Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers

watchfulness

14 Entries

All of us men must be watchful and take heed to ourselves, whether we are believers or unbelievers, small or great. If we are unbelieving we must do so in order that we may arrive at knowledge and faith towards the God Who has made us, if we believe, it is in order that we may live rightly and be found well pleasing to Him in every good work. On Works of Mercy, St. Symeon the New Theologian, The Discourses



An old man was asked, 'How can I find God?' He said, 'In fasting, in watching, in labors, in devotion, and, above all, in discernment. I tell you, many have injured their bodies without discernment and have gone away from us having achieved nothing. Our mouths smell bad through fasting, we know the Scriptures by heart, we recite all the Psalms of David, but we have not that which God seeks: charity and humility.' The Desert Fathers

As St. John of Damaskos says, without attentiveness and watchfulness of the intellect we cannot be saved and rescued from the devil, who walks about 'like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour' (I Pet. 5:8). For this reason the Lord often said to His disciples, 'Watch and pray; for you do not know at what hour your Lord is coming' (Matt. 26:41; 24:42). Through them He was giving a warning to us all about the remembrance of death, so that we should be prepared to offer a defense, grounded in works and attentiveness, that will be acceptable to God. St. Peter of Damaskos(The Guarding of the Intellect)

Continuity of attention produces inner stability; inner stability produces a natural intensification of watchfulness; and this intensification gradually and in due measure gives contemplative insight into spiritual warfare. This in its turn is succeeded by persistence in the Jesus Prayer and by the state that Jesus confers, in which the intellect, free from all images, enjoys complete quietude. St. Hesychios the Priest(On Watchfulness and Holiness no. 7)

Each hour of the day we should note and weigh our actions and in the evening we should do what we can to free ourselves from the burden of them by means of repentance - if, that is, we wish, with Christ's help, to overcome wickedness. St. Hesychios the Priest(On Watchfulness and Holiness nos. 124)

Let us go forward with the heart completely attentive and the soul fully conscious. For if attentiveness and prayer are daily joined together, they become like Elijah's fire-bearing chariot (cf. II Kings 2:11), raising us to heaven. What do I mean? A spiritual heaven with sun, moon and stars, is formed in the blessed heart of one who has reached a state of watchfulness, or who strives to attain it; for such a heart, as a result of mystical contemplation and ascent, is enabled to contain within itself the uncontainable God. St. Philotheos of Sinai(Texts on Watchfulness no. 27)

One type of watchfulness consists in closely scrutinizing every mental image or provocation; for only by means of a mental image can Satan fabricate an evil thought and insinuate this into the intellect in order to lead it astray. "A second type of watchfulness consists in freeing the heart from all thoughts, keeping it profoundly silent and still, and in praying. "A third type consists in continually and humbly calling upon the Lord Jesus Christ for help. "A fourth type is always to have the thought of death in one's mind. "These types of watchfulness, my child, act like doorkeepers and bar entry to evil thoughts. Elsewhere, if God gives me words, I shall deal more fully with a further type which, along with the others, is also effective: this is to fix one's gaze on heaven and to pay no attention to anything material. St. Hesychios the Priest(On Watchfulness and Holiness nos. 14-18)

To the aspect of the soul that is accessible to passion we impart the best of all dispositions, that of love; and we also raise the level of the intelligence by repelling whatever impedes the mind in its ascent towards God: this aspect of the law we call watchfulness. St. Gregory Palamas (Those Who Practice a Life of Stillness no. 2, The Philokalia Vol. 4 edited by Palmer, Sherrard and Ware; Faber and Faber pg. 333)

To the aspect of the soul that is accessible to passion we impart the best of all dispositions, that of love; and we also raise the level of the intelligence by repelling whatever impedes the mind in its ascent towards God: this aspect of the law we call watchfulness. St. Gregory Palamas(Those Who Practice a Life of Stillness no. 2)

Watchfulness is a continual fixing and halting of thought at the entrance to the heart. In this way predatory and murderous thoughts are marked down as they approach and what they say and do is noted; and we can see in what specious and delusive form the demons are trying to deceive the intellect. If we are conscientious in this, we can gain much experience and knowledge of spiritual warfare. St. Hesychios the Priest (On Watchfulness and Holiness no. 6)

Watchfulness is a continual fixing and halting of thought at the entrance to the heart. In this way predatory and murderous thoughts are marked down as they approach and what they say and do is noted; and we can see in what specious and delusive form the demons are trying to deceive the intellect. If we are conscientious in this, we can gain much experience and knowledge of spiritual warfare. St. Hesychios the Priest(On Watchfulness and Holiness no. 6)

We should zealously cultivate watchfulness, my brethren; and when, our mind purified in Christ Jesus, we are exalted by the vision it confers, we should review our sins and our former life, so that shattered and humbled at the thought of them we may never lose the help of Jesus Christ our God in the invisible battle. Apophthegmata Patrum

The guarding of the intellect may appropriately be called light-producing, lightning-producing, light-giving and fire-bearing, for truly it surpasses endless virtues, bodily and other. Because of this, and because of the glorious light to which it gives birth, one must honor this virtue with worthy epithets... {Those who have become contemplatives} bathe in a sea of pure and infinite light, touching it ineffably and living and dwelling in it. They have tasted that the Lord is good (cf. Ps. 34:8)... St. Hesychios the Priest, "On Watchfulness and Holiness" Philokalia (Vol. 1) , p 192, text 171)

Watchfulness and the Jesus Prayer, as I have said, mutually reinforce each other, for close attentiveness goes with constant prayer, while prayer goes with close watchfulness and attentiveness of intellect. St. Hesychios the Priest, On Watchfulness and Holiness. 8th century





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