Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers

self_reliance

14 Entries

Do not trust your mind too much; thinking must be refined by suffering, or it will not stand the test of these cruel times. REF:Fr Seraphim Rose, "Letters"



How much hope there is for those who do not trust in themselves too much and are not overly-critical of others! And how little hope for those whose orientation is the opposite! REF:Fr Seraphim Rose, "Letters"

...a man without counsel is his own enemy. the Monks Callistus and Ignatius (Directions to Hesychasts no. 15, Writings from the Philokalia on Prayer of the Heart; Faber and Faber pg. 179)

...if you really desire to be victorious in this unseen warfare and be rewarded with a crown, you must plant in your heart the following four dispositions and spiritual activities, as it were arming yourself with invisible weapons, the most trustworthy and unconquerable of all, namely: a)never rely on yourself in anything; b)bear always in your heart a perfect and all-daring trust in God alone; c)strive without ceasing; d)remain constantly in prayer. Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare Chapter 1)

As fish cannot swim without water, and a bird cannot fly without air, so a Christian cannot advance a single step without Christ. St. Gregory the Theologian 329-390

Don't trust yourself this side of the grave Russian proverb

Has some good thought come to you? Have you felt some good impulse or inclination in your heart? Stop! Check it with the Gospel. Blessed Vladyka Ignatij (Brianchaninov)

If a man does not rely on himself but puts his trust in God, when he falls he is not greatly surprised and is not overcome with excessive grief, for he knows that it is the result of his own impotence, and, above all, of the weakness of his trust in God. So his downfall increases his distrust of himself and makes him try all the harder to increase and deepen his humble trust in God. And further, hating the vile passions which caused his downfall, he thereupon endures peacefully and calmly the labors of penitence for having offended God; and armed with still more trust in God, he thereupon pursues his enemies with the greatest courage and resoluteness, even unto death. Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare Chapter 4)

If, when they grieve at their downfall, reproaching and abusing themselves for it, they think: 'I shall do this and that, the consequences of my downfall will be effaced and all will be well once more,' this is a sure sign that before the downfall they trusted themselves, instead of trusting God. And the more gloomy and disconsolate their grief, the more it shows that they relied too much on themselves and too little on God. Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare, Chapter 4)

Not to rely on oneself is so necessary in our struggle...that without this, be assured, not only will you fail to gain the desired victory, but you will be unable to resist the smallest attack of the enemy. Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare, Chap. 2)

The holy Fathers say with one voice: The first thing to keep in mind is never in any respect to rely on yourself... The decision not to rely on self is for most people a severe obstacle at the very outset. It must be overcome, otherwise we have no prospect of going further. For how can a human being receive advice, instructions ad help if he believes that he knows and can do everything and needs no directions? Through such a wall of self-satisfaction no gleam of light can penetrate. "Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own right," cries the prophet Isaiah (5:21), and the apostle St. Paul utters the warning: "Be not wise in your own conceits (Rom. 12:16)." The kingdom of heaven has been "revealed unto babes," but remains hidden from "the wise and prudent (Mt. 11:25). Chapter 2, "The Way of the Ascetics" by Tito Colliander

Who, then, could be so presumptuous, so blind, as to dare to rely upon his own judgment and his own power of discernment and to do this after the `vessel of election' bears witness to the fact that he needed to confer with his fellow apostles? Hence it is clear that the road to perfection is revealed by the Lord to no man who is in a position to have teach regard for the ideas and the practices of older men and who makes light of that saying which he ought very properly to observe: `Ask your father and He will teach you, ask your elders and they will tell you' (Deut. 32:7). St. John Cassian, Conferences

As St. Maximos has said, "To think that one knows prevents one from advancing in knowledge." St. John Chrysostom points out that there is an ignorance which is praiseworthy: it consists in knowing consciously that one knows nothing. In addition, there is a form of ignorance that is worse than any other: not to know that one does not know. Similarly, there is a knowledge that is falsely so called, which occurs when, as St. Paul says, one thinks that one knows but does not know (see I Corinthians 8:2). REF:St. Peter of Damaskos,"The Four Virtues of the Soul", from G. E. H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Bishop Kallistos Ware, "The Philokalia: Vol. III," (London: Faber and Faber, 1984), pp. 100 - 101

One of the first tricks of the enemy against us is the idea of trusting in oneself: that is, if not renouncing, then at least not feeling the need for the help of grace. REF:St Theophan the Recluse, "The Path to Salvation" p 34





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