Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers

night

4 Entries

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 person who has attained spiritual knowledge not only marvels at visible things, but also is astounded by his perception of many essential things invisible to those who lack experience of this knowledge.

Thus he looks with wonder not only on the light of day, but also at the night. For the night is a benediction to all; to those practicing the virtues that pertain to the body it offers stillness and leisure; it encourages the remembrance of death and hell in those who grieve; those engaged in practicing the moral virtues it spurs to study and examine more closely the blessings they have received and the moral state of their soul.

In the words of the psalmist, "As you lie in bed, repent of what you say in your heart" (Psalms 4:4), that is, repent in the stillness of the night, remembering the lapses that occurred in the confusion of the day and disciplining yourself in hymns and spiritual songs (Colossians 3:16) -- in other words, teaching yourself to persist in prayer and psalmody through attentive meditation on what you read.

For the practice of the moral virtues is effectuated by meditating on what has happened during the day, so that during the stillness of the night we can become aware of the sins we have committed and can grieve over them. The Philokalia, Vol. III - pp. 260 - 263.



Where the contemplative life is concerned, the night supplies us with many themes for contemplation, as St. Basil the Great has said. First of all, it reminds us daily of the creation of the world, since all creation becomes invisible because of the darkness, as it was before it came into existence.

This in its turn prompts us to reflect how the sky was empty then and without stars, as happens now whent hey become invisible because of the clouds.

When we enter our cell and see only darkness, we are reminded of the darkness that was over the abyss (Genesis 1:2), and when suddenly the sky becomes clear again, and we stand outside our cell, we are struck by wonder at the world above, and offer praise to God, just as the angels are said in the Book of Job to have praised God when they saw the stars (Job 38:7).

We see in the mind's eye the earth as it was originally, invisible and without form (Genesis 1:2), and men held fast by sleep as if they did not exist. We feel ourselves alone in the world like Adam and, united with the angels, in full knowledge we praise the Maker and Creator of the universe.

In thunder and lightning we see the day of judgment; in the call of cocks we hear the trumpet that will sound on that day (I Thessalonians 4:16), in the rising of the morning star and the light of dawn we perceive the appearance of the precious and life-giving Cross (Matthew 24:30); in men's rising from sleep we see a sign of the resurrection of the dead, and in the rising of the sun a token of the second advent of Christ. The Philokalia, Vol. III - pp. 260 - 263.



Where the contemplative life is concerned, the night supplies us with many themes for contemplation, as St. Basil the Great has said.

First of all, it reminds us daily of the creation of the world, since all creation becomes invisible because of the darkness, as it was before it came into existence.

This in its turn prompts us to reflect how the sky was empty then and without stars, as happens now when they become invisible because of the clouds.

When we enter our cell and see only darkness, we are reminded of the darkness that was over the abyss (Genesis 1:2), and when suddenly the sky becomes clear again, and we stand outside our cell, we are struck by wonder at the world above, and offer praise to God, just as the angels are said in the Book of Job to have praised God when they saw the stars (Job 38:7).

We see in the mind's eye the earth as it was originally, invisible and without form (Genesis 1:2), and men held fast by sleep as if they did not exist. We feel ourselves alone in the world like Adam and, united with the angels, in full knowledge we praise the Maker and Creator of the universe. REF:St. Peter Damaskos, "24 Discourses:Joy" - from G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Kallistos Ware, Trans., "The Philokalia -- Vol. III," (London: Faber and Faber, 1984), pp. 260 - 263.







Redeeming the Time

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