abstention from food is accompanied by refraining from sins, from envy, from hatred, from calumny, from vainglory, from wordiness, from other evils. He who is fasting the true fast `that is agreeable' to God ought to shun all these things with all his strength and zeal, and remain impregnable and unshakeable against all the attacks of the Evil one that are planned from that quarter. On the other hand, he who practices abstention from food, but does not keep self-control in the face of the aforesaid passions, is like unto one who lays down splendid foundations for a house, yet takes serpents and scorpions and vipers as fellow-dwellers therein. For just as the establishment of goodly foundations for that house becomes a deadly trap to those that come nigh, as the lurking reptiles fall upon them unawares with their poison, so also that person who has established his fame among men by means of fasting, while fostering within him the beast like heads of the passions, is fatal to those that meet him. St. Photios the Great, Sermon on Wednesday of Cheesefare Week.

Fear is necessary for human nature in order that it might keep within the bounds of obedience to God. But the love of God incites a man to desire the works of virtue and through love he is caught away to the doing of good. Spiritual knowledge naturally comes after the performance of the virtues, but both are preceded by fear and love; and again, fear precedes love. Whoever says with presumption that it is possible to acquire the more perfect virtues before he accomplishes the elementary has, without a doubt, laid the first foundation for the ruin of his soul. For the Lord's way is that the more perfect be born of the former virtues. The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian.

First of all it must be understood that it is the duty of all Christians - especially of those whose calling dedicates them to the spiritual life - to strive always and in every way to be united with God, their creator, lover, benefactor, and their supreme good, by Whom and for Whom they were created. This is because the center and the final purpose of the soul, which God created, must be God Himself alone, and nothing else - God whom Whom the soul has received its life and its nature, and for Whom it must eternally live. Unknown

First the intellect seeks and finds, and then it is united to what it has found. The searching is effectuated by means of the intelligence, the union by means of love. The search by means of the intelligence is undertaken for the sake of truth, the union by means of love is consummated for the sake of sanctity. Theoliptos, Metropolitan of Philadelphia, Philokalia, V. 4

Foolish Virgins:

O Savior, nod acquiescense. Open Thy door to us, too, Thou Who alone art a just Judge. Receive into Thy bridal chamber Thy virgiins, O Redeemer, And do not turn away Thy face, Christ, from those who invoke Thee, So that we may not be deprived of Thy immortal grace, And so that we may not face shame and disgrace before the angels. And do not ever permit us To stand outside Thy bridal chamber, Christ. They have not practiced chastity any more than we have, Those to whom Thou dost offer The incorruptible crown.

Christ spoke as follows, in answer to the foolish virgins who were speaking to the Judge of all; "The judgment set out just now is just and in line with truth; The time for mercy has been shut off; it is no longer a case for sympathy; The door of mercy is no longer open to men, Since indeed the time for repentance has not been given men down on earth. He Who was merciful a short time ago is not longer sympathetic, But the Merciful One is a severe judge. You who were lacking in charity in the world, How can you ask for The incorruptible crown?" St Romanos the Melodist - On the Ten Virgins I



For Christ really was and is, being 'in the beginning with God' and being Himself God, the Commander-in-Chief and the Shepherd of all that is in the heaven, the while He marshals in orderly ranks and numbers the multitudes of the blessed angels, He to whom all rational creatures pay homage and obey. Now this constituted the even and perfect number of immortal creatures, distributed by race and tribe, the fact that man was also included in this flock; for he too had been created in incorruptibility that he might celebrate the King and Creator of all things in a song which would be an antiphon to the angelic voices wafted from heaven. But then is happened that he transgressed the Commandment and suffered a terrible and destructive Fall and was transformed into death; for this reason, the Lord tells us, He came from the heavens into the world, leaving the ranks and the hosts of the angels. St. Methodius, The Symposium: A Treatise on Chastity

For Christians above all men are forbidden to correct the stumblings of sinners by force . . . it is necessary to make a man better not by force but by persuasion. We neither have authority granted us by law to restrain sinners, nor, if it were, should we know how to use it, since God gives the crown to those who are kept from evil, not by force, but by choice. St. John Chrysostom, "Six Books on the Priesthood

For Christians above all men are forbidden to correct the stumblings of sinners by force ... it is necessary to make a man better not by force but by persuasion. We neither have authority granted us by law to restrain sinners, nor, if it were, should we know how to use it, since God gives the crown to those who are kept from evil, not by force, but by choice. St. Dorotheos of Gaza

For Christians are set apart from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity. The course of conduct which they follow has not been devised by any speculation or deliberation of inquisitive men; nor do they, like some, proclaim themselves the advocates of any merely human doctrines. But, inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according as the lot of each of them has determined, and following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking method of life. They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a foreign land. They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored to life. They are poor, yet make many rich; they are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all; they are dishonored, and yet in their very dishonor are glorified. They are evil spoken of, and yet are justified; they are reviled, and bless; they are insulted, and repay the insult with honor; they do good, yet are punished as evil-doers. When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life; they are assailed by the Jews as foreigners, and are persecuted by the Greeks; yet those who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred.

To sum up all in one word -- what the soul is in the body, that are Christians in the world. The soul is dispersed through all the members of the body, and Christians are scattered through all the cities of the world. The soul dwells in the body, yet is not of the body; and Christians dwell in the world, yet are not of the world. The invisible soul is guarded by the visible body, and Christians are known indeed to be in the world, but their godliness remains invisible. The flesh hates the soul, and wars against it, though itself suffering no injury, because it is prevented from enjoying pleasures; the world also hates the Christians, though in nowise injured, because they abjure pleasures. The soul loves the flesh that hates it, and [loves also] the members; Christians likewise love those that hate them. The soul is enclosed within the body, yet preserves that very body; and Christians are confined in the world as in a prison, and yet they are the preservers of the world. The immortal soul dwells in a mortal tabernacle; and Christians dwell as sojourners in corruptible [bodies], looking for an incorruptible dwelling in the heavens. The soul, when but ill-provided with food and drink, becomes better; in like manner, the Christians, though subjected day by day to punishment, increase the more in number. God has assigned them this illustrious position, which it were unlawful for them to forsake. the anonymous Epistle to Diognetus, 5-6 2nd century



For He is said to make His Angels spirits, and His Ministers a flame of fire (Ps. 103:4) - though perhaps this 'making' means preserving by that Word by which they came into existence. The Angel then is called spirit and fire; Spirit, as being of a purifying nature; for I know that the same names belong to the First Nature. But , relatively to us at least, we must reckon the Angelic Nature incorporeal, or at any rate as nearly so as possible. St. Gregory Nazianzen, The Second Theological Oration.

For He was not, as might be imagined, circumscribed in the body, nor, while present in the body, was He absent elsewhere; nor, while He moved the body, was the universe left void of His working and Providence; but, thing most marvellous, Word as He was, so far from being contained by anything, He rather contained all things Himself; and just as while present in the whole of creation, He is at once distinct in being from the universe, and present in all things by His own power, -- giving order to all things, and over all and in all revealing His own providence, and giving life to each thing and all things, including the whole without being included, but being in His own Father alone wholly and in every respect. St. Athanasius the Great, On the Incarnation.

For `every one,' He saith, `that hath forsaken brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, or house, for My name's sake shall receive an hundredfold in this world, and shall inherit eternal life.' For lest any after having heard the word `ye,' should suppose this a thing peculiar to the disciples (I mean now the enjoying the greatest and first honors in the things to come), He extended the word, and spread the promise over the whole earth, and from the things present establishes the things to come also. And to the disciples also at the beginning, when they were in a more imperfect state, He reasoned from the things present. For when He drew them from the sea, and took them from their trade, and commanded them to forsake the ships, He made mention not of Heaven, not of thrones, but of the things here, saying, `I will make you fishers of men;' but when He had wrought them to be of higher views, then after that He discourses of the things to come also. St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of St. Matthew.

For by His own power He is united wholly with each and all, and orders all things without stint, so that no one could have called it out of place for Him to speak, and make known Himself and His Father, by means of sun, if He so willed, or moon, or heaven, or earth, or waters, or fire; inasmuch as He holds in one and all things at once, and is in fact not only in all, but also in the part in question, and there invisibly manifests Himself. In like manner, it cannot be absurd if, ordering as He does the whole, and giving life to all things, and having willed to make Himself known through men, He has used as His instrument a human body to manifest the truth and knowledge of the Father. For humanity, too, is an actual part of the whole. St. Athanasius the Great, On the Incarnation of the Word.

For everything lies at the innermost recess of the soul. When the devil has been chased away from it and when sin is no longer in charge of it, then the kingdom of God is established there. This is what the evangelist conveys to us when he says, `The kingdom of God will not come as something to be observed nor will people cry -Here it is! There it is! - Amen, I tell you the kingdom of God is within you' (Luke 17-20-21. St. John Cassian, The Conferences

For if a man draws near to grace, then Jesus will say to him, `I will no longer call you servants, but I will call you My friends and My brothers: for all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you' (Jn. 15:15). For those who have drawn near, and have been taught by the Holy Spirit, have known themselves according to their intellectual substance. And in their knowledge of themselves they have cried out and said, `For we have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but the spirit of adoption whereby we cry, Abba, Father' (Rom. 8:15): that we may know what God has given us -- `If we are sons, then are we heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with the saints' (Rom. 8:17). The Letters of St. Anthony the Great, Trans. by Derwas J. Chitty.

For it seems to me that in another sense the heavenly trumpet becomes a teacher to the one ascending as he makes his way to what is not made with hands. For the wonderful harmony of the heavens proclaims the wisdom which shines forth in the creation and sets forth the great glory of God through the things which are seen, in keeping with the statement, 'the heavens declare the glory of God.' It becomes the loud sounding trumpet of clear and melodious teaching, as one of the Prophets says, 'The heavens trumpeted from above.' St. Gregory of Nyssa, The Life of Moses

For just as the deeds of the wicked are their accusers before the righteous Judge, making them bend and bow down their heads silently in shame, so also their beautiful deeds plead cause for the good before the Good One. For the deeds of all mankind are both silent and speak - silent by their nature yet they speak when one sees them. St. Ephrem the Syrian, Letter to Publius

For myself, I listen to the father who says, 'Woe to body when it does not consume the nourishment that is from without, and woe to the soul when it does not receive the grace that is from above!' He speaks justly - for the body will perish once it has passed into the world of inanimate things, and the soul will become enmeshed in the demonic life and the thoughts of demons if it turns away from that which is proper to it. St. Gregory Palamas, The Triads

For see how exactly He expresses it, even though in a dark saying. For He said not, 'In the earth,' but, 'In the heart of the earth;' that He might designate His very sepulchre, and that no one might suspect a mere semblance. And for this intent too did He allow three days, that the fact of His death might be believed. For not by the cross only doth He make it certain, and by the sight of all men, but also by the time of those days. For to the resurrection indeed all succeeding time was to bear witness; but the cross, unless it had at the time many signs bearing witness to it, would have been disbelieved; and with this disbelief would have gone utter disbelief of the resurrection also. Therefore He calls it also a sign. But had He not been crucified, the sign would not have been given. For this cause too He brings forward the type, that the truth may be believed. For tell me, was Jonah in the whale's belly a mere appearance? Nay, thou canst not say so. Therefore neither was Christ in the heart of the earth such. For surely the type is not in truth, and the truth in mere appearance. For this cause we everywhere show forth His death, both in the mysteries, and in baptism, and in all the rest. St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of St. Matthew.

For she is ark and vase and throne and heaven. She was judged worthy to be entrusted with ineffable mysteries; she was judged worthy to reveal things hidden and sealed in the Book of Daniel, and through her 'all of us, with faces unveiled, will gaze on the glory of the Lord' (2Cor 3:18). Through her the veil on Moses' face has been lifted.

Theoteknos, Bishiop of Livias, An Encomium on the Assumption of the Holy Mother of God.



For the mind which greatly loves its Bridegroom there is usually one consolation in the delay of this present life, if because it is separated from its vision the souls of others are benefited by its word and inflamed with the firebrands of love for the Heavenly Bridegroom. It mourns because it sees itself as separated; it is saddened by all that it perceives because it still does not behold Him Whom it yearns to behold. But it is, as I said, no small consolation if, when a fervent soul is separated, many are collected thereby so that late in time it beholds together with many Him Whom it wished to see sooner alone. The Homilies of St. Gregory the Great On the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel

For the person who has crossed the sea and has seen this Egyptian dead in it, as we interpret the sea and has seen this Egyptian dead in it, as we interpret it, no longer looks to Moses alone as the staff-bearer of virtue; but in keeping with the foregoing he believes in God, even as the Scripture says, and is obedient to His servant Moses. We see this happening even now with those who truly cross the water, who dedicate themselves to God and are obedient and submissive, as the Apostle says, to those who serve the Divine in the priesthood. St. Gregory of Nyssa, The Life of Moses.

For the prophetical gifts remain with us, even to the present time. And hence e you ought to understand that the gifts formerly among your nation [the Jewish nation] have been transferred to us. And just as there were false prophets contemporaneous with the holy prophets, so are there now many false teachers among us, of whom our Lord forewarned us to beware; so that in no respect are we deficient, since we know that He foreknew all that would happen to us after His resurrection from the dead and ascension to heaven. St. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho.

For there are two loves from which proceed all wishes, as different in quality as they are different in their sources. For the reasonable soul, which cannot exist without love, is the lover either of God or the world. In the love of God there is no excess, but in the love of the world all is hurtful. And therefore we must cling inseparably to external treasures, but things temporal we must use like passersby , that as we are sojourners hastening to return to our own land, all the good things of this world which meet us may be as aids in the way, not snares to detail us. Sermons of St. Leo the Great.

For this purpose, then, the incorporeal and incorruptible and immaterial Word of God comes to our realm, howbeit He was not far from us before. For no part of creation is left void of Him: He has filled all things everywhere, remaining present with His own Father. But He comes in condescension to show loving kindness upon us, and to visit us. And seeing the race of rational creatures in the way to perish, and death reigning over them by corruption; seeing, too, that the threat against transgression gave a firm hold hold to the corruption which was upon us, and that it was monstrous that before the law was fulfilled it should fall through: seeing, once more, the unseemliness of what was come to pass: that the things whereof He Himself was Artificer were passing away: seeing further, the exceeding wickedness of men, and how by little and little they had increased it to an intolerable pitch against themselves: and seeing, lastly, how all men were under penalty of death: He took pity on our race, and had mercy on our infirmity, and condescended to our corruption, and unable to bear that death should have the mastery-lest the creature should perish, and His Father's handiwork in men be spent for nought - He takes unto Himself a body, and that of no different sort from outs. St. Athanasius of Alexandria, On the Incarnation of the Word.

For this reason the Lord calls blessed those who are opposed to worldly possessions, saying: 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.' Why to the words, 'Blessed are the poor,' does He add, 'in spirit'? So that by this would be shown that He considers blessedness to be the humility of the soul. Why did He not say, blessed are the poor-spirited -- and thus would be demonstrated the humility of thinking -- but rather He says, 'poor in spirit'? By this He wants to teach us that bodily poverty is also a blessedness, in that through this one can receive the kingdom of heaven, when it is done for the sake of the humility of the soul. This is the case when bodily poverty is united with the humility of the soul, and when it is for the person the principle of humility of the soul. Having called blessed 'those poor in spirit,' He demonstrated in a wonderful way what are the root and cause of the visible poverty of the saints -- that is, their spirit. St. Gregory Palamas, Treatise on the Spiritual Life.

For those under the law, and dwelling in Judea, the Baptist was, as it were, a lamp, preceding Christ; and God so spake before of him; `I have prepared a lamp for My Christ.' And the law also typified him in the lamp, which in the first tabernacle it commanded should be ever kept alight. But the Jews, after being for a short time pleased with him, flocking to his baptism, and admiring his mode of life, quickly made him sleep in death, doing their best to quench the ever-burning lamp. For this reason the Savior also spake concerning him, `He was a burning and shining lamp, and ye were willing a little to rejoice for a season in his light.' St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke.

For those who believe in Him, Christ will become all this and even more, beyond enumeration, not only in the age to come but first i this life, and then in the world to come. Thou in an obscure way here below and in a perfect manner in the Kingdom, those who believe see clearly nonetheless and receive as of now the first-fruits of everything they will have in the future life. Indeed, if they do not receive on earth everything that was promised to them, they do not have any part of foretaste of the blessings to come, their higher hope being set on the hereafter. However, it is through death and the resurrection that God in His foresight has given us the Kingdom, incorruptibility, the totality of life eternal. Given these conditions, we unquestionably become partakers of the good things to come, that is, incorruptible, immortal, sons of God, sons of the light and of the day, inheritors of the Kingdom of Heaven, since we carry the Kingdom within. In The Light of Christ: St. Symeon the New Theologian

For to despise the present age, not to love transitory things, unreservedly to stretch out the mind in humility to God and our neighbor, to preserve patience against offered insults and, with patience guarded, to repel the pain of malice from the heart, to give one's property to the poor, not to covet that of others, to esteem the friend in God, on God's account to love even those who are hostile, to mourn at the affliction of a neighbor, not to exult in the death of one who is an enemy, this is the new creature whom the Master of the nations seeks with watchful eye amid the other disciples, saying: `If, the, any be in Christ a new creature, the old things are passed away. Behold all things are made new' (2Cor. 5:17). The Homilies of St. Gregory the Great on the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel.

For to despise the present age, not to love transitory things, unreservedly to stretch out the mind in humility to God and our neighbor, to preserve patience against offered insults and, with patience guarded, to repel the pain of malice from the heart, to give one's property to the poor, not to covet that of others, to esteem the friend in God, on God's account to love even those who are hostile, to mourn at the affliction of a neighbor, not to exult in the death of one who is an enemy, this is the new creature whom the Master of the nations seeks with watchful eye amid the other disciples, saying:"If, then, any be in Christ a new creature, the old things are passed away. Behold all things are made new" (2 Cor. 5:17). Apophthegmata Patrum

For to despise the present age, not to love transitory things, unreservedly to stretch out the mind in humility to God and our neighbor, to preserve patience against offered insults and, with patience guarded, to repel the pain of malice from the heart, to give one's property to the poor, not to covet that of others, to esteem the friend in God, on God's account to love even those who are hostile, to mourn at the affliction of a neighbor, not to exult in the death of one who is an enemy, this is the new creature whom the Master of the nations seeks with watchful eye amid the other disciples, saying:"If, then, any be in Christ a new creature, the old things are passed away. Behold all things are made new" (2 Cor. 5:17). St. Isaac the Syrian

For to us there is but One God, the Father, of Whom are all things, and One Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom are all things; and One Holy Spirit, in Whom are all things; yet these words, of, by , in , whom, do not denote a difference of nature (for if this were the case, the three propositions, or the order of the three names would never be altered), but they characterize the personalities of a nature which is one and unconfused. And this is proved by the fact that They are again collected into one, if you will read - not carelessly - this other passage of the same Apostle, `Of Him and through Him and to Him are all things; to Him be glory forever, Amen.' St. Gregory the Great, Oration on the Holy Lights.

For truly the assistance which God gives to our nature is provided to those who correctly live the life of virtue. This assistance was already there at our birth, but it is manifested and made known whenever we apply ourselves to diligent training in the higher life and strip ourselves for the more vigorous contests. St. Gregory of Nyssa, On the Life of Moses.

For truly the boundary line of faith was subscribed for me By the hand of Thomas; for when he touched Christ He became like the pen of a fast-writing scribe Which writes for the faithful. From it gushes forth faith. From it, the robber drank and became sober again; From it the disciples watered their hearts; From it, Thomas drained the knowledge which he sought, For he drank first and then offered drink To many who had a little doubt. He persuaded them to say, `Thou art our Lord and God.' St Romanos the Melodist - On Doubting Thomas.

For we all know that the voice of the trumpet suddenly, as the angel sounds it, Will raise up the dear who through the centuries awaited Christ, The beautiful Bridegroom, the Son of God, our eternal God. When the cry suddenly sounds, all will be present, And those who are ready with their lamps filled with oil Will enter at once with the Bridegroom As inheritors of the Kingdom of Heaven. For then their faith, along with works, Will justly give them The incorruptible crown. St Romanos the Melodist - On the Ten Virgins I

For what is so wondrous as to offer the other cheek to an assailant? Is not every attack of the indignant broken and his anger assuaged? Does it not happen through patience that his own penitence rebounds the more on the assailant? Thus, it ensues that ye ward off injury and seek grace. And often the causes of the greatest love arise when patience is rendered for arrogance and grace for insult.

St. Ambrose of Milan, Exposition of the Holy Gospel According to St. Luke.



For whereas we ought to mourn for our own transgressions, and repent, and punish sin with fasting, and, by not judging our neighbor, anticipate beforehand the goodwill of the common Judge, and obtain His mercy, we pay to all this no sort of attention; we leave our own sores unattended, but set ourselves up as severe investigators into those of others, which are no concern of ours; we pry into their talking and walking and smiling (need I say that our habit of malice, exercised by daily practice, most easily and convincingly forges for them actions which they have never committed, and, fostering these forgeries by our ingenuity, brings pain and injustice into human life?); and this we do as though a righteous judge, presiding according to divine decrees, had given license to the flow of our tongue, and we do not blush at acting thus shamefully all day long. St. Photios the Great, Homily on Cheese Fare Week

For who does not know that the Egyptian army - those horses, chariots and their drivers, archers, slingers, heavily armed soldiers, and the rest of the crowd in the enemies' lines of battle - are the various passions of the soul by which man is enslaved? For the undisciplined intellectual drives and the sensual impulses to pleasure, sorrow, and covetousness are indistinguishable from the aforementioned army. Reviling is a stone straight from the sling and the spirited impulse is the quivering spear point. The passion for pleasures is to be seen in the horses who themselves with irresistible drive pull the chariot. St. Gregory of Nyssa, The Life of Moses

For, when enlightened by faith, the soul has visions of God, and as far as possible beholds God, and ranges round the bounds of the universe, and before the end of this world already beholds the Judgment, and the payment of the promised rewards. St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures: Lecture 5 no. 11)

Forming a heavenly chorus in the middle of the furnace, The Children made the boundaries of the furnace a celestial church As they sang with the angel a psalm to the Creator of angels, Imitating all the liturgy of the immortals. Then, when they were quite filled with the Holy Spirit from the service, They saw another thing that was more marvelous: He Whom they had just beheld as human On the instant was changed in appearance And appeared now as divine, now as a man; At times He commanded, and at times He sang the psalm with them: `Hasten, Merciful One, and in compassion come quickly To our aid, since Thou art able to do what Thou dost will.' St Romanos the Melodist - On the Three Children

Fortunate is the man who has come to have God as his helper and to have his hopes in Him alone. Let the Devil bear malice towards him, let all men persecute him and plot against him, let all his adversaries fight against him - he never fears anyone, because he has God as his helper. He remains always a victor, always glorified, always happy, always rich, always cheerful and joyful, even if he happens to fall into extreme poverty and into a great many adverse and grievous circumstances of the present life. For inasmuch as he hopes in Almighty God, he does not despair, he is not sorry, is not anxious, but expects help from Above. Fortunate, then, is such a man and worthy to be deemed happy, just as the Prophet-king David regards such a man as happy, saying: `Blessed is he whose helper is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God.' Such were all the Prophets, the Apostles, the Martyrs, the Holy Ascetics and all the Saints from the beginning of time.

Selection from Cavarnos, Modern Orthodox Saints, Vol. 4, St. Nikephoros of Chios.



Fortunate is the man who has come to have God as his helper and to have his hopes in Him alone. Let the Devil bear malice towards him, let all men persecute him and plot against him, let all his adversaries fight against him - he never fears anyone, because his has God as his helper. He remains always a victor, always glorified, always happy, always rich, always cheerful and joyful, even if he happens to fall into extreme poverty and into a great many adverse and grievous circumstances of this present life. For inasmuch as he hopes in Almighty God, he does not despair, he is not sorry, is not anxious, but expects help from Above. Fortunate, then, is such a man and worthy to be deemed happy, just as the Prophet-king David regards such a man as happy, saying: "Blessed is he whose helper is the God of Jacob, whose hoe is in the Lord his God." Such were all the Prophets, the Apostles, the Martyrs, the Holy Ascetics and all the Saints from the beginning of time. St. Nikephoros of Chios, Modern Orthodox Saints, V. 4

Fortunate is the man who has come to have God as his helper and to have his hopes in Him alone. Let the Devil bear malice towards him, let all men persecute him and plot against him, let all his adversaries fight against him - he never fears anyone, because his has God as his helper. He remains always a victor, always glorified, always happy, always rich, always cheerful and joyful, even if he happens to fall into extreme poverty and into a great many adverse and grievous circumstances of this present life. For inasmuch as he hopes in Almighty God, he does not despair, he is not sorry, is not anxious, but expects help from Above. Fortunate, then, is such a man and worthy to be deemed happy, just as the Prophet-king David regards such a man as happy, saying: "Blessed is he whose helper is the God of Jacob, whose hoe is in the Lord his God." Such were all the Prophets, the Apostles, the Martyrs, the Holy Ascetics and all the Saints from the beginning of time. St. Symeon the New Theologian

Fortunate is the man who has these two loves in his heart, that for God and that for his brethren. He surely has God; and whoever has God has every blessing and does not bear to commit sin. Again, wretched is the man who does not have these two loves. surely he has the devil and evil, and always sins. God, my brethren, asks us to have these two loves. As He Himself says in His Holy Gospel: `On these two commandments hang all the law and the Prophets.' Through these two loves all the Saints of our Church, men and women, attained sainthood and won Paradise. St. Cosmas Aitolos, Modern Orthodox Saints, Vol. 1

From long-suffering in prayer the fruit of live arises, and expectation is a firm helper during prayer to those who possess it. When you pray, bring to mind the ploughman who sows in hope. He Who causes to return twofold the seed that the ploughman sows with hope, Who has esteemed the seeking of His Kingdom and His righteousness to be greater than temporal things, He Himself will reward your entreaty according to His promise. The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian.

From the beginning, he says, God was everywhere, giving life to every man coming into the world, and before He made the world He was in the world. How? Because all things pre-existed with Him and all were in Him. For, in the case of those who have not yet been born, it is not as if they did not exist, but they are one with God as if they had already come into being. Then, says the Scripture, when He made the world He was not separated from it by from it by space, but was in it and the world did not know Him. St. Symeon the New Theologian, On the Mystical Life: The Ethical Discourses

From the fact of our praying it so happens that we are with God; and whoever is with God is well away from the Enemy: prayer thus preserves chastity, it beats down anger, it drowns pride, it gets rid of resentment, it destroys envy, it causes evil to vanish, it reforms wicked ways. Prayer, then, is the seal of virginity, the firm basis of marriage, the armor of those who travel, the protection of those who are asleep, the source of confidence for those who are awake. In brief, prayer is talking to, and encountering God.

Anonymous (6th Century) from The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual Life.



Full of meaning is also the addition `of this day,' when He says: `Give us this day our daily bread.' These words contain yet another teaching. For you should learn through what you say that the human life is but the life of a day. Only the present each one of us can call his own; the hope of the future is uncertain, for we know not `what the day to come may bring forth.' Why then do we make ourselves miserable worrying about the future? He says, `Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof,' evil here means the enduring of evil. Why are we disturbed about the morrow? By the very fact that He gives you the commandment for today, He forbids you to be solicitous for the morrow. He says to you as it were: He Who gives you the day will give you also the things necessary for the day. St. Gregory of Nyssa, On The Lord's Prayer.

Gabriel announcing the word of joy to the Virgin, sowed the WORD in her And through the Holy Spirit greeted the pregnancy of her who was unwed. Lo, the Lord is with you, and He Who was before you will come from you, He Who is thy Father and thy Son. In anticipating this He sent me to you, And after the birth He will keep you pure In order that everyone may proclaim: The Virgin gives birth, and after birth remains a virgin. St Romanos the Melodist - On The Annunciation II

Go forth, then, to all the world, and cast the seed of repentance in the ground and water it with doctrinal teachings. See to it that no one who repents remains outside your net. For I rejoice in those who are converted, as you know. Would that the one who betrayed me had turned back to me after the sale.

But I have wiped out his sins and united him with you, I who alone know what is in the heart. St Romanos the Melodist - On the Mission of the Apostles.



God belongs to all free beings. He is the life of all, the salvation of all - faithful and unfaithful, just and unjust, pious and impious, passionate and dispassionate, monks and laymen, wise and simple, healthy and sick, young and old - just as the effusion of light, the sight of the sun, and the changes of the seasons are for all alike; `for there is no respect of person with God.' St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent

God heard their wants and His Comforter Descended on those who were praying, The Ineffable One was not removed from one place to the other, Nor was there alteration, nor accomodation, nor did He endure diminution, For He was above, and below, and everywhere; For the divine nature is ineffable and not to be touched; It is not seen by the eyes, but it is apprehended through faith; It is not grasped in the hands; but it is felt in hearts of faith -- The All-Holy Spirit. St Romanos the Melodist - On Pentecost.

God in His abundant and unfeigned love came to us, saying by His Saints, `Son of man, make to thyself vessels of captivity' (Ezek. 12:3). and He, `being in the form of God, counted it not a prize to be on an equality with God, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross: wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things in earth and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father' (Phil. 2:6-11). Now therefore, beloved, let this word be manifest among you, that the bounty of the Father spared not His Only-begotten for our sakes, but delivered Him up for the salvation of us all (cf. Rom. 8:32): `He gave Himself for our sins' (Gal. 1:4), and our iniquities humbled Him, and `by His stripes we were healed' (Isa. 53:5), and by the word of His power He gathered us out of all lands, from one end of the earth to the other end of the world, and made resurrection of our minds, and remission of our sins, and taught us that we are member one of another. St. Anthony the Great.

God is Spirit, invisible, immortal, inaccessible, incomprehensible. Those who are born of Him He makes to be such as Himself, like the Father who has begotten them. They may be touched and seen in body only, in other respects they are known to God alone and know only Him; or, rather, they wish to be known to God alone and constantly strive to look to Him and are anxious to be seen by Him. To express it differently, just as the illiterate cannot read books like those who are literate, neither can those who have refused to go through the commandments of Christ by practicing them be granted the revelation of the Holy Spirit like those who have brooded over them and fulfilled them and shed their blood for them. St. Symeon the New Theologian, Discourses.

God is a fire that warms and kindles the heart and inward parts. And so, if we feel in our hearts coldness, which is from the devil, - for the devil is cold - then let us call upon the Lord, and He will come and warm our hearts with perfect love not only for Him, but for our neighbor as well. And from the presence of warmth the coldness of the heater of good will be driven away. St. Seraphim of Sarov, Spiritual Instructions

God is a fire that warms and kindles the heart and inward parts. Hence, if we feel in our hearts the cold which comes from the devil - for the devil is cold - let us call on the Lord. He will come to warm our hearts with perfect love, not only for Him but also for our neighbor, and the cold of him who hates the good will flee before the heart of His countenance. St. Seraphim of Sarov, in Modern Orthodox Saints, Vol. 5.

God is everywhere. He draws near to those who live devoutly and fight the spiritual battle, to those whose religion goes further than mere pronouncements, but who are distinguished by their deeds. Where God is present, who would wish to hatch conspiracies? Who would be strong enough to inflict any hurt? The Spiritual Meadow of John Moschos.

God is goodness, He is like inexhaustible chrism; the spiritual world is the development of this goodness, like an ocean of fragrant chrism, the material world also. How can we not hope to obtain all good things from such goodness? The Lord in His goodness has diffused Himself into all creatures, like chrism, without having in any wise exhausted Himself. St. John of Kronstadt , My Life in Christ.

God is long-suffering and merciful to you: this you experience many times every day. Be long-suffering and merciful to your brethren, also fulfilling the words of the Apostle, who thus speaks of charity {love] before everything: `Charity suffereth long, and is king.' You desire that the Lord should rejoice you by His love, rejoice on your part the hearts of others by your tender love and kindness. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ.

God is not like a stone that is once cast into a man, and there remains with no reference to the man's will. God is a power, finer and stronger than light and air; a power that fills a man or leaves him in response to the man's free will and God's limitless goodness. So, from one day to another, a man is not filled by God in equal measure. This depends, more than anything else, on a man's openness to God. Were a man's soul to be fully open only towards God (and this means being, at the same time, closed to the world), then that man would return to the primal delight of gazing upon God. But it is very difficult to attain to this in the mortal milieu in which man's soul finds itself, in which there is only one opening by which a man can come into contact with God as the Source of life, and that is faith. (St.) Bisop Nikolai Velimirovich, Homilies, Vol. 2

God is praised as "Logos" [word] by the sacred scriptures not only as the leader of word, mind, and wisdom, but because He also initially carries within His own unity the causes of all things and because He penetrates all things, reaching, as scripture says, to the very end of all things. But the title is used especially because the divine Logos is simpler than any simplicity and, in its utter transcendence, is independent of everything. This Word is simple total truth. Divine faith revolves around it because it is pure and unwavering knowledge of all. It is the one sure foundation for those who believe, binding them to the truth, building the truth in them as something unshakably firm so that they have an uncomplicated knowledge of the truth of what they believe. St. Dionysios the Areopagite, The Divine Names (in The Complete Works)

God is present in every place, and He is with us wherever we may be. And we, anything we may go, we do before Him and before His holy eyes. How, then, shall we transgress before God and violate His holy Law before His eyes? We are ashamed and stand in fear before an earthly king, how much more ought wee be ashamed and fear to give offence before God, for every sin is an offense before God. St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, Journey to Heaven.

God is the teacher of prayer; true prayer is the gift of God. To him who prays constantly with contrition of spirit, with the fear of God and with attention, God himself gives gradual progress in prayer. From humble and attentive prayer, spiritual action and spiritual warmth make their appearance and quicken the heart. The quickened heart draws the mind to itself and becomes a temple of grace-given prayer and a treasury of the spiritual gifts which are procured by such prayer as a matter of course. St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, On The Prayer of Jesus.

God judges our intention, but in that which is within our power He, in man-befriendingwise, also requires us to act. Great is he who leaves undone nothing that is within his power; but greater is he who humbly attempts what is beyond his power. St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent.

God loved men, and it was for their sake that He made the world; at their service He placed everything on earth; to them He gave reason and intelligence; them alone He endowed with the ability to look up to Him; them He formed after His own image; to them He sent His Only-begotten Son; to them He promised the kingdom in heaven, and this He will give to those that love Him. And when you have acquired this knowledge, with what joy do you think you will be filled! Or how intensely will you love Him Who first loved you so! And once you love Him, you will be an imitator of His kindness. And you must not be surprised that man can become an imitator of God. He can, since He so wills. The Epistle to Diognetus, The Didache.

God planted the tree of life and the tree of knowledge. The tree of knowledge was for trial, and proof, and exercise of man's obedience and disobedience: and hence it was named the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, or else it was because to those who partook of it was given power to know their own nature. Now this is a good thing for those who are mature, but an evil thing for the immature and those whose appetites are too strong.

St. John of Damascus, Exposition on the Orthodox Faith quoted in The Lament of Eve by Johanna Manley.



God seeks nothing else from us men except that we do not sin; this alone. But this is not a work of law; it is rather a careful guarding of the image and dignity from above. In these things, affirmed in our nature and bearing the radiant garment of the Spirit, we shall abide in God and He in us. We shall be called good, and sons of God by adoption, marked in the light of our knowledge of God. St. Symeon the New Theologian, The Practical and Theological Chapters

God seeks only one thing: that you honor Him, love Him, and keep His commandments, acknowledging that He is your Maker. He does not want you to divide His glory and to worship other things instead of Him. He does not want you to love anything more than Him. For this reason, when He gave His commandments to Moses through the divinely written law, He said, 'Hear, O Israel: thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy soul, and with all thine heart, and with all thy might, and with all my mind.' Monastic Wisdom, The Letters of the Elder Joseph the Hesychast.

God your Protector is incomparably stronger than all others in this battle. As it is written: 'The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle' (Ps. 24:8). Moreover His desire to save you is greater than that of your enemy to destroy you. Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare: Chapter 16)

God's commandments excel all the treasures of the world. A man who has gained inward possession of them finds the Lord in them. The man who always goes to bed with rumination upon God has gained Him as his Chamberlain; and he who desires the fulfillment of God's will, will have the angels of heaven as his guides. A man who fears sins will traverse a terrible passage without stumbling, and at a time of darkness he will find light before him and within himself. The Lord carefully watches the steps of the man who fears sins, and God's mercy forestalls him when he slips. A man who considers his transgressions to be slight, falls into worse sins than he formerly committed and he will pay his penalty sevenfold. Sow your alms in humility, and you will reap mercy at the judgement. St. Isaac the Syrian, Ascetical Homilies

God's saints had `the eyes of their understanding enlightened,' (Ephesians 1:18) and with these eyes they clearly saw the wants of our sin-corrupted nature; clearly saw for what we should pray, for what we should ask, for what we should give thanks, how we should praise the Lord, and they left us the most perfect examples of prayers of various kinds. O, how beautiful these prayers are! Sometimes we do not feel and do not know their value, whilst we well know the value of food and drink, of fashionable desire, of well-furnished rooms, of theatres, of music, of worldly literature, especially of novels, that fluent, empty mass of words -- and, alas! we trample under feet the precious pearls of prayer; and whilst everything worldly finds a welcome, wide shelter in the hearts of most people, prayer -- alas! does not find even a narrow corner of in them, cannot get into them. And when t begs us to let it in, it is thrust out like a mendicant, like the man who had not a wedding garment.

God's saints value more than any of us the great act of the redemption of mankind by God, the descent of the Son of God from heaven, His teaching, likewise, His sufferings, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension into heaven; for they spent all their lives in working out their own and others' salvation, sincerely, firmly, infallibly, with their whole hearts; for the sake of their own and others' salvation, they renounced themselves, fasted, prayed, watched, wrestled, tabored in deed and word with their intellect and pen. But we do not understand how to value such great acts; we are cold, distracted, heedless, and are more occupied with the visible world and of its good, which are but smoke. St. .John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

God, Who is merciful, has not forgotten us to the point that the wicked one might rejoice as our loss. On the contrary, in His love He wakens us from the sleep of death, and in His mercy he goes on prodding us day by day, saying to our hearts, 'Wake up, you who sleep, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.' Knowing the great grace we have inherited - for 'he has not dealt with us according to our sins, and He has not punished us according to our inquities' - let us repent, let us be watchful and let us give thanks to Him. Instructions of Theodore, Pachomian Koinonia III

Good and God-loving men accuse people of something bad when they are present, but when they are absent they not only refrain from accusing them, but do not permit others to do so when they attempt to speak of them. St. Antony the Great(170 Texts on Saintly Life no. 30)

Grace is not merely faith, but also active prayer. For the latter shows in practice true faith, made living by Jesus, for it comes from the Spirit through love. And so faith is dead and lifeless in a man who does not see it active in himself. St. Gregory of Sinai (Texts on Commandments and Dogmas no. 118)

Grace is not merely faith, but also active prayer. For the latter shows in practice true faith, made living by Jesus, for it comes from the Spirit through love. And so faith is dead and lifeless in a man who does not see it active in himself. More than thtat - a man has no right to be called faithful, if his faith is a bare word and if he has not in him a faith made active by love or the Spirit. Thus faith must be made evident by progress in works, or it must act in the light and shine in works, as the divine Apostle says: 'Show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works (James 2:18).' St. Gregory of Sinai, Writings From the Philokalia on the Prayer of theHeart.

Grant Thou speedy and lasting consolation unto Thy servants, O Jesus, when our spirits are despondent. Be Thou not parted from out souls when they be in affliction; be Thou not far from our minds when we are in perils, but do Thou ever anticipate our needs. Draw nigh unto us, draw nigh, O Thou Who art everywhere present, and even as Thou art ever with Thine Apostles, thus do Thou also unite unto Thyself us who long for Thee, O Compassionate One, that, being united with Thee, we may praise and glorify Thine All-holy Spirit. Eikos of the Canon of Monday of the Holy Spirit. The Pentecostarion.

Great is the height of humility, according to the word of St. Macarius, and eminent are the dignity and honor of humble-mindedness. /there is no one higher than a humble man, or one more glorious than he who is poor in Christ; and there is no other path leading to heaven, into eternal life, than that of humility, according to the testimony of the Truth. :Abbot Nazarius, Little Russian Philokalia, Vol. III.

Greater than baptism itself is the fountain of tears after baptism, even though it is somewhat audacious to say so. For baptism is the washing away of evils that were in us before, but sins committed after baptism are washed away by tears. As baptism is received in infancy, we have all defiled it, but we cleanse it anew with tears. And if God in His love for mankind had not given us tears, those being saved would be few indeed and hard to find. St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent.

Had Moses not received the rod of power from God, he would not have become a god to Pharaoh (cf. Exod. 7:1) and a scourge both to him and to Egypt. Correspondingly the intellect, if it fails to grasp the power of prayer, will not be able to shatter sin and the hostile forces ranged against it. St. Gregory of Sinai, Philokalia, Vol. 4.

Hast thou not seen him who owed the ten thousand talents, and then, after he was forgiven that debt, took his fellow-servant by the throat for an hundred pence, what great evils he underwent, and how he was delivered over to an endless punishment? Hast thou not trembled at the example? Hast thou no fear, lest thou too incur the same? For we likewise owe to our Lord many and great debts: nevertheless, He forbears, and suffers long, and neither urges us, as we do our fellow-servants, nor chokes and takes us by the throat; yet surely had he been minded to exact of us but the least part thereof, we had long ago perished. St. John Chrysostom, Homily XV on St. Matthew.

Having Christ in your heart, fear that you may lose Him, and with Him the peace of your heart. It is hard to begin again; efforts to attach oneself afresh to Him after falling away will be very grievous, and in many cases will cause bitter tears. Cling to Christ with all your might, hold fast to Him, and do not lose boldness in approaching Him. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

He cuts away from our minds a very unmanageable passion, the commencement and begetter of pride. For while it is men's duty to examine themselves, and to order their conduct according to God's will, they leave this alone to busy themselves with the affairs of others, and if they see any infirm, forgetting as it seems their own frailties; they make it an excuse for faultfinding, and a handle for calumny. For they condemn them, not knowing that being equally afflicted with the same infirmities as those whom they censure, they condemn themselves. For so also the most wise Paul writes, `for wherein thou judgest the other, thou condemnest thyself: for thou that judgest doest the same things.' And yet it were rather our duty to have compassion on the infirm, as those who have been overcome by the assaults of the passions, and entangled without hope of escape in the meshes of sin, and to pray on their behalf, and exhort them, and rouse them up unto soberness, and endeavor ourselves not to fall into similar faults. St.. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke.

He is free who is not a slave of pleasures (sensory pleasures), but rules over the body by means of good judgment and chastity, and who is content with what God provides, however moderate, with wholehearted gratitude. St. Antony the Great(170 Texts on Saintly Life no. 56)

He is not like the earthly kings, in need Himself of His subordinates to ask after something for His own service and needs, for He is without need and, unless He first makes His own servants wealthy, does not enter into their homes. He is without need, as we said, and when He has made you wealthy and without need by means of His own wealth, pay attention to what He says within you Who has come down from so great a height, from heaven, and come forth without separation from the blessed bosom of the Father even to your own lowliness. You will never find that He has done this off-handedly. Rather, our good and beneficent Master has ever been used to do this for the salvation of many others as well. Therefore if, as we said, you honor and accept Him, and give Him a place and provide Him with silence, know well that you will hear ineffable things from the treasuries of the Spirit. St. Symeon the New Theologian, On the Mystical Life, Vol. 2.

He mentions the cause of his angelic appearance: `But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. And when he said, `I see the heavens opened, they stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord.' And yet in what respect are these things deserving of accusation? `Upon him,' the man who has wrought such miracles, the man who has prevailed over all in speech, the man who can hold such discourse! As if they had got the very thing they wanted, they straightway gave full scope to their rage. `And the witnesses,' he says, `laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man, whose name was Saul. Observe how particularly he relates what concerns Paul, to show thee that the Power which wrought in him was of God. But after all these things, not only did he not believe, but also aimed at Him with a thousand hands: for this is why it says, `And Saul was consenting unto his death.' - And this blessed man does not simply pray, but does it with earnestness: `having kneeled down.' Mark his divine death! So long only the Lord permitted the soul to remain in him `And having said this, he fell asleep.' St. John Chrysostom, Homily on the Acts of the Apostles.

He was baptized as Man -- but He remitted sins as God -- not because He needed purificatory rites Himself, but that He might sanctfy the element of water. He was tempted as Man, but He conquered as God; yea, He bids us be of good cheer, for He has overcome the world. He hungered -- but He fed thousands; yea, He is the Bread that giveth life, and That is of heaven. He thirsted -- but He cried, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. Yea, He promised that fountains should flow from them that believe. He was wearied, but He is the Rest of them that are weary and heavy laden. He was heavy with sleep, but He walked lightly over the sea. He rebuked the winds, He made Peter light as he began to sink. He pays tribute, but it is out of a fish; yea, He is the King of those who demanded it. St. Gregory Nanzianzen, The Fourth Theological Oration.

He who aspires to divine realities willingly allows providence to lead him by principles of wisdom towards the grace of deification. He who does not so aspire is drawn, by the just judgment of God and against his will, away from evil by various forms of discipline. The first, as a lover of God, is deified by providence; the second, although a lover of matter, is held back from perdition by God's judgment. For since God is goodness itself, He heals those who desire it through the principles of wisdom, and through various forms of discipline cures those who are sluggish in virtue. St. Maximos the Confessor(Third Century of Various Texts no. 36)

He who believes in God's Providence undoubtingly does not concern himself with worry over what kind of death he will happen to die, whether from men, or from wild beasts, or from hunger, or from the heaviness of great labors, or from any other occasion. There will not be two deaths, and the one no one can escape. However, one who has once placed himself in God's care for all his needs, for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven, and who has died to the world, will no longer be concerned about how he will die. He who has once placed his hope in God no longer is concerned over himself, and in whatever he does, in everything, he will find profit for his soul. But such a one who knows that he who gives himself over to all sorrows for the sake of God will find salvation in any place. According to our faith, the grace of God also is given to us.

St. Paisius Velichkovsky, Little Russian Philokalia, Vol. IV.

St. Paisius Velichkovsky, Little Russian Philokalia, Vol. IV.



He who celebrates alone in the heart of the wilderness is a great assembly. If two celebrate along the rocks, thousands and tens of thousands are present there. If three and gathered together, a fourth in among them. If there are six or seven together, twelve thousand thousand are assembled. If they range themselves in ranks, they fill the firmament with prayer. If they be crucified on the bare rock, they are marked with a cross of light. The Church is constituted when they come together. Then they come together, the Spirit hovers over their heads. When they end their prayer, the Lord rises to serve his servants. A hymn of St Ephrem (5th century)

He who has been united with humility as his bride is above all gentle, kind, easily moved to compunction, sympathetic, calm, bright, compliant, inoffesnive, vigilant, not indolent and (why say more?) free from passion; for the Lord remembered us in our humility, and redeemed us from our enemies, and our passions and impurities. St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent

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, nothng 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 is commanded to keep silent because of his fear should seek refuge in God; he who is commanded to listen should be ready to obey the commandments; and he who pursues spiritual knowledge should call ceaselessly to God, beseeching Him for deliverance from evil and thanking Him for communion in His blessings. St. Maximos the Confessor (First Century on Theology no. 30)

He who loves God both believes truly and performs the works of faith reverently. But he who only believes and does not love, lacks even the faith he thinks he has; for he believes merely with a certain superficiality of intellect and is not energized by the full force of love's glory. The chief part of virtue, then, is faith energized by love. St. Diadochos of Photiki, Philokalia, Vol. 1.

He who puts on a show of friendship in order to do his neighbor some injury is a wolf hiding his wickedness under sheep's clothing. Whenever he finds a custom or saying which is genuinely Christian, although somewhat naive, he seizes on it and attacks it; in numberless ways he finds fault with these sayings or customs, prying into the liberty which the brethren have in Christ. St Maximus the Confessor - First Century on Theology (Text25 )

He who remains in sin and continues to anger God, and who shamelessly strives to understand Divine things and to acquire transubstantial prayer, should remember the warning of the Apostle that it is not without danger for him to pray with head uncovered. In the words of the Apostle, such a soul ought "to have power on her head because of the angels" (I Corinthians 11:10), having clothed itself in modesty and suitable humility for the sake of those present. "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.

He, then, who knows what is to his benefit should struggle to acquire this virtue before anything else, according to St. Basil the Great. For St. Basil advises us not to fight against all the passions at once, since if we are unsuccessful we might turn back and no longer be fit for the kingdom of heaven. Rather we should fight the passions one at a time, and start by patiently enduring whatever befalls us. This is right; for the person who lacks patient endurance will never be able to stand fast even in an ordinary battle; but will bring only flight and destruction upon himself and others by retreating. This is why God told Moses not to allow anyone who was cowardly to go out with the army (cf. Deut. 20:8). St. Peter of Damascus, Philokalia, Vol. III.

He, therefore, who sets himself to act evilly and yet wishes others to be silent, is a witness against himself, for he wishes himself to be loved more than the truth, which he does not wish to be defended against himself. There is, of course, no man who so lives as not sometimes to sin, but he wishes truth to be loved more than himself, who wills to be spared by no one against the truth. Wherefore, Peter willingly accepted the rebuke of Paul; David willingly hearkened to the reproof of a subject. For good rulers who pay no regard to self-love, , take as a homage to their humility the free and sincere words of subjects. But in this regard the office of ruling must be tempered with such great art of moderation, that the minds of subjects, when demonstrating themselves capable of taking right views in some matters, are given freedom of expression, but freedom that does not issue into pride, otherwise, when liberty of speech is granted too generously, the humility of their own lives will be lost. St. Gregory The Great, Pastoral Care

Hence Christ also said of 'the good shepherd,' not that he is honored and served, but that he 'lays down his life for his sheep.' This is the meaning of leadership, this the art of being a shepherd, ignoring one's own concerns and being preoccupied with those of one's people. What a physician is, after all, so is a leader - or, rather, more than a physician. While the physician, you see, procures people's welfare through skill, the leader does it through risk to hmself. Christ also did this, being scourged, crucified, suffering countless torments. St. John Chrysostom, Commentary on the Psalms, Vol. 2.

Hence it is clear that someone who occasionally shows compassion is not compassionate, and someone who occasionally practices self-control is not self-controlled. A compassionate and self-controlled man is someone who fully, persistently, and with unfailing discrimination strives all his life for total virtue; for discrimination is greater than any other virtue, and is the queen and crown of all the virtues. The same is true of the vices: we call a man a fornicator, a drunkard or a liar not on account of a single lapse, but only when he keeps on falling into the sin in question and makes no attempt to correct himself. St. John of Damascus, Philokalia , Vol. 3

Hence it is valuable and proper that each one should strive with zeal and diligence to achieve perfection in whatever work he has undertaken, whether this be something he has chosen to do or something he has been given the grace to do. He can praise and admire the virtues of others, but he ought never to depart from the profession which he himself has picked. For, as the apostle says, he knows that the body of the Church is one but its members are numerous, that `our gifts differ in accordance with the grace given to us. If one's gift is administration then let it be used for administration, if teaching then let it be used for teaching, if exhortation then let it be used in exhortation. Let the one who distributes do so in all simplicity. Let the one who is in charge be so solicitously and let the one doing the works of mercy be cheerful' (Rom. 12:6-8). One member cannot undertake the work of others. The eyes do not perform the task of the hands nor does the nose do the work of the ears. Not everyone can be apostle, prophet, or doctor. Not everyone has the grace of healing. Not everyone speaks in tongues. Not everyone is an interpreter. St. John Cassian, Conferences

Hence the Beatitude commands moderation and meekness, but not complete absence of passion; for the latter is outside the scope of nature, whereas the former can be achieved by virtue. If, therefore, the Beatitude ordered man to be unmoved by desires, the blessing would be quite useless for life. Indeed, who could attain to such a state while still united to flesh and blood? St. Gregory of Nyssa, On the Beatitudes.

Hence when a man suffers the loss of that Good, how are we to represent the magnitude of that catastrophe? The great David rightly shows us how impossible this is. Lifted out of himself by the Spirit, he glimpsed in that blessed ecstasy God's infinite and incomprehensible beauty. He saw as much as a mere mortal can see, leaving the covering of the flesh, and by thought alone entering into contemplation of that immaterial and spiritual realm. And though yearning to say something which would do justice to his vision, he can only cry out (in words that all can echo after him): `Every man is a liar" (Ps. 115:11). And this I take to mean that anyone who attempts to portray that ineffable Light in language is truly a liar - not because of any abhorrence of the truth, but merely because of the infirmity of his explanations. St. Gregory of Nyssa, On Virginity (In From Glory to Glory)

Hence when the Lord says: `Love your enemies; do good to them that hate you,' and what follows, He does not command the impossible, but clearly what is possible; for He would not otherwise rebuke the transgressor. The Lord Himself makes it clear and has shown it to us by His very works; and so too all His disciples, who strove till death for love of their neighbor and prayed fervently for those that killed them. But since we are lovers of material things and of pleasure, preferring them above the commandment, we are then not able to love them that hate us; rather we often, because of these things, repulse them that love us, being worse disposed than beasts and creeping things. And that is why, not being able to follow in the steps of God, we are likewise unable to know His purpose, so that we might receive strength. St. Maximus the Confessor, The Ascetic Life.

Henceforth be immortal, women; do ot be subject to death. You seek to behold the Creator of angels, Then why do you fear the sight of one angel? I am the servant of the One Who inhabited the tomb; I have the rank and the nature of a slave. As I have been commanded, I am here to announce to you, 'The Lord is risen; He has broken the bronze doors of Hades, And He has crushed his iron bars, And He has brought prophecy to fulfillment, And exalted the horn of the saints,' Come, see, young women, where the Immortal was lying, He Who offers resurrection to the fallen. St Romanos the Melodist - On the Resurrection VI.

Here is a man - the only one! Here is the Lord - more compassionate than a kinsman or a friend, of more service than a servant. He did not set out on this long and tiring road from Galilee to Jerusalem for the Sabbath and the Feast, but for the sake of this sufferer. He came so that He might, with deeds and not just with words, denounce the terrible lack of compassion of a people whose senses are blunted. The Man came for the man's sake. Bp Nikolai Velimirovic, Homily on the Third Sunday after Pascha.

His merciful and mysterious self-revelations are in no wise inconsistent with His true heavenly nature; and His faithful saints never fail to penetrate the guise He has assumed in order that faith may see Him. The types of the Law foreshew the mysteries of the Gospel; they enable the Patriarch to see and to believe what hereafter the Apostle is to gaze on and publish. For, since the Law is the shadow of things to come, the shadow that was seen was a true outline of the reality which cast it. God was seen and believed and worshipped as Man, Who was indeed to be born as Man in the fulness of time. He takes upon Him, to meet the Patriarch's eye, a semblance which foreshadows the future truth. St. Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, Book V.

Hold to patience in your hearts, my friends, and put it into action when the situation calls for it. Don't let any abusive word from your neighbor stir up hatred in you, and don't allow any loss of things that pass away to upset you. If you are steadfast in fearing the loss of those things that last forever, you will never take seriously the loss of those that pass away; if you keep your eyes fixed on the glory of our eternal recompense, you will not resent a temporal injury. You must bear with those who oppose you, but also love those you bear with. Seek and eternal reward in return for your temporal losses. St. Gregory the Great, Be Friends of God.

Holy Communion causes great progress in the life according to Christ. For what the external accidents of bread and wine effect in the body, the same is effected in the immaterial soul mystically and invisibly by the Body of Christ. And just as bread sustains and nourishes the body, so the Body of Christ sustains and nourishes our soul; and again, just as we are regenerated through Holy Baptism and receive the being of grace, in place of the being of sin which we had, so, as we are nourished by Holy Communion we grow in the grace of God and make progress. St. Macarios of Corinth, Modern Orthodox Saints, V. 2

Holy Communion illumines, brightens, and sanctifies all the power and senses of man's soul and body; and strengthens the soul in doing the commandments of the Lord and every other virtuous act. It is the true food of the soul and of the body, as our Lord says: 'My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed' (Jn. 6:55). St. Macarios of Corinth, Modern Orthodox Saints, Vol. 2

Holy Scripture tells us man and all creation are involuntarily subject to futility, groaning inwardly as they wait for the liberation of the children of God. Is it not that secret groan of all creation, that inward tendency of every soul toward its God, a form of inner, mental prayer? And man, without realizing it, has this prayer innate in the very depths of his being. That groan, the Christocentric nostalgia, the deep search for Christ, is natural in each one of us. We only need to pull it up from the abyss of our existence ike an intact and unexploited treasure. Archimandrite Ioannikios Kotsonis, Themes from the Philokalia, #1:Watchfulness and Prayer.

Holy Writ tells us that not only the character of those who are praiseworthy, but also their parents must be praised, so that, as it were, the transmitted inheritance of immaculate purity in those whom we wish to praise may be exalted. For what other intention is there in this passage [Lk. 1:5-6] of the Holy Evangelist, save that Saint John the Baptist be renowned for his parents, his wonders, his duty, and this passion? Thus, Anna, the mother of Saint Samuel is praised; thus, Isaac received from his parents nobility of piety, which he handed down to his descendants. Therefore, the Priest Zacharias is not only a Priest, but also of the course of Abia, viz., a noble among his wife's forebears. 'And his wife,' it says, 'was of the daughters of Aaron..' So Saint John's nobility was not handed down only from his parents, but also from his forebears, not exalted through worldly power, but venerable through the religious succession.

St. Ambrose of Milan, Exposition of the Holy Gospel According to Saint Luke.



Homes and communities depend on concerns of daily life and society. These concerns are God-appointed obligations; fulfilling them is not a step toward the ungodly, but is a walking in the way of the Lord. All who cleave to these erronious premises fall into the bad habit of thinking that once they accept worldly obligations, they no longer need to strive towards God. St. Theophan the Recluse, On Prayer

Hope always draws the soul from the beauty which is seen to what is beyond, always kindles the desire for the hidden through what is constantly perceived. Therefore, the ardent lover of beauty, although receiving what is always visible as an image of what he desires, yet longs to be filled with the very stamp of the archetype. St. Gregory of Nyssa, The Life of Moses

How blessed and wonderful, beloved, are the gifts of God! Life in immortality, splendor in righteousness, truth in perfect confidence, faith in assurance, self-control in holiness! And all these fall under the cognizance of our understandings now, what then shall those things be which are prepared for such as wait for Him? The Creator and Father of all worlds, the Most Holy, alone knows their amount and their beauty. Let us therefore earnestly strive to be found in the number of those that wait for Him, in order that we may share in His promised gifts. St. Clement of Rome, First Epistle

How blessed and wonderful, beloved, are the gifts of God. Life in immortality, splendor in righteousness, truth in perfect confidence, faith in assurance, self-control in holiness! And all these fall under the cognizance of our understandings now; what then shall those things be which are prepared for such as wait for Him? The Creator and Father of all worlds, the Most Holy, alone knows their amount and their beauty. Let us therefore earnestly strive to be found in the number of those that wait for Him, in order that we may share in His promised gifts. First Epistle of Clement

How blessed, beloved, and marvellous are the gifts of God! Life with immortality; joyousness with observance of the law; truth with boldness; faith with confidence; continence with holiness! And all these blessings even now fall within our comprehension! What then, are the things that are prepared for those who wait patiently! The Creator and Father of the ages, the All-holy, alone grasps their number and beauty. Let us, therefore, exert ourselves to be found in the number of those who patiently wait for Him, so that we may partcipate in the promised gifts. The St. Clement of Rome

How blessed, beloved, and marvellous are the gifts of God! Life with immortality; joyousness with observance of the law; truth with boldness; faith with confidence; continence with holiness! And all these blessings even now fall within our comprehension! What then, are the things that are prepared for those who wait patiently! The Creator and Father of the ages, the All-holy, alone grasps their number and beauty. Let us, therefore, exert ourselves to be found in the number of those who patiently wait for Him, so that we may participate in the promised gifts. St. Clement of Rome, from his Epistle

How does an Orthodox Christian feel in the presence of Christ the God-man? He feels totally and completely sinful. That is his feeling, his attitude, his manner, his mindset, his speech, his conscience, his confession, his entire being. That feeling of total personal sinfulness in the presence of the Most Sweet Lord is the soul of his soul and the heart of his heart. Briefly examine the prayers of repentance, the odes, the hymns, the Stichera in the `Parakletike' of Monday and even of Tuesday, and you will immediately verify that this sentiment constitutes a sacred duty and a prayerful reality for every Orthodox Christian without exception. This path has been explored by our immortal teachers, the Holy Fathers, who continuously direct us. Let us remember at least two of them, St. John of Damascus and St. Symeon the New Theologian. Their saintliness is cherubic beyond any doubt. Their prayer is assuredly seraphic. Nevertheless, they themselves express a feeling and consciousness of utter personal sinfulness and simultaneously a deeply-felt attitude of repentance. This is the existential contradiction (antinomy) in our Orthodox, evangelical, apostolic faith, and our humility in this faith. St. Justin Popovich, Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ.

How does the Orthodox Church preserve her greatest treasure, that is, the All-holy Person of the God-man Christ? She safeguards Him through her one and unique, holy, catholic, and apostolic faith. Through the unity of her faith, the Orthodox Church preserves through the centuries the unity and uniqueness of divine-human life and truth; through her holilness she preserves the unique holiness of life and truth in her divine-human body; through her catholicity she preserves the catholicity and wholeness of divine-human life and truth; through her apostolicity she preserves the unchangeable and continuous historical reality and life of the divine-human body and work of Christ. (St.) Justin Popovich, Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ

How immense is the grace of the divine compassion and condescension that knows no limit! God comes down to the level of sinful men and women; the good Lord speaks with His rebellious servants; the Holy One calls those who are impure to forgiveness. Humanity created out of mud addresses its Fashioner with familiarity, dust converses with its Maker. Let us, therefore, show awe when we sinners stand in the presence of this Majesty and speak. Even though we are so impure in our deeds He draws us close to the sight of Himself in the spirit; let us therefore repeat with trembling the words of the blessed Prophet Isaiah: `Woe is me, for I am dazed. I am a man of unclean lips, yet my eyes have beheld the King, the Lord Almighty.' Martyrius, in The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual Life.

How is it that all nature, and everything in nature, is so wisely arranged and moves in such wonderful order? It is because the Creator Himself directs and governs it. How is it that in the nature of man - the crown of creation - there is so much disorder? Why are there so many irregularities and deformities in his life? Because he took upon himself to direct and govern himself, against the Will and Wisdom of his Creator. Sinful man! give yourself up wholly, all your life unto the Lord your God, and all your life will move in wise, beautiful, stately, and life-giving order, and will all become beautiful as the lives of God's Saints, who gave themselves up entirely to Christ their God, and whom the Church daily offers to us, as an example to emulate. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

How many times I have prayed for what seemed a good thing for me, and persisted with my petition, foolishly importuning God's will, and not leaving it to God to do what, as He knows best, is useful for me. But, having obtained (what I had asked for) I found myself in great distress, and precisely because I had not asked for it to be, rather, according to God's will; for the thing proved not what I thought it to be. St. Nilus of Sinai, Early Fathers from the Philokalia.

How much sorrow the Voice causes To the careless and to All sinners, of whom I am chief, For it roots us out As the fig tree of old That did not produce its fruit. And we shall become the fodder For Gehenna, as we are Cut down with the blow of an ax, In the way in which Jesus, Who controls the distribution Of souls, said. My Spirit, let us be renewed, And we shall create Good work, seed of good seed, In order that when He comes To gather into the granaries His good fruit, We shall not remain outside, Calling, "Open." St Romanos the Melodist - On the Ten Virgins II

Human affairs are fainter than a shadow; more deceitful than a dream. Youth fades more quickly than the flowers of spring; our beauty wastes with age or sickness. Riches are uncertain; glory is fickle. The pursuit of arts and sciences is bounded by the present life; the charm of eloquence, which all covet, reaches but the ear: whereas the practice of virtue is a precious possession for its owner, a delightful spectacle for all who witness it. Make this your study; so will you be worthy of the good things promised by the Lord. St. Basil the Great, Letter 278.

Humanity therefore, having, long been enslaved by the power of ancestral sins, the birth of its daughter, heralding Him Who shall remove these sins, gives manifest signs of our deliverance from that domination and our release from servitude. Wherefore Adam, too, along with Eve, having cleansed themselves of the ancient stains of their transgression, and putting off the sullenness of despondency, gladly join the choir of the Virgin's feast with a confident voice and face, or rather, they are become its leaders. For they, through whom the seed of sin had become ingrown in the whole race and had perverted it, are especially fit, once the seed has been uprooted, to lead the joyful choir, to seek out and call together their descendants. Since, moreover, the disease of the trespass has been transmitted from the first transgressors down through all men, and since everyone needs the same treatment; since universal salvation is being founded today with the Virgin's birth, it was fitting that we should organize a common festival of all nations, and strike up public songs of thanksgiving transcending our world, since universal salvation requires thanks that transcend our world. St. Photios t he Great, Homily IX: The Birth of the Virgin.

Humble Service: For the Lord wishes and admonishes this when He said, :'He who wishes to be first and great among you, let him be the last and the minister and servant of all.' Therefore it is necessary that service before others be without a reward, nor should it bestow on the server any honor or glory, so as not to contradict Scripture by appearing 'pleasing to men' or 'serving to the eyes.' Not serving men, but the Lord alone, let him keep to the narrow path. Let him submit promptly to the single yoke of the Lord and carry it patiently in order to be brought with pleasure to his end with positive love. St. Macarius the Great, The Great Letter.

Humility is total perfection, so that when man first beholds God, then he behaves humbly. For Moses was humble, a great one among all men; God went down to him on the mountain in revelation. Again humility is seen in Abraham, for although he was just, he called himself dust and ashes. Again also John was humble because he was proclaiming that he was not worthy to loose the sandals of the Bridegroom, his Lord. By humility, the heroic in every generation have been pleasing, because it is the great way by which one draws near to God. But no one on earth was brought low like Mary, and from this it is manifest that no one was exalted like her. Jacob of Serug, On the Mother of God.

I do not...say you must not admit sorrow, for this is not in our power. What I mean is - do not let sorrow take possession of your heart and agitate it; keep it outside the bounds of your heart and hasten to soften and restrain it, so that it may not prevent you from reasoning soundly and acting rightly. With God's help this is in our power... Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare: Chapter 27)

I enkindle your purpose in singing and delighting the Lord, In order that, when your reward is given you, you will remember that I am with you. So, hear my words, but avoid my deeds. Cherish the words, aside from the deeds, For I am not able to sing anything except the psalm, Hallelujah. St Romanos the Melodist - On Life in the Monastery.

I exhort you therefore - no, not I , but the love of Jesus Christ: partake of Christian food exclusively; abstain from plant of alien growth, that is, heresy. Heretics weave Jesus Christ into their web - to win our confidence, just like persons who administer a deadly drug mixed with honeyed wine, which the unsuspecting gladly take - and with baneful relish they swallow death! St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Trallians.

I have covered `the way' a little of the time, he says, not just a single commandment, but all `Thy commandments' while accomplishing by my works and in my deeds those things they ordain. This is why Paul -- who also accomplished the same, said: `I have finished my course, I have kept the faith' (2 Tim.4:7). He covers `the way of Thy commandments,' those which are not straitened by bad thoughts, but which, after a great purification, are enlarged by God. Two conditions are indeed required: that the thorns of life do not choke `the good seed' which is in us and that we be helped by God. Eusebius of Caesarea, quoted in Grace for Grace by Johanna Manley.

I have heard Holy Scripture somewhere condemn those who are guilty of blaspheming God. `Woe to those,' it says, `through whom my Name is blasphemed among the Gentiles.' Now the meaning g of these words is something like this: Those who have not yet believed the word of truth closely examine the lives of those who have received the mystery of the faith. If, therefore, people are `faithful' only in name, but contradict this name by their life, whether by committing idolatry for the sake of gain or by disgracing themselves by drunkenness and revelry, being immersed in profligacy like swine in the mud - then the pagans immediately attribute this not the free choice of these evil-living men, but to the mystery which is supposed to teach these things. For, they say, such and such a man who has been initiated into the Divine mysteries would not be such a slanderer, or so avaricious and grasping, or anything equally evil, unless sinning was lawful for them. `Woe to those through whom my Name is blasphemed among the Gentiles. St. Gregory of Nyssa, The Lord's Prayer.

I myself have seen these marvels, and I have admired the wisdom of God in all things. If beings deprived of reason are capable of thinking and of providing for their own preservation; if a fish knows what it ought to seek and what to shun, what shall we say, who are honored with reason, instructed by law, encouraged by the promises, made wise by the Spirit, and are nevertheless less reasonable about our own affairs than the fish? They know how to provide for the future, but we renounce our hope of the future and spend our life in brutal indulgence. A fish traverses the extent of the sea to find what is good for it; what will you say then - you who live in idleness, the mother of all vices? Do not let any one make his ignorance an excuse. St. Basil the Great, The Hexaemeron.

I note that the mystery of Jesus' love for humanity was first revealed to the angels and that the gift of this knowledge was granted by the angels to us. It was the most divine Gabriel who guided Zechariah the hierarch into the mystery that, contrary to all hope and by God's favor, he would have a son who would be a prophet of the divine and human work of Jesus, who was beneficently about the appear for the salvation of the world. Gabriel revealed to Mary how in her would be born the divine mystery of the ineffable form of God. Another angel forecast to Joseph the true fulfillment of the divine promises made to his ancestor David. Yet another angel brought the good news to the shepherds who, because of their quiet life withdrawn from the crowd, had somehow been purified. And with him 'a multitude of the heavenly host' passed on to those on earth that famous song of jubilation. St. Dionysios the Areopagite, The Celestial Hierarchy.

I once used to deride secular rulers because they distributed honors, not on grounds of inherent merit, but of wealth or seniority or worldly rank. But when I heard that this stupidity had swaggered into our own affairs [within the Church] too, I no longer reckoned their actions so strange. For why should we be surprised that worldly people, who love the praise of the mob and do everything for money, should make this mistake, when those who claim to have renounced all these desires are no better? For although they are contending for heavenly rewards, they act as though they had to decide merely about acres of land or something else of the kind. They simply take common place men and put them in charge of those things for which the only begotten Son of God did not disdain to empty Himself of His own glory and to be made man and to receive the form of a servant and to be spitted upon and buffeted and to die the most shameful death. And they do not stop at this, but go on to other actions stranger still. . . Christians damage Christ's cause more than His enemies and foes. St. John Chrysostom On the Priesthood, A.D. 386

I pray you, brethren, understand this great dispensation, that He was made like unto us, apart from sin (Heb. 4:15). And each of the rational natures, for which principally the Saviour came, ought to examine his pattern, and know his mind, and discern between bad and good, to that he may be set free by His advent. For as many as are set free by His dispensation, are called the servants of God. And this is not yet perfection, but in its own time it is righteousness, and it leads to the adoption of sons. St. Anthony the Great

I read the opening of this book [Genesis] and was filled with joy, for its verses and lines spread out their arms to welcome me; the first rushed out and kissed me, and led me on to its companions. And when I reached that line where the story of Paradise is written, it lifted me up and transported me` from the bosom of the Book to the very bosom of Paradise. St. Ephraim the Syrian in The Luminous Eye by Sebastian Brock

I read the opening of this book and was filled with joy, for its verses and lines spread out their arms to welcome me; the first rushed out and kissed me, and led me on to its companions. And when I reached that line where the story of Paradise is written, it lifted me up and transported me from the bosom of the Book to the very bosom of Paradise.

The eye and the mind travelled over the lines as over a bridge, and entered all at once the tale of Paradise. In its reading the eye had transported the mind, in return the mind too let the eye rest from its reading, for when the Book had been read the eye had rest but the mind was engaged. St. Ephrem the Syrian, quoted in The Luminous Eye by Sebastian Brock.



I repeat that the aim of Christ, our Master, is precisely to teach us how we come to commit all our sins; how we fall into all our evils. First he sets us free through Holy Baptism, as I have already said, giving us the forgiveness of our sins, and he has given us the power to do good if we desire to and no longer to be dragged down into sin, so to speak, by force. For one who has consented to sin is weighed down and dragged away by it. As it is written: `By his sins is everyone put in bondage.' Then He teaches us by His holy precepts how to be cleansed fro our own passions so that we do not fall again into those same sins. Finally He shows us how we come to despise and disobey the commandments of God and adds the medicine that all may be able to obey and be saved. What then is the medicine and what the cause of our contempt? Listen to what the Lord himself tells us: `Learn of me, for I am meek and humble of heart and you shall find rest for your souls.' St. Dorotheos of Gaza, Discourses and Sayings.

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, On the Mystical Life, Vol. 1.

I see that the Angels, too, were first initiated into the divine Mystery of Jesus in His love for man, and through them the gift of that knowledge was bestowed upon us; for the divine Gabriel announced to Zachariah the high-priest that the son who should be born to him through Divine Grace, when he was bereft of hope, would be a prophet of that Jesus Who would manifest the union of the human and divine natures through the ordinance of the Good Law for the salvation of the world; and he revealed to Mary how of her should be born the Divine Mystery of the ineffable Incarnation of God. St. Dionysius the Areopagite, The Celestial Hierarchies

I shall, then, go to Him; I shall be enlightened, as the Scripture records. I shall draw night God and not feel shame before Him. He does not upbraid me; He does not say, `Hitherto you were in darkness; now you have come to see me, the Sun.' Therefore, I take the perfume and go forward. I shall make the house of the Pharisee a baptistery, For there I shall be cleansed of my sin And purified of my lawlessness. I shall mix the bath with weeping, with oil and with perfume; I shall cleanse myself and escape From the slime of my deeds. St Romanos the Melodist - On the Sinful Woman.

I suppose that it is sometimes better to fall oneself and rise, than to judge one's neighbor; because one who has sinned is incited to self-abasement and repentance, while he who judges one who has sinned becomes hardened in an illusion about himself and in pride. Therefore everyone must guard himself as much as possible, so as not to judge. Abbot Nazarius, Little Russian Philokalia, Vol. III.

I want creation to penetrate you with as much admiration that everywhere, wherever you may be, the least plant may bring to you the clear remembrance of the Creator. If you see the grass of the fields, think of human nature, and remember the comparison of the wise Isaiah. 'All flesh is grass, that all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field.' Truly the rapid flow of life, the short gratification and pleasure that an instant of happiness gives a man, all wonderfully suit the comparison of the prophet. St. Basil the Great, The Hexaemeron.

I want the marvel of creation to gain such complete acceptance from you that, wherever you may be found and whatever kin of plants you may chance upon, you may receive a clear reminder of the Creator. First, then, whenever you see a grassy plant or a flower, thin of human nature, remembering the comparison of the wise Isaiah, the `all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.' For, the short span of life and the briefly-enduring pleasure and joy of human happiness have found a most apt comparison in the words of the prophet. Today he is vigorous in body, frown fleshy from delicacies, with a flower-like completion, in the prime of life, fresh and eager, and irresistible in attack; tomorrow that same one is piteous or wasted with age, or weakened by disease. St. Basil the Great, Homily 5 on the Hexaemeron - quoted in Wisdom, Let Us Attend, by Johanna Manley.

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 Christ is in you through the frequent communion of the Holy Sacrament, then be yourself wholly like unto Christ: meek, humble, long-suffering, full of love, without attachment to earthly things, meditating upon heavenly ones, obedient, reasonable. Have His spirit unfailingly within you. Do not be proud, impatient, partial to earthly things, avaricious, and covetous. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ.

If God is slow in answering your request, and you ask but do not promptly receive anything, do not be upset, for you are not wiser than God. When you remain as you were before, without anything happening, it is either because your behavior is not worthy of your request, or because the paths in which your heart was travelling were far removed from the aim of your prayer, or because your interior condition is far too childish, when compared with the magnitude of the thing for which you have asked.

St. Isaac of Nineveh [Syria], The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual Life.



If Lazarus had a stain of dishonor, because of his sins (A slight thing on examination) he is condemned here below briefly Until the time when his sin is removed By his physical suffering, as though by fire. For no one is without sin except the Lord; And the least among m will be judged with forbearance, While the powerful will be mightily tested, As Solomon has already said in his Book of Wisdom. For those who neglect God and stray from justice Will become the fodder of fire. From this deliver us. Have pity, Lord. St Romanos the Melodist - On Dives (the rich man) and Lazarus.

If a man cannot feel intuitively that he has put on the image of our heavenly Lord Jesus Christ, man and God, over his rational and intellectual nature, then he remains but flesh and blood. He cannot gain experience of spiritual glory by means of his reason, just as men who are blind from birth cannot know sunlight by reason alone. St. Symeon the New Theologian, The Practical and Theological Chapters.

If a man had no adversaries, there would be no struggles and contests; and if there were no contests, there would be no crowns of victory. There is a more spiritual sense which you should learn as well: the man who has demons within him and wears no garment and makes his home ouside the house, is anyone who does evil and demonic deeds, and who has stripped himself of his baptismal robe, and who dwells outside the Church. Such a man is not worthy to enter into the Church, but instead he lives in the tombs of dead and and rotting deeds, for example, in brothels and in the chambers of publicans and graft. These indeed are tombs of iniquity.

The Explanation by Blessed Theophylact of the Holy Gospel According to St. Luke (8:26-33).



If a man has no care whatever for himself because of love for God and virtuous deeds, knowing that God will take care of him, - such hope is true and wise. But if a man takes care for his own affairs and turns with prayer to God only when unavoidable misfortunes overtake him and he sees no way of averting them by his own power, only then beginning to hope in God's aid, - such hope is van and false. True hope seeks the Kingdom of God alone and is convinced that everything earthly that is necessary for this transitory life will unfailingly be given. St. Seraphim of Sarov, Spiritual Instructions.

If a single word of an earthly king causes great deeds to come to pass in his kingdom -- he speaks the work begins and is accomplished -- then will not the word of the Lord of all material and spiritual, visible and invisible creatures, accomplish everything He desires? Shall He speak and it not be created? Shall He speak and it not be done? O Almighty Power, able to accomplish everything in one single moment, do not leave us on account of our sins, and above all on account of our incredulity and despair, to be tormented by our own infirmities, lest we be destroyed like earthen vessels. Grant that we may not doubt in the fulfillment of our every right request. St. John of Kronstadt, \my Life of Christ.

If anyone claims to be able to be completely self-sufficient, to be capable of reaching perfections without anyone else's help, to succeed in plumbing the depths of Scripture entirely unaided, he is behaving just like someone trying to practice the trade of a carpenter without touching wood. The Apostle would say to such: 'It is not the hearers of the Law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the Law who will be justified" (Rom. 2:13). St. Basil the Great quoted in Drinking From the Hidden Fountain.

If anyone is burdened with a sickness, it is, nevertheless, possible that he may have certain of his members sound and healthy, for example, his vision or some other faculty, while the rest of his members are weak. So also in the spiritual life. It is possible that someone way be healthy in three areas of his spirit, but he is not perfect just because of this. You see how many stages and ways of the Spirit's acting there are. Evil is cut out little by little and diminished, not all at once. All things that exist come about by divine providence and economy, both the rising of the sun as well as all creatures, all exist for the kingdom, which the elect die to possess by right of inheritance, so that they may make up the kingdom of peace and harmony. St. Macarius the Great, Fifty Spiritual Homilies

If anyone things that he has love but does not have the same love for all, but distinguishes between persons, separating the lowly from the rich, the infirm from the healthy, a sinner from a righteous man, one far off from one near, one who is an enemy from one who loves you, such love is not perfect, but partial. Actual and perfect love consists in considering everyone and loving them equally, both those who love you and those who hate you. Such love, with which mercy is inseparable, is, in brief, a net for all the virtues. It embraces and contains all the commandments of God within itself. St. Paisius Velichkovsky, Little Russian Philokalia, Vol. IV.

If anything had existed before the formation of this sensible and perishable world, no doubt we conclude it would have been in light. The orders of angels, the heavenly hosts, all intellectual natures named or unnamed, all the ministering spirits, did not live in darkness, but enjoyed a condition fitted for them in light and spiritual joy. No one will contradict this; least of all he who looks for celestial light as one of the rewards promised to virtue, the light which, as Solomon says, is always a light to the righteous, the light which made the Apostle say `Giving thanks unto the Father, which has made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.' (Col. 1:12) St. Basil the Great, The Hexaemeron

If everything that exists was made by God and for God, and God is superior to the things made by Him, he who abandons what is superior and devotes himself to what is inferior shows that he values things made by God more than God Himself. St. Maximos the Confessor(First Century on Love, no. 5)

If it had been permitted to Paul to utter what the Third Heaven contained, and his own advance, or ascension, or assumption thither, perhaps we should know something more about God's Nature, if this was the mystery of the rapture. But since it was ineffable, we too will honor it by silence. This much we will hear Paul say about it, that we know in part and we prophesy in part. This and the like to this are the confessions of one who is not rude in knowledge, who threatens to give proof of Christ speaking in him, the great doctor and champion of the truth. Wherefore he estimates all knowledge on earth only as through a glass darkly, as taking its stand upon little images of the truth. Now, unless I appear to anyone too careful, and over anxious about the examination of this matter, perhaps it was of this and nothing else that the Word Himself intimated that there were things which could not now be borne, but which should be borne and cleared up hereafter, and which John the Forerunner of the Word and great Voice of the Truth declared even the whole world could not contain. St. Gregory Nanzianzen, Second Theological Oration.

If only people would care as much for good things as they care about that which is bad. If only they would transfer to a yearning for piety all the attention they lavish on spectacles, magnificent festivals, on avarice, vain-glory and injustice. We are not ignorant of how highly God values us, nor are we powerless against the demons. The Spiritual Meadow of John Moschos

If sinners should tremble because they have angered God, those who have been shielded by His grace because of their weakness and proneness to despair should tremble even more, since they are deeply in His debt. St. Epiphanius says that ignorance of the Scriptures is a huge abyss, worse still is evil consciously committed, while great is the benefit that the soul receives through Scripture and through prayer. To bear with our neighbor, not to distress him when he wrongs us but to help him to be at peace when he is troubled, as St. Dorotheos puts it; to show compassion towards him, sharing his burden and praying for him, full of longing that he may be saved and may enjoy every other blessing of body and soul - this is true forbearance, and it purifies the soul and leads it towards God.

St. Peter of Damascus, A Treasury of Divine Knowledge, The Philokalia, Vol. III.



If the Holy Spirit is peace of soul, as He is said to be and as He is in reality, and if anger is disturbance of heart, as it actually is and as it is said to be, then nothing so prevents His presence in us as anger. St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent.

If the body in accordance with St. John of Sinai alters the intellect to become fleshy and clay-like and passionate, it defiles and darkens the intellect with its indecent and profane desires, the same body with its practical virtues (especially fasting and vigil) assists to illuminate the intellect and take the road of dispassion. Themes of the Philokalia, #2 The Intellect, by Archimandrite Ioannikios Kotsonis.

If the highest end of virtue is that which aims at the advancement of most, gentleness is the most lovely of all, which does not hurt even those whom it condemns, and usually renders those whom it condemns worthy of absolution. Moreover, it is the only virtue which has led to the increase of the Church which the Lord sought at the price of His own Blood, imitating the loving kindness of heaven, and aiming at the redemption of all, seeks this end with a gentleness which the ears of men can endure, in presence of which their hearts do not sink, nor their spirits quail. St. Ambrose of Milan, Concerning Repentance.

If the humble man has any kind of virtue, he attributes it not to his own strength, but to God's help, in agreement with the words of Jesus Christ Who said: 'When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, we are unprofitable servants' (Lk. 17:10). 'Without Me,' the Lord says, 'ye can do nothing' (Jn. 15:5). Humility is to understand oneself to be nothing. The best helps in avoiding temptations are meekness and humility of spirit and constant vigilance of mind. St. Nazarius, Little Russian Philokalia, Vol. 2

If the indestructible might of the unfading kingdom is given to the humble and the meek, who would at this point be so deprived if love and desire for the divine gifts as not to tend as much as possible toward humility and meekness to become, to the extent that this is possible toward humility and meekness to become,, to the extent that this is possible for man, the image of God's kingdom by bearing in himself by grace the exact configuration in the Spirit to Christ, Who is truly by nature and essence the great King? In this configuration, says the divine Apostle, `there is neither male nor female,,' that is to say, neither anger nor lust. Indeed anger tyranically destroys the exercise of reason and make thought take leave of the law of nature. St. Maximus the Confessor, Commentary on the Our Father.

If the law, according to the apostle, is spiritual, containing the images `of future good things,' come then, let us strip off the veil of the letter which is spread over it, and consider its naked and true meaning. The Hebrews were commanded to ornament the Tabernacle as a type of the Church, that they might be able, by means of sensible things, to announce beforehand the image of divine things. For the pattern which was shown to Moses in the mount, to which he was to have regard in fashioning the Tabernacle, was a kind of accurate representation of the heavenly dwelling, which we now perceive more clearly than through types, yet more darkly than if we saw the reality. For not yet, in our present condition, has the truth come unmingled to men, who are here unable to bear the sight of pure immortality, just as we cannot bear to look upon the rays of the sun. St. Methodius, The Banquet of the 10 Virgins.

If the point needs to be put more forcefully, let us say that the entire Holy Scripture is a teacher of virtues and of the truths of faith, while the Book of Psalms possesses somehow the perfect image for the souls' course of life. For as one who comes into the presence of a king assumes a certain attitude, both of posture and expression, lest speaking differently he be thrown out as boorish, so also the one who is running the race of virtue and withes to know the life of the Savior in the body, the sacred book first calls to mind the emotions of the soul through the reading, and in this way represents the other things in succession, and teaches the readers by those words. St. Athanasius the Great, The Letter to Marcellinus.

If the truth of something has been revealed in the Word of God, has been investigated and explained to us by the Divinely enlightened mind of the saints, whom God has glorified, and has been recognized by the heart in is light and life-giving effect, then it is a great sin and diabolical pride of the intellect and heart to doubt it and to be perplexed about it. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ.

If those attacked by many passions of soul ad body endure patiently, do not out of negligence surrender their free will, and do not despair, they are saved. Similarly, he who has attained the state of dispassion, freedom from fear and lightness of heart, quickly falls if he does not confess God's grace continually by not judging anyone. Indeed, should he dare to judge someone, he makes it evident that in acquiring his wealth he has relied on his own strength, as St. Maximus states. St. Peter of Damaskos, Philokalia, Vol. 3

If thou desirest joy, seek not after riches, nor bodily health, nor glory, nor power, nor luxury, nor sumptuous tables, nor vestures of silk, nor costly lands, nor houses splendid and conspicuous, nor anything else of that kind; but pursue that spiritual wisdom which is according to God, and take hold of virtue; and then naught of the things which are present, or which are expected, will be able to sadden thee. St. John Chrysostom, Homily 18 Concerning the Statues

If till now your senses sometimes broke out and rushed to sensory pleasures, from now on try to the utmost to curb them and turn them back from these enticements. Control them well, so that, wherever they were previously enslaved by vain and harmful delights, they should now receive profitable impressions from every creature and every thing, and introduce these into the soul. Giving birth to spiritual thoughts in the soul, such impressions will collect the soul within itself and, soaring on wings of mental contemplation, will raise it to the vision and praise of God. Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare: Chapter 21)

If we abandon our own desires and opinions, and endeavor to fulfill God’s wishes and understanding, we will save ourselves, no matter what our position, no matter what our circumstance. But if we cling to our own desires and opinions, neither position nor circumstance will be of help. Even in Paradise, Eve transgressed God’s commandment, and life with the Savior Himself brought the unfortunate Judas no good. As we read in the Holy Gospels, we require patience and an inclination to pious living. Spiritual Counsels of Holy Elder Amvrossy of Optina
http://www.stjohndc.org/Fathers/0010d.htm


If we are the temple of God, let us take great care and busy ourselves with good deeds, so that He may deign to come more often into this temple of His, and to make His dwelling place there. Let us avoid winter's image, lest the Lord, on coming into our hearts, find them numb from [lack of] charity's ardor, and so, since He has been turned away, quickly leave them. For why did the evangelist trouble to record that it was winter time, except that he wished to indicate by the harshness of winter winds and storms the hardness of the Jews' unbelief, and that His utterance was appropriate for many of those He found then in the temple, whom He told, `because iniquity will abound, the charity of many grows cold.' Venerable Bede, Homilies on the Gospels, Vol. II.

If we are unwilling to lament in this life, there will be no option at all in the next life but to mourn and lament; there to no purpose, here on the contrary with profit; there to our shame, here on the contrary in all propriety. For proof, you see, that it is necessary, listen to what Christ says: 'There will be weeping there and gnashing of teeth.' But it will not be like that for those who weep here; instead, they will enjoy great consolation: 'Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be consoled.' St. John Chrysostom, Commentary on the Psalms.

If we follow our own will, God no longer sends His power which prospers and establishes all the ways of men. For if a man does something, imagining that it comes from God, when really his own will is involved in it, then God does not help him and you will find his heart embittered and feeble in everything to which he sets his hand. It is on the pretext of better progress that the believer can go wrong and end up by being mocked. The Letters of Ammonas

If we live in the way we have promised, we will receive, as daily and life-giving bread for the nourishment of our souls and the maintenance of the good state with which we have been blessed, the Logos Himself; for it was He Who said, 'I am the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world' (cf. John 6:33-35). In proportion to our capacity the Logos will become everything for us who are nourished through virtue and wisdom; and in accordance with His own judgment He will be embodied differently in each recipient of salvation while we are still living in this age. This is indicated in the phrase of the prayer which says, 'Give s this day our daily bread' (Mt. 6:11). St. Maximos the Confessor, On the Lord's Prayer, Philokalia, Vol. 2

If we study our Lord's precept we find that we are capable of both hating and loving, but we have to make a distinction. We must love those who are united to us by some natural relationship in that they are our neighbors, and we must hate them and avoid them insofar as they hold us back on our way to God. We can say that we love those who are wise in the world's ways by hating them when we refuse to listen to the evil things they suggest to us. St. Gregory the Great, Be Friends of God.

If we watch carefully, we shall often find a bitter joke played on us by the demons. For when we are full, they stir us up to compunction; and when we are fasting, they harden our heart so that, being deceived by spurious tears, we may give ourselves up to indulgence which is the mother of passions. We must not listen to them but rather do the opposite. St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent.

If we wear our heavenly robe, we shall not be found naked, but if we are found not wearing this garment, what shall we do, brethren? We, even we also, shall hear the voice that says, "Cast them into outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth." (Matt. 22:13) And, brethren, there will be great shame in store for us, if, after having worn this habit for so long, we are found in the hour of need not having put on the wedding garment. Oh what compunction will seize us! What darkness will fall upon us, in the presence of our fathers and our brethren, who will see us being tortured by the angels of punishment! St. Amvrosy of Optina

If you are offended by anything, whether intended or unintended, you do not know the way of peace... St. Maximos the Confessor (First Century on Love no. 69)

If you are suffering for your faith in Christ, the Lives of the Saints will console you and encourage you and make you bold and give you wings, and your torments will be changed into joy. If you are in any sort of temptation, the Lives of the Saints will help you overcome it both now and forever. If you are in danger from the invisible enemies of salvation, the Lives of the Saints will arm you with the 'whole armor of God.' and you will crush them all now and forever and throughout your whole life. If you are in the midst of visible enemies and persecutors of the Church of Christ, the Lives of the Saints will give you the courage and strength of a confessor, and you will fearlessly confess the one true God and Lord in all worlds - Jesus Christ - and you will boldly stand up for the holy truth of His Gospel unto death, unto every death, and you will feel stronger than all deaths, and much more so than all the visible enemies of Christ; and being tortured for Christ you will shout for joy, feeling with all your being that your life is in heaven, hidden with Christ in God, wholly above all deaths.

Fr. (St.) Justin Popovich, Introduction to the Lives of the Saints, in Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ.



If you believe in Christ, have hope in Him, love Him with all your soul and heart, whatever you seek from Him with faith and is to your benefit He will give you. Seek above all the Kingdom of Heaven. When you love Him and do His commandments, He too will love you, and you will be united with Him. `God is love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.' St. Arsenios of Paros, Modern Orthodox Saints, Vol. 6

If you cannot be merciful, at least speak as though you are a sinner. If you are not a peacemaker, at least do not be a troublemaker. If you cannot be assiduous, at least in your thought be like a sluggard. If you are not victorious, do not exalt yourself over the vanquished. If you cannot close the mouth of a man who disparages his companion, at least refrain from joining him in this. The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian.

If you cannot be merciful, at least speak as though you are a sinner. If you are not a peacemaker, at least do not be a troublemaker. If you cannot be assiduous, at least in your thought be like a sluggard. If you are not victorious, do not exalt yourself over the vanquished. If you cannot close the mouth of a man who disparages his companion,m at least refrain from joining him in this. The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian

If you distract your intellect from its love for God and concentrate it, not on God, but on some sensible object, you thereby show that you value the body more than the soul and the things made by God more than God Himself. Since the Light of Spiritual Knowledge is the intellect's life, and since this Light is engendered by love for God, it is rightly said that nothing is greater than divine love. (cf. I Cor. 13) When in the intensity of its love for God the intellect goes out of itself, then it has no sense of itself or of any created thing. For when it is illumined by the Infinite Light of God, it becomes insensible to everything made by Him, just as the eye becomes insensible to the stars when the sun rises. St. Maximos the Confessor in, "Prayer of the Heart -- Writings from the Philokalia," Shambhala books

If you happen to smell some perfumed ointment or the scent of flowers, transfer your thought from this physical fragrance to the secret fragrance of the Holy Spirit and say: 'O the fragrance of the all-sweetest Flower, and inexhaustible Ointment, Which was poured out on all God's creatures, as the Song of Songs says: "I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys" (2:1); and: "Thy name is an ointment poured forth" (1:3). O all-pervading source of fragrance, richly breathing Thy divine breath upon all things, from the highest and most pure Angels to the basest creatures, bathing all things in Thy fragrance.' Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Watfare: Chapter 21)

If you have received the remission of your sins through confession..., it should be a great occasion of love and thanksgiving and humility for you. For even though you have earned a thousand punishments, you have not only been released, but have even gained sonship, glorification, and the kingdom of heaven. Meditate on these things and ponder them always, and be ready and careful never to dishonor Him Who has honored you and forgiven you a thousand faults. In all that you do give Him glory and honor, so that He may in return glorify you all the more. He has already honored you above all visible creation, and He will call you His true friend. St. Symeon the New Theologian, The Practical and Theological Chapters.

If you hear a pleasant voice or a harmony of voices and singing, turn your mind to God, and say: 'Harmony of harmonies, O my Lord! How I rejoice in Thy boundless perfections, all blending in Thee in transubstantial harmony; thence are they reflected in the hosts of Angels in the heavens, and in the countless creatures here below; this is the symphony of all, perfect beyond imagining!' Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare: Chapter 21)

If you help a poor person in the name of the Lord, you are making a gift and at the same time granting a loan. You are making a gift because you have no expectation of being reimbursed by that poor person. You are granting a loan because the Lord will settle the account. It is not much that the Lord receives by means of the poor, but He will pay a great deal on their behalf. 'They who are kind to the poor lend to the Lord' [Prov. 19:17]. St. Basil the Great, On Psalm 14, in Drinking From the Hidden Fountain.

If you make provision for the desires of the flesh (cf. Rom. 13:14) and bear a grudge against your neighbor on account of something transitory, you worship the creature instead of the creator. St. Maximos the Confessor(First Century on Love no. 20)

If you read continually spiritual books with eagerness and diligence, know that this continuous eagerness and diligence will open up your mind and will make it receptive to spiritual meanings. And what you did not succeed in understanding the first time you will easily understand when you read it two or three times. For God, seeing your continuous diligence, will illumine your mind to understand even what is difficult. St. Nicodemos the Hagiorite, in Modern Orthodox Saints, Vol. 3

If you see or hear someone sin, keep from slandering him and judging him. You tell someone else about him, he tells it to another, the other to the third, the third to the fourth, and so everyone will come to know it and be tempted. And they will judge the one who sinned, which is a very serious thing. And you will be the cause of all of this, by publishing your brother's sin. Slanderers are like lepers that harm others by their foul odor, or like those stricken by the plague who carry their disease from place to place and destroy others. Keep yourself, then, from slandering your neighbor, lest you sin gravely and give someone else cause for sin. St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, Journey to Heaven.

If you want Christ to bless you and what you have, when you meet some poor individual, who is hungry and asks you for food, give him. Also, when you know that some poor man, or a widow, or an orphan are hungry, do not wait for them to ask you for food, but give them. Give with pleasure, and be not afraid that your will become indigent. Have faith that Christ invisibly blesses your few possessions, and you shall never starve, ,nor will you be in want till the end of your life. St. Arsenios of Paros, Modern Orthodox Saints, Vol. 6

If you wish to be saved and 'to come unto the knowledge of the truth' (1 Tim. 2:4), endeavor always to transcend sensible things, and through hope alone to cleave to God. then you will find principalities and powers fighting against you (cf. Eph. 6:12), deflecting you against your will and provoking you to sin. But if you prevail over them through prayer and maintain your hope, you will receive God's grace, and this will deliver you from the wrath to come. St. Mark the Ascetic, Philokalia, Vol. 1

If you wish to pray as your ought, you have need of God, Who gives prayer to him who prays. So call to Him in prayer, saying, 'Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come' (Mt. 6:9-10), that is, the Holy Spirit and Thine only-begotten Son. For thus did the Lord Himself teach us, saying, 'God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth' (Jn. 4:24). St. Nilus of Sinai in Early Fathers From the Philokalia.

If you wish to pray then it is God Whom you need. He it is Who gives prayer to the man who prays. On that account call upon Him saying: `Hallowed be Thy Name, Thy Kingdom come,' that is, the Holy Spirit and Your Only-Begotten Son. This is what our Lord taught us when He said: `The Father is worshipped in Spirit and in Truth,' Evagrius Ponticus, Chapter on Prayer

If, according to the Apostle, 'Christ dwells in oiur hearts by faith,' and 'all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Him,' then all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in our hearts. They are revealed to the heart in proportion to each one's purification by the commandments. St. Maximus the Confessor, Selected Writings (400 Chapters on Love).

If, according to the Apostle, `the Law is spiritual' and contains within itself the images `of the good things to come,' then let us remove `the veil' of the letter which is spread over it and contemplate its true meaning stripped bare. The Jews were commanded to adorn their Tabernacle as an imitation of the Church, that through the things of sense they might be able to prefigure the image of things divine. For the exemplar which was shown forth on the mountain and on which Moses gazed when he constructed the Tabernacle, was in a way an accurate picture of the dwelling in heaven, to which indeed we pay homage insofar as it far surpasses the types in clarity, and yet is far fainter than the reality. The fact is that the unmingled truth has not yet come to men as it is in itself, for here we would be unable to contemplate its pure incorruptibility, just as we cannot endure the rays of the sun with unshielded eyes. The Jew announced what was a shadow of an image, at a third remove from reality, whereas we ourselves clearly behold the image of the heavenly dispensation. But the reality itself will be accurately revealed after the resurrection when we shall see the holy Tabernacle, the heavenly city, `whose builder and maker is God, face to face,' and not `in a dark manner' and only `in part.' St. Methodius, The Symposium: A Treatise on Chastity

If, as St. Paul says, Christ dwells in our hearts through faith (cf. Eph 3:17), and all the treasures of wisdom and spiritual knowledge are hidden in Him (cf. Col. 2:3), then all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in our hearts. They are revealed to the heart in proportion to our purification by means of the commandments. "This is the treasure hidden in the field of your heart (cf. Matt. 13:44), which you have not yet found because of your laziness. Had you found it, you would have sold everything and bought that field. But now you have abandoned that field and give all your attention to the land nearby, where there is nothing but thorns and thistles. St. Maximos the Confessor (Fourth Century on Love no. 70-71)

If, in the case of one human being who has done wrong to another, God in His grace has commanded that we should be forgiving to the offender seventy times seven, how much lmore will God forgive the person who offers up supplication for his sins? John the Solitary, in The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the SpiritualLife.

If, therefore, we are lovers of learning, we shall also be learned in many things. For by care and toil and the grace of God the Giver, all things are accomplished. `For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened' (Lk. 11:10). Wherefore let us knock at that very fair garden of the Scriptures, so fragrant and sweet and blooming... Let us not know carelessly but rather zealously and constantly, lest knocking we grow weary. For in this way it will be opened to us. If we read once or twice and do not understand what we read, let us not grow weary, but let us persist, let us talk much, let us inquire. For `ask your Father,' he says, `and He will show you, your elders and they will tell you (Deut. 32:7). For `there is not in every man that knowledge' (I Cor. 8:7). St. John of Damascus, Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, quoted in Wisdom.Let us Attend, by Johanna Manley.

If, therefore, we find the city let us enter it, let us look at its light, its wall, its tribes, the foundations of its walls, and let us also see the watchmen on the walls. But how may we enter? In this city there is only one way, leading to life, for Christ is the way. Hence, let us follow Christ. But this city is in heaven. The manner in which we may ascend to heaven is taught by the Evangelist who says, 'And the Spirit carried me away to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven.' That is, we may ascend in spirit, since flesh cannot reach her. Let us, in the interim, rise to heaven so that from heaven this city may later descend to us. In it the light is like a precious stone, such as the stone of jasper and crystal, and its wall is great and high. St. Ambrose of Milan, On Virginity

Imagine that the love of God is sown in us in just the same way as they say that the pearl in the open shell is conceived by the dew of heaven and the lightning. When the soul hears of the sufferings of Christ just recounted and little by little believes in them, it opens up in proportion to its faith where before, it had been closed by unbelief. And, when it has been opened, the love of God, like a kind of heavenly dew which is joined with an ineffable light, falls immaterially on the heart in the guise of lightning and takes the form of a shining pearl. Concerning this pearl, our Lord says that when the merchant has fount it, he went off and sold all his belongings and bought it. So, too, he who has been deemed worthy of believing in the way we have said, and of finding the intelligible pearl of the love of God in himself, does not stop at merely despising all things and distributing all his belongings to the poor, but allows those who wish even to pillage them in order that he may keep his love for God inviolate and wholly undiminished.

St. Symeon the New Theologian, On the Mystical Life, Vol. 2.



In His coming, Christ has humbled your proud strength; In assuming my whole natural form, He has put you to flight. I am now bought by His precious blood; He Who knows no corruption has freed me from corruption. Wherever you may turn, you see on all sides Tombs which are emptied, and you, shameless one, naked. Where are your bolts and bars, strong one? My Jesus has come down and shivered to atoms all your possessions. Where, O Death is your victory, or where is your power? God has destroyed your strength Through the Resurrection. St Romanos the Melodist - On the Resurrection III.

In a loud voice Sophronias cried to Adam: 'He is here Whom you awaited up to the day of resurrection, as I prophesied to you.'

After him, Nahum announced the good news to the poor, saying, 'From the earth He has arisen, breathing on your face, He Who frees from oppression.' And Zacharias with joy cries out, 'Thou hast comem, our God, with Thy saints,' And David sang a song of good omen, 'How like a mighty one, roused out of sleep The Lord is risen.' St Romanos the Melodist - On the Resurrection II



In a word: what the soul is ins the body, that the Christians are in the world. The soul is spread through all the members of the body, and the Christians throughout the cities of the world. The soul dwells in the body, but is not part and parcel of the body; so Christians dwell in the world, but are not part and parcel of the world. Itself invisible, the soul is kept shut up in the visible body; so Christians are known as such in the world, but their religion remains invisible. The flesh, though suffering no wrong from the soul, yet hates and makes war on it, because it is hindered from indulging its passions; so, too, the world, though suffering no wrong from Christians, hates them because they oppose its pleasures. The soul loves the flesh that hates it, and its members; so, too, Christians love those that hate them. The soul is locked up in the body, yet is the very thing that holds the body together; so, too, Christians are shut up in the world as in a prison, yet it is precisely they that hold the world together. Immortal, the soul is lodged in a mortal tenement; so, too, Christians though residing as strangers among corruptible things, look forward to the incorruptibility that awaits them in heaven. The soul, when stinting itself in food and drink, fares the better for it; so, too, Christians, when penalized, show a daily increase in numbers on that account. Such is the important post to which God has assigned them, and they are not at liberty to desert it. The Epistle to Diognetus, in The Didache.

In accordance with God's most wise order in this world, one thing precedes another, and one is changed into another: dishonor and honor, poverty and wealth, health and sickness. Before bestowing wealth upon anyone, God often tries him by extreme poverty, depriving, on the other hand, the rich of everything; before honor, by dishonor; and those raised to honor, by humiliation, so that we may learn to value God's gifts, and not be proud in our prosperity, knowing that it is the gift of the Master, undeserved by us. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ.

In addition to its own efforts to nourish itself spiritually, the mind also attempts as much as possible to bring back the senses toward the mind so that they too may enjoy with its spiritual pleasures and thus become accustomed gradually to prefer them. This is how it happened before with the mind when it becomes accustomed through the senses to prefer physical pleasures. At first, generally speaking, the body attempted through the senses and the physical pleasures to make the mind and the spirit of man into flesh. On the contrary now, the mind seeks purposely through the enjoyment of the immaterial and spiritual realities to uplift the body also from its physical heaviness, and in a sense to make it into spirit, as St. Maximos has witnessed in many of his writings. St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain, Handbook of Spiritual Counsel.

In considering the sin by which Adam sinned when he was in the glory and enjoyment of Paradise, no one will find that it was done out of necessity or infirmity, or for any good reason at all, but solely out of disdain for the commandment of God, out of the ingratitude and apostasy which Adam showed with relation to God his Creator. Besides, there was given him by God an opportunity to repentance, that he might obtain forgiveness; and this was for the two following reasons: first, because he had not himself devised the evil, but he was deceived and led into error by the counsel of the devil; secondly, because he was clothed with flesh, for Adam as a creature was subject to change, but could not fall into complete apostasy from God, as did the devil and the demons who followed him, who did not have flesh.

St. Symeon the New Theologian, The Sin of Adam, quoted in The Lament of The Lament of Eve by Johanna Manley



In creating man God implanted in him something Divine - a certain thought, like a spark, having both light and warmth, a thought which illumines the mind and shows what is good and what bad. This is called conscience and it is a natural law. By following this law - conscience - the patriarchs and all the saints pleased God, even before the law was written. But then, through the fall, man covered up and trampled down conscience, there arose the need of written law, of the holy Prophets, of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, to uncover and raise it up, to rekindle this buried spark by the keeping of His holy commandments. St. Abba Dorotheos in Early Fathers from the Philokalia.

In his contemplation of the holiness and humility of God, man's spiritual understanding develops more quickly than does his ability to harmonize his conduct with God's word. Hence the impression that the distance separating him from God continually increases. The analogy is remote but this phenomenon is known to every genuine artist or scientist. Inspiration far outstrips the capacity to perform. It is normal for the artist to feel his objective slipping farther and farther from his grasp. And if it is thus in the field of art, it is still more so where knowledge of the unoriginate, incomprehensible Divinity is concerned. Every artist knows the torment of trying to materialize his aesthetic vision. The soul of the man of prayer is often even more dreadfully racked. The dismay that invades him when he sees himself in the grip of base passions drives him ever deeper into the core of his being. This concentration within may take the form of a cramp whereby heart, mind and body are contracted together, like a tightly clenched fist. Prayer becomes a wordless cry, and regret for the distance separating him from God turns to acute grief. Archimandrite Sophrony (His Life is Mine,Chapter 9; SVS Press pgs. 74-75):

In invoking the intercession of the saints, the Church believes that the saints, who interceded with the Lord for the peace of the world and for the stability of the holy churches of Christ while living, do not cease doing this in Christ's heavenly, Triumphant Church, and listen to our entreaties in which we invoke them, and pray to the Lord, and become bearers of the grace and mercy of the Lord.

St. Nectarios of Pentapolis, Modern Orthodox Saints, Vol. 7 by. Constantine Cavarnos



In its natural state, the human intelligence is subject to the divine intelligence and itself rules over the non-intelligent element in us. Let this order be maintained in all things, and there will be no evil among creatures nor anything which draws us towards evil. St. Maximos the Confessor (Second Century on Love no. 83)

In order than some such confusion not occur in us the reason intends the soul that possesses the mind of Christ, as the Apostle said, to use this as a leader, and by it both to be a master of its passions and to govern the body's members, so as to comply with reason. Thus, as in music there is a plectrum, so the man becoming himself a stringed instrument and devoting himself completely to the Spirit may obey in all his members and emotions, and serve the will of God. The harmonious reading of the Psalms is a figure and type of such undisturbed and calm equanimity of our thoughts. St. Athanasius, The Letter to Marcellus.

In order that He might bring and end to the mourning of Martha, the Savior of all spoke to her and addressed these divine words to her: "I exist as the light of the world and the resurrection of all from the dead; He who believes on me shall never die; It was for this end that I appeared to resurrect Adam and the descendants of Adam And on the fourth day to resurrect Lazarus taking pity, as a Merciful One, on The tears of Mary and Martha." St Romanos the Melodist - On the Raising of Lazarus II

In order that man's free will which God gave to man from the beginning might more clearly be manifested and confirmed, a great providence is at work in this matter, and the dissolution of the bodies takes place so that it is a question of man's will choosing to embrace what is good or evil. For even the man confirmed in evil, or the one completely immersed in sin and making himself a vessel of the devil by whom he is totally bound, caught up in a certain necessity, still employs free will to become a chosen vessel (Acts 9:15), a vessel of life. Similarly, on the other hand, those who are intoxicated with God, even if they are full and dominated by the Holy Spirit, still are not bound by any necessity, but they possess free will to choose and do what pleases them in this life. St. Macarius the Great, Fifty Spiritual Homilies

In order that men should esteem and love each other, should not be proud, should not be arrogant to each other, the most wise Lord has given to different men different natural and beneficial advantages, so that they may have need of each other. In this manner each one of us must involuntarily acknowledge this or that infirmity and humble himself before God and man. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

In order that men should esteem and love each other, should not be proud, should not be arrogant to each other, the most wise Lord has given to different men different natural and beneficial advantages, so that they may have need of each other. In this manner each one of us must involuntarily acknowledge this or that infirmity and humble himself before God and men. St. John of Kronstadt, My Lie in Christ.

In order that men should esteem and love each other, should not be proud, should not be arrogant to each other, the most wise Lord has given to different men different natural and beneficial advantages, so that they may have need of each other. In this manner each one of us must involuntarily acknowledge this or that infirmity and humble himself before God and men. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ.

In order that we may all learn the very bright glory That virtue has and affords, Let us hasten to introduce the subject of Joseph, if it seems right, And through our continence let us claim a life of temperance. He was sold because of the passion of envy; but he was not found in any way a slave of passion, For he has a spirit ruling like a wise general, And he controlled the passions of the flesh. For this reason he was not moved by the flattery of a woman, But in manly fashion he repulsed her flatteries. She let loose on him a storm of words So that she might overthrow the dwelling of chastity; She scattered drunkenness like rain *and offered rivers of gold. But although he was young, the noble Joseph Stood firm on the unshaken rock, For the eye that never sleeps observes all things. St Romanos the Melodist - On Joseph II.

In order that you may move your will more easily to this one desire in everything - to please God and to work for His glory alone - remind yourself often, that He has granted you many favors in the past and has shown you his love. Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare: Chapter 11)

In order to be firm in the faith, it is necessary that you lead a Christian life in accordance with that faith, that is, a life accompanied by good works. For just as the true and Holy faith began and makes firm the true and holy life, so conversely, the holy life begets and makes firm the Holy faith: the one is a constituent of the other, according to the divine Chrysostom. And we see, indeed, that those who deny the faith of Christ, or fall into evil doctrines, have prior to this become corrupt by a wicked life, full of passions and perverted. If you lead a Christian life, not only will you keep the Orthodox faith yourselves, not only will you not provoke the impious to curse the Holy Name and faith of Christ, but you will even incite those of another faith to embrace it, by seeing your good deeds, as the Lord has said: `Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father Who is in heaven' (Matt. 5:16).

St. Macarios of Corinth, Modern Orthodox Saints, Vol. 2 by Constantine Cavarnos.



In order, then, that man might not be an undying or ever-living evil, as would have been the case if sin were dominant within him, as it had sprung up in an immortal body, and was provided with immortal sustenance, God for this cause pronounced him mortal, and clothed him with mortality. For this is what was meant by the coats of skins, in order that, by the dissolution of the body, sin might be altogether destroyed from the very roots, that there might not be left even the smallest particle of root from which new shoots of sin might again burst forth. St. Methodius, Discourse on the Resurrection.

In our day too, then, we must abundantly supply the pure oil of wisdom and good works, an oil strained of every form of corruptibility: we do not want our lamps to go our in the same way `while the Bridegroom tarries.' The time of tarrying is, of course, the period before Christ's final coming, and the drowsiness and sleep of the ten virgins is their departure from this life. Midnight stands for the reign of the Antichrist, when the destroying angel will pass over the houses. And the cry that was raised, `Behold, the bridegroom cometh, go ye forth to meet him,' is the voice that will come from heaven, and the trumpet call, when all the saints with their risen bodies `shall be taken up' and walk upon the `clouds to meet the Lord.' For it is to be noticed that the Word says that after the cry all the virgins got up, meaning that after the voice is heard from heaven the dead will rise again. St. Methodius, The Symposium: A treatise on Chastity.

In patience is the assembly of all the virtues by which our souls are saved, as. St. Ephraim says: He who acquires patience touches on every virtue, for he rejoices in sorrows, is well tested in misfortunes, is glad in perils, is ready for obedience, is filled with love, gives praise when provoked, is humble when reproached, is unwavering in misfortunes. Abbot Nazarius , Little Russian Philokalia, V. II

In response to what they heard from Christ, the apostles acted with speed. At His command, they immediately had the crowd Recline in set order and in suitable fashion. The ground served them both as tables and beds. Christ had brought to Him the five loaves of bread, And straightway, lifting His eyes to the Father, He said: "I am doing Thy deeds; for I am Thy Son; For in the beginning, I created the whole world Together with Thee and the Holy Spirit; for I am The heavenly bread of immortality."

Behold how the masters, the servants of Christ, were arranged and attended The Servant, Jesus; and thy found Him at once. For the Lord blessed the five loaves of bread, Speaking to them as follows in spiritual fashion: "Grow and multiply perceptibly, And nourish now all who are assembled here." And immediately the loaves obeyed the Lord; They multiplied invisibly As Christ spoke to them, for He is The heavenly bread of immortality. St Romanos the Melodist - On the Multiplication of Loaves.



In speaking of God, when there is a question of His Essence (or Being), then `is the time to keep silence.' When, however, it is a question of His operation, a knowledge of which can come down even to us, that is the time to speak of His omnipotence by telling of His works and explaining His deeds, and to use words to this extent. In matters that go beyond this, however, the creature must not exceed the bounds of its nature, but must be content to know itself. And indeed...if the creature never comes to know itself, never understands the nature of the body, the cause of being,...how can it ever explain things which are beyond it? St. Ephrem the Syrian, in The Luminous Eye.

In teaching that in one’s spiritual life one must not disregard even the most seemingly insignificant matter, the Elder sometimes repeated, “Moscow was consumed by the flames of a tiny candle.” Elder Amvrossy of Optina

In the Book of Proverbs it says, 'Those who have no guidance fall like leaves but there is safety in much counsel.' Take a good look at this saying, brothers. Look at what Scripture is teaching us. It assures us that we should not set ourselves up as guide posts, that we should not consider ourselves sagacious, that we should not believe we can direct ourselves. We need assistance, we need guidance in addition to God's grace. No one is more wretched, no one is more easily caught unawares, that a man who has no one to guide him along the road to God.. St. Dorotheos of Gaza, Discourses and Sayings.

In the Church, the pas is contemporary, and that which is present remains so on account of the living past, since the God-man Christ Who is `the same yesterday, today and forever' (Heb. 13:8), continuously lives in His divine-human body by means of the same truth, the same holiness, the same goodness, the same life and establishes the past in the present. Thus, to a living Orthodox understanding and conscience, all the members of the Church, from the Holy Apostles to those who have recently fallen asleep, are contemporary since they continuously live in Christ. Further, today in every true Orthodox individual one can find all the Holy Apostles, Martyrs, and holy Fathers. For the Orthodox Christian these are more real than many of his contemporaries. St. Justin Popovich, Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ.

In the Gospel, our Lord says: `He that shall confess me before men, I will also confess him before my Father Who is in heaven; but he that shall deny me, I will also deny him.' If He is not to deny the man who denies Him, neither will He confess him who confesses Him; the Gospel cannot in part stand and in part fail: either both parts must hold, or both must lose their authority. If those who deny Him are not to be held guilty of a crime, neither shall those who confess Him receive the reward of virtue. But if the victory of faith receives its crown, the defeat of faithlessness must receive its punishment. Therefore, either the martyrs avail nothing, if the Gospel fails; or, if the Gospel cannot fail, then those whom the Gospel enables to become martyrs, cannot act in opposition to the Gospel. But let none, my dear brethren, let none besmirch the fair name of the martyrs, let non rob them of the glory of their crown. The strength and purity of their faith stands unimpaired: nothing can be said or done against Christ by one who whole hope and faith, whose whole strength and glory abides in Christ; those who themselves have fulfilled the commands of God, cannot instigate the bishops to act against the command of God. St. Cyprian, The Lapsed.

In the end you will become worthy of God by the fact that you do nothing unworthy of Him. "Reflections on the Eight Thoughts", 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. 113 - 114

In the face of sufferings, his whole life was crucified unto him, And by stripes was he refreshed as by savory foods. Nothing availed to gladden him except sufferings: 'I rejoice in the sufferings I have borne for you.' Who ever so rejoiced in his own afflictions as he rejoiced? I marvel at him, and tell his tale, I cannot. 'I rejoice in these sufferings for you' -- Expound unto us wherefore, that we might see why thou rejoicest! 'I fulfill that which is lacking of all the afflictons of Christ In my flesh for the Church's sake, which is His body. In the stead of Jesus, behold, I stand ready to receive with gladness Every suffering for the Church's sake. He is in Heaven and neither dieth nor suffereth; I fill up His place that I may be beated by the persecutors. He that would smite Jesus, let him come and smite me; He in whom zeal is roused against Him, let him sate his wrath in me. If there be any who would menace Him, here I stand: Let him bring against me all sufferngs that can be: I accept them. Mar Jacob, Bishop of Serugh, A Second Homily on Paul the Apostle.

In the matter of piety, poverty serves us better than wealth, and work better than idleness, especially since wealth becomes an obstacle even for those who do not devote themselves to it. Yet, when we must put aside our wrath, quench our envy, soften our anger, offer our prayers, and show a disposition which is reasonable, mild, kindly, and loving, how could poverty stand in our way? For we accomplish these things not by spending money but by making the correct choice. Almsgiving above all else requires money, but even this shine with a brighter luster when the alms are given from our poverty. The widow who paid in the two mites was poorer than any human, but she outdid them all. St. John Chrysostom, Baptismal Instructions

In the mirror of the commandments I will behold my interior face so that I may wash off the dirt on my soul and clean away the filth of my mind, lest the Holy One to Whom I am betrothed sees me and stands back from me in abhorrence. St. Ephraim the Syrian, in The Luminous Eye by Sebastian Brock.

In the parable the householder hired workers to cultivate his vineyard in the morning, and at the third, sixth, ninth, and eleventh hours. God's preachers have not ceased to preach from the beginning of the world up to its end: the morning extended from Adam to Noah, the third hour from Noah to Abraham, the sixth from Abraham to Moses, the ninth from Moses to the coming our our Lord, and the eleventh hour is from the Lord's coming to the end of the world. It was during this last period that the holy Apostles, who received a full reward even though they came late, were sent out as preachers. St. Gregory the Great, Be Friends of God.

In the same way as slumber is the commencement of sleep, one can also say of the soul, when she begins to sin, she is falling into slumber: she is lured as in sleep by sin, but she redresses and awakens herself by the remembrance of good. The more one examines oneself, the more one accuses oneself of this, in confession, as of a former fault. But if You give me to understand Your statures, I will be 'strengthened with Thy words.' Eusebius of Caesarea, quoted in The Lament of Eve by Johanna Manley.

In the same way as slumber is the commencement of sleep, one can also say of the soul, when she begins to sin, she is falling into slumber: she is lured as in sleep by sin, but she redresses and awakens herself by the remembrance of good. The more one examines oneself, the more one accuses oneself of this, in confession, as of a former fault. But if You give me to understand of Your statutes, I will be `strengthened with Thy words.'

Eusebius of Caesarea in Epilogue III of The Lament of Eve by Johanna Manley.



In these words Scripture makes us see how the one who does not perfectly those who offend him and who does not present to God a heart purified of rancor and shining with the light of reconciliation with one's neighbor will lose the grace of the blessings for which he prays. Moreover, by a just judgment, he will be delivered over to temptation and to evil in order to learn how to cleanse himself of his faults by canceling his complaints against another. He here calls `temptation' the law of sin which the first man did not bear when he came into existence, and `evil' the devil, who mingled this law of sin with human nature and who by trickery persuaded man to transfer his soul's desire from what was permitted to what was forbidden, and to be turned around to transgress the divine commandments. And the result of this transgression was the loss of incorruptibility given by grace.

St. Maximus the Confessor, Commentary on the Our Father, in Selected Writings.



In this present life, however, it is impossible for anyone to become perfect, though he may receive as it were a pledge of the blessings promised him. For just as those who have not received God's gifts should humble themselves because of their indigence, so those who have received them should likewise humble themselves, since they have received them from God, otherwise they will be condemned for their lack of gratitude. St. Peter of Damaskos, Philokalia, Vol. 3

In true Christians as in spiritual temples, God, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, abides with love. The Lord says of this, `If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode in him (Jn. 14:23). What can be more honorable and noble than that soul in which the Tri-hypostatic God abides with grace and love? It is a glorious thing for people to receive an earthly king into their house; it is incomparably more glorious to receive the Heavenly King into the house of their soul, and to have Him living therein. What also could be more blessed than that soul in which God lives as in a temple? The paradise of sweetness and joy, the Kingdom of God is in it. O blessedness! O the worthiness! O the nobility of the Christian soul! God, a Being that is without beginning, without end, supremely good, and uncreated, will to live in the holy Christian soul rather than in heaven or in any other temple. St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, Journey to Heaven.

Inasmuch, then, as the Church offers with single-mindedness, her gift is justly reckoned a pure sacrifice with God. As Pual also says to the Philippians, 'I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things that were sent from you, the odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, pleasing to God.' For it behoves us to make an oblation to God, and in all things to be found grateful to God our Maker, in a pure mind, and in faith without hypocrisy, in well-grounded hope, in fervent love, offering the first-fruits of His own created things. St. Iraeaeus, Against Heresies.

Indeed, it is clear that one who reads the books [Old Testament] utters them not as his own words, but as the words of the saints and those who are signified by them. But contrariwise, remarkably, after the prophecies about the Savior and the nations, he who recites the Psalms is uttering the rest as his own words, and each sings them as if they were written concerning him, and he accepts them and recites them not as if another were speaking, nor as if speaking about someone else. But he handles them as if he is speaking about someone else. But he handles them as if he is speaking about himself. And the things spoken are such that he lifts them up to God as himself acting and speaking them from himself. St. Athanasius the Great, The Letter to Marcellinus.

Intellectual faith does not suffice, but confession of faith with one's mouth is required as well. Since man himself is two-fold, let his sanctification be two-fold as well. For the soul is sanctified by faith, but the body is sanctified by confessing. Whosoever therefoer shall be ashamed to confess that the Crucified One is his God, of him also shall the Crucified One be ashamed. For the Lord shall judge that man to be an unworthy servant, when He comes with glory, escorted by the angels, no longer in lowly form. At the second coming He will not appear, as He did before, to be of base origin and curcumstance, an object of scorn. Since He speaks of His own glory, wishing to show that He is not vainly boasting, He says, 'There be some of them that stand here,' namely, Peter, James, and John, who shall not die until I have shown them at the Transfiguration the glory with which I shall appear at the second coming. For the Transfiguration was nothing else than a foreshadowing of the second coming, and as He appeared shining then, so will He shine at the second coming, as will also all the righteous. Bl. Theophylact, Explanation of the Holy Gospel According to St. Mark.

Is not the Father Lord? Is not the Son Lord? Is not the Spirit Lord? As each of them is also God? Of course. So then are there three Gods and Lords? What impiety! There is one God and Lord. And, sir, you must understand the same in the case of icons. Even if there are many representations, still there is only one Christ, and not many; just as the same one is Lord, and not different individuals. For just as in the former case the single appellation of 'God' and 'Lord' applies inclusively to the nature which cannot be divided into its three persons, so in the latter case the use of an identical name brings together the many representations into one form; and so your objection is invalid. St. Theodore the Studite, On The Holy Icons.

It also sometimes happens that we seek things entirely related to salvation without our eager petitions and devoted actions, and yet we do not immediately obtain what we ask. The result of our petition is postponed to some future time, as when we daily ask the Father on bended knees, saying, 'Thy kingdom come,' and nevertheless we are not going to receive the kingdom as soon as our prayer is finished, but at the proper time. It is a fact that this is often done with benevolent foresight by our Maker, sot that the desires [inspired by] our devotion may increase by deferment. When they have advanced more and more by daily growth, at length they embrace perfectly the joys we are seeking. The Venerable Bede, Homilies on the Gospels, Book 2.

It happens sometimes that in doing good to one man you suffer harm from another, so that, meeting with injustice, you may say or do something unseemly and thus lose what you have gained. This is precisely the aim of the evil demons. So pay intelligent heed to yourself. "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.

It has always been the custom, and still is, to prove the true faith in these two ways; first by the authority of the Divine Canon, and next by the tradition of the Universal Church. Not that the Canon alone does not of itself suffice for every question, but seeing that the more part, interpreting the divine words according to their own persuasion, take up various erroneous opinions, it is therefore necessary that the interpretation of divine Scripture should be ruled according to the one standard of the Church's belief, especially in those articles on which the foundations of all doctrine rest. St. Vincent of Lerins, A Commonitory.

It i death that has brought men to old age and corruption; death, therefore, has made old, that is to say, has corrupted; for that which is `made old, and is growing aged, is near corruption,' as Scripture saith; but Christ renews, in that He is the Life. For He Who in the beginning created, is able again to renew unto incorruption and life. For one may well affirm that it is the office of one and the same energy and power, to effect both the one and the other. Therefore, as the Prophet Esaias says, `He hath swallowed up death, having become mighty.' And again, `The Lord hath taken away all weeping from every countenance. He hath taken away the reproach of the people from all the earth.' By the reproach of the people he means sin, which disgraces and depraves men; and which, together with destruction, shall be slain, and sorrow and death shall perish, and the tears cease which are shed on its account. St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Commentary on the Gospel of Luke

It is God's desire that men be unequal in all externals: riches, power, status, learning, position and so forth, but He does not recommend any sort of competitiveness in this. 'Sit not down in the highest room,' commanded the Lord Jesus (Lk. 14:8). God desires that men compete in the multiplying of the inner virtues: faith, goodness, charity, love, meekness and gentleness, humility and obedience. God gave both inward and outward gifts, although He considers outward gifts as lower and of less significance than inward ones. Bp. Nikolai Velimirovich, Homilies, Vol. 2

It is a strange phenomenon that with events of a purely earthly character the word of a single bystander is often relied on even by learned historians. But when the event is on another plane the testimony of hundreds of witnesses fails to awaken the right response. Why is this? I suggest that it is less because the testimony is false and does not correspond to actual fact than because the majority of us, satisfied with the things of the flesh, feel little desire for higher knowledge." Archimandrite Sophrony (His Life is Mine, Chapter 11; SVS Press pg. 83)

It is a true saying, that the fruit of good deeds is honorable. For those who wish to lead lives pure and kundefiled as far as is possible for men, Christ iwll adorn with His gifts, and grant them an abundant recompense for all their saintly deeds, and make them partakers of His lgory. For it is impossible that He should ever lie who says: As I live, saith the Lord, those who honor Me, I will honor. St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke

It is a true saying, that the fruit of good deeds is honorable. For those who wish to lead lives pure and undefiled as far as is possible for men, Christ will adorn with His gifts, and grant them an abundant recompense for all their saintly deeds, and make them partakers of His glory. For it is impossible that |H|e should ever lie who says: `As I live,' saith the Lord, `those who honor Me, I will honor.' St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke.

It is always a good thing to devote ourselves to seeking God, as we have been commanded. For although in the present life we are unable to arrive at the limit of God's depth, yet at least by reaching in some small way His depth we would see the holier among holy things and the more spiritual among spiritual things. This is clearly indicated in the figure of the high priest who from the holy place which is more sacred than the courtyard enters into the Holy of Holies which is more sacred than the holy place. St. Maximus the Confessor, Chapters on Knowledge.

It is aptly said of our Redeemer that: 'He is going on ahead of you into Galilee. You will see Him there, as He said to you.' Galilee is interpreted, 'the passing has been completed.' In truth our Redeemer had not passed from His passion to His resurrection, from His death to life, from punishment to glory, from corruption to incorruption. After His resurrection He was first seen by His disciples in Galilee, because we will happily see the glory of His resurrection later if we now pass from vices to the height of virtue. St. Gregory the Great, Forty Gospel Homilies.

It is better to elude the passions by the recollection of the virtues than by resisting and disputing with them. For when the passions leave their place and arise for battle, they imprint on the mind images and idols, and this warfare has great force, able to weaken the mind and violently to perturb and confuse a man's thinking. But if a man acts by the first rule we have mentioned, when the passions are repulsed they leave no trace in the mind. Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian.

It is dangerous for anyone to teach who has not first been trained in the 'practical' life. For if someone who owns a ruined house receives guests there, he does them harm because of the dilapidation of his dwelling. It is the same in the case of someone who has not first built an interior dwelling; he causes loss to those who come. By words one may convert them to salvation, but by evil behaviour, one injures them. Amma Syncletica, in The Desert Christian by Benedicta Ward.

It is enough to know yourself. Glinsk elder Schema-hieromonk Andronicus Lukasha (1889-1974) (Glinsk Mosaic: Pilgrims’ Recollections of the Glinsk Hermitage, 1942-1961, Pilgrim Publishers, Moscow, 1997.)

It is fitting, moreover, to examine here how the words of Paul, `It is appointed unto men once to die' (Heb. 9:27) remain true in this case. For if Elias and Enoch were carried away to be now and always in very dense bodies, the words of the wise and holy Paul are untrue according to which all men die. But they are not false. There is a sense which applies to Enoch and Elias, although they did not participate in the death which is now common to other men, one must understand that they are dead in that material life was removed from them in a divine manner that is hidden from us. If the Savior is `firstborn from the dead' (Col. 1:18), He should also be that firstborn of Enoch and Elias, for it would be paradoxical if this principle did not apply to them; besides, if they had not been removed from material life, as we have said, they would not have participated in the divine resurrection, in which we will all receive a body, changed from dishonorable to honorable, from ignoble to glorious, from weak to strong, from earthly to spiritual (cf. Phil. 3:21). St. Didymus* the Blind, quoted in The Lament of Eve, by Johanna Manley.

It is good not to get angry, but if this should happen, the Apostle does not allow you a whole day for this passion, for he says: 'Let not the sun go down' (Eph.4:25). Will you wait till all your time is ended? Why hate the man who has grieved you? It is not he who has done the wrong, but the devil. Hate sickness but not the sick person. Amma Syncletica, in The Desert Christian.

It is impossible for someone to acquire a catholic knowledge of the spirit except by being incorporated into the life of the Church. The entire significance of the perseverance of Orthodoxy through the centuries lies exactly in the numerical identity of the Church, in her uniquely catholic, universal, and continuous existence, with an uninterrupted and continuous hierarchical succession, with the performance of the mysteries, with the communion of the faith, and by the action of the One Spirit and one grace in all of these. This is none other than the unity of the Body of Christ, the unity of the house of God, in which all who have fallen asleep in the faith and piety presently live and dwell along with all the saints and holy fathers. Fr Justin Popovich, Faith and Life in Christ

It is impossible for the mind not to be approached by thoughts, but it is in the power of every earnest man either to admit them or to reject them. As then their rising up does not entirely depend on ourselves, so the rejection or admission of them lies in our own power. But because we said that it is impossible for the mind not to be approached by thoughts, you must not lay everything to the charge of the assault, or to those spirits who strive to instill them into us, else there would not remain any free will in man, nor would efforts for our improvement be in our power; but it is, I say, to a great extent in our power to improve the character of our thoughts and to let either holy and spiritual thoughts or earthly ones grow up in our hearts. St. John Cassian, Conferences

It is impossible not to realize that there must be a being superior to earthly objects, which is invisible but gives unto to their multiplicity, and orders their existence. If such a being did not exist and did not function, in what way could there be a mutual harmonization of heavy and light bodies, of dry and wet, of round and square, of fire and frost, of sea and land, of sun and clouds? The nature of each of them is different from that of every other. A terrible discord would be inevitable! One is causing heat and the other cold, a heavy body sinks while a light one goes up, the sun give light and the clouds bring shadow... But in the universe there is no disorders, only order; no disharmony, only concord. So we need to reflect: there has always been the Lord to unite so many different elements and to make of them a complete harmony. St. Athanasius the Great, quoted in Drinking from the Hidden Fountain.

It is impossile for those who learn a craft whole-heartedly not to make daily advance in it. But some know their progress, while others by Divine providence are ignorant of it. A good banker never fails in the evening to reckon the day's profit or loss. But he cannot know this clearly unless he enters it every hour in his ledger. For the hourly account brings to light the daily account. St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent.

It is much better and more beneficial, without separating from the whole body, but as members of it, to correct each other and to correct ourselves, rather than prematurely to condemn others by one's excommunication, and thus, having destroyed trust, to later imperiously demand correction, as it is typical for despots, rather than brethren. St. Gregory the Theologian, Oration 6, On Peace

It is necessary for the following reason to pray at this hour and truly those men of holy memory who handed on the Tradition to us taught us thus: because in this hour every creature hushes for a brief moment to priase the Lord; stars and plants and waters stand still in that instant; all the hosts of the angels ministering unto Him together with the souls of the righteous praise God. Wherefore it is right for all them that believe to be careful to pray at that hour. And to this the Lord says thus, 'Behold a cry was made a midnight of them that said, 'Behold the Bridegroom has come; arise to meet Him; and He adds, saying, Watch therefore, for ye know not in what hour He comes.' St. Hippolytus of Rome, The Treatise on The Apostolic Tradition.

It is necessary to rouse the heart to pray, otherwise it will become quite dry. The attributes of prayer must be: love of God, sincerity, and simplicity. We must pray in spirit, because God is a spirit, and not flesh; with truth, and not falsely, because God is the Truth. The same may be said in regard to prayers to the saints. Do not call upon them only with the lips - for they have neither lips nor voice, nothing corporeal - but with your heart or soul burning within you. They they will hear you; for everything seeks that which is akin to it. Yes; not flesh and blood will inherit the kingdom of God, but the pure spirit burning with love to God. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ.

It is not God's foreknowledge of those who, by their free choice and zeal, will prevail which is the cause of their victory, just as, again, it is not His knowing beforehand who will fall and be vanquished which is responsible for their defeat. Instead, it is the zeal, deliberate choice, and courage of each of us which effects the victory. Our faithlessness and sloth, our irresolution and indolence, on the other hand, comprise our defeat and perdition. So, while reclining on our bed of worldly affection and love of pleasure, let us not say: `Those whom God fore-knew, them also He predestined,' without perceiving just what it is we are saying. Yes, indeed, He truly knew you beforehand as inattentive and disobedient and lazy, but this is certainly not because He ordered or foreordained it that you should have no power to repent yourself nor, if you will it, to get up and obey. St. Symeon the New Theologian, On The Mystical Life

It is not enough for a plant to be rooted in soil, but it also needs sunlight and to be irrigated by the rain, otherwise, it will not glow and will not bear fruit. Likewise, for the successful completion of our deeds, blessing from above is always needed. A person gathers all the resources for the success of his undertaking, so that by all accounts a good end seems imminent after such a good beginning. However, suddenly an unexpected change in circumstances ruins all hopes and wrenches success from his hands, as a sudden head of water ruins a strong bulwark, or as a powerful storm topples big trees. On Self-Reliance, from `A Collection of Short Homilies...' (in Russian)compiled by Priest Andrew Smirnoff, in Orthodox Life, #5, 1977.

It is not enough if you have the food, drink, and bed of John the Baptist. In order to reach perfection, you must also have his spirit. St. Isidore of Pelusium, commemorated 4 February

It is not free will but `it is the Lord Who sets the captives free' (Ps. 145:7). It is not our own virtue but `it is the Lord Who lifts up those who were laid low' (Ps. 145:8). It is not application to reading but `it is the Lord Who gives wisdom to the blind.' It is not our cautiousness but 'it is the Lord Who protects the stranger' (Ps. 145:9). It is not our endurance but 'it is the Lord Who raises or gives support to the fallen' (Ps. 144:14). St. John Cassian, The Conferences

It is not just from the passions that are of evil origin that we should distance ourselves in prayers, but also from any kind of contempt that stems from lassitude or negligence. For even if our prayer should be pure of the other bitter passions and of self-love, nevertheless if it is offered accompanied by signs of contempt or scorn it will be rejected, in that the pristine beauty of divine and reverential love is not raised up with it, to convey it eagerly and with joy to God. Martyrius, in Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual Life.

It is not possible to correct yourself rightly if you do not recognize the evil hidden in your heart and the calamities that proceed from it. An unrecognized disease remains untreated. The beginning of health is to know your disease, and the beginning of blessedness is to know your misfortune and wretchedness. For who having recognized his illness does not seek healing, and who knowing his misfortune does not seek deliverance from it? St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, Journey to Heaven.

It is not possible without temptations for a man to grow wise in spiritual warfare, to know his Provider and perceive his God, and to be secretly confirmed in his faith, save by virtue of the experience which he has gained. Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian.

It is not riches that are evil. It is instead those who hold onto wealth who deserve to be accused. For one ought not to hold onto riches, that is, to keep them in one's possession, but instread one should use them for what is necessary. For, as the saying goes, riches are for use, not for safekeeping. Those who keep their riches under lock and key are those who will find it hard to enter the kingdom of God. Understand 'hard' here to mean 'impossible.' The Explanation by Blessed Theophylact of the Holy Gospel According to St. Mark.

It is one thing to avoid sin but another matter to practice the commandments. The former is for those who have reached the first stage of impassibility; the latter for those who have struggled and lived in accordance with the Gospel. St. Symeon the New Theologian, The Practical and Theological Chapters.

It is one thing to be content with shabby clothes and have no desire for magnificent array, but a different matter to put on the light of God. They are two different things. Caught up in a myriad of desires, some have easily been negligent, but only they [put on the light] who costantly search for it through all kinds of penitence; those who become children of light and of the day through the fulfilment of the commandments. St. Symeon the New Theologian, The Practical and Theological Discourses.

It is only when we pray fervently, on then that we feel calm, warm, at ease, and bright in soul, because then we are with God and in God; but as soon as we cease thus praying, then temptations and various troubles begin. O, most blessed time of prayer! St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

It is pleasing to consider who we are who discuss these matters. Surely we come from the nations; our ancestors were worshippers of wood and stone. What then have we that we may comprehend the profound mysteries of Ezekiel the Prophet which the Hebrews even now do not understand? Then let us give thanks to the One Who fulfilled in action all that is written of Him in the Scriptures, so that the sayings which could not be understood when heard could be explained when shown forth. For there a contained His Incarnation, He Passion, His Death, His Resurrection and His Ascension. But who of us on hearing these would believe if he did not know they had happened? Therefore, as it says in St. John's Apocalypse, the Lion of the tribe of Judah opened the sealed book which not could open and read, because in His Passion and Resurrection He reveals to us all His mysteries. And in that He bore the sins of our weakness He shows to us the goodness of His power and His splendor. The Homilies of St. Gregory the Great on the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel.

It is right for us to believe, with unshaken faith, that nothing is done in this world without God. It must be admitted that everything happens either by His well or with His permission. The good is achieved with God's will and help; the opposite happens with His permission when as a punishment for our misdeeds and for the hardness of our hearts He abandons us to the devil's mastery or to the ignoble passions of our bodies. This is the very clear teaching of the apostle when he says: `This is why God has handed them over to the ignoble passions' (Rom. 1:26). `Because they did not trouble to know God, God handed them over to reprobate sensuality so that they might do what was unfitting'(Rom. 1:28). And the Lord Himself speaks through the prophet: `My people did not listen to My voice and Israel has not obeyed Me. That is why I have abandoned them to the contrivances of their own hearts and they shall walk in accordance with their own decisions' (Ps. 80:12-13). St. John Cassian, The Conferences

It is said in Proverbs, 'Those who have no direction fall like leaves; safety lies in many advisors.' Not 'in many advisors,' as if one had to consult the first person to come along, but one must tell everything to the person one trusts, and ask advice on everything. Without this, the devil has an easy turn deceiving by means of virtue itself. His trump card is one's own will. This is why Abba Poemen said, that 'one's own will is a brass wall between man and God.' Abba Poemon, Alphabetical Sayings

It is somewhere said by one of the holy prophets, 'Will the Lord God do anything without revealing the teaching thereof to His servants the prophets?' For the God of all made known to the holy prophets those things which were hereafter to take place, in order that they might previously declare them, that so they might not be disbelieved, when in due time what had been foretold arrived at its fulfillment. And those who will may see that what we have now affirmed is true, even from the present lessons. For the seventy, it says, 'returned with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject to us in Thy Name.' St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke.

It is true, therefore, that a man's life is not from his possessions, by reason his his having a superfluity: but very blessed, and of glorious hope is he who is rich towards God. And who is he? Evidently one who loveth not wealth, but virtue rather, and to whom few things are sufficient; one whose hand is open to the necessities of the indigent, comforting the sorrows of those in poverty, according to his means, and the utmost of his power. It is he who gathers in the storehouses that are above, and lays up treasures in heaven. Such a one shall find the usury of his virtue, and the recompense of his upright and blameless life; Christ shall bless him; by Whom, and with Whom, to God the Father be praise and dominion with the Holy Spirit, unto ages of ages. Amen. St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of Saint Luke.

It is true, therefore, that a man's life is not from his possessions, by reason of his having a superfluity; but very blessed, and of glorious hope is he who is rich towards God. And who is he? Evidently one who loveth not wealth, but virtue rather, and to whom few things are sufficient; one whose hand is open to the necessities of the indigent, comforting the sorrows of those in poverty, according to he means, and the utmost of his power. It is he who gathers in the storehouses that are above, and lays up treasures in heaven. Such a one shall find the usury of his virtue, and the recompense of his upright and blameless life; Christ shall bless him, to Whom, and with Whom, to God the Father be praise and dominion with the Holy Spirit, unto ages of ages. Amen. St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of Saint Luke.

It is true, therefore, that a man's life is not from his possessions, by reason of his having a superfluity; but very blessed, and of glorious hope is he who is rich towards God. And who is he? Evidently one who loveth not welath, but virtue rather, and to whom few things are sufficient; one whose hand is open to the necessities of the indigent, comforting the sorrows of those in poverty, according to his means, and the utmost of his power. It is he who gathers in the storehouses that are above, and lays up treasures in heaven. St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke.

It is truly a new spectacle, never before conceived of: a woman who surpasses the heavens in purity of nature enters the holy tabernacle of the heavenly sanctuary; a virgin, who surpasses the very nature of the Seraphim by the miracle of giving birth to God, draws near to God, the first of natures and begetter of all things; a mother, who has brought forth life itself, produces an ending of her own life to match that of her Son. It is a miracle worthy both of God and of our faith! For as her womb was not corrupted in giving birth, so her flesh did not perish in dying. What a miracle! Homily of St. Andrew of Crete in On the Dormition of Mary; Early Patristic Homilies.

It is very useful to spend time reading the word of God in solitude and to read the whole Bible with understanding. In return for this exercise alone, without the addition of any other virtuous deeds, the Lord grants man His mercy and fills him with the gift of understanding. When a man provides his soul with the word of God, then he is granted the understanding of what is good and what is evil. St. Seraphim of Sarov, in Modern Orthodox Saints, Vol. 5.

It is well said, 'And his soul within him shall mourn over himself' (Job 14:22), in that whoever desires to rejoice in himself, by this alone is later in woe, as he has gone far from the true joy. For the true joy of the soul is the Creator. Therefore, it is proper that man should ever find sorrow in himself, when, forsaking his Creator, he has sought joy in himself. St. Gregory the Great, quoted in Wisdom, Let Us Attend, by JohannaManley.

It is written, `The righteous man shall blossom like the palm tree' (Ps. 91:12). Now these words make known that the soul acquireth height, and straightness of stature, and sweetness from beautiful deeds. But there is another quality which is found in the palm, that is, a single, white heart, which is wholly suitable for work (or useful for being worked). And this must be found in the righteous man, for his heart must be single and simple, and it must be accustomed to look towards God only. Now the heart of the palm tree is also white by reason of that fire which it possesseth naturally, and all the service of the righteous man is in his heart; and the hollowness and the evenness of the tops of the leaves typify the setting up of sharpness of the soul of the righteous man against the calumniator. The Paradise of the Fathers, Vol. II

It is written: `Not everyone who says to Me: -Lord, Lord - shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of My Father' (Mt. 7:21). The will of the Father is indicated in the words: `You who love the Lord, hate evil' (Ps. 97:10). Hence we should both pray the Prayer of Jesus Christ and hate our evil thoughts. In this way we do God's will. St. Hesychios the Priest, Philokalia Vol. I.

It is, perhaps, not very difficult for the intellect to find itself in the threefold state - for itself to be, that is to say, both the guard, that which is guarded, and that which prays while it is keeping guard; but it is extremely difficult to persevere for a long time in this state that gives birth to things ineffable. For the effort involved in acquiring every other virtue is slight and altogether easy to sustain when compared with this. Hence, many, unable to endure the self-constraint needed for acquiring the virtue of prayer, do not attain a plenitude of divine gifts; but those who do persist are rewarded with greater manifestations of divine aid, which sustain, support and joyfully carry them forward. Then what is difficult to accomplish is easily achieved, for they are invested with what one might call an angelic capacity, which empowers our human nature to commune with what lies beyond it. This accords with the words of the prophet, that those who persist will grow wings and will gain new strength (cf. Isa. 40:31)." St. Gregory Palamas (On Prayer and Purity of Heart no. 2, The Philokalia Vol. 4 edited by Palmer, Sherrard and Ware; Faber and Faber pg. 344)

It must therefore belong to Jesus Christ's grace itself to grant both to us to speak without deficiency, and you to hear with discretion; for discretion is needful not to them only who speak, but also to them that hear, lest they hear one thing, and misconceive another in their mind. St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures: Lecture 16 no. 2)

It often happens that saints born of a saint retain from him birth both according to the flesh and according to the soul. In this way Abraham became the father of Isaac, Isaac of Jacob, and Jacob of Joseph; for they are descended from them in a human sense and also imitators of their virtue. Esau was begotten of Isaac only according to the flesh, since he was a stranger to him in intentions, for he became worthless. Seth, then, born to replace a just man, generates Enos: the just engendering one who is just; and the latter, instead of having a proper name of his own, is called `man.' Such a naming demonstrates the virtue of his soul which preserved that which was `in the image,' and the truly real state of man, for in Hebrew Enos signifies 'man.'

Didymus the Blind, quoted in the Prologue of The Lament of Eve by Johanna Manley.



It was in the way that God of old fashioned our mother, Eve, when He took the rib from Adam's already living side and guilt it up into the woman - for it was on account of this that He did not breathe on it, as with Adam, the breath of life; rather, with the part which He took from his flesh, He completed the whole body of the woman, and the first fruits of the Spirit already present in the living flesh He made into a living soul having indeed already created both as man at the same time - in just the same fashion, taking living flesh from the holy Theotokos and ever-Virgin Mary as a kind of leaven and first-fruit from the dough of our common nature - soul and body both - God the Maker and Fashioner united it with His own incomprehensible and unapproachable divinity. Rather, it was with our essence that He united essentially the whole substance [hypostasis] of His divinity, mingling unmingeldly the one with the Other, the human with His own, building it up into a temple consecrated to Himself. "Thus, without alteration or change, did the Creator of Adam become Himself perfect man.

St. Symeon the New Theologian, On the Mystical Life: The Ethical St. John Cassian, The Discourses, Vol. 1



It was meet that she who contained Him that fills all things and who surpasses all should outstrip all and become by her virtue superior to them in the eminence of her dignity. Those things which sufficed the most excellent among men that have lived throughout the ages in order to reach such excellency, and that which all those graced of God have separately, both angels and men, she combined, and these she alone brings to fulfillment and surpasses. And this she now has beyond all|: That she has become immortal after death and alone dwells together with her Son and God in her body. For this reason she pours forth from thence abundant grace upon those who honor her - for she is a receptacle of great graces - and she grants us even our ability to look towards her.

St. Gregory Palamas, A Homily on the Dormition of Our Supremely Pure Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary. (Orthodox Life, July-August, 1982).



It was necessary, then, that spiritual things should be made known as in a mirror and in a riddle; `For now we see by means of a mirror, but then face to face.' Now we are after the flesh, then in the Spirit we shall see the divine mysteries. Let then, the character of the true law be expressed in our manner of life, who walk in the image of God, for the shadow of the Law has now passed away. The carnal Jews had the shadow, the likeness is ours, the reality theirs who shall rise again. For we know that according to the Law there are these three, the shadow, the image or likeness, and the reality; the shadow in the Law, the image in the Gospel, the truth in the judgement. But all is Christ's, and all is in Christ, Whom now we cannot see according to the reality, but we see Him, as it were, in a kind of likeness of future things, of which we have seen the shadow in the Law. St. Ambrose of Milan, On the Belief in the Resurrection.

It was said of Abba John the Persian that when some evildoers came to harm him, he took a basin and wanted to wash their feet. But they were filled with confusion, and began to do penance. The Desert Fathers

It will be shown that God's holy Church, an image confirming to its Archetype, does God's work in us. The men, women, and children coming into the Church, reborn and recreated by her in the Spirit, are just about infinite in number; they are very different from each other in race and appearance, they are of all languages, life styles, and ages; there are great differences in their mentalities, customs, and interests, their social station, their skills and their professions; their fortunes, their characters, and their abilities are all very different, but the Church confers one and the same divine character and title equally on all: that they be, and be called, Christians; the Church bestows unity in that simple, indivisible relationship which comes from faith, and does not allow the many untold differences to stand out, even though they exist in every one. St. Maximus the Confessor, The Mystagogia

Jesus Christ, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, is an unfathomable abyss of love to men. In this abyss of mercy plenteousness of mercy for all will be found, only turn to God with faith, hope and hearty contrition for your iniquities and your offences against the Lord our Master and Benefactor. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

Jesus Who chose the fishermen, Himself also useth a net, and changeth place for place. Why? Not only that He may gain more of those who love God by His visitation; but also, as it seems to me, that He may hallow more places. To the Jews He becomes a Jew that He may gain the Jews; to them that are under the Law as under the Law, that He may redeem them that are under the Law; to the weak as weak, that He may save the weak. He is made all things to all men the He may gain all. St. Gregory the Theologian, On kthe Words of the Gospel.

Job 12:13: `If He should break down, there is none that can build again; if He should shut up a man, there is none that can open' Almighty God `breaks down' the heart of man when He forsakes it; He `builds it up" when He fills it. For Hew does not destroy man's soul by consummation of war, but by withdrawing Himself from it: when it is left to itself, it tends to nothing but its own ruin. So it commonly happens that, when the heart of the hearer, because of his sins, is not filled with Almighty God's grace, it is in vain that he is outwardly admonished by a preacher. For every mouth that speaks is as if mute, if He does not utter a voice in the heart within, He Who inspires the words that are admitted into the ears. So the Prophet says, `Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it' (Ps. 126:1). St. Gregory the Great, quoted in Wisdom, Let us Attend by Johanna Manley.

Job 19:9: `He has stripped me of my glory, and taken the crown from my head.' That all this suits the person of the blessed man set in the midst of tribulation, there can be no doubt. But since the words of the historical account are plain, they do not require explaining after the letter; therefore they have to be traced out in their mystical senses. He says, `He has stripped me of my glory,' for the glory of each individual is his righteousness. Now just as a garment protects from the cold, so does righteousness defend from death. In this way, righteousness is not improperly likened to a garment, as it is said by the Prophet: ``Let Thy priests be clothed in righteousness (Ps. 131:9). St. Gregory the Great, quoted in Wisdom, Let Us Attend, by Johanna Manley.

Job is called an 'upright' man that 'feared God' because he effectively practised true piety towards God. For he who worships God only in mere word, but in deed sets His commandments at nought, is an unjust worshpper, and he shall hear it said: 'Why callest thou Me Lord, Lord, and doest not the things which I say?" Blessed John of Karpathos, A Supplement to the Philokalia.

Just as God is unconfusedly and indivisibly worshipped in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, so in turn does man, without confusion or division, become in God a god by grace in both his soul and body. The body is not changed into soul, nor the soul transformed into divinity, nor is God confused with the soul, but God remains what He is as God, and the soul what it is by nature, and the body such as it was fashioned, of clay. He Who has paradoxically bound all these together, Who has mingled what is both intellible and immaterial with clay, unites Himself unconfudly with both of these, and I myself am in His image and likeness. St. Symeon the New Theologian, On the Mystical Life, Vol. 2.

Just as a man dies when he stops breathing, so, too, does the soul die without continuous and endless prayer. It dies because that living flesh which is beginning to be conceived by the perpetuity of the prayer falls asleep, and the passions are rejuvenated. For the enemy does not sleep, but fights continuously. And just as an infant which is conceived in its mother's womb suffocates and dies if it ceases to breathe, the same thing happens with spiritual conception if the noetic work ceases. Monastic Wisdom: The Letters of Elder Jospeh the Hesychast.

Just as a man who has been away from home, when he returns is beside himself with joy at seeing again his children and wife, embraces them and cannot talk to them enough, so the mind, when it unites with the heart, is filled with unspeakable joy and delight. Then a man sees that the kingdom of heaven is truly within us; and seeing it now in himself, he strives with pure prayer to keep it and strengthen it there... Nicephorus the Solitary (Profitable Discourse on Sobriety)

Just as an antidote for snake poison or a powerful purge is beneficial when taken in time and in case of need, it does harm if taken habitually, without necessity. It may be appropriate to dissimulate once in a while in a case of dire necessity but not to make a practice of it; and if ever the need and the occasion arise, and one acts with fear and trembling in the sight of God, he will be sheltered from transgression, since he is under constraint; otherwise he would be doing himself harm. St. Dorotheos of Gaza: Discourses and Sayings

Just as by the rays of the sun the face of the earth is unviled from the darkness of the atmosphere that enshrouds it, even so is prayer able to dissolve and scatter the clouds of passions from our soul, and make our mind transparent to the light of gladness and comfort, which, indeed, it customarily produces in our thoughts, but especially when it possesses material from the divine Scriptures and vigilance, which burnish the mind. For continual study in the writings of the saints fills the soul with incomprehensible wonder and divine gladness. The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian.

Just as faith gives substance to the things for which we hope (cf. Heb. 11:1), so moral judgment gives substance to the soul and humility to virtue. And it is extraordinary how things perfect in themselves become imperfect when deprived of the qualities that should be associated with them. Ilias the Presbyter, Philokalia, Vol. 3

Just as it is impossible to be at the same moment both a plant and a seed, so it is impossible for us to be surrounded by worldly honour and at the same time to bear heavenly fruit" Amma Syncletica

Just as long and persistent staring at the sun in its noonday brilliance will bring no good to weak eyes, so imagination about the awesome and transubstantial prayer in spirit and in truth will bring no good to a passionate and impure mind. On the contrary, the Godhead will rise against it in wrath. "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.

Just as many lamps may be lit from the same oil and from a single light, and yet often do not give out an equal radiance, so the gifts that come from different virtues reflect the light of the Holy Spirit in different ways. Or as the many inhabitants of a single city all use bread and water, though some of them are men, some infants, some children, some old people, and there is a great variety and difference among them; or as whet sown in the same field may bear dissimilar ears of corn, though they are all brought to the same threshing-floor and stored in the same barn: so it seems to me that in the resurrection of the dead different degrees of glory will be distinguished and recognized among those who are resurrected, depending on the level of virtue they have attained and the extent of their participation during this present life in the Holy Spirit that already dwells within them. This is the significance of the phrase, `Star differs from star in glory' (1Cor. 15:41). St. Macarios of Egypt, The Philokalia, Vol. III.

Just as one who comes from the darkness into the light and again returns to the darkness, so it is likewise with him who came from the darkness of sin to the light of Christ, the true Light, and returned again to that same darkness. Just as one who was freed from slavery and captivity comes to freedom and again returns to that same bitter bondage, so likewise a Christian who commits iniquity was delivered by the grace of Christ from the bitter slavery and captivity of the devil, but he returns to that misfortune. St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, Journey to Heaven

Just as the darkness does not go away unless the light is present, so the disease of the soul is not banished unless He Who takes away our infirmities comes and unites Himself with us. He is called health when He comes because He chases away every disease and infirmity of the soul and gives us back our health; and He is called light, Who transcends all light, because He illumines us; and life, Who is beyond all life, because He vivifies us. Shining around us all, and encircling and cherishing us with the glory of His divinity, He is called raiment, and so we say that we clothe ourselves with Him Who is intangible in every way and Who cannot be grasped. Uniting Himself without mingling with our souls, and making it all as light, He is said to indwell us and, uncircumscribed, become circumscribed. O the miracle! St. Symeon the New Theologian, On the Mystical Life, Vol. 2.

Just as the mountain upon which Moses received the law designates the height of the perfection that was written down in that law, so does the cloud which covered the mountain suggest the grace of divine protection, which is enjoyed more and more the higher one ascends in order to search out the wonders of God's law, as the eyes of one's heart are opened. For surely the cloud covered not only the mountain upon which Moses went up, but also the people who were travelling through the wilderness. They were by no means able to ascend to the higher regions, but the cloud sent from heaven overshadowed them nevertheless. Hence it is written that `He spread out a cloud for their protection,' since the Lord surely protects with heavenly benediction `all those who fear him, both small and great.' Venerable Bede: On the Tabernacle.

Just as the result of disobedience is sin, so the result of obedience is virtue. And just as disobedience leads to breaking the commandments and to separation from Him Who give them, so obedience leads to keeping the commandments and to union with Him Who gave them. Thus he who through obedience has kept the commandments has achieved righteousness and, moreover, he has not cut himself off from union in love with |Him Who gave them; and the opposite is equally true. St. Maximus the Confessor, Second Century on Theology, The Philokalia,Vol. 2.

Just as the simple thought of human realities does not oblige the mind to disdain the divine, so neither does the simple knowledge of divine things persuade it fully to disdain human things, for the reason that the truth exists now in shadows and figures. Hence there is a need for the blessed passion of holy love, which binds the mind to spiritual realities and persuades it to prefer the immaterial to the material and intelligible and divine things to those of sense. St. Maximus the Confessor, 400 Chapters on Love.

Just as unleavened bread was eaten in the mystery of the Pasch (which is the name of the sacrificial victim whose blood prevents the death of the one using it), even so the Law now commands us to eat unleavened bread at the Pascha (unleavened would be unmixed with stale yeast - the practice of wicked things). The Law gives us to understand by this that no remnant of evil should mix with the subsequent life. Rather we should make a totally new beginning in life after these things, breaking the continuity with evil by a radical change for the better. Thus also he means here that after we have drowned the whole Egyptian person (that is, every form of evil) in the saving baptism we emerge alone, dragging along nothing foreign in our subsequent life. This is what we hear through the history, which says that in the same water the enemy and the friend are distinguished by death and life, the enemy being destroyed and the friend given life. St. Gregory of Nyssa, The Life of Moses.

Just as we all receive of His fulness, so do we all partake of the immaculate flesh of His all-holy Mother which He assumed, and so, just as Christ our God, true God, became her son; even so we, too - O, the ineffable love for mankind! - become sons of His mother, the Theotokos, and brothers of Christ Himself, as through the all-immaculate and ineffable marriage which took place with and in her, the Son of God was born of her, and from Him in turn, all the saints. St. Symeon the New Theologian, On the Mysitical Life, Vol. I.

Just as we recognize different nations by their clothing and most people by their voice and speech, just so then do we recognize the saints by, on the one hand, their decency and attractive behavior and other outward signs; but it is their speech, on the other hand, which truly and accurately reveals their real identity. What the heart does not have, the mouth is unable to produce. If such a person should then speak, he is immediately reproved as speaking badly by his words themselves. For the Lord says, `The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good, and the evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil' (Mt. 12:35). St. Symeon the New Theologian, On the Mystical Life, Vol. 2.

Just as, for example, a mighty tree that sends its roots to great depth in the earth resists any blast of wind, whereas one that rests on the surface is dislodged with a slight breeze blowing aginst it, is uprooted and falls to the earth, so too do the prayers rising from below after sending roots to the depths remain intense and unyeilding, and they never fail even if countless distractions come to the attack, or the devil's whole battle array. Prayers that proceed from the mouth and the lips, on the contrary, and do not rise up from the depths cannot rise up to God, either, on account of the indifference of the suppliant. I mean, should any alarm arise, it would upset such people; any distraction, it would draw them away from supplication; and though their mouth gives vent, the heart is empty and the mind vacant. St. John Chrysostom, Commentary on the Psalms (Ps. 130), Vol. 2

Justice was above the world when the devil offered all the kingdoms of the world and all its glory. He was above the world Who touched nothing concerning the world, Who said: The prince of this world is coming, but in Me he shall find nothing. Learn, therefore, to be above the world even while in this world, and if you bear a body, may your interior wings soar up. He is above the world who bears God in his body. St. Ambrose of Milan, On Virginity.

Keep also in mind the Lord's command, or rather His awesome and terrible curse, as He threatens, 'Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger,' and , 'Take heed to yourselves lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares; for as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the earth.' If, after attacking through every species of sin, and havine been repulsed with the aforesaid weapons, he falls back on God's goodness and mercy, trying to persuade thee to disregard the punishments (for the enemy is shifty and resourceful, and skilled in preparing for sin our natural impulse which is prone to it), be not neglectful: thou hast again swords and shields forged by God, afforded to thee from divine Scripture, wherewith arming thyself and struggling against the enemy, thou wilt show him vanquished, and filled with every shame and dishonor; for Cain's groaning and fear, and his life worse than death, if we make them our study, have the power to shatter and rout the battle-line of his vain designs. St. Photios the Great, Homily I: The Beginning of Lent

Know that the attributes of our nature similar to those of beasts - given to them for self-preservation - can easily in us become the passions: greed, gluttony, vainglory, lust, envy, anger, and so on. And yet if reason and faith assume sway over base emotions, each passion can be transmuted to a form of virtue: anger produces courage; terror caution, bear obedience, hatred aversion from vice; and the power of love the desire for divine love and beauty. The Lament of Eve by Johanna Manley.

Knowing, therefore, that after the grace of God everything depends on us and on our zeal, let us be grateful for the gifts which have already been given, so that we may make ourselves worthy of still greater gifts. Therefore, I exhort you who have just deserved the divine gift to keep careful watch and to guard the spiritual garment bestowed on you, keeping it clean and spotless. Let those of us who received this gift in the past show a far-reaching change in our lives. It is possible, if we are willing, it is possible for us to return and go back to our former beauty and luster, if only we will do our fair share. St. John Chrysostom, Baptismal Instructions

Knowledge is good by nature, and so likewise is health, but their opposites have benefited even more than have they. In the wicked knowledge does not result in good, even though, as was said, it is good by nature. The same is true for health or wealth or joy. These are not used profitably by them. So it is, then, that their opposites are profitably, and therefore it happens that they are not evil in themselves even though they seem to be evil. St. Maximus the Confessor, Four Centuries on Love.

Learn this too, my brethren, after building the ark and gathering all the animals into it, Noah would open the ark and they would go out to graze. In the evening he would ring the bell and they would all gather into the ark. The bell that the priests ring dates from that time. The bell is a flag for the people. The priest is the preacher of the ark and the holy Church is the ark. And whatever brethren gather into the church will have their sins forgiven and will not drown from their errors. Vaporis, Father Kosmas, The Apostle of the Poor.

Let both men and women listen and learn about the just man's [Enoch] virtue, and not consider marriage to be an obstacle to pleasing God. I mean, it was to this effect that in more than one place Sacred Scripture made a point of saying that he had a son Methuselah and then pleased God, and said the same thing over again in the words, `was well-pleasing to God. after his begetting Methuselah,' in case anyone thought it was an obstacle to virtue. You see, as long as we are on our guard, neither marriage nor bringing up children nor anything else will be able to stand in the way of our being pleasing to God. ...Dearly beloved, had marriage or the raising of children been likely to prove a stumbling block on the way to virtue, the Creator of all would not have introduced marriage into our life lest it prove our undoing in difficult times and through severe problems. Since, however, family life not only offers us no obstacle to wisdom in God's eyes as long as we are prepared to be on our guard, but even brings us much encouragement and calms the tumult of our natural tendencies, not allowing the billows to surge but constantly ensuring that the barque dock safely in the harbor, consequently He granted the human race the consolation that comes from this source...

St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Genesis - in `The Lament of Eve' by Johanna Manley.



Let each one, I entreat you, brethren, confess his sin while he who has sinned is still in this world, while his confession can still be heard, while satisfacton and forgiveness granted through the priests are pleasing to God. Let us turn back to the Lord with our whole heart and, expressing our repentance in deep sorrow, implore God for His mercy. Let our souls bow before Him, let our sorrow be offered to Him in satisfaction, let our hopes all rest in Him. He Himself has told us how to ask: 'Return to me from all your heart, along with fasting and weeping and mourning, and rend your hearts and not your garments' (Joel 2:12). Let us return to the Lord with all our hearts, let us appease His anger and displeasure, by fasting, tears, and lamentations, as He Himself enjoins. St. Cyprian of Carthage, The Lapsed.

Let no man seek his own, but every man another's (I Cor. 10:24) That is the principle of the saints of God, both in times past and at the present time, from all ages to the end of the world. That is the principle of all true social structure. On that principle can be founded a human society that is the most perfect, the most pleasing to God and the happiest. It is a saving principle in every kind of difficulty that people today encounter, against which they struggle without victory and without hope. A holy soul cares for his neighbor, either close at hand or far away. He cares where the homeless will spend the night, how the hungry will be fed, with what the naked will be clothed. He cares and he prays for the salvation of his neighbors; that their hearts may be filled with love towards God, that their minds may be directed towards God, that the wicked may turn from the paths of wickedness, that the hesitant may be confirmed in the Faith, that the firm may persevere, that the departed may behold the Face of God, that the living may be written in the book of Life in the Kingdom of Light. Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic, The Prologue of Ochrid

Let no one deceive you! God is light, and to those who have entered into union with Him He imparts of His own brightness to the extent that they have been purified. When the lamp of the soul, that is, the mind, has been kindled, then it knows that a divine fire has taken hold of it and inflamed it. How great a marvel! Man is united to God spiritually and physically, since the soul is not separated from the mind, neither the body from the soul. St. Symeon the New Theologian, The Discourses.

Let no one think that he endures suffering and achieves holiness through his own powers. For God is the cause of all the good that comes to us, just as the demon that deceives our souls is the cause of all the evils. Therefore, give thanks to their Cause for whatever good acts you perform; and attribute to their instigator the evils that trouble you. St. Theodoros the Great Ascetic, Philokalia, Vol. 2

Let none 'seek what is his own, but what is another's' as the Apostle says: 'Let each one of you please his neighbor for his good unto edifying.' For the cementing of our unity cannot be firm unless we be bound by the bond of love into an inseparable solidity: because 'as in one body we have many members, but all the members have not the same office; so we being many are one body in Christ, and all of us members one of another.' The connexion of the whole body make all alke healthy, all alike beautiful; and this connexion requires the unanimity indeed of the whole body. The letters of St. Leo the Great.

Let pure faith, therefore, have this confidence, and doubt not that amid the persecutions at the hand of man and the dangers to the soul, it still has God for hits helper, knowing that, if at length it comes to a violent and unjust death, the soul on leaving the tabernacle of the body finds rest with God its upholder; let it have, moreover, perfect assurance of the requital in the thought that all evil deeds return upon the heads of those that work them. God cannot be charged with injustice, and perfect goodness is unstained by the impulses and motions of an evil will. St. Hilary of Poitiers, Homilies on the Psalms.

Let the counting of the tithing in fasting, my friends, be clear, For the seven weeks of fasting are at hand. The five days are liake the candidates for an election; In each week will be revealed those who will fast, So that there are thirty-five days on which we fast, And added to them we have The day and night fasting of the Sabbath of Easter, So that there are thirty-six and one-half days in all - A tenth of the year; Through this we possess eternal life. St Romanos the Melodist - Vol. II, On Fasting.

Let the good thief show us the confidence we can have in pardon. He was not good because he was a thief, since his cruelty led him to that. His confession of guilt made him good. Think how incomprehensible is the mercy of our all-powerful God! The thief was caught red-handed in his thievery and hanged on a cross. There he confessed his guilt, there he was forgiven, there he was found worthy to hear Jesus say to him: 'Today you will be with me in paradise.' How can we begin to describe God's great goodness! How can we begin to value it? From a criminal's punishment the thief came to the prize for virtue. St. Gregory the Great, Be Friends of God.

Let those of us who have wisely finished the course of fasting And who celebrate with love the beginning of the suffering of the Passion of the Lord, Let us all, my brothers, zealously imitate the purity of self-controlled Joseph; Let us fear the sterility of the fig tree; Let us dry up through alms-giving the sweetness of passion. In order that we may joyously anticipate the Resurrection, Let us procure like myrrh pardon from on high Because the eye that never sleeps observes all things. St Romanos the Melodist - On Joseph II.

Let us accomplish all the things that are pleasing to God: singing, prayer, reading, spiritual instruction, manual labor, and service of every kind, living in interior communion with God. St. Nilus of Sora

Let us accustom our body to virtuous and orderly habits, nourishing it with moderation. For in this way the upsurges of the soul's desiring power are more easily calmed and subdued by its sovereign aspect, the intelligence... St. Philotheos of Sinai(Texts on Watchfulness no. 15)

Let us admire the skillfulness of the method employed in making them a prey who were to make prey of the whole earth, even the holy Apostles, who, though themselves well skilled in fishing, yet fell into Christ's meshes, that they also, letting down the drag-net of the Apostolic preachings, might gather unto Him the inhabitants of the whole world. For verily He somewhere said by one of the holy prophets, `Behold I send many fishers' saith the Lord, d`and they shall hunt them as game.' By the fishers He means the holy Apostles, and by the hunters, those who successively became the rulers and teachers of the holy churches. St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke.

Let us all confess our faith in Christ, let us praise the Father and the Holy Spirit. Let us rejoice with the Mother of God; let us sing along with the choirs of angels, and let us celebrate, as the festival of festivals, the assumption of the Ever-virgin. On earth she was radiant, as the treasure and teacher of virgins; in heaven she is available to us all as our intercessor. She has free access to God, and so bestows on us spiritual gifts; she gives grace to our words, and teaches us wisdom, for she is the mother of wisdom. Theoteknos, Bishop of Livias, Encomium in `On the Dormition of Mary; Early Patristic Homilies.

Let us all honor as it meet those divine instruments of grace, and the tuneful harps of the Spirit of our God, auspicious trumpets of preaching and the thunders that sounded forth from on high most awesome things in the hearing of all mankind, and who did make known our God's glory to the end sof the world, yea, the great Trinity's three Heralds, even John, Basil and Gregory. Stichera from Great Vespers of The Three Hierarchs.

Let us all, with love, hurry to Bethany to see Christ there, weeping for His friend. He suffers as son of David; as Son of God, He redeems the whole world from all the evil of the serpent, And on the fourth day, He raised up Lazarus, taking pity on The tears of Mary and Martha. St Romanos the Melodist - On the Raising of Lazarus II

Let us also imitate and trust in God's promises, not allowing time to undermine our resolve, nor any obstacles to intervene in the meantime to weaken our determination. Trusting instead in God's power as if we already had before our eyes the revelation of the promises, let us give evidence of unalloyed faith. Extraordinarily great, you see, are the promises the Lord has made to us, too, surpassing our imagination - I mean enjoyment of the kingdom, a share in those ineffable goods, life with angels, escape from hell. On the other hand, let us never lose confidence because these things are not visible to bodily eyes; rather, let us consider the fidelity of the One promising and the greatness of His power, and thus view them with the eyes of faith and on the basis of what has already been given let us maintain sound hope in what is to come. St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Genesis, Vol. 3

Let us also ponder this: how we, who are mortal beings continually bespattered with the mud of sins, have been held worthy to stand before the King of kings, and Lord of lords who dwells in the resplendent light that none can approach, to Whose honor thousands upon thousands and myriads of myriads of angels and archangels minister as they stand before Him in fear and trembling; how He before Whom even the heavens are not pure, even though He strikes wonder in His angels, yet He condescends to speak with weak and wretched human beings who have rendered themselves unclean by sins. For He said through the prophet to the sinful people of Israel who were befouled by ugly deeds: Wash, and be cleansed; remove the foulness of your actions from My sight. Come let us speak with one another, says the Lord. Martyrius, in The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual Life

Let us be just, and acknowledge that our enemies are of great assistance to us in our spiritual development. Were there no enmity on the part of men, very, very many of those pleasing to God would not have become His friends. Even the enmity of Satan is of assistance to those who are zealous for the holy things of God and the salvation of their souls. Who was more zealous for the holy things of God, or had greater love for Christ, than the Apostle Paul? This same apostle, however, speaks of how, when God revealed many mysteries to him, He allowed the wicked demon to be with him and trouble him: 'Lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundace of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan, to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure' (2 Cor. 12:7). Bp. (St). Nikolai Velimirovich, Homilies, Vol. 2

Let us become like children. For, saith the Lord, 'Except ye turn and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.' Let us become children in guilelessness, by not inserting anything wicked or deceitful in our soul, but by receiving and inscribing the pious faith in a soul entirely clean and freed from the marks of impiety, that we may enter the kingdom of heaven. Let us bring branches of charity and fellow-love to the Lord, that we may enter the eternal joy of the righteous. Let us go forth to meet Him as He comes riding on a young ass, and is proclaiming the folly of the Jews, and is adopting the gentiles as His children. Let us go forth to meet Him spreading out our garments. How are we to spread them out? By spreading them under the poor; for He takes upon Himself the plight of the poor, and cries out, 'Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.' Oh, what merciful and divine words! You are spreading out your garments under My feet, He says, when you clothe the poor; you are cherishing Me when you release them from the bitter sting of the cold. Let us spread out our garments for Him, that we may be entitled to cry out with the children, 'Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.' The Homilies of Photios, Patriarch of Constantinople, VIII: On PalmSunday.

Let us charge into the good fight with joy and love without being afraid of our enemies. Though unseen themselves, they can look at the face of our soul, and if they see it altered by fear, they take up arms against us all the more fiercely. For the cunning creatures have observed that we are scared. So let us take up arms against them courageously. No one will fight with a resolute fighter. St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent.

Let us consider, then, brethren, of what matter we were formed, who we are, and with what nature we came into the world, and how He Who formed and created us brought us into His world from the darkness of a grave, and prepared his benefits for us before we were born. Since, therefore, we have everything from Him, we ought in everything to give Him thanks, to Whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. St. Hesychius the Presbyter

Let us contemplate with faith the mystery of the divine incarnation and in all simplicity let us simply praise Him who in His great generosity became man for us. For who, relying on the power of rational demonstration, can explain how the conception of the divine Logos took place? How was flesh generated without seed? How was there an engendering without loss of maidenhood? How did a mother after giving birth remain a virgin? How did He who was supremely perfect develop as He grew up (cf. Luke 2:52)? How was He who was pure baptized? How did He who was hungry give sustenance (cf. Matt. 4:2; 14:14-21)? How did He who was weary impart strength (cf. John 4:6)? How did He who suffered dispense healing? How did He who was dying bestow life? And, to put the most important last, how did God become man?...Faith alone can embrace these mysteries, for it is faith that makes real for us things beyond intellect and reason (cf. Heb. 11:1). St. Maximos the Confessor (First Century of Various Texts no. 13, The Philokalia Vol. 2 edited by Palmer, Sherrard and Ware; Faber and Faber pgs. 167-168)

Let us examine the feast now lavishly prepared For the prodigal who has become wise His father, who is rather to be call the Father of man, Receives him as he repents, for He is a lover of man. Rejoicing in His son's repentance, He says to the servants: `Hasten, and prepare for us a sacred dinner. Hurry, sacrifice by all means a calf That a virgin heifer has produced, For My son who was lost a while ago Has now been found. Indeed, let us rejoice; He who was dead is alive again -- he whom I received in my embrace, I, the Lord and Master of the ages. St Romanos the Melodist - On The Prodigal Son.

Let us guard our mouth constantly, set reason on it to close it, not for it to be constantly closed but for it to open apppropriately in season: there are times when silence is of more value than speech, as likewise speech more than silence. This is the reason why that most sage composer said, 'A time for keeping silence, and a time for speaking.' After all, if being open at all times was necessary, there would be no doors, while if being closed was required at all times, there would be no need of a guard. I mean, what would you guard if things were closed up? Door and guard are for this reason, however, for us to use each at the proper time. St. John Chrysostom, Commentary on the Psalms, Vol. 2.

Let us hearken, the covetous, for even to us is the word spoken. |Let us hearken also, the merciless, and the cruel, for not to others are we cruel, but to ourselves. When then thou art mindful to be revengeful, consider that against thyself art thou revengeful, not against another; that thou art binding up thine own sins, not thy neighbors. For as to thee, whatsoever thou mayest do to this man, thou doest as a man and in the present life, but God not so, but more mightily will He take vengeance on thee, and with the vengeance hereafter. St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Matthew 18.

Let us imitate the example of the righteous man who watched over his house with wisdom and was saved with his children and their wives, for even beasts and birds escaped death and were saved through obedience. Noah sent a dove out of the ark and, complying with the will of the one who sent it, it went and returned, thus condemning contemptuous men by its obedience, for a bird listened to a righteous man while men did not listen to God. All the beasts and all the living beings were saved through obedience then; and because they were such, Noah offered some of them as victims to God. Letters of St. Pachomius, Pachomian Koinonia, III.

Let us likewise deal kindly, let us persuade our adversaries of that which is to their profit, "let us worship and lament before the Lord our Maker." For we would not overthrow, but rather heal; we lay no ambush for them, but warn them as in duty bound. Kindliness often bends those whom neither force nor argument will avail to overcome. Again, our Lord cured with oil and wine the man who, going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, fell among thieves; having forborne to treat him with the harsh remedies of the Law or the sternness of Prophecy. St. Ambrose of Milan. Of the Christian Faith, Book II

Let us listen, if you please, to God our Savior Who cries out expressly to us and says, 'I have not come to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Me' (Jn. 3:17). And, wishing to show us the way of salvation, He says: 'God sent His Son into the world, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life' (3:16). Whoever therefore believes these things from his heart and is assured that Christ came not to judge but to save him, and not by his own labor or effort or sweat, but by faith alone in Him: how, tell me, should he not then love Him with all his soul and all his mind? And this especially when he hears all that He suffered Who wills to save both him and alll humanity. His descent from heaven: His entry and conception in the womb of the Virgin and Theotokos; how He became man Who is above the heavens, of equal honor and co-essential with the Father, and rules all creation with the hand of His power, Who is on high with the Father and deigned to become an infant here below in accordance with the sequence of our nature.

St. Symeon the New Theologian, The Ethical Discourses, Vol. 2: On Virtue and Christian Life.



Let us not therefore be anxious, for we shall gain nothing by it, but tormenting ourselves. For whereas He gives both when we take thought, and when we do not, and more of the two, when we do not; what dost thou gain by thine anxiety, but to exact of thyself a superfluous penalty? Since one on the point of going to a plentiful feast will not surely permit himself to take thought for food; how is he that is walking to a fountain anxious about drink.. Therefore seeing we have a supply more copious than either any fountain, or innumerable banquets made ready, the providence of God; let us not be beggars, nor little minded. St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of St. Matthew.

Let us not, then, be insensible to His loving kindness. Certainly, if He were to imitate our way of acting, we should be done for instantly. We must, therefore, prove ourselves His disciples and learn to live like Christians. Assuredly, whoever is called by a name other than this, is not of God. Hence, put away the deteriorated leaven, a leaven stale and sour, and turn to the new leaven, that is, Jesus Christ. Be salted in Him to keep any among you from being spoiled, for by your odor you will be tested. It is absurd to have Jesus Christ on the lips, and at the same time live like a Jew. No; Christianity did not believe in Judaism, but Judaism believed in Christianity, and in its bosom was assembled `everyone professing' faith in God. St. Ignatius of Antioch, [Letter] To the Magnesians.

Let us place all our hope in Him alone. And let us cast all our care on Him alone, He will deliver us from every trouble, and all our life He will support us. Let us love every man sincerely, but put our hope in none; because insofar as the Lord keeps us, all friends also respect us and no enemy can do anything to us. But when the Lord deserts us, then every friend deserts too and every enemy grows strong against us. Even more, he that relies on himself will fall a mighty fall, while he that fears the Lord will be exalted. St. Maximus the Confessor, The Ascetic Life.

Let us ponder the humility of the prayer poured out to the Father by the Lord Saviour in His passion. He was wholly without sin, but in representing our weakness He asked to be delivered from the dangers of the world. So men's rashness should blush to be so arrogant, for they gave no doubt of their guilt. Christ prayed for His enemies, and patiently accepted death, whereas we wish to avenge our injuries if attached by the comments of detractors. May He Who afforded an example grant the gift of patience, so that by following His footsteps we may be able to avoid the errors which bring death.

Cassiodorus , Explanation of the Psalms, quoted in Grace for Grace by Johanna Manley



Let us then also learn hence to consider all things secondary to the hearing of the word of God, and to deem no season unseasonable, and, though a man may even have to go into another person's house, and being a person unknown to make himself known to great men, though it be late in the day, or at any time whatever, never to neglect this traffic. Let food and baths and dinners and other things of this life have their appointed time; but let the teaching of heavenly philosophy have no separate time, let every season belong to it. For Paul saith, 'In season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort (2 Tim. 4:2); and the Prophet too saith, 'In His law will he meditate day and night' (Ps. 1:3). St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of St. John.

Let us then not be ashamed to confess our sins unto the Lord. Shame indeed there is when each makes known his sins, but that shame, as it were, ploughs his land, removed the ever-recurring brambles, prunes the thorns, and gives life to the fruits which he believed were dead. Follow him who by diligently ploughing his field, sought for eternal fruit: `Being reviled we bless, being persecuted we endure, being defames we entreat, we are made as the offscouring of the world.' If you plough after this fashion you will sow spiritual seed. Plough that you may get rid of sin and gain fruit. He ploughed so as to destroy in himself the last tendency to persecution. What more could Christ five to lead us on to the pursuit of perfection, than to convert and then give us for a teacher one who was a persecutor? St. Ambrose of Milan, Concerning Repentance.

Let us then not be ashamed to confess our sins unto the Lord. Shame indeed there is when each makes known his sins, but that shame, as it were, ploughs his land, removes the ever-recurring brambles, prunes the thorns, and gives life to the fruits which he believed were dead. Follow him who, by diligently ploughing his field, sought for eternal fruit: `Being reviled we bless, being persecuted we endure, being defamed we entreat, we are made as the offscouring of the world.' If you plough after this fashion you will sow spiritual seed. Plough that you may get rid of sin and gain fruit. He ploughed so as to destroy in himself the last tendency to persecution. What more could Christ give to lead us on to the pursuit of perfection, than to convert and then give us for a teacher one who was a persecutor? St. Ambrose of Milan, Concerning Repentance, Book II.

Let us then not be proud of nobleness of birth according to the flesh, but though we have ten thousand famous ancestors, let us use diligence ourselves to go beyond their excellences, knowing that we shall gain nothing from the diligence of others to help us in the judgment that is to come; nay, this will be the more grievous condemnation, that though born of righteous parents and having an example at home, we do not, even thus, imitate our teachers. St. John Chrysostom, Homily on the Gospel of St. John

Let us therefore purify ourselves from all defilements of the flesh and of the spirit so that we may sanctify God's name by extnguishing lust which indecently flirts with the passions, and let us by reason rein in anger which pleasures incite to a reckless fury. Thus we will welcome the kingdom of God the Father which comes through meekness. St. Maximus the Confessor, Commentary on the Our Father.

Let us toil, carrying each other`s burdens, as Christ carried our diseases in His body without flinching. If Christ is our master, then let us imitate Him and bear His injuries, lest in the age to come we be separated from our brothers who suffered afflictions. Such was also the fate of others because they wanted to give themselves not to virtues but rather to vices. St. Pachomius the Great, Letters, Pachomian Koinonia, Vol. 3.

Let us, then, cling to His blessing, and study the ways and means of securing this blessing. Let us unroll the records of antiquity. For what reason was our father Abraham blessed? Was it not that he did what was right and lived up to the truth, enabled by faith? With confidence because he knew the future, Isaac cheerfully let himself be led to the altar. Jacob was humble enough to leave his country because of his brother, and went to Laban and lived in servitude; and the twelve tribes were given to him. St. Clement of Rome, Epistle to the Corinthians

Let us, then, dearly-beloved, confess what the blessed teacher of the nations, the Apostle Paul, confessed, saying, `Faithful is the saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.' For God's mercy towards us is the more wonderful that Christ died not for the righteous nor for the holy, but for the unrighteous and wicked; and though the nature of the Godhead could not sustain the sting of death, yet at His birth He took from us that which He might offer for us. For of old He threatened our death with the power of His death, saying, by the mouth of Hosea the prophet, `O death, I will be thy death, and I will be thy destruction, O Hades.' For by dying He underwent the laws of Hades, but by rising again He broke them, and so destroyed the continuity of death as to make it temporal instead of eternal. `For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.' Sermons of St. Leo the Great.

Let us, then, not only call Him Lord, for that will not save us. For He saith, `Not every one that saith to Me, Lord, Lord, shall be saved, but he that worketh righteousness.' Wherefore, brethren, let us confess Him by our works, by loving one another, by not committing adultery, or speaking evil of one another, or cherishing envy; but being continent, compassionate, and good. We ought also to sympathize with one another and not be avaricious. by such works let us confess Him, and not by those that are of an opposite kind. And it is not fitting that we should fear men, but rather God. St. Clement of Rome, Second Homily.

Life in Christ is man's mission deified by grace. And the final, ultimate mission of watchfulness and prayer is none other than the theosis of the faithful and the indwelling of the Holy Trinity in the heart, cleansed of demons and passions. How, then, can watchfulness not be one of the most fundamental bases of true spiritual life? Themes from the Philokalia, #1 Watchfulness and Prayer, by Archimandrite Ioannikios Kotsonis.

Life in this world is like a manuscript of writings that is still in rough draft. When a man wishes of desires to do so, he can add something or subtract from it, and make changes in the writings. But the life in the world to come is like documents written on clean scrolls and sealed with the royal seal, where no addition or deletion is possible. Therefore, so long as we are found in the midst of change, let us pay heed to ourselves; and while we have power over the manuscript of our life, which we have written by our own hand, let us strive earnestly to add to it by leading a good manner of life, and let us erase from it the failings of our former life. The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian.

Like the animals who labor and sweat in a mill with their eyes blindfolded, we go about the mill of life always going through the same motions and always coming back to the same place again. I mean that round of hunger, satiety , going to bed, getting up, emptying ourselves and filling ourselves. One thing constantly follows the other, and we never stop going round in circles until we get out of the mill." St. Gregory of Nyssa.

Listen then, O you children of righteousness, to John's exhortation when he says, 'Make straight the way of the Lord'. Take away all obstacles and stumbling-blocks, that you may walk straight onward to eternal life. Make ready the vessels of the soul, cleansed by unfeigned faith, for reception of the Holy Spirit. Begin at once to wash your robes in repentance, that when called to the bride-chamber you may be found clean. For the Bridegroom invites all without distinction, because His grace is bounteous; and the cry of loud-voiced heralds assembles them all: but the same Bridegroom afterwards separates those who have come in to the figurative marriage. O may none of those whose names have now been enrolled hear the words, 'Friend, how came you in here, not having a wedding garment?' (Matt. 22:12). But may you all hear, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will set you over many things: enter you into the joy of thy Lord' (Matt. 25:12). St. Cyril of Jerusalem(Catechetical Lectures: Lecture 3 no. 2)

Listen, my progeny, to the expression my profound regred. Hear of my ingratitude, my deliberate turning away from God and His consequent withdrawal fro my soul, leaving me full of sorrow. But help me, help all of us to turn again to God. For there is hope. This surely we must believe. We know, you see, that after our great sin, God still saw extenuating circumstances and sought us in the garden. We hid in fear, but God sought us in His great love. Even in His action in expelling us and prescribing our present hard life for us, He gave us an opportunity for penance and perhaps eventual return. But this return requires great effort and cooperation with God's will. The Lament of Eve by Johanna Manley

Long ago, death took charge of the world through our ancestor Eve; but now it has engaged in combat with her blessed daughter and been beaten away, conquered by the very source from whom it had received its power. Let the race of women rejoice, then, for it has received glory in place of shame! Let Eve be gald, for she is under a curse no more, having produced in Mary a child of blessing. Let the whole of creation jump for joy, drinking the mystical flood of incorruption from that virgin spring and putting an end to its mortal thirst. These are the things we celebrate today, this is the subject of our solemn song: Mary provides it for us -- the root of Jesse who bore the flower Christ; the rod of Aaron with its sacred bud; the spiritual Paradise containing the tree of life; the meadow alive with the fragrance of virginity; the blooming vine, cultivated by God, which became the ripe grape flowing the life; the high, exalted cherubim-throne of the universal king; the home full of the glory of the Lord; the sacred veil of Christ; the bright land of sunrise. She has fallen asleep in peace and righteousness -- fallen asleep, I say, but she is not dead! She has passed on from us, yet she does not cease to protect her people. St. Theodore the Studite, On the Dormition.

Long ago, the Lover of mankind, Himself, as though to an affectionate mother, furnished man, who had been misled, With the command for fasting, as a teacher. And He handed over to its hands His life. And if man cherished it, he found his above with the angels, But if he disregarded it, he found distress and death, The harshest of prickly plants, And the tribulation of a burdensome life. But if fasting is shown to be an aid to Paradise, How much the more valuable is it That we may have eternal life. St. Romanos the Melodist, Kontakia, Vol. II, On Fasting.

Long ago, the wily one cast his weapon and wounded Adam and killed him; Indeed, he completely destroyed the weak man. But now, even if he struck the bodies of the noble men, he did not destroy their spirits. He persuaded the first-created man to fall by words, but not even by deeds, the noble ones. Bewitching the former, he made promises; he made offers to the latter: For Adam, the making of a god; for the martyrs, honor. He offers what he does not have; he suggests bestowing things not in his authority. Therefore, saints, having shattered his scheme, You gained crowns. St Romanos the Melodist - On the Forty Martyrs of Sebasteia I

Love has not arisen from earth, but is granted from heaven. St. Cassian said: `Love belongs exclusively to God, and those men who have renewed in themselves the image and the likeness of God.' Conscious love refers to the conscious person and not to a principle or an idea nor to an impersonal creation, but to personhood. Where there is no reciprocity in love there is no love. Kassiana: Lessons in Divine and Christian Love.

Love, therefore, is the foremost of all excellent achievements and the first of the commandments of the law. If ever, then, the soul reach this goal, it will be in no need of anything else; it will embrace that plenitude of things which are, whereby alone it seems in any way to preserve within itself the stamp of God's actual blessedness. For the life of the Supreme Being is love, seeing that the Beautiful is necessarily lovable to those who recognize it, and the Deity does recognize it, and so this recognition becomes love, that which He recognizes being essentially beautiful. This True Beauty the insolence of satiety cannot touch; and no satiety interrupting this continuous capacity to love the Beautiful, God's life will have its activity in life; which life is thus in itself beautiful, and is essentially of a loving disposition towards the Beautiful. St. Gregory of Nyssa, On the Soul and the Resurrection (Conversation with his sister, St. Macrina).

Make it your care to pray without ceasing, for prayer is light to the soul, and it acts as a guard to the body. Pray not just when you are standing in prayer, but also when you are moving around or doing something, and even when you are asleep, and when you are eating. When your mouth is occupied with nourishment, let your heart be occupied with prayer. While your right hand is looking after your body's needs at table, let your mind be given to praise and thanksgiving to Him Who provides for your needs. In this way your food will be blessed and hallowed in your body without your being concerned about this. Babai, Letter to Cyriacus, in The Syriac Fathers on Prayer & Spiritual Life.

Man is a creature endowed with reason and intelligence, and he has been made in the likeness of the undelifed nature of God. Thus is it said of him in the book of the creation of the world: 'to the image of God He created him' (Gen. 1:27). This creature man, then, did not possess as a property of his nature at the beginning any inclination to passion and mortality. For the pattern of the image could not have been preserved if in its imitation it had in any respect contradicted in archetype. St. Gregory of Nyssa, On Virginity (quoted in From Glory to Glory).

Man is the only being in the entire world who is extended from paradise to hell. The gamut of human thought, human reflections, human sense, and human disposition vibrates in a much greater width than the angels and Satan. It is greater than the angels because man can descend to the Devil, but, at the same time, is greater than the Devil because man can also be elevated unto God. Man, therefore, is an eternal being, whether he wants to be or not. When does the immortality of man begin? It begins from the moment of conception within the womb of his mother. And when does the paradise or the hell of man begin? It begins from the free union of man and the Divine good or diabolical evil, namely, the union of man and God, or man and Satan. What, therefore, is paradise? Paradise is the feeling of God according to the word of the Holy Fathers. If you feel God within yourself, then you have already reached paradise. The saint of our times, Saint John of Kronstadt, says, `When God is present in all of man's thoughts, in all if his desires, and in all of his intentions, through his words and through his acts, the kingdom of God has come upon him. Then man sees God everywhere in his holy thought, in his holy action, in the holy matter.' St. (Fr.) Justin Popovich, Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ.

Man restored through Christ lives with a restored nature, and a restored mind, heart and will. All these three 'measures' of the soul are raised in him by the leaven of the Holy Spirit (cf. Mt. 13:33). Ultimately these three components contain within themselves the Trinitarian heavenly love, which 'passeth understanding' (cf. Phil. 4:7). Therefore the Apostle speaks of a 'new man' in the likeness of Christ, and in the same way the great Apostle: `Old things are passed away; behold things are become new' (2 Cor. 5:17). Bp. Nikolai Velimirovic, Kassiana: Lessons in Divine and Christian Love.

Man restored through Christ lives with a restored nature, and a restored mind, heart and will. All these three 'measures' of the soul are raised in him by the leaven of the Holy Spirit. Ultimately these three components contain within themselves the trinitarian heavenly love, which 'passeth understanding.' Therefore the Apostle speaks of a 'new man' in the likeness of Christ, and in the same way the great Apostle: 'Old things are passed away; behold, things are become new' (2Cor. 5:17). Kassiana: Letters in Divine and Christian Love from works of Bp. NikolaiVelimirovich.

Man! The Creator's omnipotence, wisdom, and mercy, which were poured out upon the visible and invisible world, are ready to be bestowed, in all their infinity, upon you also, if you endeavor to be a true child of the Heavenly Father, if you fulfill His commandments to love God and your neighbor. Give yourself up, then, untiringly, and with all your might, to good works and deeds. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ.

Man, then is freed from sin through Him Who assumed the form of sin and became like us who had turned into the form of the serpent. He keeps the bites from causing death, but the beasts themselves are not destroyed. By beasts I mean desires. For although the evil of death which follows sins does not prevail against those who look to the cross, the lust of flesh against spirit has not completely ceased to exist. St. Gregory of Nyssa, The Life of Moses.

Mark how great the women's assiduity. They had followed Him, ministering to Him, and were present even to the time of the dangers. This is why they also saw all; how He cried, how He gave us the ghost; how the rocks were rent and all the rest. These women were the first to see Jesus; and the sex that was most condemned first enjoys the sight of the blessings; this sex shows its courage the most. And when the disciples had fled, these were present... St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Matthew

Matthew25,31-46The inner meaning has to do with Christ within ourselves. In every pure thought of our minds, in every noble feeling of our hearts and in every lofty aspiration of our souls towards the accomplishing of good, Christ reveals Himself within us by the power of the Holy Spirit. He calls all these pure thought, noble feelings and lofty aspirations His little, or His least, brethren. He so names them because they are in us in an insignificant minority compared with the great field of worldly dross and evil within us. If our mind hungers for God, and we feed it, we have fed Christ within us; if our heart is bare of every good and noble thing that is of God, and we cloth it, we have clothed Christ within us; if our soul is sick and imprisoned by our evil being, our evil actions, and we are mindful of it and visit it, we have visited Christ within us. In brief, if this other being within us, that once took pride of place and that represents the righteous man, is subjugated and humiliated by the evil and sinful man within us, and we give this righteous man protection, we are protecting Christ within ourselves. This righteous man within us is very, very small, and the sinner within us is a veritable Goliath. But this righteous man within us is Christ's little brother, and the sinner within us is the Goliath-like enemy of Christ. If, then, we protect the righteous man within us, if we free him, strengthen him and bring him to the light; if we raise him up above the sinner, so that he is completely dominant over the sinner and we could say with the Apostle Paul: 'I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me' (Gal. 2:20) - then we shall be called blessed, and shall hear the King's words at the Last Judgment: 'Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.' St. Nikolai Velimirovic, Homilies, Vol. I

May I be no one's enemy, and may I be the friend of that which is eternal and abides. Eusebius (260-340 AD)

Men that seem worthy of confidence, yet teach strange doctrines, must not upset you. Stand firm, like an anvil under the hammer. It is like a great athlete to take blows and yet win the fight. For God's sake above all we must endure everything, so that God, in turn, may endure us. Increase your zeal. Read the signs of the times. Look for Him Who is above all time - the Timeless, the Invisible, Who for our sake became visible, the Impassible, Who became subject to suffering on our account and for our sake endured everything. Epistles of St. Ignatius of Antioch.

Moral perfection on earth (which is imperfect) is not attained by mankind as a whole but rather by the individual believer according to the degree in which he fulfills God's commandments and the degree of h is humility. Final and complete perfection is attained in heaven in the future eternal lie for which the short terrestrial life of man serves only as a preparation just as the years spent by a youth in school serve as a preparation for his future practical activity. If the purpose of man were limited to his earthly existence, if everything came to an end for man on earth, then why should it be written: `The earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up,' (2 Pet.3:10) as the apostle Peter states? He also adds: `But according to His promise we wait for a new heaven and a new earth in which righteousness dwells." (v. 113) Without a blissful and eternal life our earthly sojourn would be worthless and incomprehensible.' Staretz Amvrosy (of Optina) by John B. Dunlop.

Moreover each preacher can be understood under the name 'gate,' because whoever opens for us the door of the Heavenly Kingdom through his speech is a gate. Thus twelve gates are described in both the Apocalypse of St. John and the last vision of this Prophet. The knowledge of Holy Writ too can be fittingly understood as a gate, which, when it opens our minds, opens the door of the Heavenly Kingdom. We can also use the name of gate for the Faith which first we touch in order to enter the building of the virtues. Thus it is here plainly added: 'And he went up the steps thereof' (40:6). For what are the steps of this gate if not the merits of the virtues?

The Homilies of St. Gregory the Great on the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel"



Moreover the surpassing excellence of the nature of the Spirit is to be learned not only from His having the same title as the Father and the Son, and sharing in their operations, but also from His being, like the Father and the Son, unapproachable in thought. For what our Lord says of the Father as being above and beyond human conception, and what He says of the Son, this same language He uses also of the Holy Spirit. `O righteous Father,' He says, `the world hath not known Thee,' meaning here by the world not the complex whole compounded of heaven and earth, but this life of ours subject to death, and exposed to innumerable vicissitudes. And when discoursing of Himself He says, `Yet a little while and the world seeth me no more, but ye see me;' again in this passage, applying the world `world' to those who being bound down by this material and carnal life, and beholding the truth by material sight alone, were ordained, through their unbelief in the resurrection, to see our Lord no more with the eyes of the heart. And He said the same concerning the Spirit. `The spirit of truth,' He says, `who in the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him, for He dwelleth with you. For the carnal man, who has never trained his mind to contemplation, but rather keeps it buried deep in the lust of the flesh, as in mud, is powerless to look up to the spiritual light of the Truth. St. Basil the Great, On the Spirit.

Mortal men, as you look upon the universe, see in it your own nature. What you see on earth in the heavens, what you behold in the sun and contemplate in the sea, apply this to yourselves and to your own nature. In the sun we have a symbol of the rise and setting of our nature. There is one path for all; there is one cycle for all in life's journey. By birth we rise, and then we are drawn back again into our connatural place. And when we come to life's setting, our light too goes below the earth with the sense faculty which perceives light What is of earth is completely resolved into its element, and so that cycle continues on and on in the same way. St. Gregory of Nyssa, From Glory to Glory.

Mortality, therefore, derived from the nature of irrational creatures, was by special dispensation made the clothing of the nature created for immortality. It enveloped its outward but no its inward part; it affected the sentient part of man, but did not touch the divine image itself. The sentient part is dissolved, but it is not destroyed. For destruction means passing into non-being, whereas dissolution means diffusion once more into those elements of the world from which the thing was constituted. When this happens, the thing has not perished even though it may elude apprehension by our senses. St. Gregory of Nyssa, Catechetical Orations

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. And God's passing refers to His leading of those who follow Him. 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 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 (Exod. 33:20), 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.

Most ready, therefore, is our heavenly Father to bestow gifts upon us: so that whosoever is denied what he asks, is himself the cause of it; for he asks, as I said, what God will not give. For God wishes us to be holy and blameless, and to advance uprightly and boldly in every good work; walking apart from every thing that defiles, and from the love of fleshly pleasure, and rejecting the anxieties of worldly pursuits... St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke

My beloved, who is worthy and blessed to suffer for Him? If you stand firm for His sake, know that you offer a small amount and receive a large amount in return. We need patience, therefore, so that by doing God's will we may attain to what He promised; for He said: `He that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved' (Matt. 24:13). St. Ephraim in Evergetinos, Book I, Vol. III.

My bother, the passions are afflictions; and so the Lord does not excommunicate us because of them, but He says: 'Call upon me in the time of affliction; and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me' (Ps. 49:15). Therefore, when beset by any kind of passion, there is nothing more useful than to call upon the Name of God. All we can do, weak as we are, is to flee for refuge to the Name of Jesus. For the passions, being demons, retreat if this Name is invoked. Sts. Barsanouphios and John in The Art of Prayer.

My brethren, a per son ought never to think on his virtues; Behold how that righteous man suffered blame for thinking on his own. He that sins, let him set his sin before his face: But if righteous, let him cast his righteousness behind his back. Regard thy sin, for if thou regard it, it will vanish: Regard not thy righteousness, let is come to an end. Forget for ever what righteousness thou mightest do, For if thou forget it the Lord will keep it safe from perishing. If thou take heed concerning thy sin, God will forget it, He will slight it and forgive it, if He see thee troubled over it. But if, once having sinned, thou shouldest forget it, The Lord will not forget it as nothing, but will require it. Mar Jacob, Bishop of Serugh, A Homily on the Pharisee and the Publican...

My brethren, my love for you overflows all bounds, and it is my supreme delight to provide you with safeguards, though it is really not I that do it, but Jesus Christ. Being in chains for His sake, I am all the more apprehensive, since I am not yet perfected. But then, your prayer will make me perfect in the sight of God, so that I may win the lot which, through mercy, has fallen to me. I take refuge in the Gospel, which to me is Jesus in the flesh, and in the Apostles, as represented by the presbytery of the Church. But let us also cherish the Prophets, because they, for their part, foreshadowed the Gospel; and they hoped in Him and waited for Him and were saved by their belief in Him; for thus they were one with Jesus Christ. O those lovable and wonderful saints! Their merits are attested by Jesus Christ, and their message is part and parcel of the Gospel of our common hope. St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Philadelphians

My child, day and night remember him who preaches God's word to you, and honor him as the Lord, for where His lordship is spoken of, there is the Lord. Seek daily contact with the saints to be refreshed by their discourses. Do not start a schism, but pacify contending parties. Be just in your judgment: make no distinction between man and man when correcting transgressions. Do not waver in your decision. The Teachings of the Twelve Apostles The Didache.

My child, man is unable to do anything on his own. He neither had, nor has, not will ever have the power to do something good, unless God overshadows him from above. Every good thought, every good movement of the intellect is due to the operation of God's grace. If you accomplished a task without your body's participation, it is your own. However, if you did it with your body, it is God's since your body is a creation of God. If you thought of something without your mind, it is yours. However, if you thought of it with your mind, it is God's, since your mind is a creation of God. Therefore, man has nothing of his own - everything begins from God and ends in God. Monastic Wisdom, The Letters of Elder Joseph the Hesychast

My fathers and brothers, I beg you instead that we strive in every way for each of us to know himself, in order that from what is our own we may learn what is beyond us. For it is impossible for a man who has not recognized himself before hand so as to be able to say with David,: `But I am a worm and no man' (Ps. 22:6); or again with Abraham: `I am but dust and ashes' (Gen. 18:27), to understand any of the divine and spiritual Scripture in a spiritual way, in a fashion worthy of the wise Spirit. Let none of you be deceived by empty and specious arguments that anyone can at all comprehend the divine mysteries of our faith without the Spirit Who initiates us into the mysteries and illumines us. Nor can anyone become even a receptacle of the Spirit's charismata without meekness and humility. It is incontestably necessary for us first of all to lay the foundation of faith securely in the depths of our souls, then through the manifold forms of virtue to erect inward piety as a kind of fortress wall, and the, the soul having been walled all around and virtue, as it were, planted within it as on a solid foundation, then indeed one must raise the roof of this edifice, the roof which is the divine knowledge of God, and so complete the whole house of the Spirit. St. Symeon the New Theologian, On the Mystical Life, Vol. 2.

My poor soul! Sigh, pray and strive to take upon you the blessed yoke of Christ, and you will live on earth in a heavenly manner. Lord, grant that I may carry the light and goodly yoke, and I shall be always at rest, peaceful, glad and joyous; and I shall taste on earth of crumbs which fall from the celestial feast, like a dog that feeds upon the crumbs which fall from the master's table. St. Philotheos of Sinai

My son, be merciful in all things, for it is written, 'Strive to be presented to God as having come through trial, like a workman who fears no shame.' Approach God as one who sows and reaps, and into your granary you will gather God's goods. Do not pray with much show, in the manner of hypocrites, but give up your whims and do what you do for God, acting thus for your own salvation. Instructions of St. Pachomius the Great, Pachomian Koinonia, Vol. 3.

My soul, consider well the searching out of the fearful Judge in your life, And remember the groans of the tax-gatherer and the tears of the harlot, As she cried out in contrition, 'Through the prayers of the saints, receive my propitiation for sin, Thou Who dost will that all men be saved.' St Romanos the Melodist - A Prayer.

Never be sure of yourself. Never make a good resolution, and never thing: Oh, yes, I'll make out all right. Never believe in your own power and strength to resist temptation of any kind, great or small. Think, on the contrary: I am sure to fall as soon as it comes upon me. Self-confidence is a dangerous confederate. The less strength you credit yourself with, the more surely you stand. Acknowledge that you are weak, completely unable to resist the slightest beckoning of the devil. Then to your astonishment you will find that he has no power over you. For if you have made the Lord your refuge you will soon be able to ensure that no evil shall befall you (Ps. 91). The only evil that can befall a Christian is sin. The Way of the Ascetics by Tito Colliander.

Nevertheless, every one should force himself to ask of the Lord to be permitted to receive and find the heavenly treasure of the Spirit, so as to be able without difficulty and with readiness to do all the commandments of the Lord blamelessly and purely, which before he could not succeed in doing, whatever force he might use. Poor and naked of the fellowship of the Spirit, how could he acquire such heavenly possessions, without any spiritual treasure or wealth? But the soul which has found the Lord, the true treasure, by seeking of the Spirit with faith and much patience, works out the fruits of the Spirit with ease, as I said before; and all righteousness and commandments of the Lord, which the Spirit has commanded, she does, in herself and by herself, purely and perfectly and blamelessly. St. Macarius the Great, Fifty Spiritual Homilies.

Next there follows: `Hear my prayer, O God, give ear unto the words of my mouth.' The obvious thing for the Prophet to say was, `O God, hear me.' But because he is speaking as the mouthpiece of Him, Who alone knew how to pray, we are given a constantly reiterated demand that prayer shall be heard. The words of St. Paul teach us that no man knows how to pray: `For we know not how to pray as we ought.' Man in his weakness, therefore, has no right to demand that his prayer shall be heard: for even the teacher of the Gentiles does not know the true object and scope of prayer, and that, after the Lord had given a model. What we are shown here is the perfect confidence of Him, Who alone sees the Father, Who alone knows the Father, Who alone can pray the whole night through - Who in the mirror of words has shown us the true image of the deepest of all mysteries in the simple words we use in prayer. St. Hilary of Poitiers, Homilies on the Psalms.

No man has been entrusted with great things without having first been tried in small ones. St. Isaac the Syrian

No man has understanding if he is not humble, and he who lacks humility is devoid of understanding. No man is humble if he is not peaceful, and he who is not peaceful is not humble. And no man is peaceful without rejoicing. In all the paths upon which men journey in this world they will find no peace, until they draw nigh to hope in God. The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian.

No man profits from regarding a sore that is not his own; He ought to care for his own, and imitate the wise. No man profits from thinking on his virtues; He rather ought utterly to forget any that have been performed, As it is written, "Forgetting those things which are behind, I reach forth unto those things which are before in the works of virtue.

If I have done any good thing, it was done yesterday; As for now, I press forward to do another, if I can. I forget yesterday's good work with yesterday, For if I think thereon, I will cease from doing good. Whatever good I might have done, I set behind me, To press forward to another good before me. Let yesterday's good be kept with yesterday's life; As for me, I live today; let every day have its due, As the sun also forgets and casts aside such seasons as are past, And hastens after those before, to overtake them. Were the sun to stand still, to reckon yesterday's course, The today's would cease from moving forward. Day by day he casts behind him the courses that have passed, And as a striver, seeks to run to those before him." Mar Jacob of Serugh, Homily on the Pharisee and the Publican.



No one should think that baptism consists only in the grace of the forgiveness of sins (which was all that John's baptism conferred) - or even only that and the grace of adoption as well. Rather we know full well that, in addition to being a source of cleansing from sins and of providing the gift of the Holy Spirit, it is also a representation of the sufferings of Christ. Paul's words which we have just heard make the point precisely: `Do you not know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized unto His death? Therefore through baptism we were buried together with him' (Rom. 6:3-4). These words were surely spoken to people who were clear in their minds that baptism provides forgiveness of sins and adoption as sons but not that it also conveys a share by imitation in the real sufferings of Christ. St. Cyril of Jerusalem, On the Christian Sacraments.

Nor is it unrealistic that the entrance into life everlasting is figured by the place situated outside the camp. For the Lord says, 'Whoever enters by me shall be saved, and will go in and go out and find pasture,' and the psalmist says, 'May the Lord keep your coming in and your going out,' - coming in, evidently, to the Church in this life, and going out into that life where pastures of eternal plenty are to be found. It is not improper, then, for us to understand that the place outside the camp is situated in that life, especially since there (in Leviticus) it is said to be a 'very clean place,' which is evidently impossible to find in this life. The very clean place outside the camp, then, is the souls of the righteous who have been carried away from this life and are rejoicing in the other life. The Venerable Bede, On the Tabernacle, Book II.

Not to all men [does it belong to philosophize about God], because it is permitted only to those who have been examined, and are passed masters in meditation, and who have been previously purified in soul and body, or at the very least are being purified. For the impure to touch the pure is, we may safely say, not safe, just as it is unsafe to fix weak eyes upon the sun's rays. St. Gregory Nazianzen (First Theological Oration no. 3)

Not to everyone, my friends, does it belong to philosophize about God; not to everyone; the subject is not so cheap and low; and I will add, not before every audience, nor at all times, nor on all points; but on certain occasions, and before certain persons, and within certain limits. St. Gregory Nazianzen (The First Theological Oration no. 3)

Not to have envy, not to be angry, not to hold a grudge against him who offends your, is not for all that to bear the man charity [love]. For it can be that a man, not yet loving, does not return evil for evil, because of the commandment; nevertheless he does not yet do good for evil, spontaneously. Purposely to do good to those who hate you belongs to perfect spiritual love alone. St. Maximus the Confessor, The Ascetic Life and Four Centuries onCharity.

Nothing and nobody can force your will or steal victory from your hands and overthrow you against your will, no matter how obdurate and bitter the war waged in you by the enemies of your salvation. God endowed our free will with such power, that even if all a man's faculties, the whole world and all the demons rose in arms against him and attacked him, they could not compel it. It is always left free to desire what they offer or demand, if it so wishes, or not to desire it, if it does not wish. On the other hand, for this very reason his will bears the responsibility for everything and is subject to judgment. Remember this well: no matter how weak and exhausted you may feel, you cannot find excuses for inclining towards a passionate suggestion. Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare: Chapter 14)

Nothing done in humility for the sake of God is bad. But things and pursuits differ. Everything not strictly necessary is a hindrance to salvation - everything, that is to say, that does not contribute to the soul's salvation or to the body's life. For it is not food, but gluttony, that is bad; not money, but attachment to it; not speech, but idle talk; not the world's delights, but dissipation; not love of one's family, but the neglect of God that such love may produce; not the clothes worn only for covering and protection from cold and heat, but those that are excessive and costly; not houses that also protect us from heat and cold, as well as anything human or animal that might harm us, but houses with two or three floors, large and expensive;...not friendship, but the having of friends who are of no benefit to one's soul; not woman, but unchastity; not wealth but avarice; not wine but drunkenness; not anger used in accordance with nature for the chastisement of sin, but its use against one's fellow-men. St. Peter of Damaskos (Book 1: A Treasury of Divine Knowledge, The Philokalia Vol. 3 pg. 156)

Nothing done in humility for the sake of God is bad. But things and pursuits differ. Everything not strictly necessary is a hindrance to salvation - everything, that is to say, that does not contribute to the soul's salvation or to the body's life. For it is not food, but gluttony, that is bad; not money, but attachment to it; not speech, but idle talk; not the world's delights, but dissipation; not love of one's family, but the neglect of God that such love may produce; not the clothes worn only for covering and protection from cold and heat, but those that are excessive and costly; not the houses that also protect us from heat and cold, as well as from anything human or animal that might harm us, but houses with two or three floors, large and expensive; not owning something, but owning it when it has no vital use for us. St. Peter of Damascus, Philokalia, Vol. 3.

Nothing equals or excels God's mercies. Therefore, he who despairs is committing suicide. A sign of true repentance is the acknowledgment that we deserve all the afflictions, visible and invisible, that come upon us, and ever greater ones. Moses, after seeing God in the bush, returned again to Egypt, that is, to darkness and to the brick-making of Pharaoh, who was symbolical of the spiritual Pharaoh. But he went back again to the bush, and not only to the bush, but also up the mountain. Whoever has known divine vision will never despair of himself. Job became a beggar, but he became twice as rich again. St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent.

Nothing renders the soul even of zealous strugglers weaker, more negligent and senseless than self-love, the nourisher of passions. Teaching men to prefer bodily ease to labors for the sake of virtue, and to esteem it provident good sense not to burden oneself with work voluntarily, self-love is wont to deprive the soul of willingness and zeal in its progress on the path of silence, by urging it to undertake only the lightest and easiest work in keeping commandments, and thus produces in it a strong and overpowering laziness for action.

St. Gregory of Sinai, Writings from the Philokalia on the the Prayer of the Heart.



Nothing so defiles and so makes impure the pure work of the hands of God as when someone begins to deify it and worship it like God, who created the universe...The Son of God and God came down to earth so as to recreate man...to give life to him who had become dead, and to call him from deception and error. St. Symeon the New Theologian. The Sin of Adam, Homily 45, 2. B#76, p. 70

Nothing whatever is more profitable for the soul which has chosen to study God's law day and night than searching the divine scriptures. The meaning of the Holy Spirit's grace is hidden in them. It fills a man's spiritual perception with every pleasure, lifts it entirely from earthly things and the lowliness of what is visible, and makes it both angelic in form and a sharer of what is visible, and makes it both angelic in form and a sharer in the angel's very life. But let us take a look at what the divine Apostle talks about with us every day, and let us examine some of his God-inspired words carefully, so that we may be enriched with the wealth that is stored up in them and nourished by them with the grace of the Spirit unto the unfailing gladness and enjoyment of our souls. What is it, then, which we are to interpret? That which Paul urges on us when he says: `Redeeming the time, because the days are evil." St. Symeon the New Theologian, On the Mystical Life, Vol. 2.

Now God shows clearly in the case of Adam and Abraham that He does not know sinners, but does know believers. For it was said to Adam when he had sinned: `Adam, where art thou?' Not because God knew not that the man whom He still had in the garden was there still, but to show, by his being asked where he was, that he was unworthy of God's knowledge by the fact of having sinned. But Abraham, after being for a long time unknown - the word of God came to him when he was seventy years of age - was, upon his proving himself faithful to the Lord, admitted to intimacy with God by the following act of high condescension: `Now I know that thou fearest the Lord thy God, and for My sake thou hast not spared thy dearly loved son.' St. Hilary of Poitiers, Homilies on the Psalms.

Now He commanded men to be poor in spirit, and such He calleth blessed and worthy of the kingdom of heaven. Again He chargeth us to mourn in the present life, that we may obtain comfort hereafter, and to be meek, and to be ever hungering and thirsting after righteousness: to be merciful, and ready to distribute, pititful and compassionate, pure in heart, abstaining from all defilement of flesh and spirit, peacemakers with our neighbors and with our own souls, by bringing the worse into subjection to the better, and that by a just decision making peace in that continual warfare betwixt the twain; also to endure all persecution and tribulation and reviling, inflicted upon us for righteousness' sake in defence of His name, that we may obtain everlasting felicity in the glorious distribution of His rewards. St. John Damascene, Barlaam and Ioasaph

Now I say that one must first consider what exactly is beatitude. Beatitude, in my opinion, is a possession of all things held to be good, from which nothing is absent that a good desire may want. Perhaps the meaning of beatitude may become clearer to us if it is compared with is opposite. Now the opposite of beatitde is misery. Misery means being afflicted unwillingly with painful sufferings. The condition of either is therefore diametrically opposed to the other. For it is natural that the man who is called blessed should thoroughly relish the things that are set before him for his enjoyment; whereas it behoves the man who is deemed unhappy to be sorely grieved by his present condition. Now the one thing truly blessed is the Divinity Itself. Whatever else we may suppose It to be, this pure life, the ineffable and incomprehensible good, is beatitude. It is beatitude, this inexpressible beauty which is very grace, wisdom, and power; this true light that is the fount of all goodness, mighty above all else; the one thing lovable which is always the same, rejoicing without end in infinite happiness. St. Gregory of Nyssa, The Beatitudes.

Now Jesus goes into Judaea, in His body; For in His divinity He cares for and occupies The whole world and even those from out of the earth like the miserable locusts. He Who fills the universe arrived, then, arrived in Bethany to accomplish His divine work. When Hades heard the sound of His footsteps He whispered to Death: `What are those feet, O Death Which march over my head? Probably Jesus is coming; and again He has come to exact

payment from us. Just as formerly the son of the widow escaped in So now it is Lazarus. He will be resurrected and he will rise up Saying, `Thou art the Life and the Resurrection. The Kontakia of Romanos, On the Raising of Lazarus I.



Now it is believed, and rightly so, that all mankind will be presented before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each may receive the things according as he has done in the body, whether good or bad. Therefore I may perhaps say something bold: If what is ineffable and invisible be capable of being apprehended by thought, then one can even now perceive the blessed reward of the merciful. For the gratitude of souls who have received kindness towards those who have shown them mercy surely remains beyond this life in life eternal. What then is likely to happen in the hour of reckoning, when those who have received kindness will recognize their benefactor? What will his soul feel when grateful voices joyfully acclaim him before the God of all creation? Will he need any other beatitude added, who in so great a theatre is applauded for all that is best? For the Word of the Gospel teaches that those who have received benefits will be present at the King's Judgement on the just and on sinners. He shows it to both, pointing as it were with a finger at the things above - `As long as you did it to one of these my least brethren...' By saying these He indicates the presence of those to whom good had been done. St. Gregory of Nyssa, On the Beatitudes

Now let us say how Saint Luke encompassed the eighty blessings in the four. And, indeed, we know that there are four cardinal virtues: temperance, justice, prudence and fortitude. He who is poor in spirit is not greed; he who weeps is not proud, but is meek and tranquil; he who mourns is humble; he who is just does not deny what he knows is given jointly to all for us; he who is merciful confers of his own; he who bestows his own does not seek another's, nor does he contrive a trap for his neighbor. Then, the virtues are interwoven and interlinked, so that he who has one may be seen to have several, and a single virtue befits the Saints; but where virtue abounds, the reward too abounds. St. Ambrose of Milan, Exposition of the Holy Gospel According to Saint Luke.

Now that external beauty which we meet during our life on earth may appear in inanimate matter or in living bodies through a certain fine coloring. Here our senses are quite adequate in admiring and absorbing this beauty, and in communicating it to others by expressing it in language, using the descriptive power of words as a kind of picture. And yet the archetype of this beauty escapes our comprehension. For how can words possibly find any mode of description which could make it visible? One may not appeal to color or shape or size, or the proportions of form, or any other trivial detail of that sort. Since this beauty is without form or shape, and is alien to any material quality or to anything that we observe in connection with bodies by sense perception, how could anyone come to know it by any of those qualities which can be perceived by the senses? St. Gregory of Nyssa, From Glory to Glory

Now the Spirit is not brought into intimate associating with the soul by local approximation. How indeed could there be a corporeal approach to the incorporeal? *this association results from the withdrawal of the passions which, coming afterwards gradually on the soul from its friendship to the flesh, have alienated it from the close relationship with God. Only then after a man is purified from the shame whose strain he took through his wickedness, and has come back again to his natural beauty, and as it were cleaning the Royal Image and restoring its ancient form, only thus is it possible for him to draw near to the Paraclete. And He, like the sun, will by then aid of thy purified eye show thee in Himself the image of the invisible, and in the blessed spectacle of the image thou shalt behold the unspeakable beauty of the archetype. St. Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit.

Now the divine nature, as it is in itself, according to its essence, transcends every act of comprehensive knowledge and it cannot be approached or attained by our speculation. Men have never discovered a faculty to comprehend the incomprehensible; nor have we ever been able to devise an intellectual technique for grasping the inconceivable. For this reason the great Apostle calls God's ways unsearchable (Rom. 11:33), teaching us by this that the way that leads to the knowledge of the divine nature is inaccessible to our reason; and hence none of those who have lived before us has given us the slightest hint of comprehension suggesting that we might know that which in itself is above all knowledge. St. Gregory of Nyssa, From Glory to Glory.

Now the divine nature, as it is in itself, according to its essence, transcends every act of comprehensive knowledge, and it cannot be approached or attained by our speculation. Men have never discovered a faculty to comprehend the incomprehensible; now have we ever been able to devise an intellectual technique for grasping the inconceivable. For this reason the great Apostle calls God's ways `unsearchable' (Rom. 11:33), teaching us by this that the way that leads to the knowledge of the divine nature is inaccessible to our reason; and hence none of those who have lived before us has given us the slightest hint of comprehension suggesting that we might know that which in itself is above all knowledge. St. Gregory of Nyssa, On the Beatitudes. Quoted in From Glory to Glory.

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 dame 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 being 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. If therefore we prepare to say to God: Thy Will be done also in me, it is absolutely necessary first to renounce what was contrary to the Divine Will and to give full account of it in confession. St. Gregory of Nyssa, The Lord's Prayer

Now the removal of what is foreign is a return to what is connatural and fitting; and this we can only achieve by becoming what we once were in the beginning when we were created. Yet to achieve this likeness to God is not within our power nor within any human capacity. It is a gift of God's bounty, for He directly bestowed this divine likeness on our human nature at its creation. By our human efforts we can merely clear away the accumulated filth of sin and thus allow the hidden beauty of the soul to shine forth. St. Gregory of Nyssa, From Glory to Glory.

Now there is no need to tell of the loving-kindness of Christ, bathed as it is in peace. But we must learn from it to cease from strife within ourselves, against each other and against the angels. We must work together and with the angels to do the things of God, and we must do so in accordance with the Providence of Jesus 'Who works all things in all,' making that Peace which is ineffable and was foreordained from eternity, reconciling us to himself and in Himself to the Father. St. Dionysius the Areopagite, The Divine Names (from The Complete Works).

Now we have said that the Synagogue could be denoted by the tabernacle which Moses and the children of Israel built in the desert, but the Church of the gentiles by the temple which Solomon and the children of Israel erected with the help of the proselytes and gentiles. The worship and religion of the tabernacle lasted four hundred and eighty years and then work began on the building of the temple because the writing of the Old Testament overflows with such perfection that, if one understands it properly, it contains in itslef all the mysteries of the New Testament. Besides, a great many of the patriarchs of the Old Testament attained such a peak of perfection by the way they lived that they are not in any way to be considered inferior to the apostles or apostolic men. The Venerable Bede, On the Temple.

Now what is the meaning of 'in the cause of truth, gentleness and righteousness?' He had mentoned war, he had mentioned maneuvers, he had used the warrior as example; now he refers also to the achievements of God's kingdom, he refers to the form of the trophy, he refers to the nature of the victory. All other people, you see, exercise royal power by making war so as to gain cities or wealth, or because of enmities or vainglory. God, by contrast, acts not for any of these things but for the sake of truth, to plant it on earth, and for the sake of gentleness, to make those who are more savage than wild beasts become gentle; and for the sake of righteousness, to make those who are in thrall to lawlessness become righteous, firstly from grace, and secondly from good deeds. St. John Chrysostom, Commentary on the Psalms, Vol. I.

Now when God was about to fashion man out of the visible and invisible creation in His own image and likeness to reign as king and ruler over all the earth and all that it contains, He first made for him, so to speak, a kingdom in which he should live a life of happiness and prosperity. And this is the divine paradise, planted in Eden by the hands of God, a very storehouse of joy and gladness of heart (for "Eden" means luxuriousness). Its site is higher in the East than all the earth: it is temperate and the air that surrounds it is the rarest and purest. St. John of Damascus, Exposition of the Orthodox Faith

Now who are they that allow their foot to slip? Those venturing into slippery matters, with no firm footing, such as the love of possessions, such as the longing for things of this life. That is the reason they constantly trip and fall, and expose themselves to the utmost risk. Those things, you see, are never firm, never immovable, but ever shifting and changing, and more in turmoil than the billows, in more rapid motion than the torrents of the river, and more unstable and fluid even than the sand itself. 'Lo, He Who guards Israel will neither slumber or sleep' (v. 4), that is, He will not abandon, nor betray, nor leave it naked and deserted. Wishing to suggest this he did not say simply, 'He Who guards Israel'; on the contrary, what he means is, if this has been His unfailing role, keeping you in safety from the beginning with your ancestors, He will not abandon His role nor cease doing what is habitual with Him on condition that you do not allow your foot to slip. Not only will He not abandon you, but He will also defend you with great security. St. John Chrysostom, Commentary on the Psalms, Vol. 2. (Psalm 121)

Now, as all things have an end, and those two issues, death and life, are set before us at one and the same time, so each man is bound to go to his own place. It is the same as with two coinages, the one of God, the other of the world, and each of them has its own stamp impressed upon it: the unbelievers bear the stamp of this world, while the believers, animated by love, bear the stamp of God the Father through Jesus Christ, whose life is not in us unless we are ready of our own accord to die in order to share in His Passion. St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Magnesians.

Now, nothing so moves us to give ourselves to virtue as constantly conversing with God and ceaselessly giving thanks and praise to God. The prson who praises God, however, is one struck by His righteous judging, his long-suffering. St. John Chrysostom, Commentary on the Psalms, Vol. I.

Now, that the dead benefit from the offerings made by the living, It seems to me that this need not even be asked. But if any insist on questioning that which is manifest, It is easy for him to heart the truth from instruction. Judas Maccabaeus, the righteous general, Showed himself more wise when he offered up sacrifice for the dead. The great faith of the heroic man wrought its own, And his victory bore witness to the great profit that came of his sacrifices. That the dead profited from the oblation of that discerning man, His battle with the Greeks openly proclaims. Wise was he, and a mighty man of godly strength, A man of understanding and of great faith, and full of zeal. So for the sake of the dead he made sacrifices and absolved them, That the world might learn of his beloved deed and imitate it. And if when death yet lived, and was empowered, and had his diadem, Sacrifices were able to absolve the dead under his power, Now that he is slain, and his place overturned, and his diadem taken away, Who could henceforth doubt that the dead receive absolution? Judas was able by offering the Lord the blood of beasts To reconcile the dead with Him, and cleanse them that had been defiled. The Church today absolves the dead not through perishable sacrifices, But in the Blood of Him that is immortal. And if that common sacrifice of Judas' wrought absolutions, The great slaughter of the Son of God, how much more will it even purify all. Mar Jacob, Bishop of Serugh, On the Reposed.

O Lord, Thou hast stretched out Thine hands of Thine own will upon the Cross: fill us with Thy light through fasting and through prayer, through abstinence and works of charity; and count us worthy to adore Thy Cross with contrite hearts, for Thou art good and Thou lovest mankind. Stichera of Vespers, Sunday Evening of Third Sunday of Great Lent.

O Lord, Thy heralds, secure and inspired, And the choicest of them, Thy disciples, Thou didst claim for the refreshment and enjoyment of Thy blessings; Thou didst approve their sufferings and death As beyond all burnt offerings, Thou Who alone dost know what is in the heart.

Thou Who hast given fishermen wisdom beyond that of orators, And hast sent them forth over all the earth, By Thy ineffable wisdom, O Christ, God, Through them strengthen Thy church, And send Thy blessing on the faithful, Thou Who alone dost know what is in the heart. St Romanos the Melodist - Prooimia of `On the Mission of the Apostles.'



O Lord, while the grave was sealed by the lawless, Thou camest forth from the tomb even as Thou wast born of the Theotokos. Thy bodiless Angels knew not how Thou becamest incarnate; the soldiers who guarded Thee did not perceive when Thou didst arise: for both these things were kept hidden from those that inquired, but the wonders were made manifest unto those who worship the mystery with faith. Do Thou grant unto us who praise it joy and great mercy.

Stichera from Praises of Matins of Thursday of Bright Week (in the Pentecostarion).



O Paradise planted anew by Christ our God! O new mystery and dreadful wonder! There, Adam and Eve lived avowedly among trees which were physical and visible. Both the tree of knowledge and the tree of life were different from each other. But here, the new Adam becomes all things at once for those who believe, both food and a knowledge which does not lead to death nor banish us from the tree of life, but rather which teaches us with what words the serpent out instead to have been answered: `Get behind me, Satan!' He said, together with the rest. Nor is this all, but that knowledge leads us to the Life which, again, is He Himself. St. Symeon the New Theologian, On the Mystical Life

O Paradise planted anew by Christ our God! O new mystery and dreadful wonders! There, Adam and Eve lived avowedly among trees which were physical and visible. Both the tree of knowledge and the tree of life were different from each other. But here, the new Adam becomes all things at once for those who believe, both food and a knowledge which does not lead to death nor banish us from the tree of life, but rather which teaches us with what words the serpent ought instead to have been answered: `Get behind me, Satan!' He said (Mt.4:10ff*.), together with the rest. Nor is this all, but that knowledge leads us to the Life which, again, is He Himself. St. Symeon the New Theologian, On The Mystical Life, Vol. I.

O Savior o fall men, especially of those who have faith, Because Thou was crucified of Thy own will, and wast put to death voluntarily, The lawless say not of their will Were the limbs of the robbers broken, But Thine, they did not break, in order that they might learn That Thou didst not come among the dead against Thy will, But willingly Thou didst give up Thy spirit, Thou Who art everywhere and fillest all things. St Romanos the Melodist - On the Crucifixion

O Savior, Thou west not separated from Thy disciples when Thou didst journey to Heaven. Indeed Thou art the first to contain what is above and what is below, Because, O Infinite One, no place is apart from Thee; And even if there be such a place, it is destroyed, and disappears as Sodom did. For Thou has established the universe, fulfilling all things. The apostles possessed Thee in their hearts; Hence, when Thou didst formerly ascend from the Mount of Olives, They returned home rejoicing, praying and singing praise To the All-Holy Spirit. St Romanos the Melodist - On Pentecost.

O Thou, good, and lover of man, Whou Who hast of old received the offerings of Abel And of other righteous men, To Whom, all-holy One wilt Thou present the sacrifices and burnt offerings? Since I know that there is no greater one, O Lord, not to be apprehended with mere reason, For Thy Father in no way surpasses Thee in substance, Thou art consubstantial and coeternal. But in order that Thou mayst reveal that Thou art in truth what Thou hast become, As protector to Thy own law, Thou hast presented the sacrifice, Thou, the only fried of man. St Romanos the Melodist - On the Presentation in the Temple.

O good child of Anna, how shall I hymn you, how praise you, Since you were born as a holy temple? Joachim on the mountain prayed to receive fruit from the womb of Anna; And the prayer of the holy man was accepted. After the pregnancy, bliss, Joy in the world. The barren woman gives birth to the Mother of God, And the nurse of our life. The Kontakia of Romanos, On the Nativity of the Virgin Mary.

O heavenly grandeur! O glory and honor of man! He is humble clay, but he is also divine breath! A time will come when he will change. 'For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.' The words of our Creator shall be fulfilled. But what will happen to the divine inbreathing, the divine breath? Just as the dust will return to the dust, likewise the soul, which is the inbreathing of God, will return to God. Yes, but how? When it came forth from God, it was a fragrant divine breath, but is it so now? No, it is not. So, what will happen? Purification is necessary - tears, mourning, pain. For you have saddened God, your Benefactor and Father, Who is so good, Who glorified you - the clay - so much, Who gave you His divine breath. These deeds of repentance will purify you by His grace. So then, weep and mourn so that He may restore you to your original state. Monastic Wisdom: The Letters of Elder Joseph the Hesychast

O how good is charity, which through love exhibits absent things in an image to one's self as though they were present, unites things divided, sets in order things confused, associates things unequal, consummates things imperfect! How rightly the excellent preacher calls it the bond of perfectness, since the other virtues indeed produce perfectness, but yet charity so binds them that they cannot now be unloosed from the mind of him that loves. St. Gregory the Great

O man! Be heedful to your soul, because there is only one in you, and there is only one time for your life, and the end is unknown, which is death and the spaces of the air are impenetrable and filled with your enemies. There will not be then another helper but good deeds. Pay heed to yourself so you will not be repenting for endless ages. Pray ceaselessly, and spend day after day in heedfulness unto the salvation of your soul. St. Paisius Velichkovsky, Little Russian Philokalia, Vol. IV.

O righteous man, what sayest thou in thy prayer? This speech thou speakest is not the speech of prayer! Thou Pharisee! He that prays does not thus, Nor dares recount his good works before Him that knoweth all! To thyself thou givest praise to thy Lord thou givest none; It is of thyself now that thou art diligent to tell thy virtues. No so the prayer that weaves her plea before God, But with grief she asks for mercy from the Judge. Not so the soul that stands before God; But, bowed over, she trembles with dread, being full of awe. How, and to what end, art thou come to pray? For behold, thou prayest not, but praisest thine own virtues. If thou hast no need to receive aught from God, There be those that be in heed: what askest thou nothing for sinner? If thy soul need not ask for an increase of virtue, There be those that are in need: pray for them, like a man of virtue.

A Homily On the Pharisee and the publican... by Mar Jacob, Bishop of Serugh.



O son of a priest and child of a sterile prophetess, John, creature of the desert, when we remember your fasting Give us strength that we may fast, Let us become imitators of you, indeed to the extent in which each of us has the strength, For the stomach is not the master of any one of us, But we are always in control of the stomach, According to Paul: 'Food is for the stomach, And the stomach is for food,' We are Christ's. As He fasted voluntarily, He took away from us The ancient hunger that Adam felt as a craving For temporary pleasure. St Romanos the Melodist - On the Beheading of John the Baptist.

O wise enigmas! O wise characteristics! In the faith of the holy woman is pictured All the features of the church in true colors which do not grow old; For the way in which the woman denied a husband when she had many, Is just the way the church denied many gods, like husbands, And left them and became betrothed to one Master in coming forth from the water. She had five husbands and the sixth she did not have; and leaving the five Husbands of impiety, she now takes Thee, as the sixth, as she comes From the water, Exceeding great joy and redemption. St Romanos the Melodist - On the Woman of Samaria

O ye bitten by Satan, look upon Christ; For this was He lifted up, that ye might gaze on Him and be healed by Him. O ye throughout whose members the hidden gall hath spread, By the sight of the Cross of light ye are restored to health. O ye slain by the bites of wicked demons, Lift up your eyes, look, and be healed, if ye will. O thou that are bitten in soul by iniquity, doubt not; Look on the Cross, and it will swiftly heal thy soul. Sins have torn thee like the bites of serpents: If thou gaze not on the Slain One, thou wilt not be healed. As Moses lifted the serpent, thy Lord was lifted up: Look on Him, O man, and the wound that pains thee will take to flight.

Mar Jacob, Bishop of Serugh, On the Serpent of Brass that Moses Lifted up in the Desert.



O ye that have prudence, that know the mysteries of faith, Make oblations for your departed without misgiving. The customs that the Church hath taught her sons, why have they waned, And faded, and become rare among most men, and are not practiced? It is with scorn, and disregard, and as something mean, That the loaf is brought to the house of God to be presented. Many there be that have left off altogether and never bring it, And some that, while they bring it, bring it without discernment. ... For no oblation, save that made with love, is acceptable; Blessed his He that in His love sacrificed His Only-begotten for many. Amen Mar Jacob of Serugh, Homily on the Commemoration of the Reposed, in The True Vine, #5.

O, the message of the Baptist, and the mystery in it! He calls the Shepherd lamb, and not only a lamb, but one to free from mistakes. He showed the lawless that the goat which they sent into the desert was ineffective. `Lo,' he said, `the lamb; there is no longer need of the goat; Put you hands on Him, All of you who confess your sins, For He has come to take them away, those of the people and of the whole world. For lo, the One Whom the Father has sent to us is the One Who carries away evil, Who appeared and illumined all things.' St Romanos the Melodist - Vol. I, On the Epiphany.

Of all things that there are for a man to learn, humility is the hardest. The Lord Jesus therefore expressed His teaching on humility in the clearest possible terms, both in word and in deed, so that no one could possibly doubt the incalculable and inescapable importance of humility in the act of man's salvation. This is why He appeared in a mortal human body such as Adam's had become as a punishment for his sinful fall. He, the sinless Lord and Creator of the bright and resplendent cherubim, clothed Himself in the thick, coarse garb of a condemned prisoner. Is this not, in itself, a sufficiently clear lesson on the humility that sinful men must learn? The Lord reiterated this lesson by His birth in a shepherds' cave rather than at a king's court, by His keeping company with despised sinners and the poor, by His washing the feet of His disciples. His voluntarily taking His Passion upon Himself and finally, on the Cross, by His drinking the most bitter cup of suffering to the dregs. St. Nikolai Velimirovic, Homilies, Vol. I: On the Fifth Sunday in Lent.

Of the Siege of the City of Nisibis (AD 338) and the Apostolic Conversation of Bishop Jacobus.

When war was launched against the Romans by Shapor II King of Persia (309-379), Constantius (Roman emperor 337-361) mustered his forces and marched to Antioch. But the enemy were driven forth, not by the Roman army, but by Him whom the pious in the Roman host worshipped as their God. How the victory was won I shall now proceed to relate.

Nisibis, sometimes called Antiochia Mygdonia, lies on the confines of the realms of Persia and of Rome. In Nisibis, Jacobus whom I named just now was at once bishop, guardian, and commander in chief. He was a man who shone with the grace of a truly apostolic character. His extraordinary and memorable miracles, which I have fully related in my religious history, I think it superfluous and irrelevant to enumerate again.

One however I will record because of the subject before us. The city which Jacobus ruled was now in possession of the Romans, and besieged by the Persian Army. The blockade was prolonged for seventy days. Enormous siege machines and many other engines were advanced to the walls. The town was begirt with a palisade and entrenchment, but still held out. The river Mygdonius flowing through the middle of the town, at last the Persians dammed its stream a considerable distance up, and increased the height of its bank on both sides so as to shut the waters in. When they saw that a great mass of water was collected and already beginning to overflow the dam, they suddenly launched it like an engine against the wall. The impact was tremendous; the bulwarks could not sustain it, but gave way and fell down. Just the same fate befell the other side of the circuit, through which the Mygdonius made its exit; it could not withstand the shock, and was carried away. No sooner did Shapor see this than he expected to capture the rest of the city, and for all that day he rested for the mud to dry and the river to become passable.

Next day he attacked in full force, and looked to enter the city through the breaches that had been made. But he found the wall built up on both sides, and all his labor vain. For that holy man, through prayer, filled with valor both the troops and the rest of the townsfolk, and both built the walls, withstood the engines, and beat off the advancing foe. And all this he did without approaching the walls, but by beseeching the Lord of all within the church. Shapor, moreover, was not only astounded at the speed of the building of the walls but awed by another spectacle. For he saw standing on the battlements one of kingly mien and all ablaze with purple robe and crown. He supposed that this was the Roman emperor, and threatened his attendants with death for not having announced the imperial presence; but on their stoutly maintaining that their report had been a true one and that Constantius was at Antioch, he perceived the meaning of the vision and exclaimed "their God is fighting for the Romans." Then the wretched man in a rage flung a javelin into the air, though he knew that be could not hit a bodiless being, but unable to curb his passion.

Therefore the excellent Ephraim (he is the best writer among the Syrians) besought the divine Jacobus to mount the wall to see the barbarians and to let fly at them the darts of his curse. So the divine man consented and climbed up into a tower but when he saw the innumerable host he discharged no other curse than to that mosquitoes and gnats might be sent forth upon them, so that by means of these tiny animals they might learn the might of the Protector of the Romans. On his prayer followed clouds of mosquitoes and gnats; they filled the hollow trunks of the elephants, and the ears and nostrils of horses and other animals. Finding the attack of these little creatures past endurance they broke their bridles, unseated their riders and threw the ranks into confusion. The Persians abandoned their camp and fled head-long. So the wretched prince learned by a slight and kindly chastisement the power of the God who protects the pious, and marched his army home again, reaping for all the harvest of the siege not triumph but disgrace. Theodoret, Ecclesiastical History 2.26 - Jacob (James) of Nisibis commemorated 13 January



Of what God was the Word made flesh? He does Himself previously teach us, saying, 'There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came as a witness, that he might bear witness of the Light. He was not that Light, but came that he might testify of the Light' (Jn. 1:6). By what God, then, was John, the forerunner, who testifies of the Light, sent into the world? Truly it was by Him, of Whom Gabriel is the angel, who also announced the glad tidings of His birth: that God Who also had promised by the prophets the He would send His messenger before the face of His Son, who should prepare His way, that is, that he should bear witness of that Light in the spirit and power of Elias. But again, of what God was Elias the servant and the prophet? Of Him Who made heaven and earth, as he does himself confess. St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies.

Oh, how could heaven receive one who is called `wider than the heavens?' How could a grave contain the one who contained God? Yet surely it did receive her, surely it did make room for her; for that body was not `wider than heaven' in any spatial sense. |How, after all, can something three cubits long, something that grows more frail each day, be compared with the breadth and length of heaven? But in grace, surely, she surpassed the measure of every height and depth; for nothing can be compared with what is divine. O sacred, wonderful, august and adorable monument! Angels come to venerate it, standing by in much reverence and holy fear; the demons tremble; human beings come forward in faith, showing it honor and worship, venerating it with eyes and lips and yearning of soul, and drinking deep of its inexhaustible store of blessings. St. John of Damascus, Homily I, On the Dormition of Mary; Early Patristic Homilies.

Oil is next of kin of priesthood like John, a son of priesthood. He opened out a path in the hearing where formerly the voice had been stopped up, and the word flows into the ear so that it portrays the will of the speaker in it. But in this path opened out by John the Word of the hidden Father flowed. Since the image of Him Who sent Him is portrayed by Him, by Him is beautified the ugliness of the peoples, who acquired His comliness. St. Ephrem the Syrian, Hymns

On Luke 4:22:

For not understanding Him Who had been anointed and send, and Who was the Author of works so wonderful, they returned to their usual ways, and talk foolishly and vainly concerning Him. For although they had wondered at the words of grace that proceeded out of His mouth, yet their wish was to treat them as valueless; for thy said, `Is not this the son of Joseph?' But what does this diminish from the glory of the Worker of the miracles? What prevents Him from being both to be venerated and admired, even had He been, as was supposed, the son of Joseph? Seest thou not the miracles? Satan fallen, the herds of devils vanquished, multitudes set free from various kinds of maladies? Thou praisest the grace what was present in His teachings; and then doest thou, in Jewish fashion, think lightly of Him, because He accounted Joseph for His father? O great senselessness! True is it to say of them, `Lo! a people foolish,' and `without understanding:' they have eyes and see not, ears and hear not. St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke.



Once again Psalm Eighty-Nine describes the impermanence of our human nature in order to win over God's mercy. It clearly teaches us by examples to be mindful of the afflictions of our nature both in the morning and evening, that is to say, in our youth and old age. Grass and flowers which are alive in the morning have passed away [by evening]. Next, the plant's moisture which exists at the prime of life dries up and looses its blossom once its innate beauty has evaporated while the rest of the plant dries up and withers away. The psalm thus describes our human nature by saying, 'In the morning let is flower and pass away; in the evening let it droop; let it be withered and dried up.' Such is our human nature.

St . Gregory of Nyssa, Commentary on the Inscriptions of The Psalms.



One can return evil for evil not only by deed, but also by word or expression. One man may think that he does not return evil for evil in deed, but in fact returns it by word, or expression, gesture, or look. For all this too can offend one's brother and this too is returning evil for evil. Another may not try to take revenge by deed, word, expression or gesture, but in his heart he harbors resentment against his brother and is bitter against him. Another may have no bitterness against his brother, but if he hears someone reviling, criticizing or belittling that brother, he rejoices and so returns evil for evil in his heart. Yet another nourishes no malice in his heart, does not rejoice at hearing of the humiliation of the one who had offended him, and even grieves if he suffers insult, yet does not rejoice at his success - for instance, is vexed if the other if praised or favored. This too is an aspect of resentment, though the least serious of them all. St. Abba Dorotheos, Early Father from the Philokalia.

One day Abba Matois went to Rhaïthou, in the region of Magdolos. A brother went with him, and the bishop seized the old man and made him a priest. While they were eating, the bishop said, ‘Forgive me, Abba; I know you did not want it but it was in order that I might be blessed by you that I dared to do it.’ The old man said humbly to him, ‘I did not wish it, to be sure; but what really troubles me is that I must now be separated from the brother who is with me and I am not able to keep on saying the prayers quite alone.’ The bishop said to him, ‘If you know that he is worthy, I will ordain him too.’ Abba Matois said, ‘I do not know if he is worthy of it; I know only one thing, that he is better than I.’ So the bishop ordained him also. Both died without having approached the sanctuary to make the offering. The old man used to say, ‘I have confidence in God that I shall not suffer great condemnation through the laying on of hands since I do not make the offering. For the laying on of hands is for those who are without reproach.’ Apophthegmata Patrum (the Alphabetical Collection)

One must by every means strive to preserve peace of soul and not be distrubed by offenses from others; for this one must in every way strive to restrain anger and by means of attentiveness to keep the mind and heart from improper feelings. And therefore we must bear offenses from others with equanimity and accustom ourselves to such a disposition of spirit that these offenses seem to concern ot us, but others. Such a practice can give quietness to the human heart and make it as dwelling for God Himself. St. Seraphim of Sarov, Spiritual Instructions, Little RussianPhilokalia, V. I

One must by every means strive to preserve peace of soul and not to be disturbed by offenses from others; for this one must in every way strive to restrain angler and by means of attentiveness to keep the mind and heart from improper feelings. And therefore we must bear offenses from others with equanimity and accustom ourselves to such a disposition of spirit that these offenses seem to concern not us, but others. Such a practice can give quietness to the human heart and make it a dwelling for God Himself. Spiritual Instruction of St. Seraphim of Sarov.

One must train oneself in self-reproach, that is, always accuse oneself and not others in one's mind, reproach oneself and not others, and with a severe distrust of oneself accuse oneself of the failing which are covered up by our self-love, accuse ourself of our inclinations to sin. He who has self-reproach has peace, writes Abba Dorotheos, and will never be disturbed. :Abbot Nazarius, Little Russian Philokalia, Vol. III.I

One should have a conscience which is clean and candid, as the Apostle says: 'Herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence before God and men (Acts 24:16); for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly (Heb. 13:18).' For just as it is impossible for rain to fall without clouds, so too without a good conscience is it impossible to be well pleasing to the Lord. What is made manifest is light, and what is not made manifest is dark; therefore let us reveal to our father not only what we say, but also what we think. And there will come a time when we shall be judged not according to the book of knowledge and understanding, but according to the book of conscience. :Abbot Nazarius, Little Russian Philokalia, Vol. III.

Only the Holy Spirit can purify the intellect, for unless a greater power comes and overthrows the despoiler, what he has taken captive will never be set free (Lk. 11:21-22). In every way, therefore, and especially through peace of soul, we must make ourselves a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit., then we shall have the lamp of spiritual knowledge burning always within us; and when it is shining constantly in the inner shrine of the soul, not only will the intellect perceive all the dark and bitter attacks of the demons, but these attacks will be greatly weakened when exposed for what they are by that glorious and holy light. That is why the Apostle says: `Do not quench the Spirit' (1 Thess. 5:19), meaning, do not grieve the goodness of the Holy Spirit by wicked actions or wicked thoughts, lest you be deprived of this protective light. The Spirit, since He is eternal and life-giving, cannot be quenched; but if He is grieved - that is if He withdraws - He leaves the intellect without the light of spiritual knowledge, dark and full of gloom. Themes of the Philokalia, No. 2, The Intellect by Archimandrite Ioannikios Kotsonis.

Only the Holy Spirit can purify the intellect, for unless a greater power comes and overthrows the despoiler, what he has taken captive will never be set free (cf. Lk. 11:21-22). In every way, therefore, and especially through peace of soul, we must make ourselves a dwelling-place for the Holy Spirit. Then we shall have the lamp of spiritual knowledge burning always within us. St. Diadochos of Photiki, Philokalia, Vol. 1

Only where Christ dwells is there blessedness. Where Christ blesses there is heavnely repose. Where Christ turns His benevolent gaze there is inexpressible true joy. Christ, with His unceasing love for us and His great humility, loves us and invisibly reproves s and reminds us through His miracles that there is life in the Kingdom of Heaven. Spiritual Counsels of St. Raphael, in Modern Orthodox Saints, Vol. 10

Ordinary human life is built up and maintained by an interaction between various life undertakings, crafts and arts - that is, one man does one thing, another does another and offers it for the use of his fellow men; thus people live by giving and taking and so satisfy their bodily needs. The same can be seen in spiritual life: one practices one virtue, another another; one chooses one path of life, another a different one, but all of them together pursue one aim, mutually helping one another. St. Symeon the New Theologian, Writings From the Philokalia on thePrayer of the Heart.

Ordinary human life is built up and maintained by an interaction of various life undertakings, crafts and arts - that is, one man does one things, another does another and offers it for the use of his fellow men; thus people live by giving and taking and so satisfying their bodily needs. The same can be seen in spiritual life: one practices one virtue, another another; one chooses one path of life, another a different one, but all of them together pursue one aim, mutually helping one another. St. Simeon the New Theologian (Practical and Theological Precepts no. 101, Writings from the Philokalia on Prayer of the Heart; Faber and Faber pgs. 120-121)

Our Church honors saints not as gods, but as faithful servants, as holy men and friends of God. It extols the struggles they engaged in and the deeds they performed for the glory of God with the action of His grace, in such a way that all the honor that the Church gives them refers to the Supreme Being, Who has viewed their life on earth with gratification. The Church honors them by commemorating them annually through public celebrations and through the erection of churches in honor of their name. St. Nectarios of Pentapolis, in Modern Orthodox Saints, Vol. 7.

Our Lord descended to Sheol and returned. He ascended to His heavens and behold He is mingled with the lower [world]. Again He mingles with [and] has those who love Him sit down to eat. More than all who rejoice, I rejoice to have seen Him Who has made my lands rejoice and has been lifted up. I escorted Him, and I am going to hear His living voice when He calls the dead, and He called our dead, 'Come out!' They will all answer Him and emerge, and not a bone will remain in Sheol where [as yet] Lazarus alone has answered Him. St. Ephrem the Syrian, Hymns

Our Physician brought from heaven remedies for every single moral fault. The medical art cures fevers with cold compresses, and chills by applying heat. Similarly Jesus prescribed qualities contrary to our sins: self-restraint to the undisciplined, generosity to the stingy, gentleness to the irritable, and humility to the proud. When He announced these new teachings to His followers, He told them that whoever of you `do not renounce all that you have cannot be My disciple.' He means that you who are coveting what belongs to someone else out of your old way of life are to be generous even with what belongs to you out of zeal for the new way. St. Gregory the Great, Be Friends of God.

Our Physician brought from heaven remedies for every single moral fault. The medical art cures fevers with cold compresses, and chills by applying heat. Similarly Jesus prescribed qualities contrary to our sins: self-restraint to the undisciplined, generosity to the stingy, gentleness to the irritable, and humility to the proud. When He announced these new teachings to His followers, he told them that 'whoever of you does not renounce all that you have cannot be my disciples.' He means that you who are coveting what belongs to someone else out of your old way of life are to be generous even with what belongs to you of our zeal for the new way. Be Friends of God, St. Gregory the Great

Our first parents were consequently forbidden to come to know evil along with the good; they were to restrain themselves from 'the knowledge of good and evil' (Gen 2:9); they were to enjoy the good in its purity, unmixed and unmitigated by any evil. And this, I think, is surely to remain always with God alone; it is to enjoy the good without mingling with it any thing which would separate them from it. I would seem then, if one might be so bold as to express it, that this is the path by which man can be snatched up out of this world and restored to Paradise, to that place where Paul saw those secret and invisible things which are given to man to utter. St. Gregory of Nyssa, From Glory to Glory

Our greatest protection is self-knowledge, and to avoid the delusion that we are seeing ourselves when we are in reality looking at something else. This is what happens to those who do not scrutinize themselves. What they see is strength, beauty, reputation, political power, abundant wealth, pomp, self-importance, bodily stature, a certain grace of form or the life, and they think that this is what they are. Such persons make very poor guardians of themselves: because of their absorption in something else, they overlook what is their own and leave it unguarded. How can a person protect what he does not know? The most secure protection for our treasure is to know ourselves: each one must know himself as he is, and distinguish himself from all that is not he, that he may not unconsciously be protecting something else instead of himself. St. Gregory of Nyssa, From Glory to Glory.

Our hope in this our transient life we now live is in the very difference between man and God. For God is absolute, unchanging, and we are changeable. We know, through His great wisdom that even by our creation we were changed from nothingness to being. And all that is produced is subject also to change. Through beneficial change in this our mortal life, we can still grow towards perfection (cf. Mt. 5:48). The Lament of Eve, by Johanna Manley.

Our intellect often finds it hard to endure praying because of the straitness and concentration that it involves; but it joyfully turns to theology because of the broad and unhampered scope of divine speculation. Therefore, so as to keep the intellect from expressing itself too much in words or exalting itself unduly in its joy, we should spend most of our time in prayer, in singing psalms and reading the Holy Scriptures, yet without neglecting the speculations of wise men whose faith has been revealed in their writings. In this way we shall prevent the intellect from confusing its own utterances with the utterances of grace, and stop it from being led astray by self-esteem and dispersed through over-elation and loquacity. St. Diadochos of Photiki (On Spiritual Knowledge no. 68)

Our works in this life are the sowing, and the future life is the harvest of what we have sown. Whatever one sows here, that is what he shall reap there. If one hastens to cultivate the field of his heart, to fertilize it and to sow in it the seeds of immortal grain, he can confidently expect to see a corresponding harvest unto eternal rest and delight. He that sows with tears of repentance shall reap with rejoicing and 'shall be filled,' says the Prophet (Ps. 16:16 and 125:6), for sweet rest follows upon the labors of piety. But rest and refreshment are denied to him who has not labored in the work of piety - he that is idle should not eat, it is said (cf. 2 Thess. 3:10). the letters of The Elder Moses of Optina.

Perception is a property of the soul, but sin is a buffeting of perception. Conscious perception produces either the cessation or lessening of evil; and it is the offspring of conscience. And conscience is the word and censure of our guardian angel given to us from the time of baptism. That is why we find that the unbaptized do not feel keen, but only indistinct, pangs of remorse in their soul for their bad deeds. St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent

Perchance, someone will ask, "Why did the Apostle say, 'Doth God take care for oxen?' [I Cor.9:9], when surely an ox is more precious than a sparrow? But care is one thing, knowledge another. Then, the number of hairs is understood (cf. Lk. 12:7), not in the act of counting, but in the readiness of thought, for God deos not devote an anxious vigil to counting; but for to Whom all things are known, all things are, as it were, numbered.. Yet they are well said to be 'numbered', because we number the things which we wish to keep. St. Ambrose of Milan, Exposition of the Holy Gospel According to St. Luke

Perchance, someone will ask, 'Why did the Apostle say, " Doth God take care for oxen?" when surely an ox is more precious than a sparrow?' But care is one thing, knowledge another. Then, the number of hairs is understood not in the act of counting, but in the readiness of thought, for God does not devote an anxious vigil to counting; but for to Whom all things are known, all things are, as it were, numbered. Yet they are well said to be 'numbered,' because we number the things which we wish to keep. Yet we can here discuss a secret of spiritual understanding, particularly since this seems absurd, that men may be compared with men rather than with sparrows. For those five sparrows seem to be the five senses of the body: touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing; if these, like sparrows, scratch up the dirt of earthly meanness and seek food in wild and foul places, caught up in the snares of their transgressions, they cannot fly back up to the fruits of loftier works on which spirits feast. St. Ambrose, Exposition of the Holy Gospel According to St. Luke.

Perfect Christians, who have been permitted to arrive at measures of perfection and to come very near the King, these ar continually consecrated to the cross of Christ. As in the days of the prophets the unction was more precious than all things else, since unction made them kings and prophets, so now spiritual men, who are anointed with the heavenly unction, become Christs according to grace, so that they too are kings, and prophets of heavenly mysteries. These are sons, and lords, and gods, made prisoners and captives (that is, to the grace and to God), plunged deep, curcified, consecrated. St. Macarius the Great, Spiritual Homilies

Peter saw this Grace, so, too, did those who were with him, even though they were heavy with sleep. For the incomprehensible magnificence of the Godhead overwhelms the perceptions of our body. For if the sharpness of bodily vision cannot bear the ray of the sun directly into watching eyes, how may the corruption of human members endure the glory of God? And, thus, the garment of the body, purer and finer after the removal of the materiality of vices, is fashioned for the Resurrection And, perchance, they were so heavy with sleep, that they saw the radiance of the Resurrection after their repose. Therefore, keeping vigil, they saw His majesty, for one sees the glory of Christ unless he is vigilant.

S t. Ambrose of Milan, Exposition of the Holy Gospel According to Saint Luke.



Pilate fixed three crosses on Golgotha, Two for the robbers, and one for the Giver of life. When Hades saw Him, he said to those below: 'O my priests and forces, who has fixed the nail in my heart? A wooden spear has pierced me suddenly and I am torn apart. I am in pain -- internal pain; I have a bellyache; My senses make my spirit quiver, And I am forced to vomit forth Adam and those descended from Adam, given to me by a tree. The tree leads them back Again into Paradise.' St Romanos the Melodist - On theVictory of the Cross.

Prayer does not consist merely in standing and bowing with your body or in reading written prayers: it is possible to pray at all times, in all places, by the mind and spirit. You can lift up your mind and heart to God while walking, sitting, working, in the crowd and in solitude. His door is always open, unlike man's. We can always say to Him in our hearts: Lord! Lord! have mercy.! St. Tikhon of Zadonsk

Prayer is -- spiritual breathing; when we pray we breathe in the Holy Spirit: 'praying in the Holy Spirit.' Thus all church prayers are -- the breathing of the Hly Spiri; as it were spiritual air and also light, spiritual fire, spiritual food and spiritual raiment. St. John f Kronstadt, My Life in Christ.

Prayer is a ladder leading up to God; for there is nothing more powerful than prayer. There is no sin which cannot be forgiven by means of prayer, and there is no sentence of punishment which it cannot undo. There is no revelation which does not have prrayer as its cause, and there are no types or symbols which prayer cannot interpret.

Anonymous II, The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual Life trans. by Sebastian Brock.



Prayer is beautiful, and its works are fair; prayer is accepted when it provides alleviation, prayer is heard when forgiveness is to be found in it, prayer is beloved when it is pure of every guile, prayer is powerful when the power of God is made effective in it. Aphrahat, The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual Life.

Prayer is the lifting up of the mind and heart to God. From this it is evident that it is quite impossible for anyone to pray whose mind and heart are attached to anything carnal - for instance, to money or to honors - or who has in his heart passions such as hatred or envy for others, because passions usually contract the heart, in the same way as God expands it and gives it true freedom. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ.

Prayer is truly a heavenly armor and it alone can keep safe those who have dedicated themselves to God. Prayer is the common medicine for purifying ourselves from the passions, for hindering sin and curing our faults. Prayer is an inexhaustible treasure, an unruffled harbor, the foundation of serenity, the root and mother of myriads of blessings. St. Nectarios of Pentapolis, Modern Orthodox Saints, Vol. 7

Prayer reveals the profundities of the Divine, by it one enters to behold the mystery of hidden things. It is the key able to all doors. From it one can clearly espy what is hidden, by it the soul can approach to speak with God, it raises up the mind so that it reaches the Majesty. It is easy for prayer to learn the mysteries of the divinity, for it can go in and out unhindered by the angelic powers: no angel is as swift-winged as prayer, nor do the seraphim fly up with it as it ascends; it whispers its words in the ears of the Lord, without any intermediary, it murmurs in the heart, and God hears it in His exalted place. Mar Jacob of Serugh in The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual Life.

Prayer, above all, can guard continuously for us the luster of this spiritual garment. Along with prayer goes generosity in almsgiving, which is our crowning good deed and the means of our soul's salvation. Prayer together with almsgiving can furnish us with countless good things from above, they can quench the fire of sin in our souls and can give us great freedom. Cornelius had recourse to these two virtues and sent his prayers up to heaven. Because of these two virtues he heard the angel say: `Thy prayers and thy alms have gone up and been remembered in the sight of God.' St. John Chrysostom, Baptismal Instructions

Prayer, my dearest friend, as the great one said, According to its quality becomes a man's glimpse of God, His conversation with him and their bond of union, By its indwelling it is the sustainer of the entire world, Reconciliation of the earth-born with their God and Creator, The true mother of tears, of which a daughter of born, The propitiation of sins and release from temptations, A bridge to heaven, the extinction of terrible conflicts, The expulsion of afflictions. St. Meletios the Confessor, On Prayer from The Alphabetalphabetos.

Praying toward the East is handed down by the holy apostles, as is everything else. This is beause the comprehensible sun of righteousness, Christ our God, appeared on earth in those regions of the East where the perceptible sun rises, as the prophet says: 'Orient is his name' (Zech. 6:12); and 'Bow before the Lord, all the earth, who ascended to the heaven of heavens in the East' (Cf. Ps. 67:34); and 'Let us prostrate ourselves in the place where His feet stood' (Cf. Ps. 67:34); and again, 'The feet of the Lord shall stand upon the Mount of Olives in the East' (Zech. 14:4). The prophets also speak thus because of our fervent hope of receiving again the paradise in Eden, as well as the dawn of the brightness of the second coming of Christ our God, from the East. St. Germanus of Constantinople, On the Divine Liturgy.

Preserve, then, my sons, that friendship ye have begun with your brethren, for nothing in the world is more beautiful than that. It is indeed a comfort in this life to have one to whom thou canst open thy heart, with whom thou canst share confidences, and to whom thou canst entrust the secrets of thy heart. It is a comfort to have a trusty man by thy side, who will rejoice with thee in prosperity, sympathize in troubles, encourage in persecution. What good friends those Hebrew children were whom the flames of the fiery furnace did not separate from their love of each other! St. Ambrose of Milan, Duties of the Clergy, Book III.

Pride is a most abominable sin, but hardly anyone recognizes it since it is hidden deep in the heart. No knowing one's self is the beginning of pride. This ignorance blinds a man, and thus he becomes full of pride. O that man would know himself! He would know his own misfortune, poverty, and wretchedness; he would never become full of pride. But man is so wretched that he does not see and know his misfortune and wretchedness. St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, Journey to Heaven.

Pride is denial of God, and invention of the devil, the despising of men, the mother of condemnation, the offspring of praise, a sign of sterility, flight from Divine assistance, the precursor of madness, the cause of falls, a foothold for satanic possession, a source of anger, a door of hypocrisy, the support of demons, the guardian of sins, the patron of pitilessness, the rejection of compassion, a bitter inquisitor, and inhuman judge, an opponent of God, a root of blasphemy. St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent (Step. 23).

Purified by baptism we have received the betrothal of the Spirit, which deifies those who share in it and increases their stature. St. Gregory of Sinai (On Silence and Prayer no. 3)

Q: I am apprehensive, my Father, because I am in charge of the infirmary, for this is something involving authority, and this might give occasion for vainglory and familiarity. Likewise, from frequent eating of food I can be drawn into gluttony. And so, do you not consider that, for a preliminary training of myself, I should be first in a lower obedience, and then, when it will be easier for me, I should again enter upon that service?

A: Listen, O brother, and be convinced in the Lord, that when we entrusted this matter to you, our hand and our heart are with you, or to be more precise, the hand of God, entreated by our prayers for the salvation of your soul, and that He has strengthened you in this matter and given you success and covered you in it. You can be saved in no other way than through this (obedience).

And so, do not become discouraged, falling and rising up, crawling and reproaching yourself, until the Lord will show you the mercy which you desire. Only do not be negligent. Fear not, for the Lord, Who has placed you in this work, will put it in order, and we will share the concern with you. "Saints Barsanuphius and John: Guidance Toward Spiritual Life," trans. by Fr. Seraphim Rose, (Platina, California: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1990)



Q: You told me before that the cutting off of one’s own will consists also of not arguing out of a desire to stand on one’s own. But what should I do, my Father: sometimes it happens that I bring a sick man something that is apparently beneficial; but often it harms him, and I grieve that in this I have done my own will. I see likewise that I am occupied the whole day, and this somehow does not allow me to remember God. Also, gluttony disturbs me. Tell me, what should I do? For I believe that in these things is my salvation.

A: If, thinking that something will bring benefit to the sick, you act according to your will, and the opposite happens, that it brings them harm – God, who beholds your heart, will not judge you; for He knows that you have done harm while desiring to bring benefit. But if someone who knows (about this matter) should tell you about it beforehand, and you should disdainfully disobey him, this would be pride and self-will. Many have constantly heard about some city or other and then they chance to enter it without knowing that it is that very city; so you also, O brother, spend the whole day in remembrance of God and do not know it.

To have a commandment and strive to keep it – this is submission to and remembrance of God. Brother John has rightly said to you: first put on leaves, and then, when God commands, you will bear fruit. If you do not know what is profitable, follow one who knows, and this is humility, and you will receive God’s grace. You have rightly said that your salvation lies in this; for you did not come here of yourself, but God guided you here. "Be strong in the Lord" (Ephesians 6:10): you receive not a little benefit from the occupation about which you complain. As far as possible, struggle against gluttony. And the Lord will help you to know and do what is profitable. Be manful and strengthened in the Lord. "Saints Barsanuphius and John: Guidance Toward Spiritual Life," trans. by Fr. Seraphim Rose, (Platina, California: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1990)



Rare are those who have sufficient assurance to dare to say that God is 'their portion.' It requies renunciation of the world and all its affairs for God to be our portion for us. But should ambition come to monopolize us, the care of money occupy us, the attraction of pleasures seize us, the administration of our affairs stop us, then God will not be our portion if we are monopolized by the cares and the vices of this world that possess us. (Ps. 118:57) St. Hilary of Poitiers quoted in Grace for Grace by Johanna Manley.

Read frequently the Holy Scriptures and other edifying moral and religious books, because such reading with attention and devoutness brings the mind of the reader to repentance. Through reading and meditation ones becomes worthy of the eternal life, as the Lord Himself has said: `Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life' (Jn. 5:39). Study the Law of God in the Holy Scriptures day and night, in order to become blessed and bear fruit in the virtues. Blessed Elder Philotheos Zervakos, Modern Orthodox Saints, Vol. 11.

Real faith is truth which is all-embracing, all-sustaining and free from all falsehood. A good conscience confers on us the power of love, since it is not guilty of any transgression of the commandments. St. Maximos The Confessor, The Philokalia, Vol. 2

Reflect that it is not an Angel that you receive in the holy Mysteries but the Lord of Angels and the Judge of all. Reflect also on this: with what joy the holy Forerunner leapt in his mother's womb and bowed down to his Master; and how the shepherds, and the kings with gifts, and Simeon and Anna glorified their Master and bowed down to Him with wonder, fear and joy; how also the other saints and all monk-saints with reverence, joy and thanksgiving, shone like the sun when united in communon with the Body and Blood of Christ, and live with Him forever. With just such a desire and great zeal, so you also hasten to the Sweetest Source of Benefactions, and thank the Lord for His unspeakable mercy, that He, the terrible and inaccessible God, does not abhor our miserableness, but unites Himself to us, out of His incalculable love for us. Abbot Nazarius of Valaam, Counsels, Little Russian Philokalia, Vol. II

Reflect, human being that you are, on the great dignity you enjoy, and the degree of purity it would be right for you to exhibit, at least on those occasions when you become a temple in your own right. Now, how would you exhibit this purity? If you were to expel every evil thought, if you were to deny entry of the devil's workings to the precincts of your mind, if you continue to embellish your mind as though in the holy sanctuary. After all, if in the Jewish Temple not every place was open to everyone, but there were many and varied divisions - one place for proselytes, one for those who were Jews from the beginning, one for the priests, one for the high priest alone, and then not at all times but once a year - consider the degree of holiness required of the one receiving far greater symbols than the holy of holies received at that time. It is not the Cherubim that you have, but the very Lord of the Cherubim dwelling within, not jar of manna, or tablets of stone, or Aaron's rod, but the Lord's Body and Blood, and Spirit instead of letter, and grace surpassing human reason, an indescribable gift. St. John Chrysostom, Commentary on the Psalms, Vol. 2.

Regard as free not those who are free by their status, but those who are free in their life and disposition. For example, one should not call truly free people who are illustrious and rich when they are wicked and intemperate, for such men are the slaves of sensual passions. St. Antony the Great(170 Texts on Saintly Life no. 18)

Rejoice at every opportunity of showing kindness to your neighbor as a true Christian who strives to store up as many good works as possible, especially the treasures of love. Do not rejoice when others show you kindness and love - consider yourself unworthy of it; but rejoice when an occasion presents itself for you to show love. Show love simply, without any deviation into cunning thoughts, without any trivial, worldly, covetous calculations, remembering that love is God Himself. Remember that He sees all your ways, sees all the thoughts and movements of your heart. St. John of Kronstadt.

Rejoice, O most sacred scribe of divine and lofty wisdom of the grace of the Triune God: O mouth of the Theologians of Christ God's Catholic Church; thou art an unvanquished giant of the Faith, the boast of great Ephesus and a second Zorobabel; for thou didst raise up and didst strengthen the Orthodox doctrine which the West sought to tear down and desecrate. Wherefore, O man of heaven's heights, O angel living on earth, thou art the joy of the Christians and sacred urn of the Spirit's grace. Cease not to entreat Christ to bestow His boundless mercies on them that bless thy name. Verse from Aposticha in Vespers for St. Mark of Ephesus.

Rejoice, canon of true hierarchs and priests, the foremost teacher and instructor most glorious, the mouth of the Theologians of Christ God's One Holy Church; thou, in word and doctrine was illustrious, O shepherd of great renown, the Apostle's true peer in life, eloquent preacher cutting heresy's webs in twain like a two-edged sword sharp with truth and the grace of God, instrument of sweet melody, and mind truly heavenly, most steadfast pillar of Christ's Church, the strength and boast of the pious flock. Entreat Christ the Saviour that great mercy and forgiveness descend upon our souls. the Aposticha of the Vespers for St. Photios the Great

Remember how our Master Christ, Who placed us like sheep among wild beasts, gave us this injunctions, to be wise like the serpent: `Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; be ye therefore wise as serpents' (Mt. 10:16). Why did He say this? Because the serpent strives to conceal its head more than any other of its members, lest it be hit there. So you, too, my brethren, ought to prefer rather to lose all your belongings, and to become poor and beggars; rather to be deprived of honors; rather to lose your life than to betray, even in the slightest respect, your most holy and heavenly faith, and deny the sweetest name of Christ our God, Who alone is our head and our glory and our whole salvation, both in this life and in the future one. St. Macarios of Corinth, Modern Orthodox Saints, Vol. 2

Remember the time which is past and the years of your life which were lost in the vanity of this world. Can you return of them even a single day or night? And likewise, if the end of your life comes, can you add or beg back a day for repentance, or even a single hour? We shall wish to seek out the time we have poorly spent of our life, and we shall not find it. St. Paisius Velichkovski

Remembrance of God is something that God Himself grafts upon the soul. But the soul must also force itself to persevere and to toil. Work, making every effort to attain the unceasing remembrance of God. And God, seeing how fervently you desire it, will give you this constant recollection of Himself. St. Theophan the Recluse, in The Art of \prayer.

Remove good-will out of the reach of men, and it is as though one had withdrawn the sun from the world. For without it, men would no longer care to show the way to the stranger, to recall the wanderer, to show hospitality (this latter is no small virtue, for on this point Job praised himself when he said: `At my doors the stranger did not dwell, my gate was open to everyone who came,' nor even to give water from the water that flows at their door, or to light another's candle at their own. Thus good-will exists in all these, like a fount of waters refreshing the thirsty, and like a light which, shining forth to others, does not fail those who have given a light to others from their own light. St. Ambrose of Milan, quoted in `Wisdom, Let Us Attend" by Johanna Manley.

Repentance and diligence are requisites for both worlds: for working the land the diligent are needed, for spiritual toil the repentant. Though the diligent may not become rich, his diligence stands by itself, and though the penitent may still sin again, he belongs to those who have conquered, whereas the sluggards and sinners have clothed themselves in a name that is utterly evil: there is reproach for the idle, and reproof for the sinners. St. Ephraim the Syrian, The Harp of the Spirit, Trans. by Sebastian Brock.

Repentance and humility are more important and higher than all of the other virtues, continuing until the end of our life. Referring to the words of the Prophet David, St. John Climacus writes, `I did not fast, I did not keep vigil, I did not sleep on the bare earth, but I humbled myself and the Lord saved me.'

Elder Ambrose of Optina, from a collection of letters, Orthodox Life, Vol. 47 #5, 1997.



Repentance is a bath that cleanses one of his own sins. It is a return from a state contrary to nature to a state in accordance with nature, from the devil to God, through spiritual striving and painful efforts. It is a voluntary return from offences to the good that is opposed to them. St. Nectarios of Pentapolis, in Modern Orthodox Saints, Vol. 7

Repentance is a bath that cleanseso ne of his own sins. It is a return from a state contrary to nature to a state in accordance with nature, from the devil to God, through spiritual striving and painful efforts. It is a voluntary rturn from offences to the good that is opposed to them. St. Nectarios of Aegina, Modern Orthodox Saints, Vol. 7

Repentance is given to man as grace after grace, for repentance is a second regeneration by God. That of which we have received in earnest by baptism, we receive as a gift by means of repentance. Repentance is the door of mercy, opened to those who seek it. By way of this door we enter into the mercy of God, and apart from this entrance we shall not find mercy. 'For all have sinned,' according to divine Scripture, 'being justified freely by His grace.' Repentance is the second grace and is begotten in the heart by faith and fear. Fear is the paternal rod which guides our way until we reach the spiritual paradise of good things. When we have attained thereto, it leaves us and turns back. The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac of Syria.

Saint John wrote of some of the brothers who were on a journey that they have set out for the sake of Christ's name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. We must support such people, that we may be fellow-workers in the truth. People who give material aid to those with spiritual gifts are fellow-workers in those spiritual gifts. Not many receive spiritual gifts; many more are rich in worldly goods. The wealthy share in the virtues of the poor when they provide relief for them from their riches. St. Gregory the Great, Be Friends of God.

Saints are people who live on earth by holy, eternal Divine truths. That is why the Lives of the Saints are actually applied dogmatics, for in them all the holy eternal dogmatic truths are experienced in all their life-creating and creative energies. In The Lifes of the Saints it is most evidently shown that dogmas are not only ontological truths in themselves and for themselves, but that each one of them is a wellspring of eternal life and a source of holy spirituality. Fr Justin Popovich, Faith and Life in Christ

Say inwardly, from your whole heart: `The Lord is everything to me; I myself am nothing; I am powerless, I am infirm.' `For without Me ye can do nothing,' (Jn. 15:5) says the Lord Himself, for it might be added: `I am everything to you.' Be heartily convinced of this every moment of your life, and have recourse to the Lord absolutely in everything, trusting to obtain from Him everything necessary for your salvation, and even for this temporal life besides. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ.

Scripture says that seven spirits will rest upon the Lord: the spirit of wisdom, the spirit of understanding, the spirit of spiritual knowledge, the spirit of cognitive insight, the spirit of counsel, the spirit of strength, and the spirit of fear of God (cf. Isa. 11:2). The effects produced by these spiritual gifts are as follows: by fear, abstention from evil; by strength, the practice of goodness; by counsel, discrimination with respect to demons; by cognitive insight, a clear perception of what one has to do; by spiritual knowledge, the active grasping of the divine principles inherent in the virtues; by understanding, the soul's total empathy with the things it has come to know; and by wisdom, an indivisible union with God, whereby the saints attain the actual enjoyment of the things for which they long. He who shares in wisdom becomes god by participation and, immersed in the ever-flowing, secret outpouring of God's mysteries, he imparts to those who long for it a knowledge of divine blessedness. St. Maximos the Confessor(Third Century of Various Texts no. 38)

Scripture tells of different ways of how God has fought on our behalf to attain the good so that we might have abundant occasions to thank Him for His benefits. Psalm 106 immediately begins with 'Give thanks to the Lord because he is good, for His mercy endures forever.' This verse is an acknowledgment of thanksgiving, they are not merely words, for we are bidden to glorify God for His goodness only. Both the good and salvation for mankind come from God, for all things come through His grace and goodness. St. Gregory of Nyssa, Commentary on the Inscriptions of The Psalms.

Securing victory for the humble, and wearing on His shoulders The cross as tyrophy of victory, He came forth to be crucified and to crucify the one who has wounded us. Having paid all the debt which we owe, He even hastened to death. He made subject to the cudget the face Which Cherubim dar not behold; before which they hide their eyes; Despising the shame, He voluntarily put on the mantle of derision, In order that Adam might exult. St Romanos the Melodist - On the Passion of Christ.

See at any rate, how many blessings spring from them both. For he that is praying as he ought, and fasting, hath not many wants, and he that hath not many wants, cannot be covetous; he that is not covetous, will be also more disposed for almsgiving. He that fasts is light, and winged, and prays with watchfulness, and quenches his wicked lusts, and propitiates God, and humbles his soul when lifted up. Therefore even the apostles were almost always fasting. He that prays with fasting hath his wings double, and lighter than the very winds. For neither doth he gape, nor stretch himself, nor grow torpid in prayer, as is the case with most men, but is more vehement that fire, and rises above the earth. Wherefore also such a one is most especially a hater and an enemy to the evil spirits. For nothing is mightier than a man who prays sincerely. St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Matthew Chapter 17.

See here, I pray, how great is the difference between us and God; for the distance is immeasurable. He is slow to anger and long-suffering, of incomparable gentleness and love to mankind; but we children of earth are quick to anger, hasty unto impatience, and refuse with indignation to be judged by others when we are found out in committing any wrong act; while we are most ready to find fault with others. St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke.

See how good and merciful is the Lord. He gave Christians the law for no other reason than for the destruction of our malice, for a cleansing from sins, and for the conquering of the passions that war against God's law. Therefore, we must not only keep God's commandments, but must also offer gifts in accordance with the commandments: just as the holy Fathers offered, each according to his strength, one five talents, another ten, another thirty. In the same way we also must prosper in doing good and in love of our Lord Jesus Christ. Abbot Nazarius, Little Russian Philokalia, Vol. III.

See how great the virtue of alms, both in the former dscourse, and here! There, it delivered from death temporal; here from death eternal; and opened the gates of heaven. Such are the pains taken for the bringing of Cornelius to the faith, that both an angel is sent, and the Spirit works, and the chief of the Apostles is fetched to him; and such a vision is shown, and, in short, nothing is left undone. How many centurians were there not besides, and tribunes, and kings, and none of them obtained what this man did! Hear, all ye that are in military commands, all ye that stand beside kings. 'A just man,' it says, 'fearing God; devout;' and what is more than all, with all his house. St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Actsof the Apostles.

See to it that we do not again become debtors to the old contract. Christ came one; He found the certificate of our ancestral indebtedness which Adam wrote and signed. Adam contracted the debt; by our subsequent sins we increased the amount owed. In this contract are written a curse, and sin, and death, and the condemnation of the law. Christ took all these away and pardoned them. St. Paul cries out and says: `The decree of our sins which was against us, He has taken it completely away, nailing it to the cross.' He did not say `erasing the decree,' nor did he say `blotting it out,' but nailing it to the cross, so that no trace of it might remain., This is why He did not erase it, but tore it to pieces. The nails of the cross tore up the decree and destroyed it utterly, so that it would not hold good for the future. St. John Chrysostom, Baptismal Instructions.

Seest thou the cause of the Crucifixion, and the salvation which is by it? Seest thou the relationship of the type to the reality? there the Jews escaped death, but the temporal, here believers the eternal; there the hanging serpent healed the bites of serpents, here the Crucified Jesus cured the wounds inflicted by the spiritual dragon; there he who looked with his bodily eyes was healed, here he who beholds with the eyes of his understanding put off all his sins; there that which hung was brass fashioned into the likeness of a serpent, here it was the Lord's Body, builded by the Spirit; there a serpent bit and a serpent healed, here death destroyed and a Death saved. St. John Chrysostom, Homily on John 3:15.

Seest thou, by what store of proofs this star is shown not to be one of the many, nor to have shown itself according to the order of the outward creation? And for what intent did it appear? To reprove the Jews for their insensibility, and to cut off from them all occasion of excuse for their willful ignorance. For, since He Who came was to put an end to the ancient polity, and to call the world to the worship of Himself, and to be worshipped in all land and sea, straightway, from the beginning, He opens the door to the Gentiles, willing through strangers to admonish His own people. Thus, because the prophets were continually heard speaking of His advent, and they gave no great heed, He made even barbarians come from a far country, to seek after the king that was among them. St. John Chrysostom, Homily on the Gospel of St. Matthew (2:1-2)

Self-accusation before God is something that is very necessary for us; and humility of heart is extremely advantageous in our lives, above all at the time of prayer. For prayer requires great attention and needs a proper awareness, otherwise it will turn out to be unacceptable and rejected, and `it will be turned back empty' to our bosom. Martyrius of Edessa, The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual Life.

Self-knowledge is to consider oneself incapable and unworthy of all higher responsibilities. To know oneself is to consider oneself worthless, sleepy, negligent, and slothful, and so on; it means to pay no attention to the sins of others, but to look at one's own and to repent of them always; it means to be discerning with regard to oneself and to judge oneself, and not to interfere in anything outward, apart from one's own duty. Test yourselves, whether ye be in the faith, writes the Apostle. :Abbot Nazarius, Little Russian Philokalia, Vol. III.

She has flourished as the stock of Jesse, blooming forever, bringing to fruition the one planted by the Father, Whose boundless and inconceivable greatness gives joy to the holy powers of heaven and the choir of the siants by the beauty and the abundance He shares - the joy of seeing His delight freely accessible and abounding above all other pleasures. For the Lord of hosts has called to Himself that field which He chose above all the earth; He grew up from her like an unplanted shoot, whose grain can neither be gathered nor thrown away, nourishing all things forever without being consumed, harvested only in the Father's bosom. St. Modestus of Jerusalem in On the Dormition of Mary: Early PatristicHomilies.

She who caused the stream of life to gush forth for us was given over to the Temple to be reared; And she received nourishment from the angels. She became a saint among saints, and just as she was dedicated, she became the temple and the tabernacle of the Lord. Virgins with torches led in the Virgin; They were prototypes of the sun that she was to bear For the faithful. The barren woman gives birth to the Mother of God And the nurse of our life. St Romanos the Melodist - On the Nativity of the Virgin Mary.

Shout with jubilation unto the Lord, all the earth; sing unto Him that in every nation hath revealed His righteousness. Rejoice, O land of China; for thou hast seen His salvation. Thine earth hath been watered with the blood of Martyrs; thy gloom hath been dispersed by the truth of Christ. Thy children now stand in the courts of the Lord, and they intercede with the Almighty God to have mercy on the world that He hath fashioned. Glory of the Stichera of Vespers for the Holy Martyrs of China.

Since activity always precedes contemplation, it is impossible for any man to rise to the realm of the higher, unless he first fulfills by activity what is lower. No man has the right to say about love of neighbor that he progresses in it in his soul, if he neglects that part of it which is fulfilled by the body, in accordance with his strength and the time and place. For only this can prove that perfect love exists in a man. And if we are faithful and true in this, as far as we can be, our soul is given power to stretch upwards to the great realm of high Divine contemplation in simple and quite incomparable apprehensions. Where there is no possibility to express love of neighbor in physical visible actions, then it is enough before God for love of neighbors to be practiced only in the soul. St. Isaac of Syria, in Early Fathers from the Philokalia.

Since all of our Lord's sacred utterances contain commandments, why does He say about love as if it were a special commandment: `This is My commandment, that you love one another?' It is because every commandment is about love, and they all add up to one commandment because whatever is commanded is founded on love alone. As a tree's many branches come from one root, so do many virtues come forth from love alone. The branch which is our good works has no sap unless it remains attached to the root of love. Our Lord's commandments are then both many and one: many through the variety of the works, one in their root which is love. He Himself instructs us to love our friends in Him, and our enemies for His sake. That person truly possesses love who loves his friend in God and his enemy for God's sake. St. Gregory the Great on John 15:12-16 in Forty Gospel Homilies.

Since anyone who makes use of the zeal of God is dishonored by wicked men, the Lord provided us with an example of patience in Himself: `But I honor my Father and you have dishonored Me.' And He provides us with an example of what we should do in such a situation when He adds: `I do not seek My own glory; there is One Who seeks and judges.' We know that it is written that `the Father has given all judgment to the Son,' and yet we see that when the Son receives insulting words He does not seek His own glory. He leaves the offenses offered Him for the Father's judgment, thus He suggests to us how patient we should be when even He, the Judge, does not wish to avenge Himself. St. Gregory the Great, Forty Gospel Homilies.

Since one person is brought to a good life in childhood, another in youth, another in young adulthood, another in old age, another at the age of infirmity, it is as if workmen are being called to the vineyard at different hours. Look at your conduct, my friends, and see if you are still God's workmen. Let everyone reflect on what he is doing, and consider whether he is laboring in the Lord's vineyard. No one who seeks he own will in this life has come to the Lord's vineyard. The Lord's laborers are those who think not of their own concerns but of the Lord's, who live lives of devotion with charitable zeal, who are intent on gaining souls, who hasten to bring others with them to life. St. Gregory the Great, Forty Gospel Homilies (Mt. 2:1-16)

Since salvation comes to you as a free gift, give thanks to God your saviour. If you wish to present Him with gifts, gratefully offer from your widowed soul two tiny coins, humility and love, and God will accept these in the treasury of His salvation more gladly than the host of virtues deposited there by others. Dead through the passions, pray like Lazarus to be brought to life again, sending to God these two sisters to intercede with Him; and you will surely attain your goal. St. Theognostos, in The Philokalia, Vol. 2.

Since the Logos of God though His descent to us has brought the kingdom of heaven close to us, let us not distance ourselves from it by leading an unrepentant life. Let us rather flee the wretchedness of those who sit `in darkness and the shadow of death' (Isa. 9:2). Let us acquire the fruits of repentance: a humble disposition, compunction and spiritual grief, a gentle and merciful heart that loves righteousness and pursues purity, peaceful, peace-making, patient in toil, glad to endure persecution, loss outrage, slander and suffering for the sake of truth and righteousness. For the kingdom of heaven or, rather, the King of heaven - ineffable in His generosity - is within us (cf. Luke 17:21); and to Him we should cleave through acts of repentance and patient endurance, loving as much as we can Him Who so dearly has loved us. St. Gregory Palamas, Philokalia, Vol. 4.

Since then on e person is brought to a good life in childhood, another in youth, another in young adulthood, another in old age, another at the age of infirmity, it is as if workmen are being called to the vineyard at different hours. Look at your conduct, my friends, and see if you are still God's workmen. Let everyone reflect on what he is doing, and consider whether he is laboring in the Lord's vineyard. No one who seeks his own will in this life has come to the Lord's vineyard. The Lord's laborers are those who think not of their own concerns but of the Lord's, who live lives of devotion with charitable zeal, who are intent on gaining souls, who hasten to bring others with them to life. One who lives for himself, nourished by the pleasures of his body, is rightly reproved as idle, since he is not striving for the fruit of good works. St. Gregory the Great, Forty Gospel Homilies (Mt. 20:1-16).

Since then we show that all things that have already happened had been proclaimed through the prophets before they came to pass, it must necessarily be believed also that those things that were similarly predicted, but are yet to come to pass, will certainly take place. For as the things that have already happened came to pass when proclaimed before, and even unrecognized, so will the things that remain, even though unknown and disbelieved, come to pass. For the prophets have proclaimed before two comings of His: one, which has already happened, as that of a dishonored and suffering man; and the second, when, as has been proclaimed, He will come from heaven with glory with His angelic host; when also He will raise the bodies of all the people who have lived, and the will clothe the worthy with incorruption, but will send those of the wicked, eternally conscious, into eternal fire with the wicked demons. St. Justin Martyr: The First Apology.

Since then, as says the Lord in the Gospels, he that hath seen the Son sees the Father also; on this account he says that the Only-begotten is the express image of His Father's person. That this may be made still plainer I will quote also other passages of the apostle in which he calls the Son 'the image of the invisible God,' and again 'image of His goodness;' not because the image differs from the Archetype according to the definition of indivisibility and goodness, but that it may be shown that it is the same as the prototype, even though it be different. For the idea of the image would be lost were it not to preserve throughout the plain and invariable likeness. He therefore that has perception of the beauty of the image is made perceptive of the Archetype. St. Basil the Great, Letters.

Since we do not wish to endure the smallest of afflictions for the sake of the Lord, we fall, against our wills, to many and bad afflictions. And since we do not want to abandon our own wills for the sake of the Lord, we bring on ourselves damage to our souls and destruction. Moreover, because we do not allow ourselves to be obedient and to suffer scorn for the sake of the Lord, we deprive ourselves of the consolation of the righteous. And since we will not be obedient to the counsel of those who set laws over us for the sake of the Lord, we make ourselves playthings of the evil demons. By not allowing ourselves the strict rearing symbolized by the rod, the oven of fire, which is never extinguished and from which there will never be any consolation, shall consume us. Evergetinos, Book 1, Vol. II

Since we have sinned after baptism and been polluted by transgressions, is there yet no hope of salvation for us? Is there no remedy of conversion? Is all gone? Is all vanished, the long-suffering, the love of man, the endurance, the abundant compassion? Is there no recall? Is there no return? Is there no other way of healing? Is there no other means of recover? Insofar as it lies with our monstrous deeds, there is not. But insofar as it lies with the kindness and ineffable love of God toward man, there is. What then is it? The confession by means of sincere repentance. For it says, `I said, I will confess mine iniquity to the Lord against myself; and thou forgavest the ungodliness of my heart,' `Confess your sins one to another,' bids us the disciple and brother of the Lord, `and pray one for another, that we may be healed;' and, `if we confess our sins,' the beloved disciple pledges himself also, `He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleans us of all unrighteousness.' How shall I confess? By imitating the prodigal in falling down and crying out to the Lord with contrite heart and humbleness of spirit, `I have sinned against heaven and in they sight, receive me, Father in my repentance.' How shall I confess? By departing from error and by abominating sin. For if thou shalt turn, and humble thyself before the Lord, and remove unrighteousness far from thy habitation, the Almighty shall be thy helper.

The Homilies of Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople, On the Beginning of Lent.



Since, then, the Lord ascends the mountain, let us listen to Esaias who cries: 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord.' If we are weak through sin, let our feeble hands and weak knees be strengthened, as the Prophet instructs us. For when we have reached the summit, we shall find Him Who heals all illness and languor, who takes up our infirmities and bears our diseases. Let us therefore ascend quickly, so that we may be established with Esaias on the summit of hope and see from this vantage point the good things that the Word shows to those who follow Him to the heights. St. Gregory of Nyssa, The Beatitudes

So come, let us rise up, as many of us as wish to escape this slavery of the passions, and run to Christ, the true Master, so that we may acquire the title of His servants. Let us also strive to become such men as our discourse has just ennumerated. Let us not, therefore, hold our salvation in contempt, nor fool ourselves and make excuses for our sins by saying, 'It is impossible for a man of the present generation ever to become such a person.' Neither let us philosophize against our own salvation, nor argue against our very souls. Because it is indeed possible, if we will it so, and so much so that free will alone can carry us up to that height. For where, as St. Basil says, there is a ready will, there is nothing to hinder.

St. Symeon the New Theologian, On the Mystical Life, Vol. 2: On Virtue and Christian Life.



So from mine own nature, I am led by the hand to the knowledge of the mighty working of the Creator; and at the same time I think upon the well-ordered structure and preservation of the whole creation, how that in itself it is subject everywhere to variableness and change, in the world of thought by choice, whether by advance in the good, or departure from it, in the world of sense by birth and decay, increase and decrease, in change in quality and motion in space. And thus all things proclaim, by voices that cannot be heard, they they were created, and are held together, and preserved, and ever watched over by the providence of the uncreated, unturning and unchanging God. Else how could diverse elements have met, for the consummation of a single world, one with another, and remained inseparable, unless some almighty power had knit them together, and still were keeping them from dissolution? `For how could anything have endured, if it had not been His will? or been preserved, if not called by Him?' saith the Scripture (Wis. 11:25). St. John Damascene, Barlaam and Ioasaph.

So it is with the human mind. If it spreads itself out in all directions, constantly flowing out and dispersing to whatever pleases the senses, it will never have any notable force in its progress towards the true Good. But now recall the mind from all sides, and make it collect itself, so that it may begin to operate in that function which is preferably connatural to it, without scattering and wasting itself: then the mind will find no obstacle in its rise to heaven and in its grasp of the true meaning of reality. St. Gregory of Nyssa, On Virginity, in From Glory to Glory.

So man then, who is constituted of both body and soul, must abide for ever. This he cannot do without a resurrection, for if the resurrection does not take place, the nature of man as man will not abide; and if his nature abides not, then to no purpose has the soul been attuned to the needs of the body and to its experiences, and in vain has the body been fettered in its winning what it strives for by the bridle rein of the soul and curbed by it. Vain too, is the mind, vain prudence and the expectation of justice, the practice of every virtue, the enactment of laws and their codification, and, in short, all beauty that is in man and through man, and, still more, the creation and nature of man himself. But if this lack of purpose is excluded from all the works of God throughout and from all the gifts that are given by Him, then perforce must the permanence of the body be of equal duration with the unending existence of the soul in one proper human nature. Athanagoras, The Resurrection of the Dead.

So open your ears and enjoy the good odor of eternal life which has been breathed upon you by the grace of the sacraments. This we pointed out to you as we celebrated the mystery of the opening and said: 'Ephphatha,' that is, 'Be opened,' so that everyone about to come to the table of grace might know what he was asked and remember the way he once responded. Christ celebrated this mystery in the Gospel, as we read, when He healed the one who was deaf and dumb. St. Ambrose, Concerning the Mysteries - in Ancient Christian Commentaryon Scripture, New Testament II, Mark.

So therefore before we pray we must hasten to drivve from our heart's sanctuary anything we would not wish to intrude on our prayers, and all this so that we might do as the apostle bids us: 'Pray ceaselessly.' In every place lift up pure hands, with no anger and no rivalry. But we will not be able to fulfill this injunction unless the mind within us is cleansed of the contagion of sin, is devoted to virtue as its natural good, and feeds continuously on the contemplation of the all-powerful God. St. John Cassian, The Conferences

So, too, the holy angels in their infinite happiness and wonder can never satisfy their longing to glorify God; and because they have been found worthy of celebrating so great a Master, they sing His praises ceaselessly, marvelling at what He has brought to pass, as St. John Chrysostom says, and advancing to still greater knowledge, as St. Gregory the Theologian states. It is the same with all the saints, in this world and in the next. Just as the angels transmit illumination to each other, so intelligent beings are instructed by each other. Some derive their knowledge from the divine Scriptures and teach those who are more in need, while others are taught spiritually by the Holy Spirit and make known to their brethren in writing the mysteries that have been revealed to them. St. Peter of Damaskos, Philokalia, Vol. 3.

So, when the saints contemplate this divine light within themselves, seeing it by the divinizing communion of the Spirit, through the mysterious visitations of perfecting illuminations - then they behold the garment of their deification, their mind being glorified and filled by the grace of the Word, beautiful beyond measure in in His splendor; just as the divinity of the Word on the mountain glorified with divine light the body conjoined to it. For `the glory which the Father gave Him,' He Himself has given to those obedient to Him, as the Gospel says, and `He willed that they should be with Him and contemplate His glory..' St. Gregory Palamas, The Triads

Solomon did cry out: Let the eyes of men gaze straight; for he foretold that whosoever shall look straight shall find mercy from Christ God. Readily didst thou hearken to this, O most-contending George, following the teachings of Christ. And when thou wast delivered to the evil ones thou didst spit upon the sacrifices of error, because they are profane. And thy body, which thou didst offer for the sake of the Creator's love, was severed member by member. And Belial was wholly put to shame and wounded beholding thee bearing the crown and exulting. Wherefore, as thou abidest in the courts of thy Lord, with the powers on high, intercede with Christ, O trophy-bearer of Christ, that our souls be saved. Glory of the Entreaty (Liti) for the Great Martyr St. George.

Some men bridle their passions out of respect for public opinion, others from vanity, others from self-control; others have their passions removed for them by the judgments of God. The reward of self-control is interior freedom; that of faith, knowledge. Furthermore, from interior freedom comes discernment; and from knowledge, the love of God. St. Maximus the Confessor, Four Centuries on Charity (Love)

Some of the things given to us by God for our use are in the soul, others are in the body and others relate to the body. In the soul are its powers: in the body are the sense organs and other members; relating to the body are food, money, possessions and so on. Our good or bad use of these things given us by God, or of what is contingent upon them, reveals whether we are virtuous or evil...Not one of them is evil in itself. According to how they are used they may rightly be called good or evil. St. Maximos the Confessor (Second Century on Love nos. 75-76)

Some praise life in a desert, others life in monasteries, still others a place of authority among people, to instruct and teach them and org anise churches where many may find food for body and soul. I would not wish to give preference to any of these, nor to say that one is worthy of praise and another of censure. In all ways of life, blessed is the life lived for God and according to God in all actions and works. St. Simeon the New Theologian (Practical and Theological Precepts no. 100)

Some say that the kingdom of heaven is the life which the worthy lead in heaven. Others that it is the state of the saved similar to the angels. Still others claim it is the very form of divine beauty possessed by those who bear the image of the heavenly Being. All three opinions on the subject are in harmony with the truth, it seems to me, for to all there is given a future grace in proportion to their righteousness in quantity and quality. St. Maximus the Confessor, Selected Writings.

Some things are good, some are bad and some are indifferent. The soul and the flesh both belong to things indifferent, since each of these may become either good or bad. But the spirit belongs to things which are good and can never become anything else. Likewise, the mind of the flesh, i.e., wickedness, belongs to things which are always bad. St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans 13, in Ancient ChristinanCommentary on Scripture, VI: Romans.

Someone may ask: How is justice greater than all the other virtues? The other virtues gratify the one who possesses them; justice does not give pleasure to the one possessing it, but instead pleases others. If I am wise, wisdom delights me; if I am brave, my fortitude comforts me; if I have been chaste, my chastity is my joy. On the contrary, justice does not benefit the one who has it, but all the wretched who do not have it.

Homilies of St. Jerome, quoted in Grace for Grace by Johanna Manley.



Sometimes those that live in society offend each other. This happens either from the craftiness of the ensnarer, the devil, who hates love among us and incites us to offend our neighbor, or from the weakness of our nature, or from inattention, or often from habit. In that case, reconciliation is absolutely necessary, and so will brotherly love be preserved. Many who have offended their neighbor are careless about it and so go to church and pray. But from this it is evident how dangerous a condition they are in: that whoever sins against man also sins against God, and whoever offends a man also offends God Himself because God forbade us to sin against a man and offend him. St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, Journey to Heaven

Sometimes your tasks may seem too many; you become flustered and are ready to give them up. But refrain from thinking of their great number; instead, force yourself, take up the most immediate task and do it with diligence, as though the others did not exist; and you will do it without trouble. Then do the same in relation to other tasks, and you will finish them calmly. without fuss and bother. Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare: Chapter 20)

Sorry - last night's posting was from St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ.

Vain then is the labor of the righteous man, and free from blame is the way of the sinner, if a change befall, and the former turn from the better to the worse, and the latter from the worse to the better. So we hear from Ezekiel teaching as it were in the name of the Lord, when he says, `if the righteous turneth away and committeth iniquity, I will not remember the righteousness which he committed before; in his sin he shall die,' and so too about the sinner; if he turn away from his wickedness, and do that which is right, he shall live. Where were all the labors of God's servant Moses, when the gainsaying of one moment shut him out from entering the promised land?... Learn, then, brother, that it is not he who begins well who is perfect. It is he who ends well who is approved in God's sight. St. Basil the Great, Letters



Sorry, friends, something weird has been happening to my posts for a couple of days... Know and remember, that the matter of your salvation is always near to the heart of Our Lady, the Mother of God, for it was for this that the Son of God, by the favor of the Father, and the cooperation of the Holy Spirit, chose Her out of all generations and was incarnate of Her in order to save the human race from sin, the curse and the eternal death, or everlasting torments. As the matter of our salvation is near to the Saviour, so likewise it is near to Her. Turn to Her with full faith, trust and love. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ.

Sorry, the source for tonight's posting is indeed St. Gregory the Great, but the title should have read, "Forty Gospel Homilies."

Souls that love truth and God, that long with much hope and faith to put on Christ completely, do not need so much to be put in remembrance by others, nor do they endure, even for a while, to be deprived of the heavenly desire and of passionate affection to the Lord; but being wholly and entirely nailed to the cross of Christ, they perceive in themselves day by day a sense of spiritual advance towards the spiritual Bridegroom. St. Macarius the Great

Spirit-bearing souls, when illumined by the Spirit, both become spiritual themselves and shed forth grace upon others. From this comes foreknowledge of things future, understanding of mysteries, apprehension of things hidden, distribution of spiritual gifts, citizenship in heaven, the dance with the angels, unending joy, divine largesse, likeness to God, and the desire of all desires, to become (like) god. St. Gregory Palamas (Topics of Natural and Theological Science no. 76, The Philokalia Vol. 4 edited by Palmer, Sherrard and Ware; Faber and Faber pg. 381)

Spiritual insight is characterized, first, by awareness of one's own failings before they issue in outward actions, as well as of the stealthy tricks of the demons; and, second, by the knowledge of the mysteries hidden in the divine Scriptures and in sensible creation." St. Peter of Damascus (Book 1: A Treasury of Divine Knowledge, The Philokalia Vol. 3 pg. 159)

Spiritual training (pneumatike gymnasia) is askesis for piety. It is most valuable, "having promise for the life that now is, and for that which is to come." The efforts made for the sake of piety bring spiritual gladness.

Theophylaktos says: "Train yourself for piety, that is, for pure faith and the right life. Training, then, and continual efforts are necessary; for he who trains exercises until he perspires, even when there is no contest."

Training accustoms one to be lenient, temperate, capable of controlling his anger, subduing his desires, doing works of charity, showing love for his fellow men, practicing virtue. Training is virtuous askesis, rendering one's way of life admirable.

Askesis is practice, meditation, training, self-control, love of labor. "Modern Orthodox Saints, St. Nectarios of Aegina", Dr. Constantine Cavarnos, Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, Belmont, Massachusetts., 1981., pp. 154-187



Spurious knowledge, or 'knowledge falsely so called' (1Tim.6:20), is that which a man possesses when he thinks he knows what he has never known. It is worse than complete ignorance, says St. John Chrysostom, in that its victim will not accept correction from any teacher because he thinks that this worst kind of ignorance is in fact something excellent. For this reason the fathers say that we ought to search the Scriptures assiduously, in humility and with the counsel of experienced men, learning not merely theoretically but by putting into practice what we read; and that we ought not to inquire at all into what is passed over in silence by Holy Scripture. St. Peter of Damaskos, Philokalia, Vol. 3.

St. Isaac [of Syria] gives a precise diagnosis of the sickness of the soul and of its organs of understanding, and just as clearly he gives the remedy, offering it categorically and with conviction. Since the passions are a sickness of the soul, the soul can only be healed by purification from the passions and from evil. The virtues are the health of the soul, as the passions are its sickness. The virtues are the remedies that progressively eliminate sickness from the soul and from the organs of understanding. This is a slow process, demanding much effort and great patience. St. Justin Popovich, Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ.

St. Martin of Braga We believe that the divine presence is everywhere and that "the eyes of the Lord are looking on the good and the evil in every place." But we should believe this especially without any doubt when we are assisting at the Work of God. To that end let us be mindful always of the Prophet's words, "Serve the Lord in fear" and again, "Sing praises wisely" and "In the sight of the Angels I will sing praise to Thee." Let us therefore consider how we ought to conduct ourselves in the sight of the Godhead and of His Angels, and let us take part in the psalmody in such a way that our mind may be in harmony with our voice

Standing in God's temple, picture to yourself that you are in heaven itself, that you stand before God with the higher powers and do with them everythihg that they do. In pictureing this to yourself, make a rule for yourself that under no circumstances will you leave church before the end of the service. Abbot Nazarius, Little Russian Philokalis, Vol. II

Such splendor of heavenly glory was revealed to the simple shepherds of Bethlehem. Up till then, such glory could only be seen by chosen individuals, and this is the first instance that we find in Holy Scripture of a whole group of mortal men's clearly seeing and hearing the immortal, angelic host. This is a sign that, with Christ's coming on earth, heaven is wide open to all who seek it in purity of heart. Bishop (St.) Nikolai Velimirovic, Homilies, Vol. 1 (On the Nativity II).

Such, my brethren, are the wonders of God. And God reveals His hidden saints so that some may emulate them and others have to no excuse for not doing so. Provided they live a worthy life, both those who choose to dwell in the midst of noise and hubbub and those who dwell in monasteries, mountains and caves can achieve salvation. Solely because of their faith in Him God bestows great blessings on them. Hence those who because of their laziness have failed to attain salvation will have no excuse to offer on the day of judgement. For He Who promised to grant us salvation simply on account of our faith in Him is not a liar. St. Symeon the New Theologian, On Faith, Philokalia, Vol. iv.

Suppose ... that a person has purified his intellectual energy through diligence in prayer, and has been to a certain extent enlightened either by the light of knowledge or in addition by noetic illumination: if he considers himself for this reason to be pure he deceives himself and is utterly mistaken, and through his presumption he throws wide open a door into himself for the devil, who always strives to delude us human beings. But if he recognizes his heart's impurity, and is not filled with pride because of the partial degree of purity he has attained, but uses it as an aid, then he will see more clearly the impurity of the other powers of his soul and will progress in humility; his inward grief will grow and he will find suitable ways of healing each of his soul's powers. He will cleanse its moral aspect with the right kind of ascetic practice, its power of spiritual apperception with spiritual knowledge, its power of contemplation with prayer; and in this way he will attain perfect, true and enduring purity of heart and intellect - a purity that no one can ever experience except through perfection in the ascetic life, persistent practice, contemplation and contemplative prayer. St. Peter of Damaskos (Book 1: A Treasury of Divine Knowledge, The Philokalia Vol. 3 pg. 177)

Supposing someone has offended you in something whether great or small, and has aroused in you a movement of displeasure and irritation, accompanied by a suggestion of retaliation. Pay attention to yourself and hasten to realize that these movements are bent on enticing you towards evil. Therefore take up the attitude of a warrior on the defensive: a) Stop these movements, do not let them penetrate any deeper and on no account allow your will to take their part as though they were right. This will mean resisting them. b) But they still remain in sight, ready for a renewed attack. So rouse aversion against them, as against your enemies, and be angry with them for self-protection, until you are able to say sincerely: 'I hate and abhor lying' (Ps. 119:163), or: 'I hate them with a perfect hatred: I count them my enemies' (Ps. 139:22). This will be a great blow for them, and they will retreat, but not vanish. Then: c) Call to the Lord: 'Make haste, O God, to deliver me; make haste to help me, O Lord' (Ps. 70:1). And do not cease calling thus, until not a trace of the hostile movements remains and peace is restored in your soul. d) Having thus regained peace, do to your offender something which would show your kind and conciliatory disposition towards him, such as a friendly word, some timely favor, and so on. This would mean following the advice of David: 'Depart from evil, and do good' (Ps. 34:14). Such actions lead straight to acquiring the habit of the virtue opposed to the passionate movements which had troubled you; and this habit strikes them to the heart and kills them. Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare: Chapter 13)

Take care, beloved, that His blessings, numerous as they are, do not turn to our condemnation in case we do not - through a life unworthy of Him - do with perfect accord what is good and pleasing in His sight. For somewhere it is said: `The Spirit of the Lord is a lamp that searches the deep recesses of the soul.' Let us understand how nigh He is, and that none of the thoughts we entertain or the plans we devise are hidden from Him. It is right, therefore, that we should not desert the place His will has assigned to us. St. Clement of Rose, Epistle to the Corinthians.

Take heed list without reason thou mistrust the power of repentance. Wouldst thou know what power repentance has? Wouldst thou know the strong weapon of salvation, and learn what the force of confession is? Hezekiah by means of confession routed a hundred and fourscore and five thousand of his enemies. A great thing verily was this, but still small in comparison with what remains to be gold: the same king by repentance obtained the recall of a divine sentence which had already gone forth. For when he had fallen sick, Esaias said to him, `Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.' What expectation remained, what hope of recovery, when the Prophet said, `for thou shalt die?' Yet Hezekiah did not desist from repentance; but remembering what is written, `When thou shalt turn and lament, then shalt thou be saved,' he turned to the wall, and from his bed lifting he mind to heaven, he said, `Remember me, O Lord, for it is sufficient for my healing that Thou remember me..' St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures.

Take the example of noblemen and governors who enter the palace to see the king. They greatly fear how they are to give an accounting lest they should make some mistake and incur being sentenced to trial and punishment. But simple country people, who have never seen a prince, have no worry. So it is with this world under the heavens, from kings to paupers. Since they are ignorant of Christ's glory, they are occupied with worldly matters. No one is quick to recall the divine judgment. But those who entertain thoughts that raise them to the judgment seat of Christ where His throne is and live continually in His sight are always in fear and trembling so as not in any way to fall away from His holy commandments. St. Macarius the Great, The Fifty Spiritual Homilies.

Tell me, what is more foolish than he who disobeys God and does not strive to attain to His adoption of sons? He who believes that God exists has great thoughts of Him. He knows that God is the only Master, Creator, and Lord of all things, that He is immortal, eternal, infinite, ineffable, incorruptible, and that there will be no end of His kingdom. How should he not be eager to lay down his life unto death for the love of Him, in order that he might be worthy, if not to become His on and His heir, at least to become on of His genuine servants who stand near Him? . Everyone on who strives to keep all God's commandments without fail become both a child of God and a son of God born form above and is known to all as a true believer and a Christian. St. Symeon the New Theologian, The Discourses.

Thanks to the certain, divinely-arranged plan, John is declared to have been born to parents who were not only just, but who also arose from high-priestly stock. For, as we heard in the gospel reading, 'There was a preist named Zachariah, of the priestly division of Abijah, and he had a wife of the daughters of Aaron, whose name was Elizabeth; and they were both just in the sight of God.' He was begotten of just parents so that he might more confidently give to the people the commands of justice, not simply as novelties which he had recently learned, but as things which he had received by hereditary right from his forebears and which he was himself observisng. He arose from priestly lineage so that he could more powerfully proclaim a change in the priesthood as it was apparent that he himself belonged to the priestly class. Bede the Venerable, Homilies on the Gospels, Book 2.

That he who loves God hates the world.

I am held captive by darkness and I see the truth which is nothing but certain hope. What kind, therefore, of hope? Such as eyes have not seen. In what does it consist? It is life, which every man desires. But this life, what is it if not God, the Creator of all? Love Him and hate the world! The world is death for what does it possess that is lasting? Hymns of Divine Love by St. Symeon the New Theologian.



That supreme endurance by means of which we can withstand the onslaught of temptation comes not from out own virtue but from the mercy and the guidance of God. This is what the blessed apostle says: `The trials that you have had to bear are what people have usually to suffer. But God is to be trusted. He will not allow you to be tempted beyond your strength. He will give you a way out of temptation so that you will be able to put up with it.' (cf. 1 Cor. 10:13). St. John Cassian, The Conferences

That which is comprehended in place or time or apprehension is circumscribed: while that which is contained by none of these is uncircumscribed. Wherefore God alone is uncircumscribed, being without beginning and without end, and containing all things, and in no wise apprehended. For He alone is incomprehensible and unbounded, within no one's knowledge and contemplated by Himself alone. But the angel is circumscribed alike in time (for his being had commencement) and in place (but mental space) and in apprehension. For they know somehow the nature of each other and have their bounds perfectly defined by the Creator. Bodies in short are circumscribed both in beginning and end, and bodily place and apprehension. St. John of Damascus, Exposition of the Orthodox Faith.

That you may know how they [the martyrs] scorned all the things of the present life so that they could win those good things which never die, my beloved, please consider and reckon that they saw with their bodily eyes the fire-breathing tyrant grinding his teeth, raging more wildly than a wild lion, make ready the fire on which he would put the griddles and caldrons, dong everything to overwhelm and overcome their reason. But they abandoned all the things upon earth and gazed with the eyes of faith on the King of heaven and the host of angels standing before Him; they pictured in their minds heaven and its ineffable blessings. St. John Chrysostom, Baptismal Instructions.

The Apostle saith that Christ is the image of the Father - for he calls Him the image of the invisible God, the first-begotten of all creation. First-begotten, mark you, not first-created, in order that He may be believed to be both begotten, in virtue of His nature, and first in virtue of His eternity. In another place also the Apostle has declared that God made the Son `heir of all things, by Whom also He made the worlds, Who is the brightness of His glory , and the express image of His substance.' The Apostle calls Christ the image of the Father, and Arius says that He is unlike the Father. Why, then, is He called an image, if He hath no likeness? Men will not have their portraits unlike them, and Arius contends that the Father is unlike the Son, and would have it that the Father has begotten one unlike Himself, as though unable to generate His like. St. Ambrose, On the Christian Faith, Book 1.

The Christian has no reason to have in his heart any ill-feelings whatever against anyone - such ill-feeling, like every other evil, is the work of the devil; the Christian must only have love in his heart; and as love cannot think of evil, he cannot have any ill-feeling against others. For instance, I must not think that anyone else is evil or proud without having positive reasons to think so, or I must not think that it will make him proud if I show him respect, or that if I forgive him he will again offend me and will mock at me. We must not let evil in any form nestle in our heart; but evil grenerally appears in too many forms. St. John of Kornstadt, My Life in Christ.

The Christian heart, when it has received something Divine, does not demand anything else in order to convince it that this is precisely from the Lord; but by that very effect it is convinced that this is heavenly, for it senses within itself spiritual fruits: love, joy, peace, and the rest (Gal. 5:22). On the contrary, though the devil might transform himself even 'into an angle of light' (cf. 2 Cor. 11:14), or it might produce thoughts seemingly good: still the heart would feel a certain obscureness and agitation in its thoughts. Explaining this, St. Macarius of Egypt says: Though satan might produce also visions of light, he is entirely unable to produce a blessed effect: which is the well-known sign of his works.' St. Seraphim of Sarov, Spiritual Instructions, Little Russian Philokalis, V.1

The Christian ought in all things to become superior to the righteousness existing under the law, and neither swear nor lie. He ought not to speak evil; to do violence; to fight, to avenge himself; to return evil for evil; to be angry. The Christian ought to be patient, whatever he have to suffer, and to convict the wrong-doer in season, not with the desire of his own vindication, but of his brother's reformation, according to the commandment of the Lord. St. Basil the Great, Letters

The Christian ought not to grudge another's reputation, nor rejoice over any man's faults; he ought in Christ's love to grieve and be afflicted at his brother's faults, and rejoice over his brother's good deeds. He ought not to be indifferent or silent before sinners. He who shows another to be wrong ought to do so with all tenderness, in the fear of God, and with the object of converting the sinner. He who is proved wrong or rebuked ought to take it willingly, recognizing his own gain in being set right. St. Basil the Great, Letters

The Church is an earthly heaven in which the super-celestial God dwells and walks about. It represents the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Christ: it is glorified more than the tabernacle of the witness of Moses, in which are the mercy-seat and the Holy of Holies. It is prefigured in the patriarchs, foretold by the prophets, founded in the apostles, adorned by the hierarchs, and fulfilled in the martyrs. St. Germanus of Constantinople, On the Divine Liturgy.

The Church is the life-giving body of the God-man Christ, and by Him and in Him the body of the Holy Trinity. The Holy Trinity works the salvation of the world in the Church through the acts of His grace which deliver each member of the Church from sin, death, and the devil, and fill it with the eternal life, the eternal truth, the eternal justice, the eternal love. The true Church is 'in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.' Thus, each member of the Church is only a true member when he is 'in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,' when he lives in Them and is saved by Their grace and by the struggle. Fr. (St.) Justin Popovich, The Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ.

The Deity cannot be expressed in words. And this is proved to us, not only by argument, but by the wisest and most ancient of the Hebrews, so far as they have given us reason for conjecture. For they appropriated certain characters to the honor of the Deity, and would not even allow the name of anything inferior to God to be written with the same letters as that of God, because to their minds it was improper that the Deity should even to that extent admit any of His creatures to a share with Himself. How then could they have admitted that the invisible and separate Nature can be explained by divisible words? For neither has any one yet breathed the whole air, nor has any mind entirely comprehended, or speech exhaustively contained the Being of God. But we sketch Him by His Attributes, and so obtain a certain faint and feeble and partial idea concerning Him, and our best Theologian is he who has, not indeed discovered the whole, for our present chain does not allow of our seeing the whole, but conceived of Him to a greater extent than another, and gathered in himself more of the Likeness or adumbration of the Truth, or whatever we may call it. St. Gregory Nazianzen, The Fourth Theological Oration.

The Divnity is described as omnipotent because He has power over all, and is in total control of the world. He is so called too because He is the goal of all yearning and because He lays a happy yoke on all who wish it, the sweel toil of that holy, omnipotent, and indestructable yearning for His goodness. St. Dionysios the Areopagite, The Divine Names

The Holy Spirit gives true humility. Even the most intelligent person, if he has not the Holy Spirit, cannot know himself properly. Without God's help he cannot see the inner state of his soul. If he does good to others and acts honestly, he thinks that he is a righteous man and even perfect in comparison with others; and therefore he does not feel that he needs anything. O, how often people perish from a false assurance of their honesty and righteousness! They perish because they trust in their own goodness, and do not think about the spirit of Christianity at all or the help of the Holy Spirit, just when they are win extreme need of His help. And as the Holy Spirit is given only to those who ask and seek, and such people not only fail to ask and seek Him but do not even consider it necessary, therefore He is not given them and consequently they remain in error and perish. St. Innocent of Alaska, Indication of the way into the Kingdom of Heaven.

The Holy Spirit made choice of this magnificent and noble introduction to the Psalter, in order to stir up weak men to a pure zeal for piety by the hop of happiness, to teach him the mystery of the Incarnate God, to promise him participation in heavenly glory, to declare the penalty of the Judgment, to proclaim the two-fold resurrection, to show forth the counsel of God as seen in His award. It is indeed after a faultless and mature design that He has laid the foundation of this great prophecy; His will being that the hope connected with the happy man might allure weak humanity to zeal for the Faith; that the analogy of the happiness of the tree might be the pledge of a happy hope, that the declaration of His wrath against the ungodly might set the bound of fear to the excesses of ungodliness, that difference in rank in the assemblies of the saints might mark difference in merit, that the standard appointed for judging the ways of the righteous might show forth the majesty of God. St., Hilary of Poitiers, Homilies on the Psalms (Psalm 1).

The Holy Spirit, in compassion for our weakness, comes to us even when we are still impure; and if only He finds our mind sincerely praying to Him, descends upon it and disperses all the swarm of thoughts and images which surrounds it, thus disposing it towards desire for spiritual prayer. St. Nilus of Sinai, Early Fathers from the Philokalia.

The Incarnation of the Word, and His assumption of human nature took place for the overthrow of death and destruction, and of that envy nourished against us by the wicked serpent, who was the first cause of evil. This is plainnly proved to us by facts themselves. And so He set free the daughter of Abraham from her protracted sickness, calling out and saying, 'Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.' A speech most worthy of God, and full of supernatural power; for with the kingly inclination of His will He drives away the disease. And He also lays His hands upon her; and immediatley, it says, she was made straight. And hence, too, it is possible to see that His holy flesh bore in it the power and activity of God. For it was His own flesh, and not that of some other Son beside Him, distinct and separate from Him, as some most impiously imagine [Nestorians].

St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of Saint Luke (13:10-17).



The Jews residing in the entire island of Crete have reported to us in a loud cry and with many tears that some Christians there mistreat them. Sometimes [the Christians] unjustly and slanderously deliver them to the most honorable rulers of the island. At times the Christians unjustly plot against the Jews, as well as unreasonably injure and bother them. At times [the Christians] vehemently attack them. Furthermore, the Christians unreasonably hasten to mistreat the Jews, thinking that they [the Christians] will receive a reward from the God of all. For this reason we write this letter in the name of the Holy Spirit to declare to all those Christians who commit these unjust acts and cast false accusations against the Jews and bring unjust and unreasonable harm and destruction to them . . . . those Christians who commit these insolent acts against the Jews are excommunicated from God Almighty and are cursed and are unforgiven and remain bound even after death. Injustice and slander, regardless of whomever acted upon or performed against, is still injustice. The unjust person is never relieved of responsibility for these acts under the pretext that the injustice is done against a heterodox person and not a believer. As Our Lord Jesus Christ says in the Gospels, do not oppress or accuse anyone falsely... an encyclical letter of Metrophanes III, Patriarch of Constantinople, dated 1568 from chapter 5 of Essays on Orthodox Christian-Jewish Relations by Fr. George C. Papademetriou

The King of Heavenly Powers received the prayer of the righteous man, And unseen by others addressed him: "Now, O my friend, I release you from the temporal world for an eternal home. To Moses and the other prophets I send you. Tell them That, as they foretold in their prophecies, lo, I have come, And have been born of a virgin as they announced. I have been seen by men in the world and have dwelt among them as thy foretold. Soon, I shall pear, redeeming all of you I, the only friend of man." St Romanos the Melodist - On the Presentation in the Temple.

The Lives of the Saints are a sort of Orthodox Encyclopedia. In them can be found everything which is necessary for the soul which hungers and thirsts for eternal righteousness and eternal truth in this life, and which hungers and thirsts for Divine immortality and eternal life. If faith is what you need, there you will find it in abundance: and you will feed your soul with food which will never make it hungry. If you need love, truth, righteousness, hope, meekness, humility, repentance, prayer, or whatever virtue or 'podvig' and will obtain grace-filled help for every virtue. Fr. (St.) Justin Popovich, Introduction to the Lives of Saints in Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ.

The Lives of the Saints are a sort of Orthodox Encyclopedia. In them can be found everything which is necessary for the soul which hungers and thirsts for eternal righteousness and eternal truth in this life, and which hungers and thirsts for Divine immortality and eternal life. If faith is what you need, there you will find it in abundance: and you will feed your soul with food which will never make it hungry. If you need love, truth, righteousness, hope, meekness, humility, repentance, prayer, or whatever virtue or 'podvig' and will obtain grace-filled help for every virtue.

. Fr. (St.) Justin Popovich, Introduction to the Lives of Saints in Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ



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 (Philokalia, Vol. II).

The Logos of God, having taken flesh and given our nature subsistence in Himself, becoming perfect man, entirely free from sin, has as perfect God refashioned our nature and made it divine. As Logos of the primal Intellect and God, He has united Himself to our intelligence, giving it wings so that it may conceive divine, exalted thoughts. Because He is fire, He has with true divine fire steeled the incensive power of the soul against hostile passions and demons. Aspiration of all intelligent being and slaker of all desire, He has in His deep-seated love dilated the appetitive aspect of the soul so that it can partake of the blessings of eternal life. Having thus renewed the whole man in Himself, He restores it in an act of re-creation that leaves no grounds for any reproach against the Creator-Logos. Nikitas Stithatos(On the Inner Nature of Things no. 93)

The Lord allows us to be tossed by various passions in this life in order that we may hate these passions with all our heart, that we may look upon everything earthly as nothing, however precious and pleasant it may appear, and that we may long with all our hearts for God alone, the Source of tranquillity and life, may cling to Him alone, may value Him before everything, His holy will, His peace and joy. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ.

The Lord appeared this second time for Thomas' sake - for the sake of one man, one sinner. He Who is surrounded by the angelic choirs that joyfully hail Him as the Conqueror of death, leaves His heavenly flock and hastens to save one wandering sheep. Let all those who, coming to great glory and power in this world, forget their weak and humble friends and, with shame and scorn, draw back from them, be ashamed at His example. In His love for mankind, the Lord turned from no sort of humiliation or effort. In His love for mankind, He - glorified and almighty - came down a second time into one simple room in Jerusalem. Oh, that blessed room, out of which there poured more blessings on the human race than there could ever be from all the palaces of emperors! St. Nikolai Velimirovic, Homilies, Vol. I: First Sunday after Easter.

The Lord ceaselessly purges the passion of pride in many ways. This passions, more than any other, disturbs our thoughts, and for this reason the Lord always and everywhere teaches on this subject. Here He is purging the worst form of pride. For there are many offshoots of self-love. Presumption, arrogance, and vainglory all stem from this root. But the most destructive of all these kinds of self-love is pride, for pride is contempt of God. When a man ascribes his accomplishments to himself, and not to God, this is nothing less than denial of God and opposition to Him. Therefore, like enemy to enemy, the Lord opposes this passion which is opposed to Him, and through this parable He promises to heal it. He directs this parable towards those who trust in themselves and who do not attribute everything to God, and who, as a result, despise others. He shows that when righteousness, which is marvelous in every other respect and sets a man close to God, takes pride as its companion, it casts that man into the lowest depths and makes demonic what was God-like just a short time before. The Explanation by Blessed Theophylact of The Holy Gospel According to St.Luke.

The Lord did not require ten talents from him who had received only two; and as He distributed them according to the strength of each, so He also collected them according to the strength of their upbringing. And we, as merciless torturers of each other, often ask from our fellow creatures that which we cannot even fulfill ourselves, and certainly would not have fulfilled if we had been in their place. And so, seek any correction first of all in yourself; and then with the help of God's blessing you attain this in proportion to your strength, then surely you will see your fellow creatures as favorable, good and kind: 'First cast out the beam in thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye' (Mt. 7:5). Abbess Thaisia, Letters to a Beginner.

The Lord does not always appear in glory to all who stand before Him. To beginners He appears in the form of a servant (Phil. 2:7; to those able to follow Him as He climbs the high mountain of His transfiguration He appears in the form of God, the form in which He existed before the world came to be (Jn . 17:5). It is therefore possible for the same Lord not to appear in the same way to all who stand before Him, but to appear to some in one way and to others in another way, according to the measure of each person's faith. When the Logos of God becomes manifest and radiant in us, and His face shines like the sun, then His clothes will also look white. This is to say, the words of the Gospel will then be clear and distinct, with nothing concealed. And Moses and Elijah - the more spiritual principles of the Law and the Prophets - will also be present with Him.

St. Maximos the Confessor, Second Century on Theology. Quoted in The Bible and the Holy Fathers, by Johanna Manley.



The Lord does not permit demons to invade the fortress of our soul when we cry out to Christ fervently, with feeling, tirelessly, unceasingly and carefully. And this is a great profit, because the demons are accustomed to secretly teaching wickedness to the soul by means of bad thoughts. And, as St. Diadochos of Photiki says, when the demons enter the heart, they fortify themselves well, and from there they make their war, trying to camouflage themselves and trick us that they are attacking from the outside. Archim. Ioannikios Kotsonis, Themes from the Philokalia I, Watchfulnessand Prayer.

The Lord has given you a great gift of living the life of the angels, Indeed an even greater gift, for you have found that you have as brother a leader Who humbly puts up with all men, poor in his habits and wealthy in his wisdom, Above you in rank, but never in any way opposed to you, Loving all and summoning all to say, "Alleluia." St Romanos the Melodist - On Life in the Monastery.

The Lord has ordered us to love our enemies, to bless those who curse us, and to do good to those who persecute us. What danger we are in then, when we hate one another, when we hate our co-member,s one with us, sons of God, branches of the true vine, sheep of the spiritual flock gathered by the true Shepherd, the Only-Begotten Son of God, Who offered Himself in sacrifice for us! The Living Word underwent these suffereings for so great a work, and you, man, hate it through jealously and vaninglory, or avarice, or contempt - things for which the enemy has ensnared you, to make you a stranger to God. What defence will you present before Christ? Instructions of St. Pachomius the Great.

The Lord is called light and life and resurrecton and truth. He is light as the brightness of souls and as the One Who drives away the darkness of ignorance, as the One Who enlightenes the mind to understand unutterable things, and as the One Who reveals mysteries which can be perceived only by the pure. He is life as the One Who grants to souls who love the Lord the movement proper for divine things. Again, He is resurrection as the One Who raises up the mind from a deathly craving for material things and cleanses it from all kinds of corruption and death. Finally, He is truth as the One Who gives to those who are worthy an inflexible disposition toward the good. St. Maximus the Confessor, Chapters on Knowledge, in Selected Writings.

The Lord said, 'First seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness' (Mt. 6:33), that is, seek the knowledge of truth before all things, and therefore seek training in appropriate methods of attaining it. In saying this, He showed clearly that believers must seek only divine knowledge and the virtue which adorns it with corresponding actions. St. Maximos the Confessor, Second Century of Various Texts.

The Lord taught me in the Gospel what leaven is when He said: `Do ye not understand that I said not concerning bread, Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees?' Then, it is said, they understood that He spake not of bread, but that they should beware of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees. This leaven, then - that is, the doctrine of the Pharisees and the contentiousness of the Sadducees - the Church hides in her meal, when she softened the hard letter of the Law by a spiritual interpretation, and ground it as it were in the mill of her explanations, bringing out as it were from the husks of the letter the inner secrets of the Resurrection, wherein the mercy of God is proclaimed, and wherein it is believed that the life of those who are dead is restored. St. Ambrose of Milan, Concerning Repentance, Book I

The Lord's Day is a mystery of the knowledge of the truth that is not received by flesh and blood, and it transcends speculations. In this age there is no eighth day, nor is there a true Sabbath. For he who said that `God rested on the seventh day,' signified the rest [of our nature] from the course of this life, since the grave is also of a bodily nature and belongs to this world. Six days are accomplished in the husbandry of life by means of keeping the commandments; the seventh is spent entirely in the grave; and the eighth is the departure from it. St. Isaac of Syria, The Ascetical Homilies

The Lord's Day is a mystery of the knowledge of the truth that is not received by flesh and blood, and it transcends speculations. In this age there is no eighth day, nor is there a true Sabbath. For he who said that `God rested on the seventh day,' signified the rest [of our nature] from the course of this life, since the grave is also of a bodily nature and belongs to this world. Six days are accomplished in the husbandry of life by means of keeping the commandments; the seventh is spent entirely in the grave; and the eighth is the departure from it. St. Isaac of Syria, The Ascetical Homilies.I

The Most High planted in the middle of Paradise The thrice blessed wood, the gift of life for us, In order that, in approaching it, Adam might find eternal and immortal life, But he did not strive earnestly to know this life, And he failed to attain it, and revealed death. However, the robber, seeing how the plant in Eden Had been beautifully transplanted in Golgotha, Recognized the life in it and said to himself: `This is what my father lost formerly In Paradise.' St Romanos the Melodist - On the Adoration at the Cross

The Prophet does not speak here about sin proper, but about how a sinner frees himself from its bondage, and what means he uses to stay on the right path. The sinner is taken at that very moment when awakening from sin he resolves to stop sinning. Before him are the world with its delights and the Lord with His commandments. Having considered the one and the other, he chooses the law. However, old habits are not easily overcome, and he asks help from God. Having received God's forgiveness, he considers a new life, yet this decision does not make him a different person on the spot; he has to withstand and overcome sin, and drop his former sinful friendships. The Prophet offers powerful means to achieve over of one's fate to the mercy of God. St. Hilary of Poitiers, Commentary on Psalm 118, in The Lament of Eve

The Sanctified Layman and His Wife

Two Fathers asked God to reveal to them how far they had advanced. A voice came which said, "In a certain village in Egypt there is a man called Eucharistus and his wife who is called Mary. You have not yet reached their degree of virtue."

The two old men set out and went to the village. Having inquired, they found his house and his wife. They said to her, "Where is your husband?" She replied, "He is a shepherd and is feeding the sheep." Then she made them come into the house.

When the evening came, Eucharistus returned with the sheep. Seeing the old men, he set the table and brought water to wash their feet. The old men said to him, "We shall not eat anything until you have told us about your way of life." Eucharistus replied with humility, "I am a shepherd, and this is my wife." The old men insisted but he did not want to say more.

Then they said, "God has sent us to you." At these words, Eucharistus was afraid and said, "Here are these sheep; we received them from our parents, and if, by God's help we make a little profit, we divide it into three parts: one for the poor, the second for hospitality, and the third for our personal needs. Since I married my wife, we have not had intercourse with one another, for she is a virgin; we each live alone. At night we wear hair-shirts and our ordinary clothes by day. No one has known of this till now." At these words they were filled with admiration and went away giving glory to God." Source unknown



The Savior of all, seeing the filthy robe In which His son was dressed, was moved to pity, And at one He cried out to the slaves who served Him, `Quickly give my son his first robe, Which the baptismal font weaves for all, The one that the grace of my spirit prepares, and at once give it to him.

Remember how, when he was clothed in it, The enemy took it from him and made a show of him To all the demons, for he pursued with hatred The King of the whole earth. For whom I adorned the entire universe that I created, I, the Lord and Master of the ages.' The Kontakia of Romanos, Vol. II: On the Prodigal Son.



The Son of God, Who in His compassion became man, died so far as His body was concerned when His soul was separated from His body, but this body was not separated from His divinity, and so He raised up His body once more and took it with Him to heaven in glory. Similarly, when those who have lived here in a godly manner are separated from their bodies, they are not separated from God, and in the resurrection they will take their bodies with them to God, and in their bodies they will enter with inexpressible joy there where Jesus has preceded us and in their bodies they will enjoy the glory that will be revealed in Christ. Indeed, they will share not only in resurrection, but also in the Lord's ascension and in all divine life. But this does not apply to those who live this present life in an unregenerate matter and who at death have no communion with God. For though all will be resurrected, yet the resurrection of each individual will be in accordance with his own inner state. St. Gregory Palamas, The Philokalia, Vol. IV.

The Spirit does not take up His abode in someone's life through a physical approach; how could a corporeal being approach the Bodiless one? Instead, the Spirit comes to us when we withdraw ourselves from evil passions, which have crept into the soul through its friendship with the flesh, alienating us from a close relationship with God. Only when a man has been cleansed from the shame of his evil, and has returned to his natural beauty, and the original form of the Royal Image has been restored to him, is it possible for him to approach the Paraclete. Then, like the sun, He will show you in Himself the image of the invisible, and with purified eyes you will see in this blessed image the unspeakable beauty of its prototype. St. John Chrysostom, On the Holy Spirit.

The Virgin Mary is the most merciful sovereign of all the sons and daughters of men, as the Daughter of God the Father, Who is love; the Mother of God the Word, of our love; the chosen bride of the Holy Spirit, Who is love consubstantial with the Father and the Word. How can we do otherwise than have recourse to such a sovereign and expect to receive all spiritual blessings from Her? St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ.

The Well-spring of the principle of life, Jesus, our Saviour, came to the well of the Patriarch Jacob, and sought water from a Samaritan woman that He might drink. And when she addressed Him and said that the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans, the wise Creator diverted her by the sweetness of His words rather to seek of Him the everlasting water, the Knower of things hidden, God Who is come in the flesh to save man. Doxasticon (Glory of the Stichera) of Vespers of Friday of the Samaritan Woman

The Word of God is exactly the same as God Himself. For this reason believe without question in each word of the Lord; the word of God is -- deed; and your word must be deed; consequently, having given your word, carry it out without fail; consequently, in prayer, too, our words must be deed and truth, and not falsehood,not simulation, not flattery. So also throughout life. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ.

The [third] antiphon is like an encounter before the Lord Who draws near and appears; that is why it is chanted while the Book of the Gospels is brought in and shown, since it represents Christ. It is particularly clear that the prophet sang this canticle with the coming of Christ in mind, so full is it of joy and gladness; he is overflowing with this joy himself, and invites others to share in it with him: `Come let us rejoice in the Lord.' Now man could not rejoice if the Lord had not come, for Christ alone brings us joy. And if there were any who rejoiced before Christ's coming on earth, it was because they had been admitted to the mysteries concerning Him. St. Nicholas Cabasilas, Commentary on the Divine Liturgy.

The aim of divine providence is to unite by means of true faith and spiritual love those separated in various ways by vice. Indeed, the saviour endured His sufferings so that 'He should gather together into one the scattered children of God' (John 11:52). St. Maximos the Confessor (Fourth Century on Love no. 17)

The archangel comes to Mary, that fragrant and never-fading flower of the Davidic race, that admirable, great and God-carved ornament of human kind. For this virgin having been, so to speak, from the very swaddling clothes steeped in the virtues, and grown with them, devoted herself to leading a life of the spirit on earth, and having opened the gates of the road to virtue, made entrance possible by her example to those who have an inborn and unquenchable desire to wait on the heavenly bride-chamber. For who, from childhood up, was ever so self-controlled towards pleasures, not those only which disregard bounds and career beyond nature's limits, nor those which, though we see them practiced without the infringement of written laws, yet spring from human motives, but even such as have their seat in the mind and indulge their raptures no further? Nay, the blessed Virgin did not permit even her thoughts to incline towards any of those, but was entirely possessed by divine love, showing and proclaiming in these and all other respects that she had been truly set apart as a bride for the Creator of all, even before her birth. St. Photius the Great, Homily VII - The Annunciation.

The assembly of saints bears resemblance to Paradise: in it each day is plucked the fruit of Him Who gives life to all; in it, my brethren, is trodden the cluster of grapes, to be the Medicine of Life. The serpent is crippled and bound by the curse, while Eve's mouth is sealed with a silence that is beneficial --but it also serves once again as a harp to sing the praises of her Creator. St. Ephrem the Syrian, Hymns on Paradise

The beginning of repentance proceeds from fear of God and heedfulness, as the holy Martyr Boniface says (Lives of Saints, Dec. 19): The fear of God is the father of heedfulness, and heedfulness is the mother of inner peace, and the latter gives birth to conscience, which causes the soul to behold its own ugliness as in a certain pure and undisturbed water; and thus are born the beginnings and roots of repentance. St. Seraphim of Sarov, Little Russian Philokalia, Vol. 1

The birthday feast of Herod appeared wicked to everyone, Since, in the midst of the banqueters, the head of the Faster Was brought in as a dish of food. Grief was mixed with joy, and bitter wailing was joined with laughter When the platter bearing the head of the Baptist Came into the sight of all, as the child had asked. And because of their wantonness, lamentation fell on all Of those dining at that time with the king; For this gave no pleasure to them nor to Herod himself; For it is written that he was sorry, but not with genuine grief But a false and temporary one. St Romanos the Melodist - On the Beheading of John the Baptist.

The blessed and eternal substance of God, `that surpasses all understanding,' contains all perfection within itself and cannot be limited. Hence nothing that is limiting, whether name, or concept or thing, can be considered as His attribute, as, for example, time, place, color, shape, form, mass, magnitude, dimension. But every perfection that He is conceived to have is present to an infinite and unlimited degree. For where evil has no place, Good must be without limit. St. Gregory of Nyssa, From Glory to Glory.

The blessed apostle offers as a summary of salvation the perfection of these three virtues. `Now,' he says, `these three things remain - faith, hope, love' (1 Cor. 13:13). For it is faith - with its fear of the judgment and punishment to come - which brings about the decline of sin's contagion. It is hope which draws our mind from the things of the present and which in its anticipation of heavenly rewards spurns all the pleasures of the body. And it is love which fires us to long for Christ, to be zealous for the fruit of the spiritual virtues and to detest utterly whatever is contrary to these virtues. St. John Cassian, Conferences.

The carnal man does not understand the spiritual blessedness that proceeds from prayer and virtue, and cannot comprehend even in a small degree what the blessedness in the next world will be. He does not know anything higher than earthly carnal happiness, and considers future blessings as imaginary visions. But the spiritual man nows by experience the blessedness of the virtuous soul, and foretastes future blessedness in his heart. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ.

The child Jesus born within us advances by different ways in those who receive Him in wisdom, in age, and in grace. He is not the same in every person, but is present according to the measure of the person receiving Him. He shows Himself according to each one's capacity. He comes either as an infant, or a child advancing in age, or as one fully grown after the example of the cluster. Christ is never seen with the same form upon the vine, but He changes His form with time - now budding, now blossoming, now mature, now ripe and finally as wine. Thus the vine holds out a promise with its fruit. It is not yet ripe for wine, but it awaits maturity. Meanwhile it does not lack in any delight, for it gladdens our sense of smell instead of our taste with its expectation of the future; by its fragrance of hope it sweetens the soul's senses. A faith firm in a grace we hope for becomes a delight for us who wait in patience. St. Gregory of Nyssa, The Song of Songs.

The children with palm branches sang hymns to Thee, fittingly calling Thee Son of David, Master, For Thou didst slay the visible reviler, Goliath. Forming a choral dance after the victory, the women sang, honoring him: "Saul has slain his thousands and David his tens of thousands." That is the law; and after him, Thy grace, my Jesus, The law was Saul, envious and pursuing; David, though pursued, sprouts forth Grace For Thou art the Lord of David; Thou art the blessed One Who comest to call up Adam. St Romanos the Melodist - On the Entry Into Jerusalem.

The countenance of God is `the express image of His person' (Heb. 1:3) as we have often said. Those who desire it, do so with their `whole heart,' so that it is possible to contemplate it with a purified heart, and so that, having fixed their gaze on it, they could then say these words as presented. Consider how great are those who will see the face of God. As Jesus has taught you, to whom He has said: `Blessed are the prue in heart, for they shall see God' (Mt 5:8). St. Didymus the Blind, quoted in The Lament of Eve by Johanna Manley.

The countenance of God is `the express image of His person' (Heb. 1:3) as we have often said. Those who desire it, do so with their `whole heart,' so that it is possible to contemplate it with a purified heart, and so that, having fixed their gaze on it, they could then say these words as presented. Consider how great are those who will see the face of God. As Jesus has taught you, to whom He has said: `Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God' (Mt. 5:8). St. Didymus the Blind: quoted in The Lament of Eve by Johanna Manley

The cross is the door to mysteries. Through this door the intellect makes entrance in to the knowledge of heavenly mysteries. The knowledge of the cross is concealed in the sufferings of the cross. And the more our participation in its sufferings, the greater the perception we gain through the cross. For, as the Apostle says, `As the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac of Syria.

The crowd of the lawless, feeling aversion for the multitude of miracles Cried out: "Kill Him, crucify Him!" As they handed over to Pilate the One Who created all things; They handed over to the court of justice the One Who will judge kings and peasants; The condemned judges the just Judge; The one who lives unknown threatened to kill like a thief the Redeemer! Meanwhile He, in order to suffer, endures in silence, standing speechless, In order that Adam might exult. St Romanos the Melodist - On the Passion of Christ.

The daughters of Judah, we are told, rejoiced, because of all the judgments of the Lord. Therefore, since Judah means confession, and since every believing soul confesses its faith, he who claims to believe in Christ must rejoice in all Christ's judgments. Am I in health? I thank my Creator. Am I sick? In this case, too, I praise God's will. For `when I am weak, then am I strong:' and the strength of the spirit is made perfect in the weakness of the flesh. Even an apostle must bear what he dislikes, that ailment for the removal of which he besought the Lord thrice. God's reply was: `My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness.' Lest he should be unduly elated by his revelations, a reminder of his human weakness was given to him, just as in the triumphal car of the victorious general there was always a slave to whisper constantly, amid the cheerings of the multitude, `Remember that thou art but man.' St. Jerome, Letters (# 39)

The death of the soul through transgression and sin is, then, followed by the death of the body and by its dissolution in the earth and its conversion into dust; and this bodily death is followed in its turn by the soul's banishment to Hades. In the same way the resurrectin of the soul - its return to God through obedience to the divine commandments - is followed by the body's resurrection and its reunion with the soul. And for those who experience it the consequence of this resurrection will be true incorruption and eternal life with God: they will become spiritual instead of non-spiritual, and will dwell in heaven as angels of God (cf. Mt. 22:30). As St. Paul says, 'We shall be caught up in the clouds to meet the lord in the air, and so we shall be with the Lord for ever' (1Thess. 4:17). St. Gregory Palamas, To the Most Rev. Nun Xenia, Philokalia, Vol. IV.

The earth was shaken by great fear, And the stone was rolled away from the tomb. `Is not this Man Who now raises up Adam And is resurrected, is not He the same One Whom formerly we guarded on the cross when all were frightened? Then He burst rocks apart; now He has moved this stone. Furthermore, He is the same One Who has rent the veil and opened the tombs while we were sleeping. The Lord is risen. St Romanos the Melodist - On the Resurrection I

The echo of those who weep for the young children Makes a crash like thunder on the earth, For the hills and ravines and deep valleys of the mountain cried aloud in answer. As though imitating the wailing, They practiced beats of lamentation with one another. It was necessary to see the earth full of blood, And the desert and the uninhabited places, For this lawless and very arrogant man extended His anger right up to these places. For he pursued the mothers and when he caught up with them He snatched the children from their very arms, like the fledgling of a sparrow singing a sweet song. And he slaughtered them, not understanding, the wicked fellow, That in spite of doing these things, His power will soon be destroyed. St Romanos the Melodist - On the Massacre of the Innocents.

The elder son in the parable [of the Prodigal Son] is saying these things: `You did not count me worthy of any consolation in all my toils; you never handed over to me for slaughter any of these who were afflicting me. But now you save the prodigal son who never had to toil.' This, then, is the entire purpose of the parable, which the Lord told for the sake of the Pharisees who were grumbling the He had accepted sinners. The parable also instructs us that no matter how righteous we may be, we out not to rebuff sinners, nor to grumble when God accepts them. The younger son, therefore, represents the harlots and the publicans, the elder son represents those Pharisees and scribes who consider themselves righteous. It is as if God were saying: `Let us suppose that you are indeed righteous and have not transgressed any commandments; if some others have turned away from wickedness, why do you not accept them as your brothers and fellow laborers?' The Lord instructs such grumblers as these with this parable..

From `The Explanation by Blessed Theophylact of the Holy Gospel According to St. Luke.'



The elect, each in his own degree, are likened to this man [who was the builder] (that is, to our Redeemer, Who joined the universal Church to Himself with unconquerable strength of mind) when they take special care to carry out as individuals in their hearts what He does generally throughout the whole Church. By digging deep, as it were, they attentively examine their consciences lest anything sordid lie lurking withing them; they meticulously search out from the depths of their hearts all the hiding places of useless thoughts; they draw these out by the labor of painstaking discernment, so that they may make ready within themselves a firm and peaceful resting place for that strongest rock, that is, Christ. And it comes about that by His presence they hold out unconquerable amid the alarming adversities, and at the same time the attractive prosperity of the age. The Venerable Bede, Homilies on the Gospels, Book II.

The enemy likes to hide the truth and to mix good with evil. But how can one find out the truth? God's goodwill and all our intentions are meek, full of good hope, and undoubting. Not only in our good deeds, but also in our lawlessness, God endures long with meekness and awaits our repentance. And how can one distinguish the impulse of the enemy? The enemy usually hinders us and turns us away from good. However, if in anything which apparently is good, the mind is disturbed and causes us disturbance, banishes the fear of God, deprives us of calmness, so that without any reason the heart aches and the mind wavers, then know that this is an impulse from the enemy and cut it off. St. Paisius Velichkovsky, Little Russian Philokalia, Vol. 4.

The enemy of our salvation especially strives to draw our heart and mind away from God when we are about to serve Him, and endeavors to adulterously attach our heart to something irrelevant. Be always, every moment, with God, especially when you pray to Him. If you are inconstant, you will fall away from life, and will cast yourself into sorrow and straitness. St. John of Kronstadt

The eve-lamb of God without spot, the dove without blemish, the tabernacle that is to hold God, the sanctuary of the glory, has chosen to dwell in the holy temple. The mountain overshadowed, that Habakkum foresaw of old and announced, has come to dwell within the inaccessible sanctuary of the temple; there she doth flourish with virtue and she doth cover the ends of the earth therewith. Matins Canon of the Presentation of the Mother of God in the Temple.

The evil spirits make us zealous for works which we are not able to perform, and cause us to faint in tasks on which we are engaged, and which are profitable for us. Therefore, they make us laugh when it is time for weeping, and weep when it is time for laughter, and simply turn us aside at every time from the right way. And dthere are many other deceits wherebys they make us their slaves, but there is no time now to describe all this. But when they fill our heart with these deceits, and we feed on them and they become our food, then God is patient with us and He visits us, to bring us back again from this heavy body, that we may leave it. St. Anthony the Great

The external senses are active only when external stimuli are present. The imagination however can open its `book' and reveal its sights and sounds, and so forth, even when the perceptible things are absent and man is alone enclosed within the walls of his home or in a far and isolated place. The imagination is a sort of very fine sense of touch, especially when a certain passion is invoked strongly. In fact it is often the imagination itself which prompts the external senses to enjoy some imagined passion and thus exercises a sort of influence over them. The imagination being itself a more refined sense than the external senses, as we said before, is consequently more rapid in movement, being able to in a flash to impress and fashion passionate images of sin, and at the same time to attract the heart to consent. This is why greater care is needed to guard the imagination. St. Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain, A Handbook of Spiritual Counsel.

The fathers counsel us to put forth a resistance equal to the force of the attack, whether we are to triumph or to suffer defeat. In other words, we should fight against evil thoughts with all the energies at our command. By conflict we shall either obtain the crown of life or be led to torment - the crown, to those who conquer; the torment, to those who have sinned and have not repented in this life. St. Nilus of Sora, in A Treasury of Russian Spirituality by George Fedotov.

The fathers tell us that there are various methods of resisting the temptations of the mind and various ways of defeating them, according to the strength of the one who struggles: one may either pray against evil thoughts or enter into contention with them, or else turn them away by contempt. The last method is that of the most perfect souls. As for contending with our thoughts, this too is a method suitable to those who are in progress. Beginners and weak souls should pray, evoking good thoughts against evil imaginings, for St. Isaac teaches that passions should be circumvented by the guile of virtues. When we are assailed by delusions, so that we cannot pray humbly and in interior silence, we should take arms again them, displacing evil thoughts by good ones. St. Nilus of Sora, The Monastic Rule.

The first-born of the martyrs has called me to his spiritual marriage feast: Through this wedding gift of mine, O Lord, grant me to rejoice with him. He is the select fruit first to ripen, who showed his graciousness In his taste and fragrance, and was offered unto God as first-fruits. He is the beginning of the Crucifixion's harvest, which brought forth a hundredfold, And gathered in a great stack of glory out of sufferings, A beloved martyr, the first to trample on death, Who made of it a bridge for every man that cometh unto God; Stephen, the head of his brethren, who with his own footsteps Trod out the sorrowful path that leadeth to God's Kingdom; This eloquent advocate that was trained by the spiritual law To defeat the scribes in their interrogations; This mighty man of valor who first entered the battle ranks of the left hand In close pursuit of death, and broke through, and issued forth, Beloved are the martyrs and dear is the story of their contests, But especially of this martyr, the head of his brethren.

A Homily on Stephen, the Archdeacon and First-born of the Martyrs, by Mar Jacob, Bishop of Serugh (in The True Vine, Fall, 1990).



The following thoughts will help you to be grounded in this hope [perfect trust in God] and, thereby, to receive help: a)that we seek help from God, Who is Omnipotent and can do all that He chooses, and therefore can also help us. b)that we seek it from God, Who, being Omniscient and Wise, knows all in the most perfect manner, and therefore knows fully what is best for the salvation of each one of us. c) that we seek help from God, Who is infinitely Good and Who comes to us with ineffable love, always desirous and ready from hour to hour and from moment to moment to give us all the help we need for complete victory in the spiritual warfare which takes place in us, as soon as we run with firm trust to the protection of His arms. d)the fourth method...is to review in our memory all the instances of speedy divine help described in the Scriptures. Lorenzo Scupoli(Unseen Warfare, Chap. 3)

The foundation of justice therefore is faith, for the hearts of the just dwell on faith, and the just man that accuses himself builds justice on faith, for his justice becomes plain when he confesses the truth. So the Lord says through Isaiah: `Behold, I lay a stone for a foundation in Zion.' This means Christ as the foundation of the Church. For Christ is the object of faith to all; but the Church is as it were the outward form of justice, she is the common right of all. For all in common she prays, for all in common she works, in the temptations of all, she is tried. So he who denies himself is indeed a just man, is indeed worthy of Christ. For this reason Paul has made Christ to be the foundation, so that we may build upon Him the works of justice, while faith is the foundation. In our works, then, if they are evil, there appears unrighteousness; if they are good, justice. St. Ambrose of Milan, Duties of the Clergy, Book 1. Quotation from Isaiah Through the Ages by Johanna Manley.

The four affections of the soul (anger, desire, pleasure, and fear) are like four horses that are unmanageable when the chariot begins to move. Similarly the soul, weighed down by its perishable body, hardly knows herself. It is as if brute beasts seized control of a chariot, and its powerless occupant, amid flying fears, is hurled and jolted about until the bodily passions are taken in hand and calmed by the power of the Word. This foresight of the Word is like that of a skilled driver; without it the soul, although not in itself liable to death, can experience difficulties from disturbance in the mortal body conjoined to it. St. Ambrose of Milan, On Virginity.

The fragrance of love! When we burn incense, we think of the fragrant heavenly aroma of love. The Holy Spirit, like a heavenly fire, brings the warmth of love into the human heart, and like a fresh wind, chases away the stench of sin and spreads the aroma of Christ to the world. That savor all the saints have borne within themselves. People have sensed it in living saints and in their relics. The Apostle speaks of this: `We are unto God a sweet savour of Christ,' the sweet perfume of recognition of the truth and the sweetness of love (cf. 2Cor. 2:14-16. Kassiana: Lessons in Divine and Christian Love.

The gift which we have received from Jesus Christ in holy baptism is not destroyed, but is only buried as a treasure in the ground. An both common sense and gratitude demand that we should take good care to unearth this treasure and bring it to light. This can be done in two ways. The gift of baptism is revealed first of all by a painstaking fulfillment of the commandments; the more we carry these these out, the more clearly the gift shines upon us in its true splendor and brilliance. Secondly, it comes to light and is revealed through the continual invocation of the Lord Jesus, or by unceasing remembrance of God, which is one and the same thing. St. Gregory of Sinai in The Art of Prayer.

The good and the bad that we meet with in life can aid both virtues and vices. It is the task of good judgment to use them to further the first and to frustrate the second. Abba Evagrius the Monk(Texts on Active Life no. 60)

The grace of God deson't depend on one's years, but on the way he struggles and on the mercy of the Lord. Experience through praxis is obtained with the years; but grace - and that is why it is called grace, in other words, a gift - depends on God and is given in proportion to the fervency of faith, humility, and good intentions. Monastic Wisdom: The Letters of Elder Joseph the Hesychast

The grave is, for us, no longer an eternal darkness but a gateway at which God's resplendent angels await us. For all who are filled with love for the beauteous and loving Lord, the grave has become only the last obstacle to His presence - and this obstacle is as weak as a spider's web. And so the glorious Apostle Paul cries: `For me to live is Christ and to die is gain' (Phil. 1:21). How has the Lord not conquered death, when death is no more visible in His presence? The grave is no more a deep abyss, because He has illumined it; neither is it fear and horror any more, for it marks, not the end but the beginning; neither is it our eternal homeland, but only the door to that homeland. The difference between death before Christ's Resurrection and after it is like the difference between a terrible conflagration and the flame of a candle. Christ's victory if fundamental, and therefore, through Him `death is swallowed up in victory' (1Cor. 15:54). Bp. Nikolai Velimirovic, Homily on Pascha.

The great Moses, having pitched his tent outside the camp, that is, having installed his free will and his understanding outside the visible, begins to adore God. Having entered the darkness, the formless and immaterial place of knowledge, he remains there to accomplish the most sacred rites. St. Maximus the Confessor, Chapter on Knowledge in Selected Writings.

The great plan of God the Father is the secret and unknown mystery of the dispensation which the only-begotten Son revealed by fulfilling in the incarnation, thus becoming a messenger of the great plan of God the eternal Father. The one who knows the meaning of the mystery and who is so incessantly lifted up both in work and in word through all things until he acquires what is sent down to him is likewise a messenger of the great plan of God. St. Maximus the Confessor, Selected Writings

The greatest gift of God, which we mostly need and which we very often obtain from God, through our prayers, is peace or rest of heart. As the Lord Himself says: 'Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.' Therefore, having obtained this rest, rejoice, and consider yourself as rich and possessing all things. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ.

The healing of repentance is opened up to those weak in will. Come, Let us take beforehand healing for our spirits from this source, For in it the harlot gained health; In it Peter put aside his denial, In it, David broke the pain in his heart; And in it the men of Nineveh were cured. Let us not hesitate, but let us arise, Let us show the wound to the Saviour and take the healing salve, For freely, beyond all reason, He responds to yearning; He accepts our repentance. St Romanos the Melodist - Vol. II: On Repentance

The heart can change several times in one moment - to good or evil, to faith or unbelief, to simplicity or cunning, to love or hatred, to benevolence or envy, to generosity or avarice, to chastity or fornication. O, what inconstancy! O, how many dangers! |O, how sober and watchful we must be! St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ.

The heart of the invisible is always present in the heart of the visible. It is within its nucleus. Let us be honest and pure and we will see that the three worlds - the universe, the earth, and man - constitute themselves as invisible power or energies dressed within matter. Every creature in this world constitutes one created frame with which God has framed His thought, and all of His creations together, create the luxurious mosaic of the uncreated `words' of God. Going from one creation to another, we go from one image of God to another because God created man `according to His image.' Every knowledge of ours says to the world and to man very clearly: this visible world exists and relies on the invisible worth which has no limits and no end. St. Justin Popovich, Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ.

The holy Basil tells us in his book on the Holy Spirit: `So this is the reason why our gaze is directed eastwards when we stand in prayer: it is so that our eyes may gaze in the direction of Paradise, and in this way we may seek for our original abode which we lost when our forefather Adam transgressed the commandment. It is easy to see the point of this, seeing that it is written that *Paradise is in the east.* and its planter is God.' Anonymous in The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual Life.

The holy one was pleasing to God the Father; the virgin was pleasing to the substantial Word, begotten from the Father before the ages; the virgin was pleasing to the life-giving Spirit, Who gives every being light and transforms them into citizens of heaven. For if Enoch, who pleased God, was taken up 'that he might never see death' (Gen, 5:24; Heb. 11:5), how much more would God have taken up the soul of her whom He had made one body with divine grace, to the paradise of delight where the divine light shines without end! And if He commanded that Elijah, who was a prophet, should mount to heaven in a chariot of fire (I Kings 2:11), how much more she who is foretold and called blessed in the prophets' writings. who shines in an outstanding way among the prophets and the apostles like the moon in the midst of the stars.

Theoteknos of Livias, in The Dormition of Mary: Early Patristic Homilies.



The house of God which king Solomon built in Jerusalem was made as a figure of the holy universal Church which, from the first of the elect to the last to be born at the end of the world, is daily being built through the grace of the King of Peace, namely, its Redeemer. It is still partly in a state of pilgrimage from Him on earth, and partly, having escaped from the hardships of its sojourn, already reigns with Him in heaven, where, when the last judgement is over, it is to reign completely with Him. The Venerable Bede, On the Temple

The human conscience is a gift of God. It is so mysterious and enigmatic in its immediateness and reality that nothing less than God could give it to man. In its most inner cell, the human conscience is God-conscience because in essence the conscience has been given as a divine gift to man. Man could not have a self-conscience, if this had never been given to him by God. Fr Justin Popovich, Faith and Life in Christ

The intellectual activity consisting of thought and intuition is called intellect, and the power that activates thought and intuition is likewise the intellect; and this power Scripture also calls the heart. St. Gregory Palamas (On Prayer and Purity of Heart no. 3, The Philokalia Vol. 4 edited by Palmer, Sherrard and Ware; Faber and Faber pg. 344)

The invisible enemies that oppress me seek with great zeal to make me prefer pleasure. This pleasure provokes malcontentment before all arduous work, to the point that one even plans to abandon the divine commandment which is being carried out with great effort. But stronger than pleasure and than our enemies which are extolling it, it is that which has been given by God if one is 'wise in Thy commandment,' while pleasure is of short duration and transient. That is why, in his hymn of gratitude, addressing God, he said: 'Thou made me wise in Thy commandment,' from which it follows also that I am 'above mine enemies.' (Ps. 118:98)

St. Didymus the Blind, in Epilogue Part III of The Lament of Eve by Johanna Manley.



The kingdom of heaven is said to be like a net let down into the sea. This net gathers all kinds of fish, and when it is full it is brought to shore where the good fish are sorted into baskets and the bad ones thrown away. It is our Holy Church that is compared to a net. The Church has been entrusted to fishermen, and draws all people out of the turbulent waters of the present age to the eternal kingdom lest we drown in the depths of endless death. It gathers all kinds of fish because it calls to the forgiveness of sins the wise and foolish, free and slave, rich and poor, strong and weak. The Psalist says to God, 'Every human being will come to You!' This net will be completely filled when it enfolds the entire human race at the end of time. St. Gregory the Great, Be Friends of God.

The liturgical service takes place on earth, but it belongs to the realm of heavenly realities. In fact it was not instituted by a human being or an angel, but by the Spirit Himself, so that those who are still living in the flesh should think of performing the service of angels. O what mercy, O what love of God for human beings is at that moment grasped by the hands of all and does not hesitate to give Himself to anyone who wants to embrace Him and be bound to Him. He Whom the eyes of faith perceive is possessed by everyone. St. John Chrysostom, On The Priesthood.

The love of God is not taught. No one has taught us to enjoy the light or to be attached to life more than anything else. And no one has taught us to love the two people who brought us into the world and educated us. Which is all the more reason to believe that we did not learn to love God as a result of outside instruction. In the very nature of every human being has been sown the seed of the ability to love. You and I ought to welcome this seed, cultivate it carefully, nourish it attentively and foster its growth by going to the school of God's commandments with the help of His grace. St. Basil the Great, The Greater Rules, translated in Drinking from the Hidden Fountain.

The lyre of the prophets who proclaimed Him, singing before Him, and the hyssop of the priest shwo loved Him, eagerly desiring his presence, and the diadem of kings who handed it down in succession belong to this Lord of virgins, for even His mother is a virgin. He Who is King gives kingdom to all. He Who is Priest gives partdon to all. He Who is the Lamb gives nourishment to all. St. Ephrem the Syrian, Hymns (On the Nativity)

The man who has been enabled by grace to acquire spiritual knowledge should struggle to study the divine Scriptures and this knowledge with deep dedication, humility, attention and fear of God; for unless he does this he will be deprived of his knowledge and threatened with punishment, as unworthy of what God has given him, in the same way as Saul was deprived if his kingdom, as St. Maximos explains. But he who devotes himself to spiritual knowledge and struggles to attain it, St. Maximos states, should call upon God at all times, as did David, saying `Create in me a pure heart, O God and renew an upright Spirit within me(Ps. 50:10). In this way he may become worthy of God's indwelling, like the apostles who received grace `at the third hour (Acts 2:15). For the Spirit came down on the apostles, as St. Luke declares, at the third hour of the day, a Sunday, since Pentecost is the seventh Sunday after the Sunday on which Pascha is celebrated. St. Peter of Damaskos, Philokalia, Vol. 3.

The man who has purified all the powers of his soul from every form of sin will be able to see that essential Beauty which is the source of everything else that is beautiful and good. The eye that has been cleansed of rheum is able to see heavenly pehnomena that may be far distant. So too, the soul, by her incorruptibility, recieves the power of seeing that Light; and true virginity and her longing for incorruptibility come to rest in her final goal; for by this she is enabled to see God. For no one could be so blind as not to realize that the God of all things is the first, supreme and unique Goodness, Beauty and Purity. St. Gregory of Nyssa, From Glory to Glory.

The man whose tongue is inclined to silence will acquire a humble discipline in all his habits and will thus gain control over his passions without toil. The passions are uprooted and driven away by unceasing study of God and this is the sword that slays them. Just as the dolphin stirs and swims about when the visible sea is still and calm, so also, when the sea of the heart is tranquil and still from wrath and anger, mysteries and divine revelations are stirred in her at all times to delight her. The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian.

The method by which he who wishes it may raise himself from off the earth and rise to heaven is as follows: first, he must wrestle with his mind and tame his passions; second, he must practice psalmody, that is, pray with the lips, for, when passions are subdued, prayer quite naturally brings sweetness and enjoyment even to the tongue and is accepted by God as pleasing to Him; third, he must pray mentally; fourth, he must rise to contemplation." St. Simeon the New Theologian (Three Methods of Attention and Prayer, Writings from the Philokalia on Prayer of the Heart; Faber and Faber pg. 159)

The mind is the rudder of the whole of a man's being. It counsels, it urges and it guides. The soul and the body are directed by the mind. If the mind is right before God, the whole man is right. If the mind is not, then neither is the whole man. If a man only thinks: `There is no God,' this is immediately apparent in his actions. Evil thoughts spring up first, and are quickly followed by evil deeds. Do you see how the inspired knew human nature? He first isolates the cause and then states that which follows. Evil deeds follow inevitably on evil thoughts. Therefore, my brethren, do not believe those who say: `I do not believe in God but I do good works.,' for he who does not believe in God does not know what is good, nor can he distinguish good from evil. .

Bp. Nikolai Velimirovic, The Prologue (quoted in Grace for Grace by Johanna Manley).



The mind of the righteous man, then, must not be like wax or some other soft material, which always gets its form and shape from the mark that is stamped on it and that remains there until it receives the impression of another mark. Thus it never keeps its own character and always takes on the form of whatever is stamped on it. On the contrary, our mind must be like a kind of adamant seal, so that it always retains its own character inviolable and shapes and transforms whatever happens to it into its own likeness, without, however, being stamped itself by the things that happen to it. St. John Cassian, The Conferences

The mind should seek spiritual food. This consists of reading the Divine Scriptues, the acquisition of the virtues, the fulfilling of the Lord's commandments, sacred prayer, the spiritual and Divine thoughts contained in the books of the God-inspired Fathers, especially of those called Wakeful, such as the 'Philokalia,' 'Evergetinos,' the writings of Climacos, of Symeon the New Theologian, and of others. St. Nicodemos the Hagiorite, Modern Orthodox Saints, Vol. 3

The more we believe that the Good of its very nature lies far beyond the limits of knowledge, the more we experience a feeling of sorrow that we must be separated from so great and desirable a Good and cannot even encompass it with our minds. And yet we mortals once had a share in this Good which now surpasses all our power to comprehend it. And such was this Good that surpasses all thought and which we possessed that human nature seemed to be another good of the same sort, fashioned in the most exact likeness in the image of its prototype. For man then possessed all those gifts about which we now speculate: incorruptibility, happiness, independence ad self-determination, a life without toil or sorrow, absorption in divine things, a vision of the Good with a mind unclouded and pure of any interference. This is what the account of Creation suggests in a few words, where it tells us that man was formed in God's image, and the he lived in Paradise enjoying the things that grew there. St. Gregory of Nyssa, From Glory to Glory.

The mystery of prayer is not consummated at a certain specific time or place. For if you restrict prayer to particular times or places, you will waste the rest of the time in vain pursuits. Prayer may be defined as the intellect's unceasing intercourse with God. Its task is to engage the soul totally in things divine, its fulfillment - to adapt the words of St. Paul - lies in so wedding the mind to God that it becomes one spirit with Him. Nikitas Stithatos, Philokalia, Vol. IV.

The name Seraphim clearly indicates their ceaseless and eternal revolution about the Divine Principles, their heat and keenness, the exuberance of their intense, perpetual, tireless activity, and their elevative and energetic assimilation of those below, kindling them and firing them to their own heat, and wholly purifying them by a burning in an all-consuming flame; and by the unhidden, unquenchable, changeless, radiant and enlightening power, dispelling and destroying the shadows of darkness. St. Dionysius the Areopagite, The Celestial Hierarchies.

The night was not made to be spent entirely in sleep. Why did Jesus Christ pass so many nights amid the mountains, if not to instruct us by His example? It is during the night that all the plants respire, and it is then also that the soul of man is more penetrated with the dews falling from Heaven; and everything that has been scorched and burned during the day by the sun's fierce heat is refreshed and renewed during the night; and the tears we shed at night extinguish the fires of passion and quieten our guilty desires. Night heals the wounds of our soul and calms out griefs. St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Psalms.

The object of his praying, therefore, is that his prayer become like incense, and the lifting of hands like an evening sacrifice: both are acceptable. Now, how would that happen? If both were pure, if both were spotless, both tongue and hands, the latter cleansed of avarice and rapacity, the former rid of evil words. After all, as a censer should hold nothing impure, only fire and incense, so too the tongue should not utter a tainted word, only holiness and praise; so too the hands should be a censer. Accordingly, let your mouth be a censer and see to it that you do not fill it with dung; people who utter shameful and unclean words are like that. St. John Chrysostom, Commentary on the Psalms, Vol. 2 (Ps. 141).

The old man, out of love for his son, blest him; In his blessing he prefigured Christ, the Creator of all. The Jacob ran to his mother, Saying to her: `Lo, I have received a blessing; I have found grace in the eyes of my father.' Then his mother embraced the young man and began to weep, Saying, `He is the One, He Who gives the saints Intelligence, He will come In the flesh into the world from your root and stock, Without leaving the bosom of the Father. Let us then pray to Him, the Merciful One, Lover of men: `Grant us Thy blessing from on high.' The Kontakia of Romanos, On Jacob and Esau.

The olive tree, again, became the first-born of the trees that were buried in the Flood, in the likeness of its Lord Who became the First-born from the house of the dead. Therefore the olive tree passed through the Deluge, and before all else it was revived. It rose up and gave its leaf as a pledge for the revival of all. The dove found and eagerly desired it - the bird that seeks our inhabited land. The dove announced that there was a survivor, and the olive tree sent a greeting in her mouth. The olive tree passed through the waves and rose up as king and sent its envoy of peace. and it gave good tiding to the confined and brought forth praise in the mouth of the silent. Plucked from it was consolation, a leaf that enlighted the eyes of all. It announced to Noah that anger was defeated, and mercy was victorious. St. Ephraim the Syrian, Hymns on the Nativity

The one who has come to understand the weakness of human nature has had experience of the divine power, and such a person who because of it has succeeded in some things and is eager to succeed in others never looks down on anyone. For he knows that in the same way that God has helped him and freed him from many passions and hardships, so can He help everyone when He wishes, especially those who are striving for His sake. Although for his own reasons He does not deliver all from their passions right away, still as a good and loving physician He heals in His own good time each one of those who are striving. St. Maximus the Confessor, Four Centuries on Love.

The one who prays to receive his daily bread does not exactly receive it as the bread is in itself but as the one who receives it is capable. For the Bread of Life, because He loves men, gives Himself to all who ask but not toall in the same way; rather to those who perform great works of righteousness in a fuller way, to those who do less in a smaller way - to each in accordance with his spiritual capacity. St. Maximus the Confessor, Chapters on Knowledge in Selected Writings.

The particular gifts consist of all that God has given to each individual. These include wealth, so that one can perform acts of charity; poverty, so that one can endure it with patience and gratitude; authority, so that one can exercise righteous judgment and establish virtue; obedience and service, so that one can more readily attain salvation of soul; health, so that one can assist those in need and undertake work worthy of God; sickness, so that one may earn the crown of patience; spiritual knowledge and strength, so that one may acquire virtue; weakness and ignorance, so that, turning one's back on worldly things, one may be under obedience in stillness and humility; unsought loss of goods and possessions, so that one may deliberately seek to be saved and may be helped when incapable of shedding all one's possessions or even of giving alms; ease and prosperity, so that one may voluntarily struggle and suffer to attain the virtues and thus become dispassionate and fit to save other souls; trials and hardships, so that those who cannot eradicate their own will may be saved in spite of themselves, and those capable of joyful endurance may attain perfection. All these things, even if they are opposed to each other, are nevertheless good when used correctly; but when misused, they are not good, but are harmful for both body and soul. St. Peter of Damaskos (Book 1: A Treasury of Divine Knowledge, The Philokalia Vol. 1 edited by Palmer, Sherrard and Ware; Faber and Faber pg. 172)

The path travelled by the righteous has always been a hard one, my brethren. They have always been hard-pressed, either by those who do not believe in God or who hold a wrong belief. Abel was wronged by his brother Cain; Noah and Lot likewise by a wicked race of men; and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob by the heathen. But God never leaves the righteous to walk his hard way alone. This is clearly seen in the life of Isaac: 'I am the God of Abraham your father, do not fear.' Isaac understood these words, with their overflowing significance. By them, God gave him courage, and they were a reminder of His presence. (St.) Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich, The Prologue from Ochrid.

The patriarchs also live, for God could not be called the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, except the dear were living; for He is not the God of the dead but of the living. And we, too, shall live if w`e be willing to copy the deeds and habits of our predecessors. We are astonished at the rewards of the patriarchs, let us copy their faithfulness; we tell of their grace, let us follow their obedience; let us not, enticed by appetite, fall into the snares of the world. Let us lay hold of the opportunity, of the commandment of the Law, the mercy of our vocation, the desire of suffering. The patriarchs went forth from their own land, let us go forth in purpose from the power of the body; let us go forth in purpose as they in exile; but they esteemed that not to be exile which the fear of God caused, necessity did not enforce. They changed their land for another soil, let us change earth for heaven; they changed in earthly habitation, let us change in spirit. To them Wisdom showed the heaven illuminated with stars, let it enlighten the eyes of our heart. Thus does the type agree with the truth, and the truth with the type. St. Ambrose of Milan, On Belief in the Resurrection.

The patriarchs and all the saints were able to please God by obeying the law of conscience. But people trampled on it and muddied it with their sinfulness. As a consequence we needed a written law, we needed the prophets, we needed the actual coming of our Lord Jesus Christ to rediscover, to re-awaken, to rekindle in us the spark which had been smothered.

St. Dorotheos of Gaza, Teachings, quoted in Drinking from the Hidden Fountain.



The perfect man is, so to speak, a partaker of Christ, after the words: `For we are made partaker of Christ' (Heb. 3:14); but our man, a beginner as he is, says that he is `a partaker with them that fear' the Lord, and not merely those who fear, but of those who, because they fear, `keep the commandments' of God. The mark of fear of God is to keep His commandments. St. Athanasius of Alexandria, quoted in The Lament of Eve by Johanna Manley.

The perfect person does not only try to avoid evil. Nor does he do good for fear of punishment, still less in order to qualify for the hope of a promised reward. The perfect person does good through love. His actions are not motivated by desire for personal benefit, so he does not have personal advantage as his aim. But as soon as he has realized the beauty of doing good, he does it with all his energies and in all that he does. He is not interested in fame, or a good reputation, or a human or divine reward. The rule of life for a perfect person is to be the image and likeness of God. St. Clement of Alexandria, Miscellaneous Studies, excerpted in Drinking from the Hidden Fountain by Thomas Spidlik

The person who truly wishes to be healed is he who does not refuse treatment. This treatment consists of the pain and distress brought on by various misfortunes. He who refuses them does not realize what they accomplish in this world or what he will gain from them when he departs this life. St. Maximos the Confessor (Third Century on Love no. 82)

The philosophy of the Holy Spirit is the wisdom and the knowledge, the wisdom through grace and knowledge by the grace of the nature of beings; and this wisdom possesses as the pupil of the eye the knowledge of the divine and the human, the visible and the invisible. The philosophy of the Holy Spirit is at the same time the creative power which, by `becoming similar to God' through the road of the ascetical perfection, multiplies within man the divine wisdom about God, the world and man. This characteristic of Orthodox philosophy is emphasized by St. John of Damascus when he says: `Philosophy is to liken with God' and therefore it is `the art of arts and the science of sciences.' As a source of life, the philosophy of the Holy Spirit is the only art which has the manifold possibilities to create of God-like and Christ-like personality, and is the only science which can teach the selfish and mortal man how to overcome death and obtain immortality. Therefore, Orthodox philosophy is the art of arts and the science of sciences. St. Justin Popovich, Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ.

The poignant sorrow with which you unintentionally pierce another's heart shall return to your own heart according to the strict law of requital: "With what measures ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." If you do not desire sorrow for yourself, do not occasion it to others. St. John of Kronstadt

The power given by the Lord to His seventy disciples is given to all Christians (Mk.16:17). Use it, Christians! With the name of Jesus cut off their heads, that is, the first appearances of sin in our thoughts, fancies and feelings. Destroy within you the devil's rule over you; destroy all his influence over you; acquire spiritual freedom. The foundation for your struggle is the grace of holy baptism; your weapon is prayer in the name of Jesus. St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, On the Prayer of Jesus.

The prayer, along with the lamentation of the barren and the childless Joachim and Anna, was acceptable As it came to the ears of the Lord and bore fruit that was life-bearing for the world.

For Joachim completed his prayer on the mountain, While Anna bears her reproach. After a miracle, but with joy, The barren woman gives birth to the Mother of God The nurse of our life. St Romanos the Melodist - On the Nativity of the Virgin Mary.



The prince of this world has an entire horde of servile spirits of mailice that are subordinate to him. At each instant they scurry along every boundary of the inhabited world to sow various things in different places, deepen entanglement in the net of sin, repair traps that have become weak and broken, and especially to guard against anyone who might take it into his mind to rid himself of his bonds and escape to freedom. In the latter case, they hurriedly gather around the self-willed person. First they come one by one, then by detachments, and legions until finally the entire horde is there. This happens in various ways and forms so as to block all exits and mend the strands and nets, and using the other analogy, to push back into the abyss any person who has begun to crawl out along its steep slopes. St. Theophan the Recluse, The Path to Salvation

The pronouncements of the prophets are declared in nearly every psalm. About the visitation of the Savior, and that He will make His sojourn as one who is God, so it says in the forthy-ninth psalm: 'The Lord our God shall come manifestly, and shall not keep silence,' and in the one hundred and seventeenth: 'Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord. We have blessed you out of the house of the Lord. God is Lord and He has shined upon us.' And that this one is the Word of the Father, so it sings in Psalm 106: 'He sent His Word, and healed them, and delivered them out of their destructions.' The Coming One is God Himself, and the Word Who is sent. St. Athanasius, The Letter to Marcellinus.

The pure of heart will see God, according to the Lord's infallible word (Mt`. 5:8), according to his capacity, receiving as much as his mind can sustain; yet the infinite and incomprehensible nature of the Godhead remains beyond all understanding. For the magnificence of His glory, the Prophet says (Ps. 144:5), has no end, and as we contemplate Him He remains ever the same, at the same distance above us. The great David enjoyed in his heart those glorious elevations as he progressed from strength to strength; and yet he cried to God: Lord, Thou art the most High, forever and ever (Ps. 82:19). St. Gregory of Nyssa, From Glory to Glory.

The reading of the word of God should be performed in solitude, in order that the whole mind of the reader might be plunged into the truths of the Holy Scripture, and that from this he might receive warmth, which in solitude produces tears; from these a man is wholly warmed and is filled with spiritual gifts, which rejoice the mind and heart more than any word. St. Seraphim of Sarov, Little Russian Philokalia, Vol. I.

The reason why our prayers ought to be frequent and brief is in case the enemy, who is out to trap us, should slip a distraction to us if ever we are long-drawn-out. There lies true sacrifice. `The sacrifice which God wants is a contrite heart' (Ps. 50:19). This indeed is the saving oblation, the pure offering, the sacrifice of justification, the sacrifice of praise. These are the real and rich thank offerings, the fat holocausts offered by contrite and humble hearts. St. John Cassian, Conferences.

The reward of self-control is dispassion, and the reward of faith is spiritual knowledge. Dispassion engenders discrimination, and spiritual knowledge engenders love for God. St. Maximos the Confessor (Second Century on Love no. 25)

The rich man struts over the poor man, devouring his entire subsistence; The farmer works hard, and the owner lives in luxury; one man is exhausted, and another rejoices; The one who works by the sweat of his brow collects, in order that through his labor he may amass what the rich man scatters. But all of your toil is protected, Since you possess the unchangeable seal of Christ. Alleluia. St Romanos the Melodist - On Life in the Monastery

The roof of a house rests on its foundations and walls, correspondingly the foundations themselves are laid in the manner required for them to serve as support for the roof. A roof cannot stand without foundations, and foundations without a roof serve no living or practical purpose. Similarly, God's grace is preserved through the practice of the commandments, while the practice of the commandments is at it were the foundation for the divine gift. The grace of the Spirit will not remain with us without the practice of the commandments, nor will the practice of the commandments serve any useful purpose without the grace of God. St. Symeon the New Theologian, Philokalia, Vol. 4.

The sacred dogmas are the eternal and saving divine Truths because they are based upon the life-giving power of the divine Holy Trinity, from which all of the power of the new life in Christ is derived. The new life in Christ is weaved completely from the dogmas, from the dogmatic truths of the revelation of God. Fr. (St.) Justin Popovich, Orthodox Faith and the Life in Christ.

The saving Word, Who is good beyond all goodness, Who subsists in Himself above all being yet has lived out on earth, in flesh, the whole of God's plan for our sakes - Who fulfilled the ancient prophecies about Himself by revealing our reality in Himself and His whole reality in us - has now filled heaven and earth with glory, and has made all creation rich with His sacred splendor. He has conquered the author of evil, after grappling with him on the cross, and by His own struggle with death He has destroyed its tyranny over us. He has devastated the unspeakable regions of the underworld and all their domination, sealing up hell's voracious belly so that it might never again hold the godlike souls of His holy ones in its power.

St. Andrew of Crete, Homily II on The Dormition of Our Most Holy Lady, the Mother of God.



The sea washes the brick, the Abyss washes the clay And it does not destroy its structure, But binds its substance and wipes clean its purpose. Behold the dispositon of the One Who made us. See of what sort is the attitude of the Creator for His creatures; They have reclined and He has stood, they are fed and He serves, they are wahsed and He wipes them clean; And the feet of clay are not cast into a mold in the hands of fire. Have mercy, have mercy, have mercy on s, Thou Who dost bear with all men and receive all men. St Romanos the Melodist - On Judas.

The sixth day is the full accomplishment of the natural activities of those who practice virtue. The seventh is the fulfillment and rest of the natural activities of those who contemplate the ineffable knowledge. The eighth is the promotion and transition to deification of those who are worthy. The Lord has perhaps never allowed a more mystical glance at these seventh and eighth days than in referring to them as the day and the hour of fulfillment, since it encloses the mysteries and the principles of all things. Absolutely no heavenly or earthly power can know these days before experiencing the passion, only the blessed Divinity which created them. St. Maximus the Confessor, Chapters on Knowledge in Selected Writings

The sons of the Chaldees beheld in the hands of the Virgin Him Who by His hand fashioned man; and perceiving Him as Master, though He had taken the form of a servant, they hastened with gifts to do homage, and they cried out to her who is blessed: Rejoice, Mother of the never-setting Star. Rejoice Dawn of the mystic Day. Rejoice thou who quenchest the fiery furnace of error. Rejoice, thou who enlightenest the initiates of the Trinity. Rejoice, thou who didst cast down from power the inhuman tyrant, Rejoice, thou who didst show forth Christ, the man-befriending Lord. Rejoice, thou who redeemest from the creeds of barbarism. Rejoice, thou who dost rescue from the works of mire. Rejoice, thou who makest the worship of fire to cease. Rejoice, thou who makest the flame of passions to be allayed. Rejoice, Guide of the faithful to chastity. Rejoice, Rejoicing of every generation. Rejoice, thou Bride unwedded. The Akathist Hymn to the Mother of God by St. Romanos the Melodist.

The soul has followed Moses and the cloud, both of these serving as guides for those who would advance in virtue; Moses her represents the commandments of the Law; and the cloud that leads the way, its spiritual meaning. The soul has been purified by crossing the Sea; it has removed from itself and destroyed the enemy army. It has tasted of the waters of Marah, that is, of life deprived of all sinful pleasure; and this at first had seemed bitter and unpleasant to the taste but offered a sensation of sweetness to those who accepted the wood. Next it enjoyed the beauty of the palm trees of the gospel and the springs; it filled itself with the living water, that is, the rock. It took within itself the bread of heaven. It overwhelmed the foreign host - a victory due to the extended arms of the Lawgiver, which thus foreshadowed the mystery of the Cross. Only then can the soul go on to the contemplation of transcendent Being. St. Nikephoros of Chios

The soul must be provided with the word of God, for the word of God, as St. Gregory the Theologian tells us, is the bread of angels of which souls partake that hunger after God. Most importantly, one must practice reading the New Testament and the Psalter. By so doing the mind is enlightened and undergoes a divine change.

Spiritual counsels of St. Seraphim of Sarov in Modern Orthodox Saints, Vol. 5.



The soul, when it falls into error and sin, engenders evil progeny, but if the mind, returned to sobriety, effects a conversion, then quote evidently, the soul beings by rejecting that offspring and by conceiving the entrance into virtue, which indeed is praiseworthy. Then, growing little by little through progress, it will arrive one day at perfection; but it is detestable, inversely, after virtue has begun, to add evil by a perversion of noble thought. St. Didymus the Blind, quoted in The Lament of Eve by Johanna Manley

The spirit of desire and anger is liable to invade souls but recently purified. To do what? To shake down the fruits of the Holy Spirit burgeoning within them. For the joy of freedom produces a certain confusion within such souls; they tend to exalt themselves over others because of their great freedom and the richness of their gifts, and also to think that they have attained the great palace of peace through their own strength and understanding. Hence the Wisdom that orders all things for good, and seeks always to attract these souls to itself by means of its gifts and to keep them unshaken in their humility, withdraws from them slightly and so permits this spirit of desire and anger to attack them. Plunged as a result into the fear of falling, they once more keep guard over blessed humility; and, recognizing that they are bound to flesh and blood, they search in accordance with their true nature for the inner stronghold where by the power of the Holy Spirit they can sustain themselves unharmed. Nikitas Stithatos(On the Inner Nature of Things no. 21)

The spirit of humility and modesty, therefore, of so many and thus well-attested men has by their obedience been helpful not only to us, but also to the generations before us, as well as to those who have received His words in fear and truth. And so, since we are allowed to profit by so many glorious examples, let us hasten on to the goal of peace handed down to us from the beginning, and let us fix our gaze upon the Father and Creator of the whole world and hold fast to His magnificent and superabundant gifts and blessings of peace. Let us see Him in spirit, and contemplate with the eyes of the soul His forbearing disposition; let us consider how unimpassioned He is in dealing with all of His creation. St. Clement of Rome, Epistle to the Corinthians

The standing, therefore, of Moses and Elias before Him, and their talking with one another, was a sort of representation, excellently displaying our Lord Jesus Christ, as having the law and the prophets for His body guard, as being the Lord of the law and the prophets, and as foreshown in them by those things which in mutual agreement they before proclaimed. For the words of the prophets are not at variance with the teachings of the law. And this I imagine was what Moses the most priestly and Elias the most distinguished of the prophets were talking of with one another. St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke.

The suffering and misfortune that the Lord allows to fall on the righteous is not the work of evil but a medicine, both for the righteous themselves and for those around them who understand that their suffering is sent from God for their good. The suffering that comes from the attacks of evil spirits on man, or as a consequence of sin, is evil. But the suffering that God allows to fall on men, in order to cleanse them completely from sin, pluck them out from under the devil's tyranny and bring them close to Himself - this purifying suffering neither comes from evil or is in itself evil, but is from God and for the good of men. 'It is good for me that I have been in trouble, that I may learn Thy statues' (Ps. 118:71), says the discerning King David. Bp. Nikolai Velimirovich, Homilies, Vol. 2.

The theologians therefore clearly show that the lower ranks of the Celestial Beings receive the understanding of the divine works from those above them in a fitting manner, and that the highest are correspondingly enlightened in the Divine Mysteries by the Most High God Himself. For some of them are shown to us as enlightened in holy matters by those above them, and we learn that He Who in human form ascended to heaven is Lord of the Celestial Powers and King of Glory. And Angels are represented as questioning Him and desiring knowledge of His divine redemptive work for us, and Jesus Himself is depicted as teaching them and revealing directly to them His great goodness towards mankind. St. Dionysius the Areopagite, The Celestial Hierarchies.

The things which are of this world remain in the world, and whatever riches are gathered by us are bequeathed to our heirs; for the things which we cannot take away with us are not ours either. Virtue alone is the companion of the dead, compassion alone follows us, which as the guide to the Heavens and the first of the mansions, through the use of worthless money, acquires eternal dwellings for the dead, as the Lord's precepts bear witness when He says, 'Make unto you firends of the mammon of iniquity that may receive you into everlasting dwellings' (Lk. 16:9). Thus, it is a good and salutary precept, and fitting, which can incite the avaricious to be zealous to exchange the corruptble for the eternal, the earthly for the Divine.

St. Ambrose of Milan, Exposition of the Holy Gospel According to St. Luke.



The tithe that we offer to God is in the true sense the soul's Passover - its passing beyond, that is to say, every passion-embroiled state and all mindless sense-perception. In this Passover the Logos is offered up in the contemplation of the spiritual essences of created beings; He is eaten in the bread of spiritual knowledge, and His precious Blood is drunk in the chalice of ineffable wisdom. Thus he who has fed upon and celebrated this Passover makes a sacred offering within himself of the Lamb Who effaces the world's sin (cf. Jn. 1:29);; ;and he will no longer die but, in the Lord's words, `will live eternally' (Jn. 6:58). Nikitas Stithatos, On Spiritual Knowledge in The Philokalia, Vol. IV.

The tragedy of our times lies in our almost complete unawareness, or unmindfulness, that there are two kingdoms, the temporal and the eternal. We would build the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, rejecting all idea of resurrection or eternity. Archimandrite Sophrony (His Life is Mine, Chapter 4; SVS Press pg.37

The tree of life represents the Holy Spirit dwelling in the hearts of the faithful, as St. Paul says" 'Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you?' (1 Cor. 6:19). The tree of knowledge of good and evil represents our senses which produce contrasting fruits: pleasure and pain. Each of these is divided again into two: there is pleasure arising from natural needs, and there is pleasure resulting from debauchery; then there is pain coming as a consequence of struggle and spiriual burdens. The fruits are good if we pluck them, keeping close to nature at the right season. God has planted this tree in our hearts, this sense of good and evil, for a good purpose: to test us, to make trial of our obedience, to give us the opportunity to live in accordance with nature or not, as we choose, and to follow what leads to perfection or what leads to imperfection.

Nicetas Stithatus, The Spiritual Paradise, quote in Drinking From the Hidden Fountain.



The tree of life, when understood as symbolizing wisdom, likewise differs greatly from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, in that the latter neither symbolizes wisdom nor is said to do so. Wisdom is characterized by intellect and intelligence, the state which is opposite to wisdom by lack of intelligence and by sensation. St. Maximos the Confessor, Philokalia, Vol. 2

The triadic nature sequent to the supreme Trinity - that is to say, the human soul - has more than other natures been made by the Trinity noetic, intelligent and spiritual. In this way it is created more than other natures in the image of the Trinity. Thus it ought to maintain its proper rank, be sequent to God alone, yoked to Him alone, and subject and obedient to Him alone. It ought to look only to Him and adorn itself with the constant mindfulness and contemplation of Him, and with most fervent and ardent love for Him. For by these means it is wondrously drawn back to itself or, rather, it draws to itself the mystical and ineffable glory of God's nature. Then the soul truly possesses the image and the likeness of God and is thereby made gracious, wise and divine. When this glory is manifestly present or when it approaches unnoticed, the soul now increasingly learns to love God more than itself and to love its neighbor as itself. From this it learns to know and preserve its own dignity and rank, and truly to love itself." St. Gregory Palamas (Topics of Natural and Theological Science no. 40, The Philokalia Vol. 4 edited by Palmer, Sherrard and Ware; Faber and Faber pgs. 363-364)

The true vision and the true knowledge of what we seek consists precisely in not seeing, in an awareness that our goal transcends all knowledge and is everywhere cut off from us by the darkness of incomprehensibility. Thus that profound evangelist, John, who penetrated into this luminous darkness, tells us that `no man hath seen God at any time' (Jn. 1:18), teaching us by this negation that no man - indeed, no created intellect - can attain a knowledge of God. St. Gregory of Nyssa, From Glory to Glory.

The truly humble man never ceases to reproach himself, even when the whole world attacks and insults him. He acts in this way, not simply in order to attain salvation as if it were passively by enduring with patience whatever befalls him, but in order to press forward actively and deliberately to embrace the sufferings of Christ. From these sufferings he learns the greatest of all the virtues, humility: the dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit, the gateway to the kingdom of heaven, that is to say to dispassion. He who passes through this gateway comes to God; but without humility his road is full of pain and his effort useless. St. Peter of Damaskos, Twenty-Four Discourses, The Philokalia, Vol. 3

The undefiled beauty of fasting is the pure mother of character. It causes philosophy to gush forth, and offers a crown. It negotiates Paradise for us And grants a paternal family for those who fast. Of this Adam was deprived, and he attracted death When he dishonored the worth of fasting. For at the time when it was treated scornfully, The God of all, the Creator and the Master was at once displeased. To those who honor it He grants eternal life. The Kontakia of Romanos, On Fasting.

The universe is not separated from that with which it is connected, but all things continue in existence governed by the power of being; and that which is truly being is the divine Goodness in itself - or call it by any other name you may find to express its indestructible nature. And yet, how can we find a name for that which the divine voice of the Apostle tells us is beyond every name (Phil. 2:9)? The only name you could find to express that ineffable nature and power is that of the Good. St. Gregory of Nyssa, From Glory to Glory

The universe is ot separated from that with which it is connected, but all things continue in existence governed by the power of being; and that which is truly being is the divine Goodness in itself - or call it by any other name you may find to express its indestructible nature. And yet, how can we find a name for that which the divine voice of the Apostles tells us 'is beyond every name' (Phil. 2:9)? The only name you could find to express that ineffable nature and power is that of the Good. It is this Good, beyond all good, that truly is, and by itself it has given and continues to give all things the power to come into existence and to remain in being. St. Gregory of Nyssa, From Glory to Glory.

The virtues are all equal and together reduce themselves to one, thus constituting a single principle and form of virtue. But some virtues - such as divine love, humility and divine patience - are greater than others, embracing and comprising as they do a large number or even all of the rest. With regard to patience the Lord says, `You will gain possession of your souls through your patient endurance' (Lk. 21:19). He did not say `through your fasting' or `through your vigils.' I refer to the patience bestowed by God, which is the queen of virtues, the foundation of courageous actions. It is patience that is peace amid strife, serenity mid distress, and a steadfast base for those who acquire it. Once you have attained it with the help of Christ Jesus, no swords and spears, no attacking armies, not even the ranks of demons, the dark phalanx hostile powers, will be able to do you any harm. St. Gregory of Sinai, The Philokalia, Vol. II.

The virtues separate the intellect from the passions; spiritual contemplation separates it from its passion-free conceptual images of things; pure prayer brings it into the presence of God Himself. St. Maximos the Confessor (Third Century on Love no. 44)

The weapons of the righteous man are spiritual wisdom, temperance, patience, contempt of all earthly things. Whoever has these weapons shall be able to deride not only wicked men, but even the adverse powers themselves. Study then, O man, the life according to God, and no one shall conquer you at any time. St. John Chrysostom

The whole complex of the commandments united and knit together in the Spirit (cf. Eph.4:16) has its analogue in man whether his state is perfect or imperfect. The commandments are the body. The virtues - established inner qualities - are the bones. Grace is the soul that lives and vivifies, energizing the vital power of the commandments just as the soul animates the body. The degree of negligence or diligence with which a man tries to attain to Christ's stature reveals what stage he has reached. Alike in this world and in the next, it indicates whether he is in his spiritual infancy or has achieved maturity. St. Gregory of Sinai, Philokalia, Vol. 4.

The whole praise and blessedness of the saints consists of these two elements - their orthodox faith and praiseworthy life, and the gift of the Holy Spirit and His spiritual gifts. A third point follows on them. When a man lives rightly, as a friend of God, with orthodox faith, and when God bestows His gifts on him and glorifies him through the gift of the Spirit, there follows the praise of the whole Church of the faithful and on the part of all its teachers and their pronouncement of his blessedness. But if the basis of faith and works is not laid without fail it is impossible for any man ever to enjoy the presence of the adorable and divine Spirit and to receive His gift. Unless He is present in a man and is known to dwell in him, it is in every way incongruous to call his spiritual. If he has not become spiritual, how will he be holy? If he has not become holy, for what other work or activity will he be accounted blessed, when God is blessedness? St. Symeon the New Theologian, The Discourses

The whole world, limited as it is by its own inner principles, is called both the place and age of those dwelling in it. There are modes of contemplation natural to it which are able to engender in created beings a partial understanding of the wisdom of God that governs all things. St. Maximos the Confessor (First Century on Theology no. 70)

The will of a man is a brass wall between him and God and a stone of stumbling. When a man renounces it, he is also saying to himself,`By my God, I can leap over the wall' (Ps. 18:29). If a man's will is in line with what is right, then he can really labor.'` Abba Poemen of Skete

The wise man declared that by the salutations of peace which are issued from within the sanctuary on the signal of the bishop at each reading are indicated the divine favors imparted by the holy angels. By them God determines the combats of those who fight bravely for the truth against opposing forces by breaking off the invisible struggles and by giving peace in the destruction of the body and by giving to the saints the grace of detachment in return for their labors for virtue. And once delivered from this warfare they turn the forces of the soul to spiritual cultivation, that is, to the accomplishment of the virtues. Through these forces they disperse the armies of evil spirits under the command of God the Word, Who scatters the sharp and wily machinations of the devil. St. Maximus the Confessor, The Mystagogy of the Church.

The women, with mingled joy and fear, rejoicing and sorrow, Turned away from the tomb, as the Bible teaches, To meet the apostles, and they said: "Why are you disheartened? Why do you hide your faces? Lift up your hearts, Christ is risen; Form choruses and say along with us: `The Lord is risen.' He has shone forth, He Who was created before the dawn; Do not be downcast, but take courage; Spring has appeared; come to bloom, ye branches, Producing fruit and not misery. Let us all clap our hands and say: `He has returned to life, He Who offers resurrection to the fallen'." St Romanos the Melodist - On The Resurrection VI

The word 'spirituality' comes from 'spiritual'. Thus, spirituality is the state of the spiritual person. Spiritual man has a certain way of behaving, a certain mentality. He acts differently from the way non-spiritual people behave. The spirituality of the Orthodox Church, however, does not lead to abstract religious life; for is it the fruits of man's inner strength. Spiritualkity is not an abstract religious life because the Church is the Body of Christ. It is not simply a religion which believes in a God, theoretically. The Second Person of the Holy Trinity - the Logos of God - assumed human nature for us. He united it with His hypostasis and became the Head of the Church. Bishop Hierotheos of Nafpaktos, Orthodox Spirituality.

The word of God is like a grain of mustard seed; before its cultvation it appears to be very small, but when it has been properly cutivated it shows itself to be so evidently big that the noble reasons of creatures of sense and mind come as birds to rest in it. For the reasons of all things are set in it as finite beings, but it is limited by none of these beings. Thus the Lord said that the one who has faith as a mustard seed could move a mountain by his word, which means to chase away the might of the devil from us and to change over from his sway. St. Maximus the Confessor, Chapters on Knowledge from Selected Writings.

The words of my companions were for me night and deep shadow, For they did not touch my spirit nor bring to light The lamp of the miracle which I now behold beyond all hope, For I see Christ again though the doors were closed. If I had hastened to understand that He had come in this way, I should not have lost faith, for I was able to contemplate His appearance and His dieparture from Mary; I merely said that I was assured of it, But if one did not see Him, how would it be possible to say, 'Thou art our Lord and God.?" St Romanos the Melodist - On Doubting Thomas.

The worst hell for me is to know that I have saddened a beloved person. Father Epiphanios Theodoropoulos, from his Life & Teaching

There are corresponding cures for sins of the body and likewise for the sins of the intellect. St. Maximos says: `When the body sins through materials things, it has the bodily virtues to teach it self-restraint. Similarly, when the intellect sins through impassioned conceptual images, it has the virtues of the soul to instruct it, so that by seeing things in a dispassionate way, it too may learn self-restraint.'

Themes of the Philokalia, #2 The Intellect by Archimandrite Ioannikos Kotsonis.



There are some people who love their neighbors, drawn by blood relationship or by natural affection, and Scripture does not oppose this kind of love. But what we give freely and naturally is one thing, and the obedience we owe to the Lord's commandments out of love is another. Those I've mentioned indisputably love their neighbors, yet they don't attain love's sublime rewards since their love does not come from spiritual but from natural motives.

St. Gregory the Great, Forty Spiritual Homilies. (now back in print!)



There are two forms of ecstasy in the spirit: one, of the heart (going deep into the heart, in forgetfulness of all things), the other, enravishment (being carried beyond the limits of all that is). The first belongs to those who are still learning, the second to those who have attained perfection in love. Both alike place the mind in which they act outside the senses (or consciousness of outer relationships); for Divine love is an intoxicating forcing of thoughts by the spirit towards the most excellent, which deprives a man of the sense (or the consciousness) of outer relationships. St. Gregory of Sinai (Texts on Commandments and Dogmas no. 59)

There are, as St. Basil says, three states through which we can be pleasing to God. The first, that of fearing punishment; this makes us acceptable and we are in the state of slaves. The second, the state of servants working for wages, fulfilling orders for our own advantage and, by doing so, earning our wages. The third is the state of sons, where we strive for the highest good. For a sin, when he comes to maturity, does his father's will nor for fear of being beaten, nor to receive a reward from him, but because he knows he is loved. He loves and honors his father, and is convinced that all his father possesses is his own. Such a man is worthy to hear, `You are no longer a slave, but a son, an heir of God through Christ.' St. Dorotheos of Gaza, Discourses and Sayings.

There are, however, things belonging to the Godhead which are set up for the imitation of those who wish. Now what are these? It seems to me that by poverty of spirit the Word understands voluntary humility. As an example of this the Apostle adduces the poverty of God when he says: 'Who for us became poor, being rich, that we through His poverty might be rich.' Now everything else that is being contemplated in the Divine Nature surpasses the limits of human nature; but humility is connatural and as it were a brother to us who walk on the ground, who are composed of earth and again dissolve into earth. If, therefore, you imitate God in what is possible to your nature, you will yourself have put on the blessed form. St. Gregory of Nyssa, On the Beatitudes

There is a way of rendering evil for evil not only in actions but also in words and in attitude. A man may not seem to render evil for evil by what he does, but he is found, as I say, to do so in word or in his attitude [general behavior]. For there are times when a person, either by his attitude, his movements, or his looks, disturbs his brother - and does so on purpose - and this is to render evil for evil. St. Dorotheos of Gaza, Discourses and Sayings.

There is more joy in heaven over a converted sinner than over a righteous person standing firm. A leader in battle has more love for a soldier who returns after fleeissng, and who valiantly pursues the enemy, than for one who never turned back, but who never acted valiantly either. A farmer has greater love for land which bears bruitfully, after he has cleared it of thorns, than for land which never had thorns but which never yielded a fruitful harvest. St. Gregory the Great, Forty Gospel Homilies

There is no fellowship betwen light and darkness, says the Apostle (2 Cor. 6:14), but if all darkness departs, light must take its place; also once evil is removed, virtue takes its place. When this is brought about, the prudence of the flesh can no longer resist the Spirit (having been mortified, the flesh cannot be in opposition); rather, it becomes a well-disposed minister in every circumstance, subservient and docile in obedience to the Spirit's rule. When the support of the wicked soldier is taken away, the well-armed soldier of virtue takes his place. He is clothed with the breastplate of righteousness, bears the sword of the Spirit, has the protective covering of armor, the helmet of salvation, and the shield of faith: he thus bears the full spiritual armor. Then will the body, his servant, fear his master, that is, his mind, and it will readily take orders from its master who applies virtue which is applied to the body's service. St. Gregory of Nyssa, The Song of Songs.

There is nothing that melts the ice of unbelief as readily as tears. At that moment, when this man wept before the Lord, he repented of his earlier unbelief and, within him, in God's presence, faith suddenly bubbled up like a stream from a swelling river. And he then gave voice to words that have remained as a powerful message for all generations of men: `Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief!' These words show that man cannot even come to faith without God's help. Man can only come to some slight belief: to a belief in good and evil, or in other words, to doubt in good and evil. But the path from some measure of belief to true faith is long indeed, and no man can follow this path without God's guiding hand. `Help me, O Lord, to believe in Thee!' `Help me not to believe in evil!' `Help me to loose myself entirely from evil, and unite myself with Thee!' This is the meaning of the words: `Help Thou mine unbelief!' St. Nikolai Velimirovic, Homilies, Vol. I

There is nothing we can offer to God more precious than good will. But what is good will? To have good will is to experience concern for someone else's adversities as if they were our own, to give thanks for our neighbor's prosperity as for our own; to believe that another person's loss is our own, and also that another's gain is ours; to love a friend in God, and bear with an enemy out of love, to do to no one what we do not want to suffer ourselves, and to refuse to no one what we rightly want for ourselves; to choose to help a neighbor who is in need not only to the whole extent of our ability, but even beyond our means. What offering is richer, what offering is more substantial than this one? What we are offering to God on the altar of our hearts is the sacrifice of ourselves. St. Gregory the Great, Be Friends of God.

There is nothing we can offer to God more precious than good will. But what is good will? To have good will is to experience concern for someone else's adversities as if they were our own; to give thanks for our neighbor's prosperity as for our own; to believe that another person's loss is our own, and also that another's gain is ours; to love a friend in God, and bear with an enemy out of love; to do to no one what we do not want to suffer ourselves, and to refuse to no one what we rightly want for ourselves; to choose to help a neighbor who is in need not only to the whole extent of our ability, but even beyond our means. What offering is richer, what offering is more substantial than this one? What we are offering to God on the altar of our hearts is the sacrifice of ourselves! St. Gregory the Great, Be Friends of God

There remains, I conceive, no possibility of doubt but that the words, `I and the Father are one,' were spoken with regard to the nature which is His by birth. The Jews had rebuked Him because by these words He, being a man, made Himself God. The course of His answer proves that, in this `I and the Father are One,' He did profess Himself the Son of God, first in name, then in nature, and lastly by birth. For `I' and `Father' are the names of substantive Beings; `One' is a declaration of Their nature, namely, that it is essentially the same in Both; `are' forbids us to confound Them together; `are one,' while forbidding confusion, teaches that the unity of the Two is the result of a birth. Now all this truth is drawn out from that name, the Son of God, which He being sanctified by the Father, bestows upon Himself; a name, His right to which is confirmed by His assertion `I and the Father are One.' For both cannot confer any nature upon the offspring other than that of the parent from whom that offspring is born. St. Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity.

Therefore He siad elsewhere also, `Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up:' and, `The days will come when the Bridegroom shall be taken away from them:' and here, `There shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet:' declaring both that He should die for them, and that they would profit nothing; for this He afterwards declared. Nevertheless, even with this knowledge He died: so great was His tender care. For to hinder thy supposing that the result would be such with the Jews as with the Ninevites; that they would be converted, and that as in their case He established the tottering city, and converted the barbarians, so these too should turn unto Him after His resurrection.

. St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Matthew 12



Therefore let us flee these evils and elevate our soul to the image and likeness of God. The flight from evils is the likeness of God, and the image of God is gained through the virtues. And so, like a painter, He has painted us with the colors of the virtues. `See, I have painted your walls, Jerusalem! (cf. Isa. 49:16). Let us not wipe away with the brush of neglect the props of the painted walls of our soul. And so `I have painted the walls,' with which we can turn away the enemy. The soul has its walls; from them it stands forth and concerning them it says: `I am a strong city, a city besieged.' By these walls it is guarded, and by them it is protected under siege.

St. Ambrose o of Milan, Death as a Good - quoted in Isaiah Through the Ages.



Therefore says the Spirit of God, 'Thou mayest freely eat from every tree of the garden,' that is, East from every Scripture of the Lord, but you shall not eat with an unlifted mind, nor touch any heretical discord. For these men do profess that they have themsleves the knowledge of good and evil, and they set their own impious minds above God Who made them. They therefore form opinions on what is beyond the limits of the understanding. For this cause also the apostle says, 'Be not wise beyond what it is fitting to be wise, but be wise prudently' (cf. Rom. 12:3), so that we be not cast forth by eating of the 'knowledge' of these men (that knowledge which knows more than it should do) from the paradise of life. St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies.

Therefore the Father hath said: `Let us make man in Our image and likeness.' At the beginning of the universe itself, as I read, the Father and the Son existed, and I see one creation. I hear Him that speaketh. I acknowledge Him that doeth: but it is of one image, one likeness, that I read. This likeness belongs not to diversity but to unity. What, therefore, thou claimest for thyself, thou takest from the Son of God, seeing indeed, that thou canst not be in the image of God, save by help of the image of God. St. Ambrose of Milan, On the Christian Faith, Book I

Therefore the monk who, like a most prudent bee, is desirous of storing up spiritual honey must suck the flower of a particular virtue from those who possess it more intimately, and he must lay it up carefully in the vessel of his heart. He must not begrudge a person for what he has less of, but he must contemplate and eagerly gather up only the virtuousness that he possesses. For if we want to obtain all of them from a single individual, either examples will be hard to find or, indeed, there will be none that would be suitable for us to imitate. The reason for this is that, although we see that Christ has not yet been made "all in all", we can nonetheless in this fashion find him partly in all. St. John Cassion THE INSTITUTES

Therefore we learn from the Lord this sublime doctrine that the only truly and solidly existing thing is our zeal for virtue. For if a man has perfected himself in any of the higher things, such as continence, temperance, devotion to God or any other of the sublime teachings of the Gospel, his joy in these achievements does not quickly pass away, but is truly solid, lasting his whole lifetime. Why is this so? Because these things can always be done, there is no moment in the whole life when we are sick of doing good. For we can always practice temperance and purity, we can be faithful in all that is good and abstain from evil as long as we aim at virtue, and its very practice with bring joy with it. But as for those who waste their lives in absurd lusts, even if their soul should constantly be occupied with licentiousness, yet it will not always be able to enjoy it. For satiety stops the greed of the glutton, and the drinker's pleasure is quenched at the same time as his thirst. And so it is with the other things. They all require a certain interval of time to rekindle the desire for the delights, which enjoyment carried to satiety has caused to flag. The possession of virtue, on the other hand, where it is once firmly established, is neither circumscribed by time nor limited by satiety. On the contrary, it always offers its disciples the ever-fresh experience of the fullness of its own delights. Therefore God the Word promises to those who hunger for these things that they shall be filled, and in being filled their desire will not be dulled but rather kindled anew. St. Gregory of Nyssa, On The Beatitudes.

Therefore, each one of us should strive and make every effort to pursue diligently all virtues. We ought to believe and seek from the Lord that the inner man receive even now this glory and that we may participate in the holiness of the Spirit so that, purged from all sordid traces of evil, we may receive also in the resurrection what will clothe our bodies as they rise naked, what will cover over any deformity, will vivify and transform them in the heavenly kingdom forever. St. Macarius the Great, Fifty Spiritual Homilies

Therefore, he says, be less concerned, be less sorrowful, if when you do what is right you are blasphemed by the condemned, because although you are silent, God, Who is certainly a righteous Judge, nonetheless will not be silent and hold His peace. He will bestow worthy rewards both on them for their blasphemy and on you for your patience. Venerable Bede, Commentary on the Seven Catholic Epistles (1Pet. 4:5).

Therefore, it is a great thing to cultivate this respect for our brethren so that we fear to harm ourselves and one another, that we honor one another and that we keep a careful check on our gestures and on our contenance towards one another. For these latter, as one of the elders points out, can come under the heading of 'taking liberties.' Should it happen that you see a brother doing wrong, don't despise him and wipe your hands of him and keep silence and let him be destroyed, nor again curse him or speak ill of him. But with sympathy and the fear of God speak to someone who is able to set him up again, or you yourself speak to him with love and humility, saying, 'Pardon me, brother, but I consider - being careless myself - we probably do not act rightly in doing so-and-so.' St. Dorotheos of Gaza, Discourses and Sayings

Therefore, let us love with our whole mind, dearly beloved brothers, the marriage of Christ and the Church, which was prefigured then in one city and is now celebrated over the whole earth. And let us be joined to the heavenly joys of this [marriage] by an unwearied concentration on good works. Let us take care to celebrate this [marriage] wearing the pure garment of love, for we made our entrance invited by faith; and let us be very solicitous to wash away the soiled spots from our actions and our thoughts before the day of the final judgment, lest perhaps when the king who has made the marriage feast for his son enters, if he sees that we do not have the wedding garment of chastity, he may cast us out and send us into the outer darkness, with out hands and feet tied with respect to the capability of doing good. Venerable Bede, Homilies on the Gospels, Book 1.

Therefore, my children, let s hold to the discipline, and not be careless. For we have the Lord for our coworker in this, as it is written, God 'works for good with everyone who chooses the good.' And in order that we not become negligent, it is good to carefully consider the Apostle's statement: 'I die daily.: For if we so live as people dying daily, we will not commit sin. St. Athanasius, The Life of Anthony.

Therefore, the Lives of the Saints are nothing else but the life of the Lord Christ, repeated in every saint to a greater or lesser degree in this or that form. More precisely it is the life of the Lord Christ continued through the Saints, in the life of the incarnate God the Logos, the God-man Jesus Christ Who became man. This was so that as a man He could give and transmit to us His divine life; so that as God by His life He could sanctify and make immortal and eternal our human life on earth. `For both he who sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one.' (Heb. 2:11).

St. Justin Popovich, Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ (Introduction to the Lives of the Saints).



Therefore, through patience and the consolation of the Scriptures may we also have hope of consoling ourselves after the afflictions of our distress when we too have been patient in tribulation and call to mind the actions of those who have far excelled us in righteousness and merit and borne far greater trials of adversity than we. For they, on account of the righteousness in which they were quite exemplary, often suffered the persecution of the unrighteous, in order that, by their exercise of righteousness, they might receive the crown of invincible patience, and might, moreover, leave behind for all who followed them the glorious footprints of their perseverance to mark their way. The Venerable Bede, On the Temple.

Therefore, whatever has been sown by the fidelity of the Fathers in this husbandry of God's Church, the same ought to be cultivated and taken care of by the industry of their children, the same ought to flourish and the same ought to advance and go forward to perfecton. For it is right that those ancient doctrines of heavenly philosophy should, as time goes on, be cared for, smoothed, polished; but not that they should be changed, not that they should be maimed, not that they should be mutilated. They may receive proof, illustration, definiteness; but they must retain withal their completeness, their integrity, their characteristic properties. St. Vincent of Lerins, A Commonitory.

These are the works of righteousness: fasting, alms, vigil, holiness, and the rest of such works performed with the body. Love for one's neighbor, humility of heart, forgiving those who have sinned, recollection of good things, investigation of the mysteries concealed in the holy Scriptures, the mind's occupation with good works, the bridling of the soul's passions, and the rest of such virtues, are performed in the soul. All these require knowledge, for knowledge guards them and teaches their order. St. Isaac the Syrian, Ascetical Homilies

These verily are they who are entrusted with the pangs of spiritual travail and the birth which comes through baptism: by their means we put on Christ, and are buried with the Son of God, and become members of the Blessed Head. Wherefore they might not only justly be more feared by us than rulers and kings, but also be more honored than parents; since these began us of blood and thewill of the flesh, but the others are the authors of our birth from God, even that blessed regeneration which is the true freedom and the sonship according to grace." St. John. Chrysostom

These, then, are the four rich sources of prayer. Out of contrition for sin is supplicaton born. Prayer comes of the fidelity to promises and the fulfillment of what we have undertaken for the sake of a pure conscience. Pleading comes forth from the warmth of our love. Thanksgiving is generated by the contemplation of God's goodness and greatness and faithfulness. And all this, as we know, often evokes the most fervent and fiery prayers. Hence all of these types of prayer of which I have been speaking are valuable for all men, and indeed quite necessary. And so one man will now offer supplication, prayer then, later the purest and most zealous pleas. St. John Cassian, The Conferences

These, then, are the things in which you must stand firm and follow the Lord's example: be steadfast and immovable in the faith, love the brotherhood; cherish one another, be united in the truth; with the meekness of the Lord give precedence to one another; despise no one. When able to do a work of charity, do not put it off; for almsgiving delivers from death. One and all, submit to each other's rights; you life among the Gentiles must be beyond reproach; thus by your good example you will win praise for yourselves, and the Lord will not be blasphemed on your account. St. Polycarp of Smyrna, Epistle to the Philippians

They who rightly understand the words of the Law, but do not utter them with humility, are to be warned that in dealing with divine utterances, they should, before setting them before others, first look to themselves lest, in following up the deeds of others, they desert themselves, and though thinking aright about all the rest contained in Sacred Scriptures, they disregard that one thing, namely, what Scripture declares against the proud. St. Gregory the Great, Pastoral Care

This [discernment] is no minor virtue, nor one which can be seized anywhere merely by human effort. It is ours only as a gift from God and we read in the apostle that it is to be numbered among the most outstanding gifts of the Holy Spirit. `To one the gift of preaching the word of wisdom is given by the Spirit, to another is given a word of instruction by the same Spirit, to another faith in the same Spirit, to another the gift of healing through this one Spirit' (1Cor. 12:8-9). Further on is `to another is given the discernment of spirits.' And following on the full list of the spiritual gifts he adds that `it is the one and same Spirit which works all of these, giving them out to each one as He chooses. St. John Cassian, The Conferences

This grass is an icon; this stone is an icon; and I can kiss it, venerate it, because it is filled with God's grace. The world is not for us to take things from, but a place where we cast off our passions and desires. Father Paisius, Mt Athos

This is man's nature, and for this we were created. To this end we were brought into being, that having received some small benefits in this life we may, by giving thanks to God and loving Him, enjoy in that life blessings far greater that endure forever. But alas! We have no concern whatever for the blessings that are to come and are even ungrateful for the blessings that are at hand, and so, to tell the truth, we become the equals of demons or even worse! Therefore we deserve an even worse punishment in proportion to the greater benefits we have received, for we know that God for our sakes became like us (apart from sin), in order that He might deliver us from error and set us free from sin. But why should I say this? We truly believe all these things, but in word only; we deny them by our deeds! St. Symeon the New Theologian, The Discourses.

This is the beginning of salvation not only fur us, who are besieged by bad habits and passions, but also for the saints themselves, even though the measure and depth of the repentance is more profound than our. St. Cassian says that the sins and transgressions of the commandments committed by the saints do not diminish their sanctity. Does not the righteous man sin seven times a day [Prov. 24:16]? But he rises each time and does not spend a minute without tears and repentance. Yes, we sin every day, at times consciously or out of forgetfulness, without intending to or involuntarily, or because of our weakness we sin every day willingly and unwillingly. Is this not what the apostle Paul refers to when he says, 'I do what I do not want and what I do not want is what I do' [Rom. 1:15]? Elder Basil of Poiana Marului, Writings

This people, which was of the seed of Abraham and which comprised the portion taken from Adam's side, was established by God as a kind of new world, a third one, bearing in itself an image of that first creation and of Paradise, as well as of the second, that is, of the contents of the Ark. Nor this alone, but it was also a type of thing which would happen afterwards, in the future. It was a kind of intermediary, at once signifying the past in the future and showing that future and past are joined. For it possessed the Promised Land as another, second Paradise in place of the original garden. It had the ark in place of the Theotokos, and by means of these types it both declared and represented for us in images the return and inheritance which, by the renewal of the Holy Spirit, would come to pass for the saints in the world to come. St. Symeon the New Theologian, On the Mystical Life, Vol. 1

This present festival is a harbinger of future well-being for all who have met together here - and rightly so! For it shows us the reasons for purity, and offers us womanhood's most exalted boast. Holy Mary has called us together, the immaculate treasure of virginity, the spiritual paradise of the second Adam, the workshop where natures were united; the festival of our saving covenant, the chamber in which the Word made flesh his bridge; the living thornbush of our nature, which the fire of a divine childbirth did not burn up; the truly radiant cloud, which bore in a body Him Who thrones above the Cherubim; the fleece made pure by heavenly dew, in which the Shepherd dressed as the sheep; servant and mother, virgin and heaven, only bridge between God and the human race...

Sermon by Proclus of Constantinople (5th c.), quoted in 'On the Dormition of Mary: Early Patristic Homilies' by Brian E,. Daley.



This truly is the vision of God: never to be satisfied in the desire to see Him. But one must always, by looking at what he can see, rekindle his desire to see more. Thus, no limit would interrupt growth in the ascent to God, since no limit to the Good can be found nor is the increasing of desire for the Good brought to an end because it is satisfied. St. Gregory of Nyssa, The Life of Moses

This, my brethren, is certain: whoever, whether man or woman, keeps the commandments of God, becomes wise and brave, and does not fear the whole world; whereas whoever does not keep them but does the will of the devil becomes a food and a coward, and fears even his own shadow, even thought he be a king and possess the whole world.

St. Cosmas Aitolos, Modern Orthodox Saints, V. 1 by Constantine Cavarnos.



Those of you who earn your bread by means of your toil and sweat should rejoice, because that bread is blessed; and if you give a little of it as alms it is reckoned as much. But those who live by means of injustice and grasping should mourn, for what you thus acquire is cursed; and if you give alms out of these they do not benefit you at all, being fire that consumes you. St. Cosmas Aitolos, Modern Orthodox Saints, Vol. 1

Those persons, therefore, who were restored to life by the power of Christ, we take as a pledge of the hope prepared for us of a resurrection of the dead; and these were, this young man, and Lazarus of Bethany, and the daughter of the chief of the synagogue. And this truth the company of the holy prophets proclaimed before; for the blessed Esaias said, `The dead shall arise, and those in the graves shall be restored to life: for the dew from Thee is healing to them.' And by dew he means the life-giving operation of Christ, which is by the instrumentality of the Holy Spirit. St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke (3rdSunday)

Those taught by God will be regarded as fools by the disciples of such as are wise in the wisdom of this world. But in fact it is the worldly-wise that are fools, spouting an inane secular wisdom, the stupidity of which God has demonstrated (cf. I Cor. 1:20) and which Scripture condemns as material, unspiritual, devilish, filled with strife and malice (cf. James 3:15). Since these people are blind to the divine light, they cannot see the marvels it contains; they regard as deluded those who dwell in that light and see and teach others about what is within it. On the contrary, it is they themselves that are deluded, not having tasted the ineffable blessings of God. St. Symeon the New Theologian (Practical and Theological Texts no. 105)

Those who do not have a conscience assured of purity of heart cannot pray with the words of the Prophet `Give reward unto Thy servant.' If, indeed, the reward is according to the measure of our works, we remain within the chastisement of our sins and our faults. It is already good if one has the means of assurance that permit thanks to God thus: `Not according to our iniquities hath He dealt with us, neither according to our sins hath He rewarded us. For according to the height of heaven from the earth, the Lord hath made His mercy to prevail over them that fear Him' (Ps. 102:9-10). It is important to recognize such mercy on the part of God for us, to know that we are insulated by the accustomed practice of our faults, and for us to begin to be worthy of the mercy of God.

St. Hilary of Poitiers, quoted in Grace for Grace: The Psalter and the Holy Fathers, by Johanna Manley.



Those who do not receive the instructions of God superficially sequester them in their heart for them to conform their thoughts to His intenton, with the aim of being without sin before God, Who sees those things which are hidden. Not only does this man not commit adultery, but he does not even desire anything bad. Didymus the Blind, quoted in Grace for Grace by Johanna Manley.

Those who feed their body too lavishly and make provision for it, 'to fulfill the lusts thereof' (Rom. 13:14), Should later blame not their bodies but themselves. But those who have acquired passionlessness of soul through this very body and are diligent in contemplating the One Who Is, as far as is in their power (again with the help of the body), profess the bounty of the Creator (who has given us the body). Abba Evagrius the Monk(Texts on Active Life no. 34)

Those who have reached such an angelic state often forget about bodily food. I think that often they do not even feel any desire for it. And no wonder, for frequently a contrary desire expels the thought of food. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), Step30: Concerning the Linking Together of the Supreme Trinity Among the Virtues

Those who know God are filled with all kinds of good thoughts and, desiring the heavenly, despise the earthly. But such men are seldom pleasing to others; so that many of the foolish not only hate them but also deride and abuse them. St. Antony the Great(170 Texts on Saintly Life no. 53)

Those who receive this gift [the Bread of Life] are still walking and travelling on the earth, and so are covered with dust, stumble on the way, and are in fear o falling into the hands of brigands. Yet the gift amply suffices for their present needs. It supplies them with strength, it guides them, it cleanses them, until they find lodging in that place where, according to Peter's word, it is good for a man to be (Mt. 17:4). In that place there is no room for other things, and men abide where they are free from worldly affiars. Christ alone is their crown and is clearly present with them. Nicholas Cabasilas, The Life in Christ.

Those who still fear the war against the passions and dread the assaults of invisible enemies must keep silent; in their struggle for virtue they must not enter into disputes with their enemies but through prayer must entrust all anxiety about themselves to God. To them apply the words of Exodus: 'The Lord will fight for you, and you must be silent' (Ex. 14:14). St. Maximos the Confessor (First Century on Theology no. 30)

Those who want to be saved scrutinize not the shorcomings of their neighbor but always their own and they set about eliminating them. Such was the man who saw his brother doing wrong and groaned, 'Woe is me; him today - me tomorrow!' You see his caution? Yeou see the preparedness of his mind? How he swiftly foresaw how to avoid judging his brother? St. Dorotheos of Gaza, Discourses and Sayings

Those whom divine providence is leading towards holiness in this life are tested by the following three tests: by the gift of agreeable things, such as health, beauty, fine children, money, fame and so on; by afflictions causing distress, such as the loss of children, money and fame; and by bodily sufferings, such as disease, torture and so on. To those in the first category the Lord says, 'If a person does not forsake all that he has, he cannot be My disciple' (Luke 14:33); and to those in the second and third He says, 'You will gain possession of your souls through your patient endurance' (Luke 21:19). St. Maximos the Confessor (Second Century on Love no. 91)

Those...who have been released from the enemy's attacks and who genuinely seek instruction in the ways of acquiring the virtues, need only to keep the ear of their mind open. To them Scripture says, 'Hear O Israel' (Deut. 6:4). St. Maximos the Confessor (First Century on Theology no. 30)

Thou art our earthly body's one Source of sight and vision, yea, the light of our mortal being, O God and Word, common Fashioner and Creator of all. And now by the mixture of spittle and clay, and with Thy pure fingers which fashioned both the dust and our sight, Thou in a manner beyond speech dost grant sight unto a man who was known to be blind since his very birth. And when he who had never seen the sun has obtained his sight, he gazed upon Thee, Christ our God, Who in Thy compassion which surpasseth speech didst fashion and bring us into being.

Sticheron from Sunday evening Vespers of the Blind Man. The Pentecostarion .



Thou dost ever gush forth streams of healings, O holy Virgin, unto them that come with faith to thy spring, O Bridge of God, for thou lavishly dost make flow, as a gift, healings in abundance to the ailing and to the diseased, and thou dost brightly shine on the blind that come to thee, and they see. And many lame hast thou restored and to paralytics hast given strength; by a threefold pouring, thou also didst raise up to life one dead; and dropsy's sufferings hast thou healed, and pulmonic maladies.

Stichera for the Feast of the Life-Giving Spring, Friday of Bright Week, Pentecostarion



Thou hast caused me, my brother, not to fear death, and I only would that my life might not die with thine! This Balaam wished for as the greatest good for himself, when, inspired by the spirit of prophecy, he said: `Let my soul die in the souls of the righteous, and let my seed be like the seed of them.' And in truth he wished this according to the spirit of prophecy, for as he saw the rising of Christ, so also he saw His triumph, he saw His death, but saw also in Him the everlasting resurrection of man, and therefore feared not to die as he was to rise again. Let not then my soul die in sin, nor admit sin into itself, but let it die in the soul of the righteous, that it may receive his righteousness. The, too, he who dies in Christ is made a partaker of His grace in the Font. St. Ambrose of Milan, On Believe in the Resurrection.

Thou hast shown Thy strength in choosing the humble, for it was a sign of poverty For Thee to sit on the ass; but as Glorious, Thou dost shake Zion. The cloaks of the disciples pointed to frugality; But the song of the children and the throng of people was a sign of Thy strength, As they cry out, `Hosanna in the highest,' that is, Save! Thou Who art on high, save the humbled; Heeding the palm branches, take pity on us. Look upon those who cry out: `Thou art the blessed One Who comest to call up Adam.' St Romanos the Melodist - On the Entry Into Jerusalem.

Thou, O Lord, hast freed us from the fear of death. Thou hast made the end of this life the beginning to us of true life. Thou for a season restest our bodies in sleep and awakest them again at the last trump. Thou givest our earth, which Thou hast fashioned with Thy hands, to the earth to keep in safety. One day Thou wilt take again what Thou hast given, transfiguring with immortality and grace our mortal and unsightly remains. Thou hast saved us from the curse and from sin, having become both for our sakes. Thou hast broken the heads of the dragon who had seized us with his jaws, in the yawning gulf of disobedience. Thou hast shown us the way of resurrection, having broken the gates of Hades, and brought to nought him who had the power of death -- the devil. Thou hast given a sign to those that fear Thee in the symbol of the Holy Cross, to destroy the adversary and save our life. O God eternal, to Whom I have been attached from my mother's womb, Whom my soul has loved with all its strength, to Whom I have dedicated both my flesh and my soul from my youth up until now -- do Thou give me an angel of light to conduct me to the place of refreshment, where is the water of rest, in the bosom of the holy Fathers. the last prayer of St. Macrina*, recorded by St. Gregory of Nyssa.

Thou, O Saviour, dost pour out for all the world, living waters of wisdom and endless life, inviting all to partake and to drink of these saving streams; for the man who receiveth and keepeth Thy holy law thereby quencheth the coals of dark error and fallacy. Wherefore, he shall not thirst to the ages, O Master, nor fail to be filled with Thee, King of Heaven, Thou sovereign Lord. For this cause do we glorify Thy power and Thy might, O Christ God, asking that forgiveness of our many sins be granted in all abundance unto us, Thy worthless slaves. Sessional Hymn, Matins of Mid-Pentecost, The Pentecostarion.

Thou, at Mid-feast, didst stand in the temple's court in a manner unto Me and drink. He that drinketh of this divine water that I shall give, from within him the springs of My teachings shall issue forth. Whoso doth believe that the Divine Father sent Me, and that I came forth from be to Thee, O Christ God, Who dost cause the streams of Thy great love for man to well forth in all abundance unto us, Thy worthless slaves. Sessional Hymn from Matins of Mid-Pentecost, The Pentecostarion

Though God knows all our needs, prayer is necessary for the cleansing and enlightenment of our soul. It is well to stand in the sunshine: it is warm and light; likewise, when standing in prayer before God, our spiritual Sun, we are warmed and enlightened. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ.

Three old men, of whom one had a bad reputation, came one day to Abba Achilles. The first asked him, "Father, make me a fishing-net." "I will not make you one," he replied. Then the second said, "Of your charity make one, so that we may have a souvenir of you in the monastery." But he said, "I do not have time." Then the third one, who had a bad reputation, said, "Make me a fishing-net, so that I may have something from your hands, Father." Abba Achilles answered him at once, "For you, I will make one." Then the two other old men asked him privately, "Why did you not want to do what we asked you, but you promised to do what he asked?" The old man gave them this answer, "I told you I would not make one, and you were not disappointed, since you thought that I had no time. But if I had not made one for him, he would have said, 'The old man has heard about my sin, and that is why he does not want to make me anything,' and so our relationship would have broken down. But now I have cheered his soul, so that he will not be overcome with grief." The Desert Fathers

Three things bring salvation to man: faith, works, and contemplation. For firstly, one believes from hearing; secondly, one does the commandments; and thirdly, one is granted union with God and enjoys with contemplative faith what he formerly believed with faith from hearing. St. Maximos of Corinth, Modern Orthodox Saints, V. 2

Through His incarnation God gave us the model of a holy life and recalled us from our ancient fall. In addition to many other things, He taught us, feeble as we are, that we should fight against the demons with humility, fasting, prayer and watchfulness. For when, after His baptism, He went into the desert and the devil came up to Him as though he were merely a man, He began His spiritual warfare by fasting and won the battle by this means - though, being God, and God of gods, He had no need of any such means at all. St. Hesychios the Priest, Philokalia, Vol. I

Through the Resurrection, even though we are clothed with a body, we have, if we wish, nothing less than what the Angels have. Today we celebrate our shining victory. Today our Master has set up the trophy against death, has undone the tyranny of the Devil, and has granted us the way of salvation through the Resurrection. We all rejoice, exult, and leap with joy. Even though it was our Master Christ Who conquered and set up the trophy, we all share in common the joy and happiness. All this He did for our salvation, and with the same means which the Devil battled against us, with the same means did Christ conquer him. He took up the same weapons and He fought against him. How? Listen to it. The virgin, the wood, and death were the symbols of our defeat. Eve was a virgin. When she suffered the fraud, she had not know man. The wood is the tree, and death is the punishment given to Adam. Do you see how the virgin, the wood, and death became the symbols of our defeat? Behold, therefore, how they again became the causes of victory. In the place of Eve, Mary; in the place of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the wood of the Cross; in the place of the death of Adam, the death of the Master. Do you see by what means He conquered, with the same means Adam had been defeated? St. John Chrysostom, A Homily on the Holy Pascha.

Through the Word, therefore, all angels were created, and through the sanctification by the Holy Spirit were they brought to perfection, sharing each in proportion to his worth and ran in brightness and grace. They are circumscribed: for when they are in the Heaven they are not on the earth; and when they are sent by God down to the earth they do not remain in the Heaven. They are not hemmed in by walls and doors, and bars and seals, for they are quite unlimited. Unlimited, I repeat, for it is not as they really are that they reveal themselves to the worthy men to whom God wishes them to appear, but in a changed form which the beholders are capable of seeing. For that alone is naturally and strictly unlimited which is uncreated. For every living thing is limited by God Who created it. St. John of Damascus, Exposition of the Orthodox Faith.

Through the prayer of faith we can obtain from the All-merciful and All-bestowing God all spiritual and indispensable earthly blessings besides, if only the prayer is fervent and the desire to obtain these blessings sincere. And what prayers the Church puts into our mouths! Such, that by means of them we can easily incline the Lord to be merciful to us and to bestow upon us every good gift. The enemy, knowing God's goodness and the power of prayer, endeavors by every means to deter us from it, or during the prayer tries to distract our minds, to hinder us by various passions and attachments to earthly things, or by hurry, disturbance, etc. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ.

Through the words of the Song the soul is escorted to an incorporeal, spiritual, and pure union with God. For God, Who 'wishes all to be saved and to come to the recognition of the truth' (1 Tim. 2:4), shows the most perfect and blessed way of salvation here - I mean the way of love. For some there is salvation by fear; we contemplate the threat of punishment in hell and so avoid evil. Further, there are those who, because of the hope of the reward held out for a life piously lived, conduct themselves virtuously. They do not possess the good out of love but by the expectation of a recompense. St. Gregory of Nyssa, Commentary on The Song of Songs.

Thus did God will that He should be known by all, thus believed the three children, and felt not the fire into the midst whereof they were cast, which destroyed and burnt up unbelievers, while it fell harmless as dew upon the faithful, for whom the flames kindled by others became cold, seeing that the torment had justly lost its power in conflict with faith. For with them there was One in the form of an angel, comforting the, to the end that in the number of the Trinity one Supreme Power might be praised. God was praised, the Son of God was seen in God's angel, holy and spiritual grace spake in the children. St. Ambrose of Milan, On the Christian Faith, Book 1

Thus fathers will be judged by fathers, friends and relatives by friends and relatives, brothers by brothers, slaves and free men by slaves and free men respectively, the rich by those who were rich and the poor by those who were poor, the married by those who have excelled in the married state, the unmarried by those who have lived unmarried. In short, on the awesome day of judgment every sinful man will see one who is like him opposite to him in eternal life, in that unutterable light, and will be judged by him. What do I mean? As every sinner looks on him who is like him, the king upon the king, the ruler upon the ruler, the impenitent whoremonger on the whoremonger who repented, the poor man on the poor man, and the slave on the slave, he will remember that the other one was also a man, with the same soul, the same hands, the same eyes, in short with all other things in common, the same kind of life and the same rank, the same occupation, the same resources. Yet, since he was unwilling to initiate him, his mouth will at once be stopped and he will remain without excuse, without a word to speak! St. Symeon the New Theologian, Discourses

Thus in speaking of God, when there is a question of His essence, then is the `time to keep silence.' When, however, it is a question of His operation, a knowledge of which can come down even to us, that is the `time to speak' of His omnipotence by telling if His works and explaining His deeds, and to use words to this extent. In thing, however, which go beyond this, the creature must not exceed the bounds of its nature, but must be content to know itself. For indeed, in my view, if the creature never comes to know itself, never understands the essence of the soul or the nature of the body, the cause of being, how beings arise from one another by generation, how being comes from non-being and is resolved into non-being, how the universe if harmoniously constructed out of contraries - if the creature does not know itself, how can it ever explain things that are beyond it? Of such things it is `time to keep silence'; here silence is surely better. There is, however, `a time to speak' of all those things by which we can in our lives make progress in virtue.

St. Gregory of Nyssa, From Glory to Glory (from Commentary on Ecclesiastes).



Thus it is fitting that the Cause of all which is above all should both be nameless and possess the names of all things, in order that there may be perfect dominion over the whole of things and that It may be the Center of all things which depend upon It as their Cause, Beginning and End; and that It may be, as the Scripture says, All in all, and may truly be named the Source of all things, originating, perfecting, maintaining them, their Guardian and Home, turning them towards Itself; and all this in a uniform, irresistible and exampt manner. For not only is It the Cause of sustenance to all things and the Cause of life and perfection, so that from this or that providential activity alone the Goodness which is avove every name should be named; but in a simple and absolute manner It fore-contains all things in the Perfect Goodness of Its unitive and all-prolific Providence, and is rightly wih one accord praised and named by all things. St. Dionysios the Areopagite, The Divine Names

Thus the mountains are to symbolize the heavens, and the ninety-nine sheep the principalities and powers which the Shepherd and Commander left when He came down to look for His lost sheep. Man remained to be included in this number and multitude: the Lord put him in Himself and carried him back, that he might not again, as I have said, be overwhelmed and submerged by the mounting waves and deceptions of pleasure. This was the reason why the Word assumed human nature, that He might through Himself defeat the Serpent and destroy the condemnation that existed for man's ruin. It was indeed fitting that the Evil One should be defeated by no one else but by him whom the Devil boasted he ruled since he first deceived him. For it was impossible otherwise to destroy the state of sin and condemnation unless the same man because of whom the words, 'Earth thou art, and unto earth thou shalt return,' were spoken, should renew the contest and undo the sentence that had been passed against all men because of him. Thus, just as 'in Adam all men die, so also in Christ,' Who assumed Adam, 'all were made to be alive.' St. Methodius, The Symposium.

Thus when He had set the soul free from anxiety, then He made mention also of Heaven. For indeed He came to do away with the old things, and to call us to a greater country. Therefore He doeth all, to deliver us from things unnecessary, and from our affection for the earth. For this cause He mentioned the heathens also, saying that `the Gentiles seek after these things;' they whose whole labor is for the present life, who have no regard for the things to come, nor any thought of Heaven. But to you not these present are the chief things, but other than these. For we were not born for this end, that we should eat and drink and be clothed, but that we might please God, and attain unto the good things to come. Therefore as things here are secondary in our labor, so also in our prayers let them be secondary. Therefore He also said, `Seek ye the kingdom of Heaven, and all these things shall be added unto you. St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of St. Matthew.

Thus, let us discuss all things, let us seek more diligently. None finds who has not already sought. Let us build a tower, let us compute the costs of the Scriptures, let us collect the outlay, lest someone somewhere also say of us, 'This man wished to build, and was not able to finish' (Lk. 14:28-29). Whoso builds must lay a good foundation. A good foundation is faith, the good foundation of the Apostles and the Prophets, for our Faith rises from the two Testaments, nor does he do wrong who has said that the measure of perfect faith is equal in both when the Lord Himself says, 'Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed Me' (Jn. 5:46), because the Lord spoke also in Moses. Thus, fittingly is the measure perfect in both, because the perfect man is in each and the Faith of both is one, because the prophecy and the answer are of one virtue and understanding. St. Ambrose of Milan, Exposition of the Holy Gospel According to St. Luke

Tis said that the most blessed Evangelist John, when he was gently stroking a partridge with his hands, suddenly saw one in the habit of a hunter coming to him. He wondered that a man of such repute and fame should demean himself to such small and humble amusements, and said: "Art thou that John whose eminent and widespread fame hath enticed me also with great desire to know thee? Why then art thou taken up with such mean amusements?" The blessed John said to him: "What is that which thou carriest in thine hands?" "A bow," saith he. "And why," said John, "dost thou not bear it about always stretched?" The hunter answered him: "I must not, lest by constant bending the strength of its vigor be wrung and grow soft and perish, and when there is need that the arrows be shot with much strength at some beast, the strength being lost by excess of continual tension, a forcible blow cannot be dealt." "Just so," said the blessed John, "let not this little and brief relaxation of my mind offend thee, young man, for unless it doth sometimes ease and relax by some remission the force of its tension, it will grow slack through unbroken rigor and will not be able to obey the power of the Spirit. (as reported by St. John Cassian in his -Collation XXIV. 21-)

To Adam, blinded in Eden, appeared a sun from Bethlehem, And He opened his eyes, washing them in the waters of the Jordan. An unquenchable light shone upon him who had been covered with darkness and shadows. No more will there be night for him; but all is day. The dawn before daybreak has been born for him. For in the twilight he was covered over, as it was written. He who fell in the evening found light shining upon him; He escaped from darkness and advanced towards dawn, Which has appeared and illumined all things.

Kontakia of Romanos, On the Epiphany. Greetings on the Feast to all who celebrate today.



To Him, therefore, let all come who would be made whole. Let them receive the medicine which He hath brought down from His Father and made in heavn, preparing it of the juices of those celestial fruits that wither not. This is of no earthly growth, for nature nowhere possesseth this compound. Of wondrous purpose took He our flesh, to the end that He might show that the law of the flesh hae been subjected to the law of the mind. He was incarnate, that He, the Teacher of men, might overcome as man. St. Ambrose of Milan, Exposition of the Christmas Faith.

To act without malice is to invite into our soul the very appearance and indwelling of God Himself, as St. John Climacus said. Also, great joy is created in the soul by the prevalence of innocence. Indeed, look at the young children who are simple and free of malice; they are always most happy simply on account of their gracious simplicity and guilelessness. Later, when they grow up and come to know evil, joy leaves them because they are no longer without malice. St. Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain, A Handbook of Spiritual Counsel.

To deny oneself means to give up one's bad habits, to root out of the heart all that ties us to the world; not to cherish bad desires and thoughts; to quench and suppress bad thoughts; to avoid occasions of sin, not to do or desire anything from self-love, but to do everything out of love for God. To deny oneself means, according to the Apostle Paul, to be dead to sin and the world, but alive to God. St. Innocent of Irkursk, Indication of the Way into the Kingdom ofHeaven.

To describe it with the boldest expression, prayer is a conversation with God. Even if we speak with a low voice, even if we whisper without opening the lips, even if we call to Him only from the depths of the heart, our unspoken word always reaches God and God always hears. Sometimes, however, besides speaking, we lift our head and raise our arms to heaven. In this way we are underlining the desire that the spirit has for the spiritual world.We are striving with the word to raise our body above the earth. We are giving wings to the soul for it to reach the good things on high. Clement of Alexandria, in Drinking from the Hidden Fountain.

To every careful thinker there is a gain, saith the proverb; and Christ implied more than this, when He said, 'He that seeketh findeth.' Wherefore it does not occur to me any more to wonder how Philip followed Christ. Andrew was persuaded when he had heard from John, and Peter the same from Andrew, but Philip not having learned anything from any but Christ Who said to him only this, 'Follow Me,' straightway obeyed, and went not back, but even became a preacher to others. For he ran to Nathanael and said to him, 'We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and the Prophets did write.' Seest thou what a thoughtful mind he had, now assiduously he meditated on the writings of Moses, and expected the Advent? for the expression, 'we have found' belongs always to those who are in some way seeking. St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of St. John.

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.

To reckon oneself the cause of the temptation, also belongs properly to long-suffering. Perhaps that is the way things are. In fact, many of the things that befall us, befall us for our training, either to do away with past sins or to correct present neglect or to check future sinful deeds. He then, who reckons that temptation has come upon him for one of these reasons, is not vexed at its attack, especially as he is conscious of his sin. Nor does he censure him through whom the temptation came; for whether through him or through another, he surely has to drain the chalice of the of the divine judgments. Rather, he looks to God land gives thanks to Him that pardons; he censures himself and heartily accepts the chastisement, as did David with Shimei (cf. Ps. 38 and 2 Kings 16:5-8, 11-13). and as Job with his wife (cf. Job 2:10. St. Maximus the Confessor, The Ascetic Life.

To remember God is not the same thing as to love God. To fear Him is not the same as to keep His commandments. They are quite different things, though they become one in those who are prefect and impassible. St. Symeon the New Theologian, The Practical and Theological Chapters.

To respect our conscience towards our neighbor means not to do anything that we think may trouble or harm our neighbor in deed, or word, or gesture, or look. For there are gestures, as I very often tell you, which hurt our neighbors and there are looks capable or wounding him and, to speak plainly, whatever a man does readily, knowing it gives his neighbor a bad thought stains his own conscience because it means that he is ready to harm or trouble his neighbor - and this is the sort of thing I mean by keeping a good conscience towards our neighbor. St. Dorotheos of Gaza, Discourses and Sayings.

To seek to learn exactly about the day when the end of the world will come and the Second Advent of Christ will take place does not benefit us ws much as to believe that the end of near, that we will die, that after death there is life eternal, that we shall give an account of our deeds and that each one will either be glorified or disgraced by his works, and that the Second Coming will occur suddenly, as a lightning, and that we must always be ready, as our Lord enjoins. Blessed Elder Philotheos Zervakos, Modern Orthodox Saints, Vol. 11 by Constantine Cavarnos

To the extent that God wants to be known by us, He reveals Himself. And as much as He is revealed, so is He seen and known by those who are worthy. But no one can ever experience or see this if he is not first united to the All-holy Spirit, or if he has not acquired a humble, pure, simple, and contrite heart through much effort and toil. St. Symeon the New Theologian, The Practical and Theological Chapters.

To the extent that the soul is more valuable than the body, so much more is spiritual food necessary than bodily food. It is of this that I think the Lord spoke when He said, 'I was hungry and you gave Me to no food, I was thirsty and yougave Me no drink,' rather than of bodily food, which is subject to corruption; for He truly suffers thirst and hunger for the salvation of each one of us. St. Symeon the New Theologian, The Discourses.

Today joy and spiritual cheer is found throughout the word. Today the gathering of all the Angels and the choir of the Heavenly Powers rejoice because of the salvation of man. Consider the, my beloved, the vastness of this joy, when the Heavenly Powers celebrate along with us and rejoice because of the good that has happened to us. Even though the grace which the Master has given us is ours, nevertheless theirs is the pleasure. It is for this reason that they do not hesitate to celebrate with us.

A Homily on the Holy Pascha by St. John Chrysostom, from The True Vine, Vol. 4, Number 4



Today we are celebrating a martyr's birth into the life of heaven. If we are striving with the Lord's help to live out the virtue of patience, we hold the palm of martyrdom even though we are living in a time of peace. There are in fact two kinds of martyrdom. One takes place only in the heart, the other in both heart and body. We too are capable of being martyrs, even without having anyone slay us. To die from someone's enmity is martyrdom out in the open; to bear insults, to love a person who hates us, is martyrdom in secret. St. Gregory the Great, Be Friends of God.

Tragedy is to be found solely in the fortunes of the man whose gaze has not gone beyond the confines of this earth. Christ Himself by no means typifies tragedy. Nor are His all-cosmic sufferings of a tragic nature. And the Christian who has received the gift of the love of Christ, for all his awareness that it is not yet complete, escapes the nightmare of all-consuming death. Archimandrite Sophrony (His Life is Mine, Chapter 4; SVS Press pg. 38)

True faith is the keeping and confession of right dogma, that is to say, it consists in true faith in Jesus Christ the Son of God, for knowledge of beliefs is one thing and real faith in Christ is quite another. The first often makes one haughty, arrogant, fruitless. Hence, many who possess a right knowledge of dogma live lawless lives; many even preach on faith, and teach and exhort others, but themselves do not move forward, as though they were mere signposts on the road. True faith in Christ is humble, patient, merciful, full of loving -kindness. St. Tikhon of Zasdonsk, quoted in St. Tikhon of Zadonsky by Nadejda Gorodetzky.

Truly I shall give you power, the power which prevents many from falling; and I shall make your tongue skilled. The people will drive any Demosthenes; and Athenians will be worsted by Galileans. Cephas, as he tells of me will put an end to written records, Immoderate speeches and myths; he will eclipse the speech of Maranatha; Nazareth will shake Corinth; you are the ones to speak and I obey. I Who alone know what is in the heart. St Romanos the Melodist - On the Mission of the Apostles.

Truly she is most holy, firm, steadfast, immovable, unchangeable through all eternity in her most exalted God-given holiness; for the all-perfect God, her Son, has made her also all-perfect, on account of her great humility, of her love of purity and of the source of purity - God, of her entire attachment to the heavenly kingdom, and above all because she gave herself to Him to be His Mother, bore Him in her womb.

Spiritual Counsels of St. John of Kronstadt (Trans. by W. Jardine Grisbrooke.



Truly, it must be known that sins which imitate virtues in assumed guise are grave, because, w+hen openly recognized, these cast the soul into confusion and lead to penitence, while those not only do not humble to repentance, but even exalt the mind of the offender, since they are thought to be virtues. The Homilies of St. Gregory the Great on the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel.

Truly, my beloved in the Lord, not at one time only did God visit His creatures; but from the foundation of the world, whenever any have come to the Creator of all by the law of His covenant implanted in them, God is present with each one of these in His bounty and grace by His Spirit. But in the case of those rational natures in which that covenant grew cold, and their intellectual perception died, so that they were no longer able to know themselves according to their first condition, concerning them I say that they became altogether irrational, and worshipped the creation rather than the Creator. But the Creator of all in His great bounty visited us by the implanted law of the covenant. For His is immortal substance. And as many as became worthy of God and grew by His implanted law, and were taught by His Holy Spirit and received the Spirit of Adoption, these were able to worship their Creator as they ought: of whom Paul says that `they received not the promise' on account of us. (Heb. 11:39) St. Anthony the Great

Truly, my beloved in the Lord, not at one time only did God visit His creatures; but from the foundation of the world, whenever any have come to the Creator of all by the law of His covenant implanted in them. God is present with each one of these in His bounty and grace by His Spirit. But in the case of those rational natures in which that covenant grew cold, and their intellectual perception died, so that they were no longer able to know themselves according to their first condition, concerning them I say that they became altogether irrational, and worshipped the creation rather than the Creator. But the Creator of all in His great bounty visited us by the implanted law of the covenant. For He is immortal substance. And as many as become worthy of God and grew by His implanted law, and were taught by His Holy Spirit and received the Spirit of Adoption, these were able to worship their Creator as they ought: of whom Paul says that `they received not the promise; on account of us. (Heb. 11:39) St. Anthony the Great

Truly, the steadfast ones endured, and the contenders struggled lawfully. They contended well in the contest, and they completed the course to the end; They protected the pure faith. In return for all those sufferings They received crowns from Thee. Through their prayers, be merciful to us, O All-Merciful.

Kontakia of Romanos, On All Martyrs. Menaion, St. Demetrios of Thessalonica



Trust in God, have hope in Him, and love Him, and He will not forsake you. For if men who are wicked love their children, how much more must God love His? Now they are children of God who love Him and keep His commandments. Those, on the other hand, who do not love Him, do not believe in Him, and do not live in accordance with His commandments, and who do not love their fellowmen, especially the poor, giving them them alms, are children of the devil. St. Arsenios of Paros, Modern Orthodox Saints, Vol. 6.

Truth shows how we should manifest hatred of life when he says: `Anyone who does not bear his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.' We bear the Lord's cross in two ways, when we afflict our bodies by abstinence, or reckon our neighbor's need to be our own by compassion. A person who manifests his sorrow at another's need is carrying a cross in his heart. St. Gregory the Great, Forty Gospel Homilies,

Try to enter your inner treasure-house and you will see the treasure-house of heaven. For both the one and the other are the same, and one and the same entrance reveals them both. The ladder leading to the kingdom is concealed within you, that is, in your soul. Wash yourself from sin and you will se the rungs of the ladder by which you can ascend thither. Nicephorus the Solitary (Profitable Discourse on Sobriety)

Unless we bear with patience the afflictions that come to us unsought, God will not bless those that we embrace deliberately. For our love for God is demonstrated above all by the way we endure trials and temptations. First the soul has to surmount afflictions embraced willingly, thereby learning to spurn sensual pleasure and self-glory; and this in its turn will permit us readily to bear the afflictions that come unsought. St. Gregory Palamas, Philokalia, Vol. 4

Very rightly it [discernment] is called 'good sense' and the full weight of Scripture forbids us to do anything without it, even to the extent that we are told not to drink the wine of the soul without being guided by it, that wine 'which gladdens the heart of a man' (Ps. 103:15). These are the words: 'Do everything sensibly, drink wine sensibly' (Prov. 31.3). Or again, 'Like a city with walls down and with no defense, such is the man who does anything without good sense' (Prov. 25:28). St. John Cassian, Conferences.

Vice mimics virtue, and the tares strive to be thought wheat, growing like the wheat in appearance, but being detected by good judges from the taste. 'The devil also transfigures himself into an angel of light' (2 Cor. 11:14); not that he may reascend to where he was, for having made 'his heart hard as an anvil' (Job 41:24 LXX), he has henceforth a will that cannot repent; but in order that he may envelope those who are living an Angelic life in a mist of blindness, and a pestilent condition of unbelief. Many wolves are going about 'in sheep's clothing' (Matt. 7:15), their clothing being that of sheep, not so their claws and teeth: but clad in their soft skin, and deceiving the innocent by their appearance, they shed upon them from their fangs the destructive poison of ungodliness. We have need therefore of divine grace, and of a sober mind, and of eyes that see, lest from eating tares as wheat we suffer harm from ignorance, and lest from taking the wolf to be a sheep we become his prey, and from supposing the destroying Devil to be a beneficent Angel we be devoured: for, as the Scripture says, 'he goes about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour' (1 Pet. 5:8). St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures: Lecture 4 no. 1)

Virtues either act or are practiced. They act in us coming at their own chosen time, whenever they will. as much as they will and how they will. But we practice them according to our will, moral disposition and habit. In themselves they have their own independent essence, and we approach them only approximately by morally conforming to them. Very few can absorb the spiritual in its essence before they have the unchanging taste of it, which is to come. Most of us possess only certain similitudes of virtues, instead of their real essence. St. Gregory of Sinai (Texts on Commandments and Dogmas no. 92)

Was it something unheard-of that had happened, something beyond expectation, ;that made men recklessly break their oath to Christ, as if a situation had arisen which they had not bargained for? Was it not foretold by the prophets before He came, and by His Apostles Since? Were they not inspired by the Holy Spirit to predict that the just would always be oppressed and ill-treated by the gentiles? Was it not to arm our faith at all times, to confirm the servants of God by a voice from heaven that Holy Writ says: `The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and Him only shalt thou serve?' St. Cyprian, The Lapsed, and the Unity of the Church

Watch over you life; your lamps must not go out, nor your loins be ungirded; on the contrary, be ready. You do not know the hour in which Our Lord is coming. Assemble in great numbers, intent upon what concerns your souls. Surely, of no use will your lifelong faith be to you if you are not perfected at the end of time. The Didache

Watchfulness dissolves the darkness of ignorance and with the cooperation and alliance of mental prayer it asks of the Lord knowledge: the knowledge of God (divine knowledge), and the knowledge of ourselves (self-knowledge). Spiritual knowledge is a gift of the Holy Spirit and watchfulness is its forerunner. Without watchfulness and vigilance, ignorance is not recognized, it is camouflaged, it hides, it is full of conceit, especially in the contemporary technological, conceited and arrogant man. And both ignorance and conceit scatter fog and mist. The light of watchfulness reveals the nakedness of both. Archim. Ioannikios Kotsonis, Themes from the Philokalia, No. 1:Watchfulness and Prayer.

We abandon ourselves, we renounce ourselves, when we escape from what we were in our old state, and strive toward what we are called to be in our new one. Let us see how Paul, who said `It is no longer I who live' renounced himself: the cruel persecutor was destroyed and the holy preacher began to live. But how was Paul, who said that he was no longer living, able to proclaim the message of truth? Immediately after saying `It is no longer I who live,'; he added, `but Christ lives in me.' He means that he had indeed been destroyed by himself, since he no longer lived unspiritually, but in his essential being he was not dead since he was spiritually alive in Christ. St. Gregory the Great, Be Friends of God.

We acknowledge therefore the Christ is the only true God; that the Church is a Hospital, which really heals man, that the holy Fathers are the true therapists, who heal by the power of Christ; that the commandments are therapeutic, and we attempt to live according to them. For, just as the doctor's precepts are not legal formulas, but presuppose man's illness and aim at his cure, so the commandments of Christ also presuppose man's malady and aim at his cure. Therefore we keep all the commandments of Christ, and the heart begins to be cured. Met. Hierotheos Vlachos, The Illness and Cure of the Soul.

We are accustomed to the works of God, and therfore value them but little; we do not, for instance, value even man as we ought to - that greatest work and miralce of God's omnipotence and grace. Look upon every man, whether he is one of your household, or a stranger to you, as upon smething perpetually new in God's world, as upon the greatest miracle of God's omnipotence and grace, and do not let the fact of your being accustomed to him serve as a reason for you to neglect him. Esteem and love him as your own self, constantly, and uchangeably. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ.

We are sons of God or Satan according to whether we conform to goodness or evil St. Thalassios PHILOKALIA

We are the people of God who, liberated from the yoke of Egyptian servitude, passed through the Red Sea, for when we were baptized by water we received forgiveness of the sins which were oppressing us. In the midst of the hardships of the present life, as though in the dryness of a desert, we await the entry promised to us into our heavenly fatherland. In this desert we are in danger of wasting away from spiritual thirst and hunger, if our Redeemer's gifts do not strengthen us, if the sacraments of His incarnation do not renew us. He Himself is the manna which refreshes us with heavenly nourishment so that we may not waste away in the journey of this world. He Himself is the rock Who, when struck by the wood of the cross, pours forth from His side the drink which is life for us. Hence He says in the gospel, 'I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will not thirst.' The Venerable Bede, Homilies on the Gospels, Book 1.

We are to bestow our love on our brothers and sisters. We must not allow any malice at all to remain in our hearts. May almighty God have regard for our love of our neighbor, so that He may pardon our iniquities! Remember what He has taught us: 'Forgive, and you will be forgiven.' People are in debt to us, and we to them. Let us forgive them their debts, so that what we owe may be forgiven us. But our hearts struggle against this. They want to do what they have been told, but there is something that makes them reluctant to do so. St. Gregory the Great: Be Friends of God.

We can never see the state of our soul in all its nakedness or vividly realize its danger without the special grace and help of God, because the interior of our soul is always hidden from us by our self-love, prejudices, passions, worldly cares, delusions. And if it sometimes seems to us that we see the state of our soul ourselves, yet we see it only superficially and no more than our own reason and conscience can show us. St. Innocent of Irkutsk , Indication of the Way into the Kingdom of Heaven.

We carry about with us impassioned images of the things we have experienced. If we can overcome these images we shall be indifferent to the things which they represent. For fighting against the thoughts of things is much harder than fighting against the things themselves, just as to sin in the mind is easier than to sin through outward action. St. Maximos the Confessor (First Century on Love no. 63)

We have a great love for the God of the Hebrews, Warmer than your fire, more consuming than your furnace. For you probably thin, since you are without God and utterly senseless, That, deprived of our native land, we are bereft of hope. But you will not laugh at us as though we were stupid, For we have the God Whom we possess, carrying Him with us everywhere. We behold our Creator face to face, And on every occasion we worship Him. For He is not like the image that you set up, But He is above all creation, ceaselessly praised in song. Hasten, O Merciful One, and in compassion come quickly To our aid, since Thou art able to do what Thou dost will. St Romanos the Melodist - On the Three Children.

We have been commanded not to revile or abuse in return those who revile and insult us, but rather to speak well of them and to bless them. For in so far as we are at peace with men we fight against the demons; but when we feel rancour towards our brothers and fight against them, we are at peace with the demons, whom we have taught to hate 'with perfect hatred' (Ps. 139:22), fighting again them without mercy. St. Theodoros the Great Ascetic, Philokalia, Vol. 2

We have been taught that dispassion is born from self-control and humility, while spiritual knowledge is born from faith. Through these the soul makes progress in discrimination and love. And once she has embraced divine love, she never ceases to rise towards its height on the wings of pure prayer, until she comes 'to the knowledge of the Son of God,' as St. Paul says, 'to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ' (Eph. 4:13). St. Theodorus, The Philokalia, Vol. 2.

We have diametrically opposite alternatives: either to refuse God - the very essence of sin - or to become sons of God. Because we are made in the likeness of God we naturally desire the divine perfection which is in our Father. And when we follow Him we are not submitting to the dictates of some extraneous power: we are merely obeying our own impulse to assimilate His perfection. 'Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect' (Matt. 5:48)." Archimandrite Sophrony (His Life is Mine, Chapter 8; SVS Press pg. 67)

We have learned that God has no need of material offerings from men, seeing that He gives us all things, and we have been taught, and are convinced, and believe, that He only receives those who imitate Him in the virtues which are part of His attributes, temperance, namely, and justice, humanit