Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers


21 Entries

"Using the pretext of physical needs and weariness from the struggle, this deceiver makes itself credible; and like a conductive material, listlessness transmits us and hands us over to self-love, the more general enemy. Only a courageous soul grounded in faith and hope in God can overthrow this conspiracy. Otherwise, it is difficult for someone inexperienced to escape from these nets. This is a great ordeal for those who live alone and for everyone who avoids a regulated life, whereas it is unable to harm those who are under obedience and have tasks to perform. REF:Elder Joseph (trans. from Greek by Elizabeth Theokritoff), "Elder Joseph the Hesychast," (Mount Athos: The Great and Holy Monastery of Vatopaidi, 1999), pp. 195 - 198

…He who is obedient, is an imitator of Christ, and he who is proud and talks back is an imitator of the devil. So let us be careful, whom we are imitating, Christ or the devil…The so-called Christians must be true, in word and deed and not false, only in name. REF:Elder Joseph (trans. from Greek by Elizabeth Theokritoff), "Elder Joseph the Hesychast," (Mount Athos: The Great and Holy Monastery of Vatopaidi, 1999), pp. 195 - 198

Therefore silence, prayer, obedience; when you practice these virtues with the help of God, then you will know the light of Christ is within your soul. REF:Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"

...a man who submits to the statutes of the fathers, reaches his goal before he has made a single step. the Monks Callistus and Ignatius (Directions to Hesychasts no. 15, Writings from the Philokalia on Prayer of the Heart; Faber and Faber pg. 180)

...obedience is the medicine compounded of virtues, giving life to those who drink it, and the knife which, with one cut, cleans festering wounds. A man who, in faith and simplicity, has chosen to wield this knife, at once cuts off all passions, more completely than anyone... St. Gregory of Sinai (Texts on Commandments and Dogmas no. 107)

...willing obedience is an action which shows more courage and strength of spirit than subjugating great kings and ruling over them... Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare: Chapter 7)

A truly intelligent man has only one care -- wholeheartedly to obey Almighty God and to please Him. The one and only thing he teaches his soul is how best to do things agreeable to God, thanking Him for His merciful Providence in whatever may happen in his life. For just as it would be unseemly not to thank physicians for curing our body, even when they give us bitter and unpleasant remedies, so too would it be to remain ungrateful to God for things that appear to us painful, failing to understand that everything happens through His Providence for our good. In this understanding and this faith in God lie salvation and peace of soul. St. Antony the Great A.D. 250-350

Four monks of Scetis, clothed in skins, came one day to see the great Pambo. Each one revealed the virtue of his neighbor. The first fasted a great deal; the second was poor; the third had acquired great charity; and they said of the fourth that he had lived for twenty-two years in obedience to an old man. Abba Pambo said to them, “I tell you, the virtue of this last one is the greatest. Each of the others has obtained the virtue he wished to acquire; but the last one, restraining his own will, does the will of another. Now it is of such men that the martyrs are made, if they persevere to the end.” Abba Pambo, from Sr. Benedicta Ward, “The Desert Christian,” (New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1975), pp. 195 - 198

He is not yet a faithful servant who bases himself on bare knowledge alone; a faithful servant is he who professes his faith by obedience to Christ, Who gave the commandments. St. Mark the Ascetic, "Early Fathers From the Philokalia," trans. by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, (London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1981), pp. 86 - 90

He who reveres the Lord does what is commanded, and if he commits some sin or disobeys Him, endures whatever he has to suffer for this as being his desert. St. Mark the Ascetic, "Early Fathers From the Philokalia," trans. by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, (London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1981), pp. 86 - 90

He who wishes to tear up the account of his sins and to be inscribed in the Divine book of the saved, can find for this purpose no better means than obedience. SS. Callistus & Ignatius

In order, then, that Christ may win us all unto obedience, He promises us surpassing honors, and deigns us the highest love, saving, `My mother and My brethren are those who hear the word of God and do it.' For who among men is so obdurate and ungentle, as to refuse to honor, and accord the most complete love to his mother and brethren? For the all-powerful law of nature, even without our will, obliges us to this. When, therefore, bowing our neck to the Savior's commands, we become His followers, and so are in the relation of a mother and brethren to Him, how does He regard us before God's judgment seat? Is it not with gentleness and love? What doubt can there be of this?: And what is comparable to this honor and goodness? What is there worthy of being matched with a gift thus splendid and desirable? St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke

It was said of Abba John the Dwarf that he withdrew and lived in the desert at Scetis with an old man of Thebes. His abba, taking a piece of dry wood, planted it and said to him, "Water it every day with a bottle of water, until it bears fruit." Now the water was so far away that he had to leave in the evening and return the following morning. At the end of three years the wood came to life and bore fruit. The old man took some of the fruit and carried it to the church saying to the brethren, "Take and eat the fruit of obedience." Sr. Benedicta Ward, "The Sayings of the Desert Fathers," (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 1975), pp. 85-89

Obedience is absolute renunciation of our own life, clearly expressed in our bodily actions. Or, conversely, obedience is the mortification of the limbs while the mind remains alive. Obedience is unquestioning movement, voluntary death, a life free of curiosity, carefree danger, unprepared defense before God, fearlessness of death, a safe voyage, a sleeper’s progress. Obedience is the tomb of the will and the resurrection of humility. A corpse does not argue or reason as to what is good or what seems to be bad. For he who has devoutly put the soul of the novice to death will answer for everything. Obedience is an abandonment of discernment in a wealth of discernment. St John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent", Step 4: On Blessed and Ever-Memorable Obedience (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978)

Our Holy Father Acacius of Sinai.

In his famous book, 'The Ladder', St John Climacus records the life of this saint. The young Acacius was a novice with an evil elder in the monastery on Sinai. The foul-tempered elder daily groused and grumbled at Acacius, and often beat him, tormenting and illtreating him in every possible way. Acacius did not complain, but bore it all patiently and with trust that it would work for his salvation. When anyone asked him how he survived, he replied : 'Well, as before the Lord God'. After nine years of obedience and ill-treatment, Acacius died. The elder buried him and then went off to lament to another elder, a holy man, saying: 'Acacius, my disciple, is dead. "I don't believe it' replied the holy elder , 'Acacius is not dead.' They then both went to the dead man's grave, and the holy elder called out: 'Brother Acacius, are you dead?' The obedient Acacius, obedient even in death, replied: 'I am not dead; the obedient cannot die.' Then the evil elder repented and shut himself in a cell near Acacius's grave, where he spent the rest of his life in repentance and prayer. The Prologue from Ochrid - November 29

The Lord said, 'When you have done all that is commanded you, say: We are useless servants: we have only done what was our duty' (Luke 17:10). Thus the kingdom of heaven is not a reward for works, but a gift of grace prepared by the Master for His faithful servants. St. Hesychius the Priest

The beginning of the mortification both of the soul’s desire and of the bodily members is much hard work. The middle is sometimes laborious and sometimes not laborious. But the end is insensibility and insusceptibility to toil and pain. Only when he sees himself doing his own will does this blessed living corpse feel sorry and sick at heart; and he fears the responsibility of using his own judgment. St John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent", Step 4: On Blessed and Ever-Memorable Obedience (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978)

There is no shorter ascent to the royal and Divine mansions...than through subduing the five passions hostile to obedience, namely: disobedience, argumentativeness, self-gratification, self-justification and pernicious high opinion of oneself...Disobedience is the mouth of hell; argumentativeness its tongue, whetted like a sword; self-gratification is its sharp teeth; self-justification its throat; high opinion of oneself, which casts one into hell, is the belching of its all-devouring belly. But he who, through obedience, conquers the first, by one stroke cuts off all the rest and with one stride reaches heaven. St. Gregory of Sinai (Texts on Commandments and Dogmas no. 121)

They used to say that Abba Sylvanus had in Scete a disciple whose name was Mark, and that he possessed to a great degree the faculty of obedience; he was a scribe, and the old man loved him greatly for his obedience. Now Sylvanus had eleven other disciples, and they were disturbed because they saw that the old man loved Mark more than them, and when the old men who were in Scete heard of this they were also troubled about it.

One day when they came to him to reprove him about this, Sylvanus took them, and went forth, and passing by the cells of the brethren, he knocked at the door of each cell, and said, "O brother, come forth, for I have need of thee." And he passed by all their cells, and not one of the obeyed him quickly.

But when they went to the cell of Mark, he knocked at the door and said, "Brother Mark," and as soon as Mark heard the voice of the old man, he jumped up straightway and came out and Sylvanus sent him off on some business.

Then Sylvanus said to the old men, "My fathers, where are the other brethren?" And they went into Mark's cell, and looked at the quire of the book which he was writing, and they saw that he had begun to write one side of the Greek letter "omega" (o) and that as soon as he heard the voice of his master, he ran out and did not stay to complete the other side of the letter. Now when the old men perceived these things, they answered and said unto Sylvanus, "Verily, old man, we also love the brother whom thou lovest, for God also loveth him." "Paradise of the Fathers," vol. II, p. 53, translated by E. A. Wallis Budge, (Seattle, St. Nectarios Press, 1984)

Those who live in obedience are strangers to love of money. For where even the body has been given up, what is left to be one's own? Only in one way can they be harmed, namely by being ready and quick to go from place to place. I have seen material possessions make monks patient to remain in one place. But I praise those who are pilgrims for the Lord. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston; Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), STEP 17: On Non-Permissiveness (that Hastens One Heavenwards)

Those who struggle, regain their original state by keeping two commandments - obedience and fasting; for all evil entered into the generation of mortals through practices opposed to them. Moreover, those who keep the commandments through obedience ascend to God more quickly, and those who keep them through fasting - more slowly. Besides, obedience is more suitable for beginners, and fasting for those on the way, who possess courage and vision of mind. But in fulfilling the commandments it is given to very few always to obey God undeceived, and even for the most valiant this achievement is very difficult. St. Gregory of Sinai (Texts on Commandments and Dogmas no. 18)

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