Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers


32 Entries

(Abba Moses) was asked, "What should a man do in all the temptations and evil thoughts that come upon him?" The old man said to him, "He should weep and implore the goodness of God to come to his aid, and he will obtain peace if he prays with discernment. For it is written, "With the Lord on my side I do not fear. What can man do to me?" (Psalm 118:6). "The Desert Christian," by Sr. Benedicta Ward, (New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., 1975), p. 142

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 possesses all other virtues. For one is only perfected through zealously enduring both all the voluntary and involuntary afflictions. St. Gregory Palamas, Treatise on the Spiritual Life

Abba Bessarion said, "When you are at peace, without having to struggle, humiliate yourself for fear of being led astray by a joy which is inappropriate. We magnify ourselves and we are delivered to warfare. For often, because of our weakness, God does not allow us to be tempted, for fear we should be overcome." Venerable Bessarion the Egyptian, commemorated 6 June

An old man said: For nine years a brother was tempted in thought to the point of despairing of his salvation, and being scrupulous, he condemned himself, saying, "I have lost my soul, and since I am lost, I shall go back to the world." But while he was on the way, a voice came to him on the road, which said, "These nine years during which you have been tempted have been crowns for you; go back to your place, and I will allay these thoughts." Understand that it is not good for someone to despair of himself because of his temptations; rather temptations procure crowns for us if we use them well. The Desert Fathers

Anytime there are temptations and troubles, there are also laurels of victory," the pious elder Gerasimos would say to Hieromonk Ioakim Spetiersis, and then he would add: "If it were possible to find a monastery filled with angels, and they placed you as one of the brothers in it, still you would not be saved, because no one would bother you, and you would be living an easy life and this saying would be suited to your situation: 'In your lifetime you received your good things'. An Athonite Gerontikon

But as soon as the spirit has begun to love heavenly things, as soon as it has bound itself with all its intention to the vision of inward peace, the old adversary who fell from Heaven is envious and begins the more to lie in ambush. He imposes harder temptations than was his wont, in or order often, thus, to tempt the resisting spirit as he had never tried it before when he possessed it. Thus it is written: "Son when thou comest to the service of God, stand in justice and in fear, and prepare thy soul for temptation" (Eccles 2:1). The Homilies of St. Gregory the Great On the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel

But since we say that God is plenteous in mercy, why is it that when amidst temptations we unceasingly knock and pray, we are not heard and He disregards our prayer? This we are clearly taught by the Prophet when he says, `The Lord's hand is not little, that it cannot save; nor is He heavy of hearing, that He cannot hear; but our sins have separated us from Him, and our iniquities have turned His face away, that He doth not hearken.' Remember God at all times, and He will remember your whenever you fall into evils. The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian

Do not quail before the temptations that will come against you from the Enemy, but endure, that you may earn the beatitude. For it is written, Blessed is the man who endures temptation, because when he has been tried he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love him. You wish not to be mastered by temptation? Cut off your every wish. St Ephrem the Syrian, 'To the Monks in Egypt", 4th Exhortation,

Do not seek to find the cause of temptations or whence they come; only pray to suffer them with gratitude. Monks Callistus and Ignatius (Directions to Hesychasts no. 16j, Writings from the Philokalia on Prayer of the Heart; Faber and Faber pg. 188)

First there is provocation; then a coupling with the provocation; then assent to it; then captivity to it; then passion,grown habitual and continuous. This is how the holy fathers describe the stages through which the devil gets the better of us." St. Philotheos of Sinai, Forty Texts on Watchfulness #34

God allows the challenge of a small evil for the benefit of a greater good. Temptations are as necessary as our breath. Temptations are waves of the sea, without the waves you do not travel, and without temptations, man is not saved Unknown

God's Scripture gives proof in numerous passages that man must undergo many disturbances in this life; and also that many consolations are at hand. With these, a spirit of sufficient vigor and awareness of the right should overcome present discomforts and look to those things that promise everlasting joy. St. Ambrose of Milan

If, then, one should withdraw from those who seduce him to evil and by the use of his reason turn to the better, putting evil behind him, it is as if he places his own soul, like a mirror, face to face with the hope of good things, with the result that the images and impressions of virtue, as it is shown to him by God, and imprinted on the purity of his soul. Then his brother brings him assistance a joins him, for the angel, who in a way is a brother to the rational and intellectual part of man's soul, appears, as I have said, and stands by us whenever we approach the Pharaoh. St. Gregory of Nyssa, The Life of Moses

Imagine that the Lord is saying to you: "For a time I have taken away from you this or that gift of grace, in which you expected your intellect to find fulfillment, and so to be at peace. To make up for this, I have given you instead some other gift. Yet you think only about what has been taken away, not noticing what has been given you in its place; and so you feel dejected, pained and full of gloom. Nevertheless, I am glad because of this gloom which I have brought on you. I make you dejected for your own good. My purpose is not to destroy but to save you, since I regard you as My son." St. John of Karpathos "The Philokalia: the Complete Text" (volume I), by St. Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain and St. Makarios of Corinth, trans. By G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and (Bishop) Kallistos Ware, (London: Faber and Faber, 1979), pp. 298 - 309

In time of temptations... courageously meet all the assailants, especially the demon of despondency, who indeed is the most grievous of all, but who, more than all, makes the soul experienced. If you flee or avoid the struggle, your mind will remain inexperienced, timid and easily turned to flight. Abba Evagrius the Monk(Texts on Active Life no. 19)

One should always endure any trial for the sake of God with gratitude. Our life is a single minute in comparison with eternity; and therefore, according to the Apostle, `the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be comparted with the glory which shall be revealed in us' (Rom. 8:18). Spiritual Instruction of St. Seraphim of Sarov

Pray before your body takes rest on your bed .... If you are tempted, make the Sign (of the Cross) on your forehead reverently · ..for this is a known and tested weapon against the Devil. St. Hippolytus of Rome 170-235

Some temptations bring men pleasure, some grief, some bodily pain. The Physician of souls by means of His judgements applies the remedy to each soul according to the cause of its passions. St. Maximus the Confessor, The Ascetic Life and Four Centuries on Charity (Love)

Suppose you have ordered yourself not to eat fish; you will find that the enemy continually makes you long to eat it. You are filled with an uncontrollable desire for the thing that is forbidden. In this way you can see how Adam's fall typifies what happens to all of us. Because he was told not to eat from a particular tree, he felt irresistibly attracted to the one thing that was forbidden him. St. John of Karpathos "The Philokalia: the Complete Text" (volume I), by St. Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain and St. Makarios of Corinth, trans. By G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and (Bishop) Kallistos Ware, (London: Faber and Faber, 1979), pp. 298 - 309

The sea is bound to be stirred up and roused and enraged, so as to cast out of it again on to the dry land the wood, and hay, and all the corruption that was brought down into it by the rivers of the passions. Let us watch nature, and we shall find that after a storm at sea there comes a deep calm. St. John Climacus

These are the things which befall someone who approaches God: first temptation, then tribulation, then toil, despondency, nakedness, sufferings, anguish, contempt; in these the endurance and testing of believers is manifested; and in all these the person who gives himself wholeheartedly to God’s direction, and submits to his will, triumphs completely.

For God only asks of us a perfect intention, and he himself will give us the strength and grant us the victory; as it is written, He is the champion of all who hope in him. And again he says, The Lord is near to all who call upon him in truth. He will do the will of those who fear him and will listen to their supplication and will save them. St Ephrem the Syrian, 'To the Monks in Egypt", 2nd Exhortation. An invitation to right conduct,

This is the great work of a man: always to take the blame for his own sins before God, and to expect temptation to his last breath. St. Anthony the Great

To the Monk Andrew, when he became faint from the temptations that had come upon him:

Andrew! My brother one in soul (with me), do not grow faint. God has not abandoned you and will not abandon you. But know that the sentence pronounced by the Master to our common father Adam: "In the sweat of your brow you shall earn your bread" (Genesis 3:19) is immutable. And just as this commandment is given to the outward man, so to the inward man it is commanded to aid the prayers of the Saints by means of one’s own ascetic labors; and these prayers greatly help a man so that he will not remain fruitless. For just as gold which is heated in a furnace, held with pincers and beaten with a hammer, becomes pure and fit for a royal crown, so also a man being supported by the mighty and much-performing prayer of the Saints is heated by sorrows, receives the blows of temptations and, if he endures everything with gratitude, becomes a son of the Kingdom.

And therefore, everything that might happen to you occurs for your benefit, so that you also might receive boldness before God, both through the intercession of the Saints and through your own labors. And do not be ashamed to offer now to God the beginning of these labors, lest in place of spiritual joy, sorrow should overtake you; and believe that He who has given the promises will fulfill them (Hebrews 10:23). Prosper in the Lord, my beloved. "Saints Barsanuphius and John: Guidance Toward Spiritual Life," trans. by Fr. Seraphim Rose, (Platina, California: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1990)

When you pray to God in time of temptation do not say, 'Take this or that away from me', but pray like this: 'O Jesus Christ, sovereign Master, help me and do not let me sin against Thee... Abba Isaiah the Solitary.

Where would there be opportunities for struggling for great deeds if we were not occasioned injury by our neighbors, if they did not offend us? Where would there be opportunities for patiently bearing offences, for meekness and humility? You see, then, that we must be tried by many and various evils in order to prove our virtue and be eventually crowned. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

Whoever has not experienced temptation cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Without temptations no-one can be saved" Abba Anthony the Great

...we experience temptations even against our will; and we grieve over passions (when they arise), yet we love to prolong their impulses and their sweetness. Sins we do not desire; yet we accept with enjoyment the impulses which lead us to them. So in practice the latter become for us the cause of the former. He who enjoys the sweetmeats of passions becomes involuntarily subjected to them and is a slave to his passions against his will. Monks Callistus and Ignatius (Directions to Hesychasts no. 28, Writings from the Philokalia on Prayer of the Heart; Faber and Faber pg. 199)

Let us remind ourselves of the manner in which the temptations of the enemy act.

The sweep of the enemy's sword is the introduction of a thought into heart: the devil expects that the heart will respond to it, and on this assumption proceeds to build up a strong temptation.

For example, you think of a person who has offended you: this is the sweep of the enemy's sword. When the heart responds to this thought by harboring an unpleasant feeling toward the offender, this means the sword has penetrated as far as the soul and as wounded it. Immediately the enemy closes with the soul and stirs up there a storm of enmity and revengefulness. But when the heart is always ready to forgive offenses, keeping itself in a state of serene meekness and peace towards everyone, then no matter how vividly the enemy presents the idea of the offender to the soul, there is no response in the heart; and so the enemy will have no opening through which to introduce his temptation. The sweep of his sweep sword will rebound from the heart as from a warrior clad in armor. Theophan the Recluse (The Art of Prayer, p. 213)

Love sinners, but hate their works; and do not despise them for their faults, lest you be tempted by the same trespasses. St Isaac of Syria

When temptation overtakes the deceitful man, he does not have the presence of mind to call upon God, or to expect salvation from Him, since in the days of his ease he stood aloof from God's will. St Isaac of Syria

Whenever you wish to make a beginning in some good work, first prepare yourself for the temptations that will come upon you, and do not doubt the truth. St Isaac of Syria

106. Escape from temptation through patience and prayer. If you oppose temptation without these, it only attacks you more strongly. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

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